VGTM_Leanne Pressly_Full Audio Interview_Edited_V3
[00:00:00] Welcome to the Vertical Go To Market Podcast, where you'll discover new [00:00:05] opportunities to grow your business from seven figures to eight from the world's most successful [00:00:10] agency and B2B SaaS executives. I'm your host, Corey Quinn. Let's [00:00:15] jump into the show. Today, I'm joined by the CEO and founder [00:00:20] of Stitchcraft Marketing, Leanne Presley.
[00:00:22] Welcome Leanne. Thanks. I'm excited to [00:00:25] be here with you today, Corey. Same here. I'm super excited. Could you please tell us a little bit [00:00:30] about yourself, your background for the listening audience? Yeah, sure. So like you [00:00:35] introduced, I'm Leanne Presley and I'm the founder and CEO of Stitchcraft Marketing. It [00:00:40] is a niche agency and we specialize just in crafting [00:00:45] companies.
[00:00:45] And I've been doing that since 2009. We're currently based [00:00:50] out of Colorado. That's where I live. So, yeah. But my whole team is virtual. [00:00:55] So I've got six on my team and we're scattered all across the United States. And we [00:01:00] service mostly B2C companies like yarn shops or quilt [00:01:05] shops. Um, but we also do a couple of B2B companies.
[00:01:09] They might [00:01:10] be manufacturers or distributors of yarns or fabrics or tools or anything really related to [00:01:15] crafts. Yeah. Yeah. So that's kind of the overview of what we do at Stitchcraft. [00:01:20] Cool. We'll double dive into more about the business, but just from a high [00:01:25] level for, for a little bit of context, could you share, or what could you share about maybe the [00:01:30] size of Stitchcraft Marketing?
[00:01:31] You mentioned you started in 2009, about 14 years ago, [00:01:35] uh, size, number of clients, employees, whatever you're comfortable sharing. We're super small. [00:01:40] Which I love because that allows us to be really nimble and, [00:01:45] you know, a lot of the bigger agencies that I know, you know, have the problems we don't [00:01:50] have because we're so, we're so small, but we are at six [00:01:55] employees right now and My folks work probably 30 [00:02:00] hours, 32 hours.
[00:02:01] So I say they're part time, but they're almost full time. [00:02:05] You know, we have a culture that really values flex time and family time. So people just, you know, my [00:02:10] people don't work 40 hours a week. So we have six of them. And then I got a couple of [00:02:15] contractors that do. Specialized projects for me [00:02:20] and what else?
[00:02:21] 40, about 40 clients right now. We're ending the year at about [00:02:25] 40 and they're all retainer based programs. Most of them. [00:02:30] So we're doing the same service for them every single month. As far as size, we're still [00:02:35] under a million dollars in gross revenue, but we're, we're growing, growing. And like [00:02:40] I said, I think we've just kind of found that sweet spot where everybody's [00:02:45] happy.
[00:02:45] We have work life balance and we're making the money that we need [00:02:50] to make to have the lifestyles that we want. So it's just kind of a nice little sweet spot where we're at. [00:02:55] Beautiful. I love all that. You mentioned 40 clients on retainer. What [00:03:00] type of work specifically are you doing for those businesses?
[00:03:02] So we specialize in [00:03:05] strategy and execution, mostly of social media programs. So when a [00:03:10] client comes to us, they're typically in need of some help with their social program. So they [00:03:15] might say, gosh, I know I need to be doing Facebook and Instagram posting, but I hate it. [00:03:20] Or I don't think I'm doing it right.
[00:03:21] Or, you know, what's this retargeting stuff? You know, so they [00:03:25] might want some digital advertising component to it. I would say the most common thing we provide [00:03:30] is Social media strategy, and then we post for them on their social channels. [00:03:35] So that might be Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. We also do blogging and [00:03:40] newsletters.
