Kevin Price, Host of the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed Ashley Carrier, who has been working in marketing professionally since 1996. He has demonstrated the ability to grow revenues, negotiate strategic alliances, develop effective marketing campaigns, and lead global cross-functional teams with trust and respect.
In 2001, he ventured into his own home-based company, called Bonsai Outlet. Growing from a small, home-based company, BonsaiOutlet.com is now one of the largest online retailers of Bonsai trees, tools and supplies in the US.
In 2010, Mr. Carrier left the corporate world behind to become the president of 190west, a digital marketing agency. Mr. Carrier is also a 2013 Chamber of Commerce EMERGE Award recipient, an award that recognizes 10 young professionals for their outstanding work professionally and in the community each year.
Tell me about your firm.
190west is a fully integrated digital marketing agency. We help our clients develop and deploy modern-day marketing campaigns that drive revenue.
We deliver all the digital marketing services you’d expect from a big agency without the flashy overhead, or frustrating run-around. You interact directly with the people doing the work so nothing gets lost in translation. You present challenges. We produce results. It’s that simple.
Our agile team of experts includes business consultants, analysts, and technical gurus with practical knowledge of front- and back-end systems, analytic and usability tools, and industry best practices. So we can quickly assess where you are today and determine the best way to get you where you want to be—quickly and cost effectively.
We have proven experience in SEO, PPC, email, social media, content marketing, display, remarketing, affiliate marketing and other online marketing disciplines to help you not only increase rankings and drive web traffic, but improve lead quality and convert inquiries into sales for bottom-line results.
At 190west, we don’t just meet client expectations. We routinely exceed them—often exponentially—which leads to long-term, mutually beneficial business relationships.
The businesses’ that 190west has helped include Philips, Nuance, OpenText, HealthcareSource, Omgeo, Aqua Leisure, Sika Sarnafil, Festool, Hyrell, Accessories Palace, EchoTape, Rose Displays and many others.
Tell us your story about reaching C-Level executives to do business?
190west’s goal was always to target C-level executives. It’s what I had always done as a corporate employee. Conceptually, I would develop a marketing plan, get the budget approved, develop a creative brief full of key messages and positioning bullets and schedule a Marcom kickoff call. Then I’d wait a couple weeks for the results (e.g. pipeline of potential clients).
I wasn’t naïve; I knew it wouldn’t be this easy on my own. But it was also more difficult than expected. I didn’t have the cross-functional resources and in Corporate America my budget allowed me to develop 3-dimensional mailers, multi-touch nurturing campaigns, win trip to US Open, etc.
As a small business, we couldn’t take a lot of risks with the marketing budget – we didn’t even have a marketing budget. 190west was an unknown identity, but I still wanted to target C-level executives. Our prospecting tactics are different than initially expected, but the goals haven’t changed. It just takes a little more creativity.
· Personalized Dimensional Mailers. Even though we’re a digital marketing company, we use dimensional mailers. These are very personalized audits of a prospect’s website that highlight the opportunities and obstacles. The open rate is healthy and a lot of people respond saying they like our approach. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to predict a prospects buy-cycle, but we continue to nurture these prospects once we’ve established contact.
· Old fashion networking is a great door opener. Join a local BNI or Chamber of Commerce chapter. Even though we target mostly enterprise clients, these other business owners are connected. If you’ve done your research on the company and person you are trying to target, you’ll likely receive indirect referrals (e.g. I know someone that knows this person). It’s a lot better than a cold call.
· Referral Commissions. Some of our largest clients are a result of referrals from friends, partners, and business colleagues. It eliminates the cold call, which we hate. The referrer also becomes a stakeholder with vested interest in helping you navigate the buy-cycle and/or internal politics.
Executives hold that position for a reason. They’re sharp business minded people. They are trained to negotiate, deflect, delegate, etc. If you get lucky enough to speak with an executive, do your homework. Work on your “pitch”, but don’t pitch – solve a business problem.
I’m a small business owner. We get “pitched” everyday – and I don’t have the time for it. It’s not that I don’t want to improve my processes or bottom line, we all do. But I’m not interested in daily interruptions to discuss tactics. I do, however, take notice of products / services, etc. that my peers (and employees) talk about.
Do you know of other examples of businesses being creative in this endeavor?
Remarketing is a creative and effective technique that many companies are leveraging to stay in front of website visitors who haven’t converted into customers.
Remarketing allows you to reach out to people who have previously visited your website by displaying relevant ads, compelling messaging or discount offers while they browse other sites to encourage them to return to yours. HubSpot, for example, does a great job with remarketing; I’ve been to their page a few times and now their ads follow me around the web like a shadow.
What lessons, if any, do you derive from these stories?
Persistence is key.
The Rule of Seven is an old marketing adage that says that a prospect has to see or hear your marketing message at least seven times before they’re compelled to buy, and I think that’s true now more than ever given how adept we all are at tuning out advertising and solicitation.
It’s difficult to stand out from all the noise and be heard, but we’ve found that the most important thing you can do is never give up.