Brand Storytelling: Winning Business by Making Your Customer the Hero

Brand Storytelling: Winning Business by Making Your Customer the Hero

Brand Storytelling: Winning Business by Making Your Customer the Hero

&Marketing, and marketing, outsourced marketing strategy

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These days, you can find any information you could want online. Thanks to Google, instant gratification has become a daily feature in our lives. What has become more rare, however, is human connection.

That’s why connecting with consumers more deeply as human beings has become more effective. It’s not enough anymore to simply share the logical reasons why your brand has something special to offer. To cut through the noise of today’s oversaturated markets, you also need to weave emotion and empathy into a narrative that captures and holds their attention.

Why a narrative?

  • Storytelling has been shown to increase oxytocin production in the brain, which encourages people to feel more empathetic and willing to participate in a shared, cooperative experience.
  • Audiences naturally engage more with emotions, ideas, and values over products and services.
  • A memorable brand story gives consumers a stronger impression of who you are and what you stand for, ideals that are more likely to inspire loyalty.

Storytelling is always at the core of what we do for our clients, and we’re passionate about helping organizations realize the power of its impact. Below, you’ll learn more about the neurological impact of storytelling on the human brain, the basics of brand storytelling structure, and how positioning your customer as the hero positions you to win more business.

Why Our Brains Love Brand Storytelling

Recent scientific studies show that storytelling has a measurable impact on the brain, particularly the synthesis of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone released by the pituitary gland, sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” as it can be released by things like touch, music, and exercise, which produce feelings of well-being.

“Oxytocin is produced when we are trusted or shown a kindness, and it motivates cooperation with others,” says Paul J. Zak, founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and a professor of economics, psychology, and management at Claremont Graduate University. “We found that character-driven stories do consistently cause oxytocin synthesis. Further, the amount released by the brain predicted how much people were willing to help others.”

Zak’s team has also gotten insight into what makes stories effective at spurring oxytocin production, finding that a story must first grab and hold the audience’s attention by creating tension. When the characters experience tension, the audience’s ability to empathize and get transported into the story increases. If you’ve ever felt like working out or taking a karate class after watching an action flick, this is why. This may be because our attention to the story at hand sharpens as more tension arises. Our senses heighten as we get swept more and more into the story, imagining ourselves in the hero’s place.

If you can present your consumers with a story that places them in the center of the narrative as the hero triumphing over daunting obstacles to achieve their goals, you can capture their attention and empathy. You’ll have the opportunity to show them (not tell them) how you can help them defeat their villains and change their lives for the better.

Brand Storytelling Structure

Another reason storytelling is so effective is that it helps our brains organize information in a way that’s easy to understand. Stories put everything in order to prevent the audience from getting confused and tuning us out.

Because effective storytelling has been studied and practiced for thousands of years, it can be distilled down into a definable and repeatable structure. This structure is highly effective at helping brands simplify their message and use their opportunity to communicate with the audience to its fullest potential.

In Building A StoryBrand, Donald Miller identifies seven essential parts to storytelling:

“A character who wants something encounters a problem before they can get it. At the peak of their despair, a guide steps into their lives, gives them a plan, and calls them to action. That action helps them avoid failure and ends in a success.”

Miller says that customers are most interested in how your brand will help them to survive and thrive. Once you understand their needs, desires, problems, fears, and goals, you can place them in the center of this storytelling structure as the hero conquering their foes with you by their side as a trusted expert and guide. Just remember — they are the hero, not your brand!

Using Brand Storytelling To Win Business

People want to see themselves as the heroes of their own stories, and helping them do that is a vital way to cut through the noise and differentiate your brand. By focusing on their goals rather than your own, you position your brand as a wise guide that can help them overcome their challenges and thrive.

Once you’ve identified your ideal customer/main character, you need to define the problems they need your help solving. Focus on internal problems, the kind that keep your audience up at night — the primary villain, the dragon they need to slay. In what concrete ways do these problems present themselves in daily life? How does it nag at them mentally throughout the day?