[00:03:40] We'll do some video editing to create the kind of content that goes out on [00:03:45] social. And then most of our clients also have a digital ad component to their package. And I would say [00:03:50] about 75 to 80 percent of our clients. That is their core program. [00:03:55] It's the strategy and the execution of all those channels.
[00:03:57] So I tell people we're a full service marketing [00:04:00] agency. So if you need web dev stuff or you need branding or logos [00:04:05] or any of the services that a typical marketing agency would offer, we do do that. [00:04:10] But it's mostly one offs or, you know, a client that might need something [00:04:15] unusual, not the core. And given the sort of the niche [00:04:20] audience, I'm not as familiar with your primary customer.
[00:04:23] Yeah. When it comes to the B2C [00:04:25] clients, what is the typical size of a company you're working with? Yeah, really [00:04:30] small. Our typical client, so at our agency, we always [00:04:35] encourage our clients to think about their customer in terms of an avatar, give them a name. [00:04:40] Give them a personality, describe them to a tee.
[00:04:42] So the avatar for [00:04:45] Stitchcraft Marketing is Carol. And Carol is [00:04:50] 55 plus, sometimes, uh, 65, 62, somewhere above. [00:04:55] She's 45, let's say, in age and she is running a shop. [00:05:00] She might have a quilt shop or a yarn shop. And like I said earlier, she just is overwhelmed. [00:05:05] She's wearing a lot of hats. She's doing too many things on her own.
[00:05:08] She knows she needs to do a better [00:05:10] job with marketing in general and social media specifically. She's not a [00:05:15] native. She hates that stuff. She doesn't really want to do it. But she sees her competitor [00:05:20] doing it. And so she knows she's got to get on that bandwagon. And so she looks to us to be [00:05:25] her hero, you know, to rescue her from the burdens of having to do that kind of marketing.[00:05:30]
[00:05:30] So that's typically the client that comes to us. And so she's small. [00:05:35] She might have one shop. We have a couple of clients that are multi shop owners. They might be [00:05:40] retailers in multiple states or have a bigger shop or a bigger business, or [00:05:45] they're doing brick and mortar and online. So that's the most common client that comes to us is, is a [00:05:50] retail shop owner.
[00:05:51] And like I said earlier, we do service some B2B clients. Um, [00:05:55] we work with Bernina a lot, which is a large sewing machine manufacturer. We'll [00:06:00] do other distributors, you know, folks that are selling to the retail shop [00:06:05] owner. So we have a sprinkling of other types of businesses, but the most common one is, is the shop owner.[00:06:10]
[00:06:10] And are you solving similar problems or challenges for the manufacturers? [00:06:15] Yeah, you know, the messaging is a little bit different, you know, when you're doing a direct to consumer [00:06:20] messaging and strategy, it's going to be a little bit different than a wholesaler or distributor [00:06:25] that's trying to attract the retailer as their customer.
[00:06:28] But I'd say in the last 5 to [00:06:30] 10 years, we're really starting to see the manufacturer and distributor coming direct to consumer. [00:06:35] So now they are, now they are having similar needs. As far as their, their [00:06:40] social. So you mentioned, well, let me back up actually. [00:06:45] Tell us about your role there as sort of the founder and CEO of this six to seven person [00:06:50] agency.
[00:06:50] What does your day to day look like? Well, I've really worked [00:06:55] hard to try to extract myself from the business as much as possible. So there are [00:07:00] days when I am just [00:07:05] overseeing the wheels, making sure the wheels are turning and the People on my team are [00:07:10] so competent. They're so good that they're the ones really in the trenches doing the work [00:07:15] and making making that happen.
[00:07:16] So I really am just CEO or I'm overseeing things. [00:07:20] Usually what falls into my lap are the things, you know, the more difficult challenges, [00:07:25] the HR issues, the client complaints. I call them, you know, the little fires [00:07:30] that happen in an agency. Those always end up in my lap. You know, the [00:07:35] receivable issues, so and so's credit card's not going through, or the, you know, this guy's late on [00:07:40] payments.
