What a month it’s been! 🙂
When Nadine, Executive Director of the Canadian Association for Marketing Professionals, recommended I submit a nomination form for the 2016 marketing awards, I had my doubts.
Not because the campaign I was outlining in the application wasn’t successful; it was/is with our client generating tons of business from the digital activities that we perform on his law firm’s behalf.
And not because we don’t have an amazing team, we do with the likes of Hailey Barton (who left after 5 years earlier this year but is hugely responsible for the early success of this program), Sam Lui (SEO genius), Chantal Saville (writing maestro) and Laura Barros (who keeps me sane each day.)
I was doubtful because Lyra Communications is not one of those slick downtown digital firms with armies of graphic designers, modern art on the walls and foosball tables in the staff lounge.
We take a different approach. We’re smaller, obviously, thus we don’t charge agency fees, nor do we change our fees depending on the size of the client.
Our services are strategic and strategically streamlined often coming in at a third of what many companies charge for similar work.
This means that most of our clients’ money goes to their marketing, not our marketing.
The model works well. Our clients are happy, as is my team, but when it comes to beauty contests like RFP competitions and awards, our emphasis on substance over slick means that we are sometimes overlooked compared to our shiny, salesy competitors.
I protested as such to Nadine who replied with “Kim, your program gets amazing results and that’s what our judges are looking for!” so I held my breath and submitted the form.
Imagine my surprise when, a month or two later, I received notice that Lyra had been short listed for Marketer of the Year in the SME category. Hurrah!
The world of outsourced marketing in any big city is cut-throat and saturated with both talented practitioners and snake oil salesmen. And the world of digital marketing and social? Even more so.
While there’s no lack of design and writing talent, there’s a real deficit of strategic thoughtfulness, and way too much emphasis on appearances. At this very moment, I can hear you asking ‘But Kim, isn’t marketing all about appearances?’
My answer: Nope. It’s about getting the results you need in the best possible way and, if you trade substance for looks, your program will eventually collapse.
The program that earned CAMP’s judging committee’s attention is supporting a personal injury lawyer in Hamilton, Ontario, named Derek Wilson.
When Sam and I first met with Derek and his wife Sherry (who helps Derek with the business side of the firm), the challenge was clear. Personal injury marketing in Ontario is ruthless with large firms spending seven figures a year on SEO, radio and even TV ads.
How could a small firm compete? Should he even bother? Should we even bother?
But never ones to shrink from a challenge, Sam and I looked carefully at the landscape, then looked back to our client. We asked ourselves, if Derek doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to throw against a competitive adword or SEO campaign, where can he compete?
The answer was a program that was long-term, creative and most importantly, strategic; and it was not at all what Derek was expecting (or had heard from other marketing agencies.)
I remember Sam saying “This is not a sprint, Derek, it’s a marathon, and you need to be in it for the long haul, but stick with it and it will work.”
All our clients sign a 12-month contract, and for the first three months, it was quiet. Crickets quiet. I know it’s always like this in the beginning, and had spent much time making sure our client knew it too, but still, I had a few moments of worry when I called Sam who answered, in his steady way, “It’s a marathon, we’re just getting started, be patient.”
So we kept at it and, slowly but surely (just as Sam had said), our client’s google ranking grew. Traffic to his site grew. His social media networks grew and enquiries to his site grew.
After six months, we tweaked his website and those enquires grew not only in number but also in quality.
By the end of year one, we made our target. By the end of year two, traffic jumped by 500% and his enquiries by 60%, and we surpassed the target.
Now, halfway through year 3, traffic has stabilized, his SEO ranking is stable (he ranks above the majority of his competitors), and although we write the conservative number of 25% on of most of our marketing materials, the reality is that Derek gleans almost a third of his new client files from our digital activities.
Derek’s program is neither super-slick nor massive; rather, it’s a coordinated, streamlined and strategic allocation of dollars in the right places, carefully designed to achieve the highest possible ROI. Sexy? I’ll let you decide. Effective? Hell yes!
I’m overjoyed that the Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals saw fit to short list this program. I feel like it’s a vote for the hardworking small businesses out there and for those marketers like myself and my team who pay serious attention to our clients, getting to know their businesses and getting to know them.
We may not have foosball tables in our staff lounge, but we may have a craft beer or two in the fridge that we’re more than happy to crack open with those amazing clients who empower us to do our best work, year after year.
To my team: Thank you for your hard work on this engagement.
To Derek Wilson Personal Injury Law: Thank you for entrusting your marketing to us, for your patience and your continued support.
To the Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals: Thank you for considering such a wide variety of firms in your awards, and recognizing that talent, success and heart is as prevalent in smaller companies as it is in bigger ones.
The big award is announced on November 2nd, and Sam and I will be there alongside Derek and Sherry and a few other clients, but as far as I’m concerned, even being nominated is reason to crack open the champagne.
With sincere gratitude,