As their empathetic and authoritative guide, you should be able to articulate how your brand can help them vanquish their villain. That means you’ll need to present yourself as wise, showing your expertise through case studies and testimonials to demonstrate how you’ve helped others. You’ll also need to show empathy and that you thoroughly understand their challenges.

Now that they’ve got a trusted guide on their side, they need a plan of attack. That’s where calls to action come into play. Don’t be coy — tell your audience exactly what they should do to fight their villain and come out on top. Articulate how this action will help them to achieve success and avoid failure, transforming them from the striving hero to the ultimate champion.

Unleash Your Inner Yoda

Do you want to unleash your brand’s inner Yoda, guiding customers toward their Luke Skywalker moment? Learn more about storytelling in our free guide to narrative marketing, where you’ll find a full breakdown of each step from StoryBrand.

About the Author

Content Specialist Kim Steinmetz helps brands and thought leaders discover and develop their unique voice and tone while establishing authority on a topic through compelling messaging and copywriting. An accomplished writer and marketer with over a decade of experience, Kim is well-versed in both B2C and B2B content. 

About &Marketing

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’ growth goals?

We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.

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How To Get Buy-In From Stakeholders for Your Content Marketing Strategy

How To Get Buy-In From Stakeholders for Your Content Marketing Strategy

How To Get Buy-In From Stakeholders for Your Content Marketing Strategy

&Marketing, and marketing, outsourced marketing strategy

Written By

Your content marketing strategy is vital to your organization’s overall success, so getting buy-in from stakeholders outside the marketing department is crucial to keep everyone aligned toward business goals. When everyone puts their heads together to provide input into the new plan, fresh perspectives and ideas are uncovered to make the strategy work better for each department.

We’ve spent years discovering the most effective approaches to get buy-in from stakeholders, so we combined our knowledge to create this guide. Keep reading to discover our 3-step process to winning your entire organization over to your brilliant new content marketing strategy.

Why Does Getting Buy-In From Stakeholders Matter?

There are many reasons why getting buy-in from stakeholders for your content marketing strategy is a step that should always be remembered. It may take hard work and patience, but it’s worth it — when everyone is aligned on a strategy:

  • Non-marketing employees feel more invested and engaged in the marketing department’s activities and are often more willing to contribute to efforts as subject matter experts.
  • It becomes easier for your business to develop its brand identity and present a strong, clear impression of it to the market.
  • The long-term success of the strategy improves with greater internal support.
  • Project planning becomes easier because everyone is aligned on priorities.

How To Get Buy-In From Stakeholders in 3 Steps

Marketing is constantly evolving, so you must be strategic about getting buy-in when you propose changes to your strategy. Leadership especially wants to be reassured that any changes are highly likely to deliver results, so you’ll need to come prepared with plenty of data — but that’s not all:

1. Determine who your stakeholders are. Focus on their concerns and priorities.

Map out how various departments interact with or may be impacted by your strategy. Examples may include outside sales, customer service, IT, and others. Start thinking about their responsibilities, needs, and possible objections. What will you need from them, and how can you ease the burden on them to provide that?

Depending on your organization’s size, it might be worthwhile to have a different session with each department. This can help you avoid bogging anyone down with extra information irrelevant to them, tailor your presentation more closely to your audience, and provide them with individual attention.

When it comes to getting leadership buy-in, ensure you understand what metrics leaders are most interested in improving and can demonstrate how your plan will help move the needle toward the company’s goals.

2. Lead with transparency: be clear about what you want.

Make sure everyone knows the purpose of each meeting beforehand, so stakeholders know what to expect. Don’t wait until the end of the session to finally get to the ask — tell stakeholders what you want from them at the beginning, then provide a clear explanation of why they should agree.

Set a baseline by explaining how things are currently done and where there’s room for improvement. This is an excellent opportunity to incorporate data showing where your current strategy could improve.