[00:07:40] You know, all that icky stuff is usually what I have to do the heavy lifting on. [00:07:45] Yeah, it's the boss's work, yes. Right, yeah. So tell me what was [00:07:50] happening in 2009 that, that, uh, caused you to realize that, Hey, I wanted to start this business. [00:07:55] Like what were you doing at the time and you know, what was, what was the impetus?
[00:07:58] Yeah, I mean, I was definitely an [00:08:00] accidental agency owner and I think a lot of agency owners end up in that place and that was [00:08:05] definitely the case for me. So back in 2009, I was working for a company called Interweave [00:08:10] Press. They're a publisher of craft magazines and books and they were in my local [00:08:15] community.
[00:08:15] You know, I had, I had come into the position curious. with a degree in [00:08:20] writing. And I was an assistant editor there for a few years. And my boss, Deb [00:08:25] Robeson at the time, who was a still an incredible spinner, fiber spinner, [00:08:30] said to me, if you're going to work here, you got to learn how to knit and you got to learn the fiber crafts.
[00:08:34] So [00:08:35] she's really the one that introduced me to that. And then it just kind of exploded into this. Monster. And [00:08:40] I became obsessed with crafts. Fast forward just a little bit. I worked [00:08:45] at Interweave as an ad sales manager for a few years. And in 2009, when the recession [00:08:50] hit, my income tanked. I was on 100 percent commission.
[00:08:54] And I [00:08:55] went from paying the mortgage to not paying the mortgage. And I, I kind of panicked. And I [00:09:00] thought, I gotta get off this ship. It's, it's sinking. You know, these, these people are not buying [00:09:05] print ads, which is what I was selling predominantly. I found myself on the phone with people talking to them [00:09:10] for about an hour about Facebook and about Instagram, about all these things that were [00:09:15] new.
[00:09:15] They didn't, we didn't have Instagram in 2009, but Facebook, you know, and I'd hang up the phone and go, [00:09:20] wait a minute, I just spent an hour talking to this prospect about [00:09:25] Facebook and they did not buy a print ad. I made 0 and then I quickly [00:09:30] realized, huh, everybody just wants to talk about newsletters and Facebook.
[00:09:34] And so I [00:09:35] decided to handpick a couple of. clients, people that I was selling ads to. [00:09:40] And I actually offered my services for free for about three months. And I said, at the end of three [00:09:45] months, all I need from you is your feedback. What did you like? What [00:09:50] worked, what converted for you? What would you actually find value in?
[00:09:54] What would you be [00:09:55] willing to pay me? To continue to do. And after those three months, I had a handful of [00:10:00] clients that were like, yep, this was great. I would love for you to continue to do my Facebook [00:10:05] posting and my newsletters. Those two things I was doing a lot of back in 2009. [00:10:10] And so that's how it started.
[00:10:10] I slowly just started building a very small clientele and [00:10:15] offering them services. I was doing it myself and you know, it took about, [00:10:20] six months to a year before I started growing that client base, but that's kind of how it started. And [00:10:25] then once my income was enough to support me, I just, uh, left the ad sales manager position [00:10:30] and did this full time.
[00:10:32] So were those first couple of clients [00:10:35] for the three months of those primarily people in the crafting kind of world? They were all people that were [00:10:40] buying print ads from me at the magazine. Yeah. So I had already had a relationship with [00:10:45] them. And I kind of had the door open just a little bit where I could say, Hey, I know you're not [00:10:50] interested in buying a print ad from me, but are you doing a newsletter?
[00:10:53] Is that something you need help [00:10:55] with? And just found a few that said, yes. That's great. And so you were able to kind of [00:11:00] stay with your current employer as you were. Yeah. And then you the water as you started to see [00:11:05] some, some real great results. A couple people said, Hey, we'd love to continue with you at that point.
