As we celebrate our seven year anniversary in February 2017, we want everyone to understand a basic fact: You only need the 2 Rules of Marketing. The marketing industry can become extremely and unnecessarily complicated. Whether sifting through data, managing opinions, or exploring media options, the number of ways to get overwhelmed is staggering. I have seen this phenomenon as I’ve worked on all three sides of the industry – media, client, and agency. It is one of the primary reasons I created Arkside: to be a one-stop shop for an organization’s marketing needs. Achieving that goal required simplification of the typical approach to marketing. My years and depth of experience led me to two rules that can be applied to all situations resulting in simple decision making.
Think about stock investments. As I remind guests at my lectures, no one throws darts at a Wall Street ticker symbol and decides to put their money there. Even 401(k) plans are managed by professionals, and the investors who invest in them rely on the knowledge of the fund managers. The bottom line is that a positive return is expected on the investment.
Why would you treat your marketing any differently?
A proper campaign should be a combination of great creative and data-based strategy, all intended to align with an organization’s goals. From business card layout to multi-network TV ads, you should expect a return on your investment. That Return on Investment (ROI) can be measured in a variety of ways but should always be aligned with your goals.
Don’t limit yourself to sales. Your investment can be used to achieve one or more goals.
The first step in a marketing campaign should be to establish its goals and the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Only then can you measure success. That success is your Return on Investment. If, and by how much, you achieved your goal is your success…or failure.
Many years ago I adopted my attitude toward life: “I only have two kinds of days – good days and educational days.” Learning is the key to success. The only way I can have a bad day is if I didn’t learn something. Failure is an education. It will teach you how to not repeat the mistake. It can show you how to try something in a new way.
After you have done your research, identified your target audience(s), selected the proper media, and crafted a great message, what happens when you don’t meet your goals? That should teach you something. As our client Chris Surdak says, “reports should be an input”. The failure you experienced will certainly be disappointing but it should be used to do better the next time. I have heard marketers blame the media and, frankly, I feel that is lazy. Statements like, “I tried radio and it doesn’t work” or “we dumped a bunch of money into Google and got nothing out of it”. While I don’t doubt their results were bad, I am always skeptical that the tried-and-true media formats are to blame.
Identify the error(s) in your approach and don’t repeat them.
This is no less important than the first of the 2 rules. Let me address something up front: Your sales and marketing efforts are not separate. They are intrinsically linked for very good reasons. Take the following scenario as an example:
You have invested many, many hours on setting your goals, doing your market research, identifying your target market, building a beautiful campaign, and launching to the public. Leads start pouring in. Your sales team wasn’t given any of the ads to review, were not prepped on the offer, and are putting all of your carefully crafted leads into a broken sales funnel.
This is not the time for the marketing department to say, “we did our job!” Sales and marketing should be working together. Sales should be providing on-the-ground, real-time feedback to marketing about what questions customers are asking, how providing key information earlier in the process can avoid unnecessary delays, and other elements that improve the customer experience. Conversely, marketing should be training sales on where ads will appear (radio stations, Facebook, direct mail, etc.), how the offers are being presented, and what they can expect customers to know and/or ask about.
There are so many potential customers out there willing to become customers. So many, in fact, you would never be able to serve them all. But for those who have given you a chance to earn their business, you better not blow it. They are ready to give you their money. Are you making it easy for them to do so? Long buying processes, repeat negotiations, complicated pricing or discounts, improperly trained staff, key information buried on your website, no credit card payment options, and many more are all things that make it hard for someone to give you their money.
So how do you make it easy?
These two rules form the foundation for every decision we make, both internally and the advice we offer our valuable clients. Marketing is one of the few areas of business that impacts and is impacted by every department and person in an organization.
We changed our company slogan in 2016 from “The way things should be.” to “Educate. Succeed. Repeat.”. Our 2 Rules are now a cornerstone of delivering on our mission to teach marketers, help them succeed, and repeat that cycle. Whether you are a client of Arkside Marketing or not, we want you to make the most informed marketing decisions possible. Your advertising should result in success. Once both of those are done, we hope you repeat the process.
You will be seeing “2 Rules” in all of our marketing materials and we will be using the hashtag #2Rules throughout social media. We encourage you to use it on your social media as well for any questions or discussions you want to have about marketing. We look forward to meeting and helping you in the years to come.
Are you the best salesperson?
All of our career openings (jobs fill time – careers fill passions) are posted on our ad agency jobs page. So why are we writing a blog post about our current sales openings? Simple. One of our designers got it in her head to make an ad for them. Weird, right? An ad agency making creative advertising. Who would have thought?
So if you are good enough to answer “Yes” to the questions below, we want to talk to you. We’re looking for those people that care about customer service, want to solve marketing challenges, and enjoy a creative environment. Oh – the pay is good and benefits come with it. Learn more about the positions and contact us today.
Client: Arkside Marketing, Inc.
Campaign: “The Best Salesperson”
Designer: Amanda Johnson
Five years. Started during the depth of the Recession and thriving today. As we celebrate our five year anniversary in 2015, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the joys, challenges, and educational experiences that have happened with me and my team. Most importantly, a look back at why our clients mean so much to us.
First I will state the obvious: This post is long overdue. Specifically, our five year anniversary was February 4th. Anniversaries are important for many reasons. If we were a client of ourselves, we would have had a party planned in advance, press release drafted and ready for distribution, new collateral material printed, fun promotional products made, et cetera. But we spend every minute of every day worrying about everyone else’s marketing. Remember that phrase about the cobbler’s children having no shoes?