Pro tip: don’t just rattle off facts. Storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool — don’t just use it in your content marketing strategy. Use it to create an engaging and impactful presentation that pulls your stakeholders in just as you would a customer.

3. Prove your claims and call on them to act.

Once you’ve captured your audience’s attention and imagination, appeal to their logical side by providing data to give your proposal more legitimacy. Make sure it’s easy to understand and leads to a clear conclusion. Share examples of other organizations that have seen success with similar strategies. Most stakeholders don’t want to be the first to try a new tactic, but if they can see that others have succeeded, they’ll feel more comfortable giving it a try.

Clearly describe the benefits of your plan. A strong content marketing strategy makes customers feel more comfortable interacting with you because they’ve come to you. It also often costs significantly less than outbound marketing strategies while netting higher quality leads and improving visibility online. Make sure your audience also clearly understands any benefits specific to their department or goals, and make a clear and concise ask for exactly what you want them to do next to support your plan.

Overcoming Obstacles To Get Buy-In From Stakeholders

Sometimes there are factors beyond your control influencing stakeholder decisions. For example, if you’ve just joined the company, your peers and leadership might not have had enough time to get to know and trust your expertise. While it can be frustrating, it is understandable, and there are ways to help stakeholders warm up to your ideas even if they haven’t yet warmed up to you. For example, consulting with an outside expert, someone likely to be trusted and respected, can be valuable in helping to reinforce your claims.

If your plan requires marketing skills you don’t currently have and you aren’t ready to make a significant investment in headcount, you can outsource key roles. It’s common to do this for tactical roles like website design or content creation, but you can also hire part-time executive-level content marketing help in the form of a Fractional Content Marketing Officer, or fCMO. An fCMO can lead your team in both strategy and execution of your content marketing strategy without the high overhead of adding another full-time member to your C-suite.

How To Measure the Short-Term Success of Your Content Marketing

Content marketing is ultimately a long-term strategy, but stakeholders are often interested in hearing about short-term results whenever possible. At the outset of your plan, establish your baseline to measure against. Short-term goals to track include social media interactions (likes, shares, mentions, followers), backlinks, and leads and conversions. Search engine traffic will take longer to rise, but with a baseline, you’ll be able to see any quick bumps if they do happen.

Get Help Telling Your Story

Whether you need help creating an impactful story for stakeholders or customers, we’ve got a roadmap for you. To help you successfully lead your hero down the path to their own happily ever after, &Marketing has broken down Donald Miller’s StoryBrand roadmap into easily digestible bites. Download our free guide to narrative marketing for a simple breakdown of each step.

About the Author

Content Specialist Kim Steinmetz helps brands and thought leaders discover and develop their unique voice and tone while establishing authority on a topic through compelling messaging and copywriting. An accomplished writer and marketer with over a decade of experience, Kim is well-versed in both B2C and B2B content. 

About &Marketing

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’ growth goals?

We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.

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The 6 Biggest Marketing Trends Entering 2023

The 6 Biggest Marketing Trends Entering 2023

The 6 Biggest Marketing Trends Entering 2023

&Marketing, and marketing, outsourced marketing strategy

Written By

As I speak to business owners + marketing leaders, I’m always trying to keep a pulse on trends. Broadly, there are some macro business trends around economic uncertainty (duh!), inflation, supply chain, and data.

6 Marketing Trends Entering 2023

Let’s focus on what’s happening in the marketing industry. Since the landscape is constantly evolving, the trends that I’m seeing are a mix of old and new. Marketers will need to stay ahead of the curve to remain competitive. I’ve tried to identify the top 6 trends that will be driving the industry in 2023 and beyond.

AI & ML

Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can be used to automate many marketing tasks, such as customer segmentation, content personalization, data analysis, and predictive analytics. This will allow (force!) marketers to focus on strategic tasks, such as developing creative campaigns, optimizing customer experiences, and making better decisions to increase ROI. Are you at least exploring AI/ML’s role in your marketing?