[00:11:08] You're like, okay, let's, [00:11:10] let's step, let's step into this. Yeah. I mean, I was an independent contractor with Interweave at the time, [00:11:15] so it was easy for me to kind of, you know, start my own business on the side and yeah. A little [00:11:20] side gig and the side gig became the main gig. [00:11:25] So again, from the outside, I'm not too familiar with the industry.
[00:11:28] Clearly having worked [00:11:30] at Interweave, you were becoming, or you were very familiar with sort of, I would call the, what [00:11:35] I would call like the total addressable market, like the, the number of businesses that you could potentially serve. [00:11:40] And you were looking at this, it sounds like around like, Hey, I'm just going to, [00:11:45] oh, let me ask.
[00:11:45] Was it, was the intention at the time just to stay within crafting? Or [00:11:50] was it like, I'll see where this goes and then maybe I'll expand to something else another time? [00:11:55] Or was this, was this like, were you intent on staying super focused? Yeah, I was always super [00:12:00] focused right from the beginning. I had enough clients that [00:12:05] were asking for the work that I sort of never got to the end of the [00:12:10] road.
[00:12:10] I never exhausted the prospects to the point where I had to [00:12:15] leave crafts to go somewhere else. I mean, the money just kept coming in. The clients just kept knocking on [00:12:20] the door. So at first, you know, I was predominantly in the knitting [00:12:25] space. So yarn clients. And I mostly did yarn clients because that's what I [00:12:30] knew and that's what I loved.
[00:12:31] You know, I was not a sewist I was not a quilter back in 2009, [00:12:35] 10, 11. I was just a knitter So I went to all the fiber shows, all [00:12:40] the knitting shows, you know, and so of course If that's where you are, that's who you're going to prospect. [00:12:45] So, uh, it wasn't until much later that I expanded within craft [00:12:50] to fabric.
[00:12:51] And we're at the point now where we're starting to look at other, what we call hard [00:12:55] crafts, which would be like woodworking, scrapbooking, paper [00:13:00] crafts, things like that. But so far, again, I mean, we just, they keep knocking on the door. So [00:13:05] we have not exhausted where we're at in the, in the current markets.
[00:13:09] [00:13:10] How big is the, let's go, let's say the, just within crafting, the knitting and yarn? [00:13:15] How many businesses are there that potentially could hire you? [00:13:20] You know, I should know that number better and it's changing all the time. I, I feel [00:13:25] like more and more small businesses are closing, you know, more and more craft [00:13:30] companies, uh, independent retailers are really struggling.
[00:13:33] I would say the [00:13:35] universe is somewhere between 000 shops across the [00:13:40] United States, you know, and, and as far as B2B businesses. Um, you know, I, I [00:13:45] don't know, there's not a whole lot of great data out there as far as what the market size is. [00:13:50] Yeah. There rarely is, by the way. It's, it's so easy. Rarely is. Right.
[00:13:53] Yeah. Yeah. Regardless of the [00:13:55] industry, even. Yeah. Even big industries. So yeah. And like I said, we're servicing about 40 clients [00:14:00] right now. And I feel like. So grateful [00:14:05] that we, we have those 40. So, you know, if the universe is [00:14:10] 2000 or greater, like, I just feel like there's no limit to where we could go with it.[00:14:15]
[00:14:15] That's amazing. I'm doing the quick math. You're like 2 percent of the market share, [00:14:20] right? So, you know, that's pretty, that's pretty amazing. So based on what you're sharing with me, it [00:14:25] sounds like you kind of grew the agency organically. You mentioned after about a year. [00:14:30] More business started trickling in and where did that new business come from?
[00:14:33] Was that through, you know, an [00:14:35] effort to go out and generate new business? Or was it more just kind of like, like you said, like organically people [00:14:40] coming in, they'd heard from another, maybe a client that you were doing this work, like how would that [00:14:45] look like? Yeah, that's a good question. So I would say year one and two, I was mostly working [00:14:50] the prospect lists.