When I started this company, I knew it would be difficult. I was leaving a good job with a good company and risking it all on a dream with the encouragement of friends, family, and colleagues. The last five years have been an emotional roller coaster. Difficult? Yes. But also rewarding. Arkside Marketing is not my first business, but it is my largest thus far. The challenges, successes, and lessons learned have been incredible.
The last year has been especially turbulent. Despite my years of experience in media, ad agencies, and the marketing industry as a whole, I experienced more unforeseen challenges than ever. The worst was a solar company that misled us and a few of our competitors. They lied about nearly every element of their RFP including their goals, marketing strategy, personnel, and budget. My team and I invested considerable time and money into our proposal. Although we were glad to win, we soon realized what a bear trap we had stepped into.
The best part of the last five years has been the people. I have been fortunate to surround myself with talented consultants, designers, and programmers. The aforementioned solar proposal unified our great team of professionals. We showcased a creativity, media knowledge, and strategy development capability unrivaled by our competitors. These strengths have continued with knowledge, fun, and excitement through today. The Arkside staff has doubled in our fifth year and there are bright prospects on the horizon to continue growing before the start of 2016.
We are blessed to work with some of the best vendors and media partners in the world. Each cares about our clients, our relationships, and the quality of their product. They have provided incredible customer service over the years and bring a fresh perspective to each project in which they participate. From the reps at our radio and TV stations to our partners at Google and various print shops, we value each of their contributions to the success of our clients.
Most importantly, we have had five years of wonderful connections to our clients. When I first started the company, I intended to work with nothing more than the heavily regulated industries in which I focused most of my career: law, automotive, healthcare, education, and financial. Fortunately, other opportunities arose within our first five clients. We were able to work with manufacturers, distributors, non-profits, retail stores, and other unregulated industries.
Having an even larger variety of industries than anticipated enabled us to bring more creativity and new ideas to all of our clients. It is perhaps one of our greatest strengths: the ability to take a concept that is tried-and-true in one vertical to a completely different vertical and modify it to step ahead of the competition.
Our growth has been more than a portfolio. In 2014 we moved into a new office in downtown Riverside which has given us a conveniently central location to the huge Inland Empire metro area and faster access to all of Southern California. Staff was consolidated in this one location, bringing about greater efficiency, team work, and creativity.
All of our staff shares a commitment to our community. Throughout the last few years, we have participated with or donated to many charities including the California Police Chiefs Association, “We Remember: A Night for Veterans”, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Revisiting that topic of our own advertising, that is the area in which we are most in need of improvement. What can we do better?
We are working on solving this hypocrisy. Soon we will be adding more videos to our YouTube channel. (Subscribe now so you can be one of the early cool kids.) You can also expect to see our new 5 year anniversary logo around the internet and on some of our collateral.
In light of the many lessons learned over the last five years, we will be launching a new initiative for non-profits. These small armies of passionate volunteers are usually the most in need of marketing help and least able to afford it. Stay tuned for our upcoming initiative in which we will help two charities reach their goals!
To all of my friends, family, colleagues, coworkers, and clients, I give you my most sincere thanks. None of this success would be possible without your support. I look forward to continuing the growth of Arkside Marketing and bringing new opportunities to others every day.
If you feel as though your business could benefit from professional marketing direction, you’re not alone. Most businesses would find extreme rewards if an ad agency were part of their structure. From brand development and protection to the quality of advertising, rare is the organization that can execute a well coordinated ad campaign on it’s own.
But the inevitable question is how to acquire that professional experience and insight. Should you hire someone to work from within or hire an agency? Here are five reasons to choose an ad agency:
You do what you do best. So do they. Advertising agencies exist because their staff have made careers out of successful marketing research, creative ideas, and timely execution. They revel in the latest consumer behavior studies and watch hours of Photoshop tutorials so they can offer the best products and solutions to your marketing challenges. The combination of education and passion culminates in a team of professionals.
Beyond love for their craft, experience is also vital. You are an expert at your business but could benefit tremendously from an objective viewpoint. Listen to the feedback and ideas offered by your ad agency. It is their job to understand your audience and reach them effectively. Ad agencies offer a breadth of knowledge from a variety of industries. That collection of experience offers unique insights to address your marketing goals with important perspective.
Whether you are a business owner or a CMO, your daily duties are demanding. Hiring an ad agency allows you to focus on your responsibilities while a team of advertising specialists creates the best marketing elements possible. Developing a brand, launching an ad campaign, or preparing in-house marketing materials are all time consuming endeavors. Agency staff can do these things efficiently and cost-effectively.
You know your business better than anyone else. You need time to run it. Choose an agency that will conveniently work with you and your goals. Your ideas should be part of the marketing process, but marketing shouldn’t be all of your day.
Advertising is a substantial investment for most businesses. Do you consider your business cards part of your marketing? What about your press releases? Employee name tags? Office decor? All of these things are elements of marketing because they are part of your reputation. They represent your brand. They are things a customer might remember about you. All of them can be provided at wholesale prices by an ad agency.
An ad agency is like CostCo or BJs Wholesale Club. They can offer tremendous savings because they buy in bulk. And a good agency buys in a lot of bulk. They will offer savings on media rates because they represent more than just you (one client). They should also have good relationships with the media sales teams and leverage those relationships for your benefit.
Now look beyond the cost of media. Personnel costs are only going up and it would be a massive expense for you to create your own team of experienced marketing professionals. Ad agencies are able to attract great talent and those costs are shared – not absorbed solely by you.
Advertising is an investment. It is money you lay out in order to receive a positive return. An ad agency should be no different. Find the team that will bring your ideas to life and plans to fruition. A team of advertising specialists should save you both time and money while rewarding you with higher revenue and a stronger brand identity.