THE TRICK IS IN THE PIVOT
The tactic is something Ray Sheehan has learned all too well to embrace the past few years. As founder of Old City Media, Sheehan created a national sponsorship marketing agency that helps brands connect with target demographics through experiential marketing. The pivot came amid the pandemic, which forced Old City Media—like scores of other companies—to make a series of changes it is still grappling with.
One of those changes hit at the very core of what Sheehan had built the past 20-plus years, namely a team that had a unique ability to bridge the necessary gaps needed to succeed while saving time and money. The Old City Media strategy revolves around the “Crawl – Walk – Run” strategy, which hits its stride once a client sees the full potential of what the agency can do and expands the partnership.
The challenge was filling the holes with the human assets needed to make that equation work. “Coming out of the pandemic, it has been challenging fulfilling those roles with all the talent shortages out there. One area where we have seen huge success is in hiring talented temp workers. A lot of people who lost their jobs created their own business, brand or boutique agencies. Now, you can hire these experts for a trial period.”
The strategy has helped Old City save an immeasurable amount of money in wages and other areas like insurance. Now, Sheehan can hire talent based on the work he needs and manage his cashflow more efficiently. Plus, private contractors are highly motivated on the accountability front and work even more efficiently to renew their contracts.
“Instead of having someone within your organization work on something, it is much more efficient to outsource it to a team of experts,” Sheehan says. “For example, take creative design. While having someone on staff to handle all your creative needs is a nice luxury, it is not always possible. There are plenty of vendors out there who handle this. Or, maybe you need help with marketing, but you need an expert in SEO. Going with a digital marketing agency could provide the exact insight and knowledge you need to grow your business.”
Today, Old City Media is built around strategic partnerships and vendors. In addition, the relationships are a great way to build its network and find referrals. Sheehan says that working with contractors puts you in a better position to negotiate a better deal. You have all the leverage.
Another ally in the battle of shorthandedness is technology. Sheehan recommends finding a CRM that best suits your needs and objectives. This helps immensely with time management and limited resources.
Over the past few years, his Top 5 includes: HubSpot, Zoho, Zendesk Sell, Monday.com and Mailchimp. “Depending on your industry, there are many tools out there to help scale your business. You just need to research which ones make the most sense. Most platforms offer free trials and give you the ability to try before you buy.”
What he said…
In the sometimes hectic world of music marketing, there are times when Adamm Miguest feels like he is washed over in deadlines. There are times when it is not unusual for Rapid Launch Media (RLM) to have 10-plus campaigns going at once for major artists. And there was that time when the CEO only had three employees to jump through all the hoops.
“Yes, we were a little short-staffed,” Miguest says.
To make things even more interesting, RLM was not getting good leads from any of the traditional hiring sites. Thanks to Miguest’s proficiency on social media, he was able to find the right fits, eventually adding four employees to his ever-growing team. “Most companies are afraid to think outside of the box and try new things. That’s one of the reasons I feel like my company has been successful. We are not afraid to think outside of the box.”
His penchant for trying new things is what keeps RLM on the cutting edge of the marketing game. Take its recent embrace of Chat GPT technology, which Miguest says is going to change the game and save immeasurable time for employees and companies.
Recently, a client requested that the Miguest and the RLM team send them a statement of work detailing the tasks it planned for an upcoming marketing campaign. Because a statement of work features a particular style of formatting, the process could have taken a while to do it properly. “I told my employees I’ll try typing in ‘make me a statement of work for X client’ on Chat GPT and see what happens. It worked better than I could have imagined—and in two minutes. I don’t think we had to make any edits.”
In today’s ever-demanding marketing landscape, the fight for time, resources and perfection is real. It is why Miguest believes the best way forward is to stay focused, creative and persistent. “I believe the marketing community can come together and create a more streamlined process in areas like finding employees and using marketing strategies to attract top, potential talent. In the light of these shortages, you have to stay on top of your team. Make sure no one is distracted, and that everyone stays positive and motivated.”
Miguest has a saying he likes to think of when the demands of the job hit the wall: “I would rather be busy than bored.” It is to prioritize your top clients. Second, you must develop a pipeline and marketing plan for each client. Based on that plan, you can selfishly allocate your resources based on bandwidth. But the plan is to have a plan. “We’ve all heard it before, ‘People don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan.” But remember, planning properly is your biggest ally when working with limited assets—an ally that is worth the strategy. the same message he tells his staff. “If we are experiencing a shortage, I tell them that this is the time for us to show why we are the best in the business. The experience also shows that the company is doing well, which creates more opportunities for everyone.”
As Sheehan says, there is a little bit of art, science and common sense when it comes to doing more with less. First, you need to prioritize your top clients. Second, you must develop a pipeline and marketing plan for each client. Based on that plan, you can selfishly allocate your resources based on bandwidth. But the plan is to have a plan. “We’ve all heard it before, ‘People don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan.”