Starting is exciting. Committing to start is hard. I’ve waited years to do this for a whole host of reasons—some good, some not so good—but the day is here at last when we are hanging our sign above the door. SMACK is open for business.
It’s predecessor, TBD, has been open for nearly a decade now, but it was a one man shop—a consultancy, not an agency. Being a one-man show forced me to build out my creative network, but it meant that I could not tackle bigger client challenges and I was always handing off the brand to another group to grow.
Now we are a team of five, rapidly expanding into several practice areas. Yes, we are keeping this element of consulting firms—the practice area—for a number of reasons. The core of what we do is make brands, and make brands grow. The growth approach we use is called growth hacking (more on that to come). It is a mindset more than a methodology, but it is a business-agnostic approach to growth that works across a wide range of business types. So, our core brand creating and brand growing technologies work regardless of your business.
But businesses do have their unique wrinkles, and we are growing three unique practice areas:
- CPG & Retail Growth Hacking, focusing on making and marketing new and existing brands in-store, online, and in-between.
- B2B Growth Hacking, focusing on lead-generation for sales organizations.
- eCommerce & Online Growth Hacking, focusing on growing online businesses and brands (with a sub-speciality in growing audiences for authors).
We are trying to bring some new wrinkles to our agency along with some traditional elements that have faded in newer marketing agencies, but that we think are essential.
The new wrinkles are our structure. We are a lean team of marketing producers and we scale up creative teams around the brands and projects we are working for from our creative network. (I borrowed this structure from my days out in LA in the entertainment business.)
The traditional elements are the way we work top-to-top with our clients, often with the founder and/or CEO of the company, favoring long-term relationships.
We’ve also developed an easy way to determine if we are a good match for a new client (and vice versa). It’s our IdeaLab: half or full-day sessions using collaborative conversation techniques to generate solutions to pressing business challenges. IdeaLabs get real work done and let us try out working together.
I am so thankful for the team who has said yes to joining me; they are smart, creative and committed–not just to doing great work, but to building a great company. At the end of the day, it is true that you ship your culture, and this crew is establishing a great one here.
We recently read “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown (which we’d highly recommend) and I’ll leave you with the Teddy Roosevelt quote that inspired the book’s title. It is all about mustering the courage to begin, and that’s what this team has done. Dared greatly.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt