To Hire or to Outsource: Finding the Right Fit

A rapidly growing organization requires its employees to stretch beyond their job descriptions, addressing countless urgent needs as quickly as possible. Often, during these early stages, you do not have the time nor budget to build the robust team that you need. In this fast-paced environment, it makes sense to hire individuals who can be trusted to wear multiple hats and put out fires as they arise.

No matter how much drive and energy you have, there are only 24 hours in a day. It can be tempting to become accustomed to controlling every move within the business. While there is reassurance in knowing you have the final say, micromanaging every process in your organization is not a sustainable solution. There comes a point when trying to do everything yourself becomes detrimental and requires you to work twice as hard to hit your target growth rate.

Plus, adding marketing specialists to your team can boost ROI. Tasks ranging from copywriting and design to SEO and PPC require experience in both strategy and execution. While you could develop an in-house team to perform many of these marketing duties, some capabilities are stronger when they are outsourced to a group of specialists who can bring more to the table than a single individual.

Marketing results take time

Once your startup achieves a certain level of growth, you can round out the team with specialists who can expertly tackle specific needs. However, seeing tangible results from marketing programs is not always instantaneous. It can take weeks or months until you see the full benefit of new marketing programs. In the meantime, you may lose valuable time if you do not have experienced specialists on your team.

And by the time you realize your strategy is not working, your business will have lost valuable momentum. Unfortunately, developing in-house talent takes time as well. In situations where an internal resource is not in place, it is a good idea to reach out to third-party to bridge gaps.

If you have several positions to fill, the time and energy required to make the right hire can be time-consuming. In these circumstances, hiring an outside agency can create momentum, accelerate learning curves, and improve the efficacy of your resources. Working with a third-party gives you a reliable and experienced team, so you are not putting all of your faith in a single in-house hire to deliver the results you need.

Find the best option for your organization

Turn to an advisor who does not prefer one specialization or channel more than others. This outlook will provide objectivity that takes into account your target segment and your goals.

Imagine if you are considering hiring a social media manager. An impartial consultant will advise against hiring an in-house social media manager or paying top dollar to outsource to a social media agency if your customers do not spend a lot of time on social media. However, if most of your traffic is through organic search, then you stand to benefit by outsourcing your SEO needs. If you ask a social media agency for advice on whether you should outsource, they have a powerful incentive to ensure that you solicit their services.

Generally, unbiased advice will hinge on a few key factors:

A competitive analysis brings insights into your true level of differentiation from your competition as well how they successfully connect with your potential customers. The learnings gleaned from this analysis will help zero in on what your target is looking for in terms of messaging and how they want to interact with your offerings.
If there is a certain specialization that holds the key to differentiation and corporate identity, you should create a permanent position responsible for overseeing this area. Having internal capabilities allows you to maintain complete control over functions, and finding the right person to carry out a task means you can invest heavily in them.
The skill sets within your current team will play an important role when you are deciding what roles to outsource. If you have enough work to fill 40 hours each week, it might make sense to hire a full-time employee. Otherwise, you can have your employee manage one or more agencies who can fill in gaps until there is enough workload to justify a full-time hire.

Deciding whether or not to hire can be daunting, especially when you have a limited budget. Fortunately, TBGA can help answer your most crucial hiring questions. We have helped organizations large and small grapple with the same questions, and we can put you on a curated path toward successful growth. Take the first step and reach out today for a free consultation.

Categories Leadership, MarketingTags , , ,

Are you maximizing the ROI of Your Marketing Spend?

Your organization quickly expanded as a result of the people you have hired, most notably the handful of employees who have worked alongside you since the beginning. Naturally, you feel a great deal of loyalty toward these employees. After all, you want to keep the people around that helped you bring the company to where it is today.

In the early stages of any business, you often have to find people who can do a little bit of everything. This is especially true for marketing. If you did not hire a person (or two, for that matter) with at least a base knowledge of how to engage consumers and build brand awareness, you could easily count yourself as one of the nine out of 10 startups that fail.

As your business grows, your marketing needs will inevitably become more and more specialized with each passing year. Every campaign must deliver greater insights, results, and returns. Otherwise, your products or services could easily fall off even the most loyal of your customers’ radars.

This is not to say that you should replace all of your generalists with specialists. When industries shift, as they often do, it will be your generalists – and their innate ability to pinpoint issues and adapt – who will enable your business to come out on top. Their broad knowledge and problem-solving can piece together the big picture for the rest of your organization, helping predict the best next move.

As a marketing leader, you must build an organization that can support a rapidly evolving landscape. You must balance developing in-house talent against partnering with external providers. With each hiring decision point, you should evaluate whether you are striking the delicate balance with your in-house team or if an external agency can fill any gaps in executing your marketing strategy.

