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Conversation with a Marketing Agency CEO


Image of two marketing professionals looking at a computer, representing a blog post written by EWISE Marketing & Communications' CEO about her 15-year experience at EWISE.


A Few Minutes of Wisdom After 15 Years in Business


It is hard to believe it is our 15th year anniversary, and what a ride it has been. There have been so many ups and downs moments ranging from that first contract as a new company, to the business-bending journey that was the pandemic. Not to be cliché about it, but it has been an adventure and it continues to be. As expected, with every step, we’ve gained experience and earned our stripes as a company, and some of the insights gained along the way were, honestly, not what I expected. They were better.


So, as we celebrate 15 years, here is Part 1 of a sneak peak of what we have learned. We hope this series offers something different and is helpful in your own journey toward growth.


Part 1: Marketing Agencies Are Beacons of Adaptive Management


Marketing Hasn’t Stopped Evolving Dramatically in the Last 15 Years


Within the lifetime of this organization, I have seen the marketing profession evolve from a primarily advertising function to one that has become so digitally advanced and targeted, it has created multiple internal and external disciplines driving sales, productivity, innovation all reporting success in the form of data and metrics versus creative assumptions and hunches. For those who are familiar with our marketing agency, you know EWISE was started by a sales executive that already thought in numbers, giving us an advantage we could only appreciate later.


All these changes lead to the development of a myriad of advanced marketing tools (database management systems, brand monitoring tools, social media platforms, mobile apps, etc.) that are part of the everyday marketing reality we take for granted. In fact, did you know that HubSpot started just before we opened our doors. That wasn’t that long ago! Fast forward to today, any marketing agency that does not have artificial intelligence working alongside them everyday is at an enormous disadvantage and ChatGPT came out in November 2022!


As capabilities within marketing expanded, I also saw marketing take a seat in the C-suite and really leverage communications to contribute qualitative and quantitative game-changing progress across the organization. As a woman-owned company, I am particularly proud of the fact that women hold 47% of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) positions driving these important decisions within an organization.


Marketing Agencies to the Rescue


This brings me back to us. As a marketing agency, you’re often either serving as the CMO of a growing organization (who doesn’t have a marketing executive in place), or you are working alongside a company’s in-house marketing and communications team to help them turn outreach goals into reality. 


In the eyes of our clients, we also carry the assumed responsibility of helping them keep up with the latest tools and trends in order to be competitive. For those in the trenches, you know this is a nearly daily situation all while being expected to be creative and deliver on time. 


SO, with all that deep breath just ask yourself: why aren’t marketing agencies going crazy? Why aren’t they discombobulated from the onslaught of marketing industry and client changes that would give anyone severe whiplash? Well, because the best marketing agencies implement adaptive management strategies (whether they call it that or not).


What is Adaptive Management?


The academic answer, as the name implies, is the implementation of management processes that allow the team to ebb and flow with daily changing situations. Many are familiar with agile project management, an iterative approach to managing software development projects that is focused on continuous releases and customer feedback. This was inspired by adaptive management approaches.


While most agencies (including ours) did not intentionally implement this management approach, it is a mindset that comes naturally from a relentless commitment to aligning to market demands in order to breakthrough the noise and push forward. While it may sound simple, it is not, because you have to let go of control and pre-conceived notions that hold many companies (and professionals) back from aligning to the pace of business today. At the same time you have to implement new habits that bring it all together. 


As I became more familiar with this, here a few things that stood out about adaptive management:


  • Drafts are Deliverables Too. Iterative creative development and collaboration are imperative steps in bringing together multiple perspectives quickly and effectively. The good news is that, in the world of immediate gratification, creation of draft pieces for clients is much faster. However, the reality of a fast-moving iterative process is that tight management is also needed to make it work. Think version control, conflicting edits, phone call vs email conversations it is this pain that drives experienced teams to incorporate project management tools and overall “rules” that drive success in a rapidly moving environment. This is another reason why growing companies should hire experienced marketing agencies. The faster things move, and the more communication options pop up, the better it is to have a centralization of marketing activities (with a team that knows how to keep it all organized) in order to make sure projects get done and a company’s brand is represented correctly and consistently. 

 

  • Fluid Marketing Data Is a Compass. Calculus is the mathematical study of continuous change — a discipline that is critical to modeling, forecasting, and predictive analysis for any organization. As marketing becomes more about data, metrics and well, math, it is imperative that any marketing initiative be thought of as nimble campaigns whose associated data is continuously monitored and tweaked for effectiveness.   This often means there are no finite “due dates.” A project is never truly done. This is especially relevant when developing websites for example — the heatmaps and data gathered from UX monitoring (prior to release, after release, and seasonally) are invaluable to driving potential customers to your products and services. Having no finite due date may seem counterintuitive, particularly to customers that don’t understand the ongoing nature of marketing today, but it is imperative if companies want to be targeted. This is why marketing agencies are often on retainer; they are there to maintain ongoing success. A relationship with a marketing agency may start with a project, but ultimately, there are so many adjustments needed to keep up with an ongoing changing world that most companies end up in a retainer type of relationship anyhow. 

 

  • Embracing the Risk of Not Having It All Figured Out. Everyone talks about target marketing, but when the floor beneath you is changing so quickly, precision is not absolute and can only really be achieved by ongoing monitoring. Of course, you can target specific decision makers, build out buyer personas, and map out the psychographics that are driving their purchase decision, but you don’t know everything. For example, if you normally sell cologne to women as a gift and suddenly you see a surge of young men buying cologne, your well-intentioned marketing campaign (targeting women) may not hit the mark. You may have to supplement a marketing campaign to align to what you missed, and the loss might force you to take a closer look at... dare I say it... data to understand what went wrong. The good news is that, in today’s fast-moving marketing world, you can quickly course correct and recover. If you find yourself in a dilemma, you can do A/B testing relatively quickly and adjust efforts. Having a dedicated marketing team will allow you to repurpose what you have and move through this process quickly and systematically.


As I often tell the EWISE team, growth is messy, but when you are prepared for it, you don’t see it as daunting. You see it as a fun adventure you take arm-locked with clients. In other words, it’s a mindset, and the ability to maneuver quickly, to manage by facts, and to invest in the infrastructure needed to make it possible is absolutely critical for any organization to be effective in a fast-paced world that is continuously becoming more digital, visual, and data-centric.


I am proud that we are in an industry that is helping to underscore the importance of adaptive management in a modern world, and I am especially thankful for the team at EWISE for helping our clients experience the benefits of a marketing structure that is aligned to business success. 

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