Data & Insights

The use of data-driven marketing will only increase in importance. Data-driven marketing informs better decisions, such as which channels to use, which audiences to target, and most importantly how to beat competitors. Everyone says they use data – but are you using it to make better decisions?

Social is Evolving

Social media will continue to be a major trend in marketing. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok (and what about Twitter?) are powerful for connecting with customers and building relationships. Marketers use these platforms to engage with customers, promote their products and services, and build brand awareness. It’s more than just a content distribution channel. How are you evolving your social plan?

Video

Video will continue its surge. It is an effective way to engage with customers and build relationships. Marketers can use video content to showcase their products and services, tell stories, and create an emotional connection with their audience. Are you behind because you’re not using video?

Influencers

Influencer marketing involves leveraging the influence of well-known people across industries (not just social media) to drive credibility. Influencers can help to build brand awareness and trust, as well as drive sales. This is not just a B2C phenomenon on TikTok and Instagram… it’s happening all around in B2B as well. Who influences your prospects?

Data Privacy

Data privacy will continue to be a thorny topic. Companies no longer have free reign to use data to target customers, and there will continue to be a backlash on companies that overstep ethical boundaries. Are you evolving fast enough?

These are just a few of the major trends I’m seeing. How are these impacting your business? What is missing?

About Rajat Kapur

As the Founder & CEO of &Marketing (www.and-marketing.com), Raj and his team strive to provide growing businesses unparalleled marketing strategy and execution services. Raj has more than two decades of experience in B2B and B2C marketing, sales, & strategy. He has led nearly 100 high-profile marketing strategy projects for Global 100, mid-sized clients, and SMBs, plus over a decade with General Electric and General Mills. He is a sought-after advisor and facilitator, with experience across five continents. He is known for bringing the best of ‘big company’ marketing and strategy to smaller companies without the baggage, his bias for practical implementation, and his unrelenting customer focus

About &Marketing

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’ growth goals?

We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.

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How to Calculate ROAS to Support Your Business Analytics Strategy

How to Calculate ROAS to Support Your Business Analytics Strategy

How to Calculate ROAS to Support Your Business Analytics Strategy

&Marketing, and marketing, outsourced marketing strategy

Written By

Advertising campaigns cost money, and many companies need help understanding their Return On Investment (ROI) or Return On Ad Spend (ROAS). Most often, this is from a need for proper tracking and struggling to assign monetary values to your ads’ results (unless you are eCommerce.) Without ROAS, companies are left without insights into deciding whether or not to continue ad campaigns or optimize based on the results. Calculating ROAS is a foundational part of any organization’s business analytics strategy.

To make the best business decisions, you must understand and calculate ROAS. This blog discusses what ROAS is, how to calculate it, and what a good ROAS might look like.

What is ROAS, or Return on Ad Spend?

Return On Ad Spend measures the cost-effectiveness of your advertising campaigns. It helps businesses determine whether they are making a positive return on advertising costs or losing money due to not making enough from advertising.

A high ROAS is a positive indicator of performance, whereas a lower ROAS indicates that your campaign has an opportunity to be optimized. It’s also important to consider different marketing campaigns (such as Social Ads vs. Search Ads) and compare returns as different channels will result in different performances.

How Do You Calculate ROAS?

Revenue / Cost: The simple way to calculate ROAS to support your business analytics strategy is by dividing Revenue by Advertising Cost. The advertising cost includes:

  • The campaign budget
  • The campaign manager’s time
  • Any other outside costs that you may have for that particular campaign.

For example, if a specialty foods brand spends $10,000 on a Google ad campaign and generates $30,000 in revenue, the formula is as follows:

$30,000/$10,000 : $3 or 3:1

In this example, a 3:1 return on ad spend means that for every $1 the brand spent, it generated $3 in revenue.

What is a Good ROAS?