Effectively Assess Your Needs

You do not need to have all of the answers — and even if you do, team shakeups can still feel uncomfortable. Often, it can be hard as an entrepreneur to know when to bring in a new perspective. Fortunately, you can turn to a consultant to assess your marketing team, map them against your goals, and provide an unbiased recommendation for what to do and how to get everyone on board. However, you must select an advisor that brings first-hand knowledge in aligning a marketing organization with corporate strategy to get a real return on investment.

While advice will vary from business to business, here are four steps to set yourself up for growth:

  1. Gain a brutal understanding of the competition.
    You may be surprised by how much is learned through a competitive analysis. In addition to positioning, you can uncover where the competition devotes most of its time and budget. This can signal which channels and outlets allow consumers to interact with brands similar to yours.
  2. Look at your customer.
    For example, say your target segment spends limited time on Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels. It would not be a good use of your resources to hire a social media specialist, then — or even an outside agency to work on your social messaging. If the reverse were true, we would encourage you to find a resource to handle these social media tasks.
  3. Address structural gaps.
    Map your staff’s collective skill set against to your future marketing needs. Dive into performance metrics and speak with your team to assess how to best allocate your bench strength. If necessary, you can bring in specialists and leverage your current generalists as strategic coordinators and project managers — the glue that holds everything together.
  4. Start planning.
    After assessing your needs, determine whether the projected workload warrants having a full-time hire or part-time support. Also, make a call on whether you want to develop the expertise on your team or lean on niche partners. It can take months to hire the right people or tap the right partner who can both fill in the gaps and fit within your culture so start moving.

Here is an example: With mobile phone penetration expected to hit nearly 83 percent by 2020, this channel will serve as the primary path to purchase for many customer segments. As you map the opportunity, you have to understand how consumer behavior differs across devices. This presents a golden opportunity to strengthen your team with expertise in mobile marketing. If you lack this expertise, your business likely will not see the same results for this marketing effort as competitors who are prepared. After you find skill gaps on your team, you must answer the following difficult questions: If you were to bring someone in to handle mobile marketing capabilities, would that person have enough work to fill up a 40-hour week? Or, would a better option be to hire a freelancer or agency to execute this task?

If a time comes when you need an unbiased opinion, you can rely on TBGA’s proven track record of improving marketing ROI and implementing time-tested solutions to get the most value out of your marketing spend. Get started, and reach out today for a free consultation.

Categories Leadership, Marketing, Operations, StrategyTags , , ,

Four Tough Pills to Swallow for Growth

You hired a strategic consultant to help make some much-needed changes in your company. Now, it is time to get the ball rolling.

While your head might be ready to make those adjustments, your heart might be throwing a bit of a tantrum. Constructive criticism can be difficult to digest when you feel protective of the teams and systems you have worked so hard to put in place. Even if the recommended changes are completely rational, some might surprise you while others insult you.

But after the initial sting, you will soon realize that being open to criticism makes you a stronger leader. Deep down, you know that you hired a consultant because your business is not reaching its full potential. In order to implement the changes that will encourage your business to grow and thrive, you need to open yourself up, listen, and really take part in tough conversations.

Find the Silver Lining

Let us take a look at some of the toughest pills that a strategic consultant might prescribe you and consider why (and how) you should swallow them with a smile.

  1. “You need to revamp your team.”
    Criticisms about your team can be the hardest ones to accept. You might love the members of your team like family. They have stuck with you through good times and bad and have helped you build your company from the ground up.

    But in many cases, personal attachments to team members can blind leaders from seeing the dysfunctions that are actually holding the company in a rut.

    It is important to look clearly at the skills and experience of your team members. Ask yourself, “Who do I need today to take my company to the next level?” Goodbyes are always hard, but it is better to say them now than after your business has collapsed.

  2. “You need to pivot your product strategy.”
    Many leaders founded their companies based on a great idea. Subsequently, they are so married to this idea that they avoid revising their product strategy when necessary.

    The saddest thing I have witnessed is when founders realize this strategy problem too late. For example, we once had a client come to us with Google-sized aspirations, but the company had been hemorrhaging cash for the past several quarters. Unfortunately, it was far too late to make the crucial changes in the product strategy.

    To avoid this dreadful situation, do not delay. Instead, complete the tough work now to ensure your business model is healthy.

  3. “You need to focus.”
    Many entrepreneurs have so many ideas on the drawing board that they struggle to properly execute any of them. The ideas might be phenomenal, but without focus, they will never graduate from the brainstorming stage into a living product. The office will forever be a maze of half-finished plans and good intentions — and frustrations for everyone.

    If your strategic consultant comes to you with this criticism, do not start backpedaling with excuses. Instead, go against your natural instincts and thank them.

    While being told to focus might make you initially feel constrained and less entrepreneurial, that discomfort will soon ease once you see what a little focus does to your chosen idea. Move forward by pinning down what this focus looks like for your company, and then keep tabs on new ideas and ventures so they do not go astray.