[00:14:51] From my existing relationships that transferred over from [00:14:55] Interweave. You know, I probably had a client list of a hundred clients that I had been selling print [00:15:00] ads to, and that I had been working with in some other capacity. So that really [00:15:05] was the list I was working my way through, but year one, year two.
[00:15:09] Probably about [00:15:10] 2011, 12, somewhere in that neighborhood. I [00:15:15] found the Agency Management Institute, which is led by Drew McClellan. [00:15:20] And. Really got turned on to his company as a service [00:15:25] to agency owners. And so I joined one of the networks. I went to a couple of his workshops [00:15:30] and I joined a network and I was in that network for about six years.
[00:15:33] And in the early years [00:15:35] of our network, I was taught everything I needed to [00:15:40] know about running an agency and one of those things that. I learned was how [00:15:45] to prospect better, where to go to find those other clients. And so one of the [00:15:50] big prospecting arenas was the trade show. At the time we had the [00:15:55] Needle Arts Association trade show called TNNA.
[00:15:57] And so once a year I would go and walk the show [00:16:00] floor and talk to the vendors there, all the exhibitors who were at the time, mostly B2B [00:16:05] providers. They weren't the shops. And I picked up a lot of clients there. And you know, those [00:16:10] B2B companies had a little more money. than the shops did, so in the knitting world there's [00:16:15] just less money overall than there is in the quilting world, so within the knitting world trying to hit that [00:16:20] mid level B2B type of customer was really where I was aiming, and the best place to [00:16:25] find them was at the at that trade show.
[00:16:27] So that was kind of my one big prospecting [00:16:30] event that I did once a year. Well, what I love about that, I come from a [00:16:35] sales background as well. And so the fact that you were not just sort of waiting for the phone to ring, but you were being [00:16:40] strategic and proactive about going to this trade show and others to seek out people, [00:16:45] conversations, relationships, and all that.
[00:16:46] That's really great. Yeah. I mean, I think. There was a real [00:16:50] shift and I think new agency owners will find this to be true. Then in the very beginning, when people [00:16:55] are still learning who you are and they're getting to know you and learn about you and trust you, there's a [00:17:00] lot more outbound, I had to do the outreach.
[00:17:02] I had to pound the pavement to find those [00:17:05] clients. I had to ask for the referrals. I had to dig, dig, dig, dig to find those clients. And then there's a [00:17:10] tipping point, probably, you know, two thirds into the lifespan of my [00:17:15] agency. We really got turned on more to. Inbound marketing. And again, [00:17:20] kudos to Drew and his knowledge and his expertise in mentoring me as a [00:17:25] member of the network, how to do inbound marketing.
[00:17:28] And once we really put our foot on the [00:17:30] gas with inbound and developed ourselves as a domain authority in the [00:17:35] space, that really changed everything. And now I, I definitely still do [00:17:40] go to trade shows, but now it's like a flywheel. And all of [00:17:45] the business just comes in through that channel. I don't have to do cold calling.
[00:17:49] I [00:17:50] don't have to do a lot of outreach. It's all inbound. So let's dig into [00:17:55] that a little bit. So when you, when, when you, you mentioned two, two thirds of the way through your agency [00:18:00] lifestyle, there was a dynamic change between outbound and kind of really being more of a [00:18:05] hunter type of mentality. That's my word, not yours, but kind of going out and working the list, working the trade [00:18:10] shows.
[00:18:10] But then at a certain point the energy kind of changed where it's now [00:18:15] coming inbound and it sounds like Part of that is because you started doing some thought [00:18:20] leadership. Exactly. Is that, is that fair? Yeah. I mean, we, we really [00:18:25] learned more about how to do that. And, and, um, once we [00:18:30] started establishing ourself as a thought leader in the space and really building up that.
[00:18:34] That [00:18:35] authority in the space. And I would say the bits and pieces of that. I know your listeners are [00:18:40] probably like, well, what does that mean? So it means, you know, we found ourselves in more [00:18:45] speaking positions. So I would go to the trade show and instead of just walking the show floor, I would be a [00:18:50] speaker.
