Most of my clients are small-town, small-time operations that spend so much of their time running the business, they forget to get above the thing and look at it strategically. For some reason, marketing themselves is almost always one of the first things to fall by the wayside when they get busy or the budget gets tight, even when it would be the very thing needed to pull them out of the tight situation they’re in. In other words, small-town businesses need to learn more about being their own “brand ambassador”. Thankfully, I knew where to turn when I needed to learn more about that: Chris Ensor, of Tulsa-based Hampton Creative. He’s got this art down to almost a science, and I was able to ask him a few questions about how small-businesses could work on their own brand ambassadors.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do for Hampton Creative.
Well, I’m a passionate fan and student of marketing first and foremost. I have a sales and marketing background, and have the opportunity to hone my craft for over 17 years in several B2B and B2C capacities. I enjoy meeting new people and helping them find creative solutions to business challenges. I get to work with a team of awesome/super talented people, and I’m thankful to be able to do what I love everyday. My role here at Hampton is pretty diverse, which I love. Basically, I get to spread the word about what we do as an agency, and am responsible for building and maintaining relationships and serving our clients.
How did you get become Hampton’s “Brand Ambassador?”
Short answer: Divine intervention. The truth is that everyone working at Hampton Creative is actually brand ambassador in one way or another….web developer, designer, principal, we’re all in responsible for making sure our reputation for excellence, integrity and creativity remains in tact. We do that by thinking critically, evaluating and re-evaluating consistently, and by continually surprising and delighting our clients.
Do you use any special software, tools or strategies for doing what you do? Something you just can’t do without?
We use Basecamp to communicate internally, which helps everyone stay on the same page. (Sidenote: Basecamp was created by a company called 37signals, whose founders wrote an awesome book called “ReWork/” I highly recommend it to any business owner or thought leader interested in being better.http://37signals.com/rework.) Another valuable tool we use for ourselves and our clients is MailChimp. If you’re thinking about email marketing, this is THE best solution I’ve found. Very robust, integrates well with social media and they have a wacky sense of humor. We use Hootsuite for managing our social media outlets, and we’re also testing Sprout Social which provides some very rich analytics. Speaking of social media, folks can holla at us anytime at fb.com/hamptoncreative and/or follow us on Twitter: @hamptoncreative. Last but certainly not least, we use Google Analytics daily, because you can’t manage what you can’t measure. I probably wouldn’t want to live without my MacBook Pro and/or my iPhone.
How can a small business with no in-house marketing department still do well at being their own “brand ambassador?”
For some bizarre reason, marketing is an afterthought for many small to medium-sized businesses. They don’t consider advertising or marketing until sales are down and expect a promotion to “kick-start” the business. In my opinion, it comes down to lack of knowledge, resources and ultimately strategy. If you don’t have a marketing plan that can be measured, there’s a good chance you’re going to be wasting whatever limited marketing dollars you have. There are so many valuable online resources, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to take the time to stop and actually think about your business. Of course, it never hurts to consult with an expert. The best way for a small business owner to be a brand ambassador is to do what they say they’ll do and deliver an exceptional product or service that meets a need.
What’s the most successful campaign you’ve been involved in this year?
That’s a hard one – we’ve been blessed to have several big wins this year. If I had to pick one, I’d say the integrated campaign we created for Tulsa Community College, called “TCC Is” was a huge success for the client. To date, the campaign has consisted of outdoor, print ads, :30 TV spots with signage. TCC has been extremely pleased, and they were really great to work with and for.
What’s something you learned that you’ll do differently next year?
I think we’ve learned to be more patient and take the time to fully develop a concept before rushing to market. We’ve recommitted our social media efforts in the last half of 2012, and are seeing the fruits of those labors. We’ll do more of the same in 2013 and be selectively aggressive in how we market our agency to prospective clients.
What’s a common mistake you see businesses making these days?
This goes back to question #4 – most businesses have no plan or strategy for acquiring and retaining new customers/clients/patients. It’s also apparent that the web is not a priority for many businesses. And if a business has a website, chances are good it’s outdated, not mobile-friendly, and they have no idea how it’s performing as a sales tool. We are living in a digital age, people…engage, Maverick!