  4. “You need more structure.”
    Sometimes, observing how a company operates is like watching kids play soccer. Everyone is running for the ball, and no one is executing against a clearly defined role. The result is a messy game in which goals are random and someone is bound to get hurt.

    A lack of structure in a company can be just as damaging as a bad idea. When departments are not communicating or collaborating, everyone moves forward without a clear purpose.

    If this is the problem your team faces, there are many ways you can start bringing structure into your operations. From regular conversations between teammates to clear, shared documentation, adding structure helps team members stay accountable by giving them distinctly defined roles, priorities, and goals.

Know in your head — and heart — why you are inviting a strategic consultant into your company, and understand what your goals are for the process. If you really want to push your company to new heights, you need to be willing to embrace and find value in these tough conversations.

Categories Digital, Innovation, Leadership, Operations, StrategyTags , , , , ,

Rethinking What Diversity Means for Your Business

When does a company achieve the “diverse” badge of honor? Is it simply when the staff photos on its website no longer favor one gender over another? When the photos show a wide variety of races?

Too many business leaders hang their hats on this physical definition of diversity, seeing it as a checkbox that will earn them good PR; paint them as a progressive, open-minded company; and wow potential investors.

Instead of a checkbox, I encourage people to think about diversity outside the box. Besides gender and race, diversity also refers to different socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. When your employees bring a variety of unique ideas and opinions to the table, you can learn so much more about your customers — and it is that intel that will help you stay ahead of the competition.

Diversity Is Not Just Skin Deep

When your perception of diversity is solely based on external characteristics, you miss out on its true power. In reality, diversity goes much deeper. Below the surface, people bring different backgrounds, values, and upbringings to the table that provide companies with unique, innovative problem-solving approaches and opinions that — when leveraged productively — make your company stronger, more creative, and more relevant.

The physical definition of diversity should be constantly in the back of your mind as you vet candidates, and your vetting process should be the same whether you are interviewing a man, a woman, a person of color, a younger person, an older person — the list goes on. But it should not necessarily be your top criterion when making hiring decisions.

Throughout the hiring process, your primary focus should be on skills, abilities, and how well the person will fit into the company culture. Hiring solely for physical diversity — checking that box — will not always give you the best person for the job. You also want to make sure that not everyone at your company is marching to the same drummer, so to speak. There should be conflicting opinions among your staff, and you want your team to collaboratively work through these conflicting opinions. It is when you have achieved this deeper level of diversity that creative solutions emerge that set companies apart.

It is like cooking a stew. If you keep adding salt and pepper as it cooks, the stew will not taste any better. But once you toss in the rosemary, thyme, basil, and paprika, the kitchen fills with glorious smells, and the stew ends up being delicious.

Three Attributes That Contribute to True Diversity

As you set out on your journey to foster true diversity in your company, challenge yourself when looking for the best candidates. Focus on these three characteristics to dig deep and find the perfect people for your team:

  1. Education

    So many companies we have worked with are jam-packed with people with impressive alma maters. In some cases, the entire leadership team went to the same university. While that might look great on paper, once you walk into a room with these company leaders, they are all on the same page and agree on what needs to be done. But if you take a step back and really examine the situation, they lack external perspectives and conflicting viewpoints, so they find themselves stuck in neutral with no clue how to jumpstart their growth.

    Of course, you want people with impressive educational accolades from Ivy League schools, but you also need balance. You need to also hire people who went to public schools and received a completely different (yet still valid and useful) education and overall academic experience. They will have fresh ways of looking at things, which is exactly what your company needs.

  2. Socioeconomic Background

    Before we dive into this characteristic, it is important to note that you should not ask job candidates about their household income when they were growing up, their current net worth, or other personal financial matters. However, you can read between the lines.

    Did they work while they were in college? Did they rely on scholarships? Do they travel a lot? Or have they never been on an airplane? The ideal makeup is a mix of people who grew up bootstrapping their way to where they are today, as well as people who did not have to. Having a healthy balance of varying socioeconomic backgrounds will yield a mixed bag of opinions, work styles, and problem-solving approaches.

  3. Values and Beliefs

    Again, before we dive into this one, remember that you cannot ask job candidates about their religious beliefs. However, you can analyze where they grew up and how they spend their free time. Do they volunteer? What are they passionate about? Did they grow up in a rural or urban area?

    There is no question that rural and urban communities in America hold tight to vastly different beliefs and values. In order for your company to become a household name across all communities, make sure you have all communities represented on your team.

    It might seem appealing to solely hire workaholics who pursue little to no passions and hobbies outside of work. However, people who have lives and passion projects outside of work will bring in a broad spectrum of interests, leading to innovative approaches, and ways of thinking.

While physical diversity is very important, it is not the end-all and be-all of company diversity. It goes far deeper below the surface. Hiring people from different backgrounds can help businesses thrive. It is time to rethink what diversity means for your business and how you can truly embrace it to your company’s advantage.

Categories Leadership, OperationsTags , , ,

Expanding Into the US? Here Is Your Guide to Thrive

You have reached a momentous decision: to expand your business into the U.S. market. Now is an exciting time to be venturing across the ocean. The U.S. economy shows promising signs, and the GDP growth rate is expected to hold strong at 2 to 3 percent this year.

Besides economic prosperity, the U.S. holds other charms for business owners. Its single prominent language and relatively relaxed data laws mean that expanding into North America can seem like a smooth sail when compared to venturing into Europe or other continents.

But to dive in headfirst without testing the water could be a costly mistake for your business’s bottom line and reputation. After all, the U.S. is a large and complex market, and a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy will soon fall short. You need a guide to help pioneer your business’s American adventure.

How to Transition Wisely Into the US Market

There are some adjustments that entrepreneurs must make to their marketing and growth strategies to ensure they can thrive in the U.S. market. Here are the top three I learned from my years of experience:

  1. Take time to understand the cultural landscape.
    The U.S. has a single prominent language, but it also has approximately 325 million people living on its soil. Each state has its own culture and subcultures. The differences between the groups that live there can be vast. So it is vital to understand this cultural landscape in all its diversity before introducing your product to the market.

    This includes adjusting the tone of marketing materials to an American audience’s sense of humor. There are certain things that might sound OK in Europe but can rub people the wrong way in the U.S. For example, a British customer might love an irreverent jab at his own expense, while an American customer could be offended.

    Even basic words and phrases can cause confusion. For example, a company trying to bring the British dessert sticky toffee pudding to the American market had to explain to many people that the “pudding” was not the cold custard that an American would expect.

    For a more successful approach, invest ample time in reading and researching, and then compile a set of words and phrases that sing the praises of your business without confusion.

  2. Build up a picture through target testing.
    In a market as huge as the U.S., you have to get specific about your buyer persona. This means getting close and personal with some actual Americans.

    Begin by determining where to test your product. You can focus on East Coast cosmopolitan hubs like Boston and New York, families in the Midwest, or health-conscious individuals in California. Whatever the case, test in smaller geographies before going big to make sure your product’s features and benefits are not getting lost in translation.

    If you do not know where you should be testing, that might mean you are not acquainted enough with your buyer persona. This can be resolved by acquiring some guidance to see how your product translates to a U.S. buyer.

  3. Get to know your competition.
    It is always wise to examine your competition when expanding or diversifying into new markets. It is especially important in a crowded and ever-changing market like the U.S. Do your homework before you make the leap by building a profile of your competition. Who are the big players? Who are the emerging challengers? And when compared to those companies, what differentiates your offering?

    When companies fail to assess their competition, the results can be disastrous. For example, a Japanese telecommunications company decided to enter the wireless market in the U.S. It tried to copy and paste the retail and distribution strategy that had worked in Japan onto the U.S. market. If it had looked at where its target customers were purchasing their phone plans, the company would have realized that a pure distribution strategy is not ideal for its growth.

You have your bags packed for a new frontier, but before you set off on this exciting adventure, take some time to translate your business into the best American version you can. In addition, having someone to show you the best path for your product and how to tell its story on this new stage can support this market transition in many ways. For help with your international expansion, do not hesitate to reach out to us for a one-hour consultation.

Categories Branding, StrategyTags , , , ,

How to Prepare Your Business Model for International Expansion

As an entrepreneur, you are in an exciting position. You have successfully grown and are ready to expand in the U.S. The new opportunity is a different environment — and one that should be approached with caution to maximize the chance of success.

Opportunity is intoxicating, and many entrepreneurs find themselves rushing headlong into a situation that they should have approached more thoughtfully. It is true that successfully tackling the U.S. market can quickly scale the revenue side of a business, but the operational side must be ready for the increased demand placed on it by the larger market.

Tweaking Your Business Model

When operations fail to keep pace with demand, businesses that once had great potential will struggle to maintain the market share gained after their reputation is tarnished and their credibility is lost. The good news is that entrepreneurs who are knowledgeable about the weaknesses of their business model will be able to not only increase revenue but also improve their overall business operations by entering the U.S. market.

To ensure the transition goes smoothly, keep these approaches top of mind:

  1. Remain Connected
    One of the hardest parts of running a global business is keeping everyone on the same page. When teams cannot work together properly, friction leads to finger-pointing. Generally, there is some validity to claims made on both sides, but a lack of context keeps people from developing a clearer understanding of the issues.

    Keeping different locations of a business tightly connected can strengthen communication and improve business models. Weekly meetings, especially using video conferencing, will ensure specific departments are not siloed from the overall business. If it makes sense, consider implementing a program in which employees or leadership members rotate into the U.S. office to help connect the team to the new market. This arrangement can provide valuable networking opportunities that help encourage continued growth. Stakeholders based in the U.S. should also travel to corporate headquarters to observe the business in its home country.

  2. Be Aware of Changing Differentiators
    Different geographical areas have varied competitive differentiators. To secure your company’s valuable differentiator, research the U.S. market before taking the leap. If your differentiators in your home country no longer set you apart from other companies in the U.S., you will need to find new differentiation to pursue. It is undoubtedly best to begin this process beforeyou make the move to your new location.

    A multinational corporation in Europe, for instance, may not be allowed to move a customer’s personally identifiable information across borders. As a result, a company with a solution that allows them to analyze data while keeping it in the country where it originated from is equipped to be successful because it has a leg up on the competition. On the other hand, most American companies would be less concerned about transporting customer data if their data and analytic tools are based within the U.S. What was a dominant differentiator in Europe has little to no advantage in the U.S. market, illustrating that the challenges of operating in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. have limited similarities.

  3. Understand Marketplace Success
    It is vital to understand the differences in how businesses approach the American market. It is understandably tempting to rely on the tactics that brought your business success in the first place, but there is no guarantee that this approach will translate to the new location and new customer base.

    In Asia, distribution is everything. Consumers purchase goods from retailers, so breaking into the retail market means a company has made it. On the other hand, in the U.S. market, awareness is the basis for business success. Getting a product onto retail store shelves does not mean that consumers will buy it — they need to know what it is.

One way to better position yourself for success in the U.S. market is to have someone on the ground who can help guide your decision-making based on his or her knowledge of the lay of the land. Getting help with your international expansion before you enter the market is critical because it can ensure a smooth transition and keep the costs associated with international moving operations to a minimum. To learn how we can help, do not hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation. Not only do we provide the strategies you need to ensure your business’s success, but we also help you implement them one step at a time.

Categories Branding, Operations, StrategyTags , , ,

Avoid These Pitfalls to Get the Most Out of Your Marketing Consultant

As a founder, you have spent years working long hours to make your company a reality. You know the ins and outs better than anyone else. While it is tempting to think you can gain amazing insights on your own by reading 800-word articles online, you will eventually need to turn to experts to augment knowledge gaps. Engaging a consultant with thorough knowledge of his or her expertise area can help you achieve results.

However, it can be hard to fully rely on your newly hired consultant. It is natural to feel like it will take at least several months to get him or her up to speed before you can trust any input and advice. However, a lengthy waiting period can prove to be a detrimental mistake.

Avoid these four pitfalls to get the most out of your consultant:

  1. Driving in the Slow Lane
    It is common for clients to spend some time debating recommended strategies. However, there are risks to keeping all available strategies on the table for an extended time. A competitor can beat you to the punch, or you can end up losing valuable time. In some cases, you might completely miss the boat on a marketing opportunity. At some point, though, you will have to trust your consultant’s recommendation.

    In one instance, a client went overboard. In the time it took the client to think over our suggestions, the competition got a ton of media coverage and made waves while our client was left in the dust. Three years later, the competitor enjoyed a phenomenal exit. In the meantime, our client was in the process of pivoting to a new market.

  2. Missing the Boat
    Be ready when an opportunity is knocking. Keep in mind that opportunities are rarely perfect, so take the ones that come along and use them to their full extent. Dismissing an opportunity because it is not perfect can sabotage your big break.

    For example, we had a client prepped for an opportunity to appear in The Wall Street Journal. With the opportunity in hand, the business leaders stalled and decided to pivot the direction of the story to something that they thought would be “something more interesting.” Against our advice, they refused to answer questions they considered uninteresting and demanded a “better” reporter. Following a few interactions with our client, the reporter moved on to a different story. We lost the feature article.

  3. Blind Trust
    You made the decision to hire your consultant so trust him or her. However, blind trust can be just as harmful as a lack of trust. There is nothing wrong with thinking things over, and it is critical to fully understand how to implement the strategy.

    Consultants use their expertise to provide recommendations that best aligns with the goals of your company. Your job is not to question the value of recommended strategies; it is to determine whether they are feasible to undertake with your company’s resources. You know your company best. Ask for data and qualitative backup for their recommendations, and stay in the loop.

  4. Jumping to Conclusions
    In a particularly memorable instance, a client was not hitting its numbers. The company quickly decided to replace its SEO agency. When the client transitioned, traffic began to plummet, and the downward trend only continued as the remaining individuals spent more time on fire drills and finding ways to look busy and valuable.

    Afterward, we were able to use data to illustrate that the failure came from the affiliate program. The client needed to reallocate resources, and it took three months for us to regain the SEO losses. Initially, the company balked at our advice because we had not yet gained an understanding of the intricacies of their marketing programs. What the client failed to realize, though, was how to pinpoint the necessary data to make metrics-based business decisions.

Do not doubt yourself. If you are confident in your hiring decision, then the consultant will have valuable input and advice on day one. The ideal hire should come with an impressive pedigree and demonstrate the ability to spearhead marketing strategies that drive results. With your combined knowledge, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you can achieve together.