Every brand and industry will have its own “good” ROAS. For some companies, a 3:1 ROAS is excellent, while others would consider that to be underperforming. If your ROAS is low, then you might increase ad spend to get a better return. On the other hand, if your ROAS is high, you may consider how to keep the campaign performing well and look into ways to mimic that effort in lower ROAS campaigns.

Sources indicate that the benchmark ROAS for Google Ads campaigns is 2:1, an average return of $2 for every $1 spent. Further, focusing specifically on Google Search Network, that amount increases to $8 for every $1 spent.

The 3 Benefits of Calculating ROAS

Calculating ROAS will help you:

1) Identify Scaling Opportunities

ROAS allows companies to determine the effectiveness of individual ad campaigns. By examining each campaign, businesses can determine which type of ads are performing well and scale those ads to drive the best results. Tip: Remember that a solid business analytics strategy involves constant monitoring. ROAS may decrease when you scale your budget, so be sure to consistently track your ROAS while scaling.

2) Determine Budget Re-Allocations

Spending a lot of money on ads does not always mean you will get high sales. On the other hand, spending wisely on your best ads can drive more sales. ROAS calculation results help you identify the ad sets on which you are overspending. In these cases, you should reduce your budget to protect your business from losses.

3) Guide Better Business Decisions.

Successful marketing strategies are rooted in data, and ROAS is one of your top performance indicator metrics for digital advertising. With multiple channels such as Social, Referral, and Paid Search, ROAS will help you determine which acquisition source will help you achieve your business goals.

Take Control of Your Business Analytics Strategy Today

Optimizing your marketing campaigns and properly planning your budget becomes easier when you have a solid business analytics strategy in place, and calculating ROAS is essential to supporting that strategy. You can gain a deeper understanding of performance metrics and scaling opportunities by using our ROAS calculator.

About Sydney Thomas

Marketing Director Sydney Thomas helps clients create, implement, and optimize campaigns in their Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising accounts. While ensuring that clients are getting the most out of their pay-per-click accounts, she also supports creating websites to improve SEO and supports paid social network advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn.

About &Marketing

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’ growth goals?

We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.

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Why Your Business Might Need a Digital Transformation

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Should You Turn Off Digital Advertising During Economic Uncertainty?

Should You Turn Off Digital Advertising During Economic Uncertainty?

Should You Turn Off Digital Advertising During Economic Uncertainty?

&Marketing, and marketing, outsourced marketing strategy

Written By

When the economy takes a turn for the worse, it seems like everything is tanking. Less money is coming into your business, and everyone is rightfully concerned. Companies go into survival mode and immediately start thinking about how to cut costs and hold on to revenue. Immediately, advertising costs are on the chopping block. It seems logical to turn off your Google Ads during a recession because it’s an easy lever to pull that will immediately cut down costs.

Maybe your revenue won’t take a big hit! Maybe it’s the right move. But more than likely, turning off your digital advertising will only negatively impact your business, despite your instinct to pull the plug.

Your Competitors Will Probably Turn Off Digital Ads During a Recession

Let’s face it—most businesses, especially smaller ones, will probably turn off digital advertising during a recession. After all, they’re having the same thoughts and anxieties we mentioned at the beginning of this article. Guess what that leaves?

  1. a less competitive landscape for you to maintain your online presence
  2. lower costs to advertise because there are fewer people in the space
  3. opportunities to increase your brand awareness

Even if people aren’t ready to convert on the spot, guess whose name they’ll remember when they are?

We recommend taking advantage of the cheaper ad costs. With fewer advertisers in the mix, the cost-per-click (CPC) will be far lower than usual. It’s a great opportunity to actually reduce your cost-per-acquisition and further your overall brand awareness.