[00:18:50] You know, I would work my way into the, the space. The speaker board and get us, get an [00:18:55] hour slot talking about something important, you know, how to post on social media or best practices or whatever the topic [00:19:00] was. So here I am standing in front of 300 people. I'm the expert. [00:19:05] And then after the presentation, they're all flooding the podium going, I've got [00:19:10] questions.
[00:19:10] We want to work with you. You obviously know what you're talking about. Well, we need somebody who knows what they're [00:19:15] doing, you know, so now I'm the expert and now I'm the authority. space. And we just [00:19:20] replicated that across the board. We did tons of, I do tons of speaking, tons of public [00:19:25] engagements. We had a lot of outbound marketing materials.
[00:19:28] So we did tons of white [00:19:30] papers, lots of outbound newsletters with really high quality content, lots of [00:19:35] automations. We did a lot of, you know, video. I had a [00:19:40] podcast just, you know, Continuing outbound, outbound, outbound, outbound on [00:19:45] trying to be the expert on a variety of topics that we wanted to be hired for.
[00:19:48] And I would say [00:19:50] within a year, definitely by two years, it, it worked. I [00:19:55] mean, that's, that's when I started to see the flywheel really start to spin. Hey, it's Corey. [00:20:00] Almost every day I talk with agency owners who are frustrated with getting their [00:20:05] outbound program off the ground. The truth is, too many agencies are too [00:20:10] dependent on inbounds and referrals to grow their business.
[00:20:14] We all [00:20:15] know that it's getting harder and harder to generate inbounds, and that it's just not a sustainable way [00:20:20] to grow your business. I'd like to give you the six secrets for driving [00:20:25] consistent ROI from your outbound. That I learned as Scorpions Chief Marketing [00:20:30] Officer Where we doubled the business from 20 million to 40 million Just by adding [00:20:35] Outbound to an existing inbound only program It's a free 6 day email [00:20:40] course that will transform your outbound From broken to consistently driving [00:20:45] new sales opportunities You could sign up and get the first secret right now by going to [00:20:50] get outbound roi.com.
[00:20:53] That's get [00:20:55] outbound roi.com. Now back to the show. [00:21:00] Any tips for agency owners who would want to be on more stages at [00:21:05] conferences? Like, what does a conference organizer care about or what are they looking for in a presenter? I [00:21:10] think one of the things that helped us was to have [00:21:15] little snippets of me speaking just on our YouTube channel and or on [00:21:20] a website page for people that were interested in hiring speakers.
[00:21:24] I did do some [00:21:25] outbound cold calling to... Uh, some businesses that I knew had a [00:21:30] stage, you know, it wasn't just the trade show, but I targeted, you know, there's a couple of [00:21:35] companies. Bernina was one that I already mentioned. They'll, they'll do like a retailer [00:21:40] education seminar once a year. So all their retailers come to a central [00:21:45] location and Bernina sponsors an educational summit, if you will, teaching the retailers [00:21:50] about a variety of different things.
[00:21:51] And one of those things is... Business acumen. [00:21:55] So I became the person that would teach about social media and, and now I [00:22:00] teach every single year at the same event. Same thing for Handy Quilter, which is a company that [00:22:05] makes long arm quilting machines. And then also the other trade shows. So I'll, [00:22:10] I'll get some stage time on some of the other trade shows.
[00:22:12] And you know, I think it's like anything else. You start small, you get your foot in the [00:22:15] door with one. Then you use the content and the video recording from that one to pitch [00:22:20] number two and then number two turns into number three and you know slowly you've got, [00:22:25] you've got a lot of stage time. You mentioned newsletters was another thing that [00:22:30] you have done.
[00:22:30] It's been helpful. What, tell us about your newsletters. What are they and how did you grow the list? [00:22:35] We started with just a monthly outbound send, [00:22:40] really talking about what we were seeing in the marketing and social media landscape that we thought would be [00:22:45] of value to our clients. So, you know, anytime there's a change on Facebook or, you know, what [00:22:50] we're talking about right now is a lot of AI and also within the craft industry.