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Categories Leadership, StrategyTags , ,

Growth Hacking: The Balance of Art and Science in Marketing

The science of marketing can be intimidating, especially for the many marketing leaders who come from creative backgrounds. Instead of crunching numbers and relying on data, many prefer to focus on their own gut feelings, opinions, and intuition. This is the traditional “art” of marketing, and though it is still important and relevant, it is not the only side of marketing that matters.

If you only embrace the art of marketing, you can still end up with beautiful marketing assets and collateral — but these materials will not necessarily speak to your target audience. For example, TBGA once worked with a client that had been sharing a story that its audience was not interested in hearing. But after we interviewed industry analysts and conducted market research, the resulting data helped the client realize it needed to restructure its narrative. Once it did, the brand doubled its pipeline.

Introducing Growth Hacking

As data collection and tracking methods grow, the marketing world has shifted from a qualitative to a quantitative focus. Marketers are increasingly using data analysis, systematic observation, testing, and measurement to better understand their customers, prospects, and influencers. They are studying broad behavioral patterns and using these actionable insights to create campaigns that improve business outcomes. Here are some strategies that your team should use to get you on the right track:

  1. Using the Scientific Method
    The rise of big data has turned marketing into a science. Similar to the likes of Newton and Einstein, brands are hypothesizing, testing, and refining experiments based on data. They are also beginning to embrace ideas from other scientific disciplines such as psychology, sociology, neuroscience, economics, and computer science. This marketing discipline is what some call growth hacking.
  2. Balance Creativity With Hard Facts
    A key to embracing the science of marketing involves overcoming a psychological quirk called confirmation bias. Many leaders will opt to focus on specific metrics that tell them they are on the right track, ignoring any data that tells them otherwise. The beauty of data, however, is that it is inherently objective and unbiased. Gravitating toward flattering metrics completely defeats the purpose.
  3. Rely on the Right Data
    Today, data analysis should play a vital role in every brand’s creative strategy, and it should also help brands craft their quarterly goals. It should fuel every campaign you create and every milestone you set.

    Some leaders fail to question whether they are using the right data, whether there are other factors to consider that are not represented within the data, and how much weight they should be giving the insights they glean from the data — and this can cause problems, too. If you do not ask the right questions (or if you fail to ask any questions at all), your marketing programs may not provide your desired results, and you will not be able to pinpoint exactly what went wrong.

If the thought of embracing the science of marketing seems daunting, TBGA is here to help smooth out the process. We are a team of data-driven marketers who come from a variety of backgrounds. We have a proven track record of helping brands establish key metrics, test hypotheses, analyze data, ask essential questions, and, at the end of the day, tell a story that moves the needle.

We can help you do the same. Ready to get started? Contact us today for a one-hour consultation!

Categories Innovation, Operations, StrategyTags , ,

Learn to Trust and Use the Data You Collect

Marketers are finally seeing the light when it comes to spending on analytics. A 2017 survey of nearly 400 CMOs found that the amount spent on marketing analytics will increase 376 percent over the next three years.

This has us incredibly excited because, as a team of marketing professionals, we are extremely analytical. We know that companies have long been collecting data, and we are so happy to see them ramp up their efforts and continue embracing the valuable science of marketing.

But There May Be a Catch…

While the survey of CMOs found a large increase in spending on analytics, it also revealed that the use rate of data is stagnant. Essentially, companies keep collecting more and more data, but few are effectively leveraging these insights to their fullest. Marketing leaders tend to have creative backgrounds, and many of them are not entirely comfortable diving into statistical analysis and uncovering the metrics that drive results. They tend to focus more on the art of marketing while neglecting the scientific side.

Any modern-day company that wants to remain competitive, increase revenue, improve customer loyalty, and acquire new customers must let data lead the way. Analyzing this data helps marketers understand what is working, what is not working, and how they can improve the customer experience. In fact, according to a recent Econsultancy survey, many data-driven methods boost customer conversions — including customer journeys and A/B testing.

Follow The Data

Quantitative results must be a major part of a marketing department’s dashboard. Teams should constantly use data to review the performance of their campaigns, better understand their customers, and predict their needs, as well as guide changes to their marketing mix, campaigns, customer journeys, and distribution channels.

Most importantly, you must be able to trust that you are measuring the right behaviors and results. Marketing departments need to learn how to rely on the data that they are collecting and analyzing. Bad data makes this work more difficult and increases costs — up to 20 percent of revenue, to be specific.

Set Your Foundation

In order to tease out valuable insights from your data, you must first have clear objectives. Is your goal to increase revenue, grow customer loyalty, or acquire new customers? Once you identify your overarching goals, let data uncover key customer behaviors and use analytical tools to develop personalized strategies to directly achieve them.

