Today marks the beginning of a powerful journey for S&S DIGITAL MEDIA and WARFARE MARKETING.
The last several weeks have been a whirlwind — in the best possible way — and now that everything has settled down, I thought I would take some time to share the story of what brought us to WARFARE MARKETING.
I’ve always been an open book, so here’s the scoop…
A Brief History of S&S DIGITAL MEDIA
I started S&S Digital Media in the later part of 2017 because I saw that so many small businesses did not have their businesses on any of the social media channels. This was discovered when I was searching for deals, up coming events and just information on the nearby local businesses. Being one who is so passionate about supporting small local businesses, I became intrigued as to why they did not promote on what’s been the most inexpensive and powerful marketing tool available today.
As I visited many of these businesses, the reasons that was given to me as to why they didn’t promote on social media was, with balancing the business and life, there almost wasn’t any time for marketing on social media. Or the business owner was not aware of how much power marketing on social media channels was for the business. This is when a light bulb went off in my head and I began this mission to educate and assist small to mid size businesses with their marketing efforts on social media.
Immediately the business took off! Because of my drive to produce, empower and promote these business online through social media, I began getting clients left and right. As my clientele grew, I realized that they were requiring more assistance that I could not do all by myself. This brought me to the point where I had to make a decision. Do I hire employees? I was not in a position to begin hiring employees. So I was in search of another solution….
Searching for that “Perfect Business Partner”
Find a Partner that Shares the Your Passion,Entrepreneurial Spirit, and Vision
I’d like to think I delivered top-notch marketing services to the customers I served.
My mission has always been to “help clients promote their business without breaking the bank!” and it wasn’t just a slogan or a tag line. I am completely committed to doing more than just “checking the box” when it came to my clients’ marketing.
I was intensely focused on creating great content and producing results in the form of more revenue for the companies with which I worked. This is why, when I saw some of my clients struggling to close the inbound leads we delivered, I became determined to find a partner that shared my passion to help these clients in this area as well.
Of all the things to look for in a partner – passion, entrepreneurial spirit and vision – these were the most important qualities. I needed someone I was able to communicate with effectively so that we are able to make decisions, set goals and drive the business forward. If I partner with someone who is reluctant, combative or unable to consider my viewpoint, it makes it harder to be successful.
A Partner with Resources and Credibility for the Business
It is great to have a business partner that has financial resources, but there are other contributions a partner can bring to the business that can be just as valuable. A partner with a strong business network, industry connections, client list, or certain credentials and expertise can also increase value.
Dallas-Fort Worth is a huge metropolitan area and finding skilled marketers with social media marketing experience and strong client management and communication skills proved to be difficult.
Competing with large agencies always loomed large when I thought about how it would impact our ability to sustain future growth and fulfill our commitment to our clients.
A common problem many companies experience with rapid growth is mistakes being made due to no time to train properly. Hiring new hires and then getting them up to speed fast, left little time for training. This leaves room for mistakes and prioritizing completion over accuracy.
Yup, you read that right. I have a social media marketing agency that was challenged by marketing.
Talk to any agency and you’re likely to hear some version of this same story.
Sometimes it’s because we’re the proverbial cobbler’s child and don’t make time for our marketing; others, it’s because we’re so in the weeds we can’t step back and take an objective approach to our messaging and strategy, and on occasion, (like in our case) it’s a combination of the two.
During my period of rapid growth, I took my foot off the gas which resulted in lots of marketing activity but little focus. Then when I finally decided to buckle down, I struggled to effectively communicate our differentiators.
There were plenty of other challenges ALL businesses face at one time or another too, including cash flow and internal organizational issues like documenting processes.
I rolled up my sleeves and met every challenge I faced with an attitude of “what changes can I make to prevent this from happening again?”
I put a lot of time and effort into working ON the business and not just IN it, and looking back, it was amazing how much I grew and improved — both at the organizational and individual level.
Keeping Up With the Competition
At the same time I was working on addressing the challenges and managing the agency’s growth, I started seeing more and more agencies coming up in the area.
Some of these agencies really cared for their clients. Others seemed like they were only out for the money.
This increase in competition introduced a new dynamic to the business – compete on price or differentiate in a way that would enable us to eliminate (or greatly reduce) competition and charge higher margins.
Needless to say, I did not get into this line of work to win new business by being the cheapest provider, so competing on price just wasn’t an option.
As the competition increased, I had a decision to make — double down on growing S&S Digital Media or look for the right opportunity to join forces with a strategic partner with whom I could take things to the next level.
Why I Chose WARFARE MARKETING
During my time as a marketing agency owner, I got to know other business owners really well through area chamber events and networking events. I also formed close relationships with a number them.
This was one of the most interesting things about joining a city chamber community. It is incredibly tightly knit and — with few exceptions — chamber partners treat each other as good friends rather than competitors. Many of us are even friends on Facebook and enjoy getting together outside of work.
It was through my participation in these events that I got to know WARFARE MARKETING’s CEO & Chief Marketing Warfare Strategist, Jena Apgar.
Our journeys as agency owners were remarkably similar; we both experienced difficult situations when we lost business, faced challenges with service delivery, and were forced to rethink our approach to company culture, values, and hiring.
Jena was presenting for one of the networking events I attended. It was there that I felt an immediate kinship.
There are a number of reasons I chose WARFARE MARKETING over other agencies:
- Her leadership style and vision for the future growth of the business was along the same vision I had for S&S.
- WARFARE MARKETING has a stellar reputation with its customers for doing awesome work .
- The corporate culture at WARFARE MARKETING is remarkably similar to S&S Digital Media and I knew it would be an easy transition for me.
- We have similar service offerings (social media marketing, web design, etc.) and there is a lot of commonality in our delivery mechanisms (ex. We are both agile).
- The company’s commitment to clients is strong and I knew the customers we had worked with at S&S would be well taken care of.
- The team of individuals that Jena has assembled is first-class and we can do amazing things together.
I knew I had made the right decision when — during my onboarding — I watched a presentation of WARFARE MARKETING’s purpose and saw that the company’s mission was “To help people and their organizations succeed.” This sounded remarkably similar to S&S’s mission of “Helping our clients without breaking the bank.”
Joining a new company can be stressful and disruptive, but this kind of alignment has made the last few weeks surprisingly easy, both for me. I hope (and believe) that it has been equally easy for everyone at WARFARE MARKETING.
Bottom line – WARFARE MARKETING is a good fit for me AND my clients and that makes this a “win, win, win” situation!
The Lessons Learned
Any entrepreneur will tell you — choosing to exit a company you have built from the ground up can be a bittersweet experience.
It’s a little bit like watching your teenaged children go to college; You know it’s a great thing, but at first, it’s hard to let go of a wonderful chapter in your life and recognize that the next chapter holds just as much (if not more) promise.
A few weeks into it, I believe strongly I made the right move for the future of the organization.
By joining forces (rather than competing), we’ll be able to deliver even more value to the clients we serve. I’m excited about the future and looking forward to working with Jena and WARFARE MARKETING to build the world’s leading digital marketing agency.
Finding yourself at a similar turning point?
My advice: Embrace change. Don’t be afraid to pivot. Walk into the unknown. Take the risk. You never know what the future might hold!