Digital Ads Will Still Make Money During a Recession

In 2008 and 2009 during the last recession this country experienced, Google Ads still made money. While their profits didn’t grow exponentially, they left the recession in a good place. Why? Because people will always use Google and therefore Google Ads, and people will always need to advertise online. Google also dominated during the pandemic as users flooded the internet during the stay-at-home orders. You can see a similar pattern in Facebook Advertising.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s longest serving chief operating officer, stated in July 2022, “Despite the current challenges, I’m very confident for the long term,” Sandberg said. “We’re facing a cyclical downturn, but over the long run the digital ad market will continue to grow. Advertisers will go where they get the highest return on investment and ability to drive their business.”

Digital ads, whether on Google, Facebook, Bing, or elsewhere, is a consistently growing business and isn’t going anywhere any time soon. As far as anyone can tell, people will always use Google to find the products and services they need.

Recessions Aren’t Forever

The average length of a recession is 17.5 months. While it may be a miserable 17 months, it will come to an end. Following a recession, the economy and markets return to normal at minimum, and often turn into a period of huge growth and opportunity. If you keep running your Google Ads during a recession, you’re bound to collect qualified leads to follow up on when the economy improves. You want to be there when that happens— with an already established, well-oiled digital advertising campaign that keeps you at the forefront of your audience’s mind when they’re ready to buy.

Acquisition Channels Are Directly Connected to Your Conversion Channels

It seems so simple to turn off the channels that aren’t directly connected to your revenue. Why keep spending money on the channel that doesn’t immediately convert? But if you turn off your acquisition channels, your conversion channels will suffer later. In most circumstances, your path to conversion isn’t as simple as 1-click to purchase. Your marketing funnel more than likely involves multiple touchpoints, and your acquisition channels shouldn’t be undervalued just because you can’t see the immediate purchase.

Advanced digital marketing experts are always watching what is referred to as assisted conversions. These are ways marketing channels contribute to a sale on other channels. A simple example is when someone clicks on an ad, browses and leaves, then later goes directly to the website and converts. “Direct” (traffic that goes straight to the website’s URL) may get the credit in your analytics platform, but it may not have happened without those ads. Turning off your ads may hurt your other channels because of assisted conversions.

What to Do With Your Google Ads During a Recession

While we don’t recommend immediately pausing your ad campaigns as the quick fix to save money, it is a good time to evaluate your spending and campaign types. Keep your pay-per-click (PPC) running, but be more efficient and mindful about what you’re spending.

You also need to be thinking long-term. In a recession, it may be tempting to start running ads for the first time in hopes that it becomes a quick revenue fix. This rushed approach often leads to dashed hopes and inflated expectations. Many campaigns take months to get into an optimized groove, so most of the time those won’t turn a profit quickly.

If you aren’t sure whether to stop, start, or adjust your Google Ads during a recession, we have good news! To help businesses during this time, we are offering a complimentary digital ads audit to help you make the most of your marketing money right now. Spaces are limited, so grab your spot today.

About Sydney Thomas

Marketing Director Sydney Thomas helps clients create, implement, and optimize campaigns in their Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising accounts. While ensuring that clients are getting the most out of their pay-per-click accounts, she also supports creating websites to improve SEO and supports paid social network advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn.

About &Marketing

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’ growth goals?

We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.

Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Insights

Why Your Business Might Need a Digital Transformation

Countless small and mid-sized companies are using outdated or uncoordinated digital marketing strategies that result in wasted time and money. If you’re still not on social media, have not segmented the audiences on your email list, or are throwing proverbial...

Revolutionizing Marketing Leadership Podcast: Insights to Fractional Executive Roles

Recently, I had the opportunity and privilege of being featured on the IMpluse podcast with industry expert Prateek Panda as part of a series discussing fractional executive roles and strategic marketing leadership within medium to large-sized startups and established...

The Power of Digital Marketing Analytics: When, How, and Why to Use

When companies start to see a plateau or stagnation in growth it’s usually due to one of two things: 1) the refusal to implement new ideas or 2) guessing at which new ideas to implement. We’ve helped dozens of businesses through both hurdles. The key to pushing...