The ability to have a fact-based, behavior-based, 360-degree view of the customer is the key to developing marketing strategies that deliver the results you need. TBGA focuses on data-driven decision making. Our team has a proven track record of helping companies embrace, trust, and leverage their data into tangible results that boost their bottom line. We can help you integrate detailed data about your customers, your offerings, and the circumstances in which purchases are made. We can also uncover hidden insights that help you create or improve your products, services, and processes.

We have helped companies learn how to trust their data. We know the strategic objectives that move the needle, and we have established metrics and benchmarks to use as guideposts along the way.

We are eager to do the same for your brand. Contact us today for a one-hour consultation!

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Are There Benefits to Using a Fractional CMO?

Growing a business is exhilarating — but it is no easy task. Sheer enthusiasm and effort will only take you so far. It might help you get the ball rolling and raise a few rounds of funding, but there will inevitably come a time when your growth will stagnate. When that day comes, it will be in your best interest to surround yourself with proven experts who can help carry your brand to the next level.

This is especially true when it comes to marketing. To hit your next growth goals, you will need to bring in a seasoned marketing professional who knows how to develop an integrated strategy that effectively promotes your brand and converts people into customers. This requires experience in generating leads across multiple channels, managing people — and managing a P&L.

In other words, you need a brilliant chief marketing officer who understands what success looks like and knows how to deliver it. Unfortunately, finding this capable person is often easier said than done, especially for small to mid-size businesses.

The Path to Find the Right CMO

We have seen companies waste tons of time and money trying to recruit and hire full-time CMOs. It usually looks something like this:

    Turn to your personal network to see whether a friend (or a friend of a friend) is looking for a job. Most of the time, this approach will not yield top-tier talent — and it could easily present an awkward situation in which you jeopardize a friendship by telling someone, “Sorry, you are not the right fit for my company.”
    Post a job description, which leads to a deluge of résumés and cover letters. Sifting through them in search of someone with the right experience and attitude for your company is no short order — and that is assuming you or your hiring manager understand what the right CMO candidate even looks like.
    Hire a headhunter to do the dirty work for you. A headhunter will most likely speed the hiring process, but it is also a huge investment not in headhunting fees.

All of the above options could easily cost your company more time and money than it has to spare. From there, you still face several rounds of interviews and salary negotiations before you can potentially fill the position with a great candidate. Then you have time required to on-ramp the hire. It could take you up to a year to find the right fit, negotiate mutually beneficial terms, and incorporate the new hire into the fabric of your company.

Imagine if the hire does not work out. If your growing business is looking to improve its marketing results today, we strongly recommend you take a different route.

When to Consider a Fractional CMO

Fractional CMOs are basically on-demand executive-level marketers. Just like traditional CMOs, their ultimate goal is to supercharge your current marketing efforts, identify new opportunities for experimentation and growth, and provide mentorship to your in-house team.

However, there are two big differences between fractional CMOs and traditional CMOs: Fractional CMOs will cost you much less money, and they are equipped to have an immediate impact on your marketing ROI from day one.

Sure, you will be working with an “outsider” — but this outsider will lend an impartial eye to your company’s inner workings. We will make honest suggestions regarding your current tactics and strategies, provide input on future initiatives, and put a plan in place for follow-through. Just as importantly, a fractional CMO will put all the necessary metrics in place that illustrate your marketing ROI.

Last but not least, a fractional CMO can serve as a stopgap while you search for your future full-time CMO. He or she will ensure your company does not lose momentum as it takes the time it needs to find the perfect permanent hire. They can even help you weed out candidates who will not meet your needs during your search.

If your company is stuck in a rut and is struggling to accelerate its growth regardless of how much time, money, and effort you invest toward the cause, it is time to consider partnering with TBGA and hiring a fractional CMO. Our fractional CMOs are industry veterans who have embedded themselves in a wide variety of businesses across multiple industries. We know exactly what it takes to help companies like yours achieve their next growth goals.

Contact us today for a one-hour consultation to learn more about how our marketing veterans can accelerate your brand’s business growth.

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Why Your Marketing Partner’s Pedigree Matters

Hiring a marketing consultant or agency based on the power of a sales pitch is akin to hiring an airplane pilot based on how sharp his uniform looks. This limited amount of information provides you with little to no idea of whether this person can actually help your business soar. Unfortunately, too many small to mid-size companies hire marketing partners without first taking a close look at their credentials and pedigree.

In fact, quite a few of our current clients hired us to help them rebound from consultants who did not live up to their slick sales pitches. For example, before working with TBGA, one of our clients hired a senior marketing consultant who used his fun, personable attitude to win them over. Their entrepreneurial environment required a consultant who could establish metrics, set priorities based on ROI, push his priorities throughout the organization, and most importantly execute on the plan. He always seemed to be working hard, but in the end, it turned out that he was just spinning everyone’s wheels. There were no quantifiable results to speak of.

The consultant was in over his head. He was frustrated, the client was disappointed, and neither party walked away happy. Although we were grateful to have an opportunity to fix the resulting mess, we want you to get it right on the first try.

Pedigree Matters

Pedigree is not about any experience; it is about the right experience. You need to make sure a candidate’s experience will dovetail with your unique needs. Ivy League MBAs, previous jobs at blue chip companies, firm handshakes should never be the sole reason you hire a consultant.

If you do not know exactly what you need, you should hire a consultant who can help you identify them. When looking at a partners track record, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has this partner ever spearheaded the launch of a new business or product line?
  • Does this partner typically have access to a large budget, or is he or she an expert at maximizing minimal resources?
  • Has this partner ever built and led a marketing team, or do they typically work in isolation?
  • How do they measure success?

At the very least, your consultant should have experience working at companies that resemble your own, carrying out tasks similar to the ones you have in store, and delivering the real-life results you want to see.

Culture Is Also Important

When considering a marketing partner, look for a hands-on team of collaborators that do not simply give advice from the sidelines. This should begin at the inception of your relationship by setting clear objectives and diving in to build solutions that meet those objectives.

Your partners should constantly strive to be on the cutting edge — proactively seeking new research, new technology angles, and new information. They should utilize modern-day tools and tactics that will help us deliver the results you desire.

Our roster of marketing experts is deep and diverse. We provide more than a savvy sales pitch; we provide proven marketing expertise that will help accelerate your growth. If we do not meet your objectives, it is probably because we have exceeded them. If you are searching for a partner who is a passionate, determined problem solver with a proven track record of success, contact us today for a one-hour consultation.

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What Is a Fractional CMO?

When we say that we offer fractional CMO services, we are frequently met with some variation of the following question: “What does that mean?”

Then, after we define the term, we almost always hear this: “What a great idea! We did not know this was even an option.”

So what exactly is a fractional CMO?

Essentially, it is a senior-level marketer who embeds him- or herself into a company and drives its marketing results to the next level — either temporarily or on a part-time basis. This person comes equipped with a wealth of experience and knowledge, but unlike a traditional CMO, he or she does not come along with a high price tag or arduous hiring process.

Our fractional CMOs have proven track records. We have led marketing teams and sculpted marketing programs at Fortune 500 companies and startups alike. We do not work from hypotheticals; we know what works and what does not, and we apply these lessons and best practices to our clients beginning on day one.

Here are four misconceptions that surround fractional CMOs:

  1. “It is essential to have a full-time CMO.”  

    The CMO’s role is certainly essential, but it is not essential for this person to be a full-time member of your team. A part-time CMO can provide the strategy based on hands-on experience in order to steer junior marketers toward high-value programs and away from low-ROI ones. In the end, you increase your return on marketing spend and do not waste time on tactics that do not work.

    Even if your ultimate goal is to someday hire a full-time CMO, a fractional CMO can support your organization while you search for the best candidate. Given the amount of time and money it takes to find top-tier marketing executives, partnering with a TBGA fractional CMO is a great way to quickly leverage experienced leadership without sifting through hundreds of résumés or hiring a headhunter. In fact, he or she can help you vet candidates — all while managing your strategic marketing initiatives and mentoring your less experienced marketing professionals.

  2. “I am better off promoting an internal candidate.”

    Fractional CMOs can even train and mentor your up-and-coming internal candidates until they are ready to take on the CMO position — and they come in ready to contribute. Think about the amount of time, training, and resources it will take to transform junior team member into an experienced CMO. It could take months, even years.

    Beyond that, they possess a fresh, unbiased outsider’s perspective. They will not be bogged down by company politics and bureaucracy. Instead, they will feel free to point out flaws, voice concerns, and give honest feedback and suggestions that revolutionize your marketing function.

  3. “I would rather save money by hiring a junior person.”

    You get what you pay for. Most businesses have little to no margin for mistakes, and if you hire an inexperienced CMO to lead your team, you open the door to this very issue.

    Fractional CMOs bring a breadth of experience across different marketing systems, tactics, and corporate environments, they possess a big advantage over junior employees. As senior leaders, they already know how to manage teams and P&Ls — and quantify their impact.

  4. “We hired a great marketing agency, so we have it covered.”

    Agencies should be an extension of your marketing strategy — not drive it. Your team will need to provide the competitive landscape, target segmentation, buyer personas, and differentiation. Your CMO is also responsible for ensuring your marketing operations are running efficiently. Agencies are not equipped to dive deeply into a company’s internal operations and infrastructure, discover inefficiencies, and provide relevant solutions that move the needle.

    On the other hand, when you hire a fractional CMO, your company becomes his or her one and only priority. This person is ready and able to roll up his or her sleeves, investigate the inner workings of your marketing department and company as a whole, and offer tailor-made solutions that result in measurable benefits.

We hope that we have cleared up any uncertainty surrounding fractional CMOs and how they can help propel your marketing results. If you have any further hesitations or questions — or if you are interested in scheduling a one-hour consultation — please Contact us today!

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