[00:22:54] Things [00:22:55] that we're seeing that are effective or changes that are happening in the industry in general. [00:23:00] Again, we wanted to be the place where people would rely on us for, you know, their news and their [00:23:05] happenings and so on. It's not very long. It's a lot of [00:23:10] links back to other long form content, other articles or on our blog [00:23:15] that will give them more content or information about that.
[00:23:17] And we grow the list [00:23:20] by. Just offering something super valuable in that newsletter. You know, I think [00:23:25] a lot of people don't do that. They put the same content that they have on their blog or that's [00:23:30] readily available on their website. And we try to reserve our very, very best [00:23:35] juicy nuggets for the newsletter.
[00:23:37] And so that's intense to drive traffic and [00:23:40] signups. So you mentioned podcasts. Are you still doing the podcast? [00:23:45] Yes, I am. Okay. Okay. I'm at a place now where I do it seasonally. [00:23:50] I was doing it every other week for a long time and that just became too much for me. So now I [00:23:55] just break it into seasons and each season I'll do seven or eight shows.
[00:23:58] I take a break, come back [00:24:00] with fresh new guests. So I do a spring and a fall season and that seems to really work. [00:24:05] And what is the, the nature of the podcast? Like who, who is your [00:24:10] ideal listener and how did that start and how is it going? Yeah. Our ideal listener is [00:24:15] Carol. I mean, we're always, we're always marketing to Carol.
[00:24:18] Love that. And [00:24:20] Carol needs her problems solved. So any expert that can come on the show that can help Carol solve [00:24:25] that problem. We try to aim for timely or targeted types of [00:24:30] topics and just find the experts on that. So, you know, for example, this [00:24:35] last season we had somebody come on and talk about data analytics because we know Carol [00:24:40] is terrible with analytics and she doesn't look at her data and she doesn't understand her data.
[00:24:44] So, you [00:24:45] know, we had an expert come on and hold her hand and walk her through how to find your Google [00:24:50] Analytics, what to look for, what are the important metrics. So we try to do that with really every [00:24:55] area that Carol might be interested in. It might be retailing, merchandising, might be tax saving [00:25:00] strategies.
[00:25:01] It might be, you know, something new or different with Facebook. It might be best [00:25:05] practices. I mean, there's a lot of topics that Carol needs help with. So. [00:25:10] And is it primarily you're interviewing third parties or are you ever sort of doing a solo cast? No, I [00:25:15] usually interview a guest. Yeah. So you bring in the expert, the [00:25:20] functional expert in this one specific area.
[00:25:22] That's, that's wonderful. It sounds like a very high [00:25:25] value podcast for your listeners or for Carol, I should say. Yeah, for Carol. And then this year we [00:25:30] actually did one other thing that I think really helped us with our domain authority is we partnered [00:25:35] with Audience Audit, which is a company that does research for agencies [00:25:40] led by Susan Beyer.
[00:25:41] And Susan helped us do an industry [00:25:45] wide piece of research. So this year we did research on retailers and it's [00:25:50] an attitudinal segmentation study, and that was fantastic because we got. [00:25:55] Really awesome stage time at the trade show. We got keynote spots and so on. And [00:26:00] then now that became content for the podcast and really tons of other stuff.
[00:26:04] [00:26:05] We learned so much about Carol and now we really [00:26:10] understand what her pain points are. And so now I craft all of our outbound content. [00:26:15] Knowing that we have the solution and we understand what Carol's pain points are. So I [00:26:20] would say that's another kind of thing I would highly recommend for [00:26:25] agencies that are struggling with their niche or they're, they're not the domain authority.
[00:26:29] [00:26:30] That's a really great way to, to get that quickly is come up with some research, do [00:26:35] some industry research. I'd like to underline that. I've, I've had similar experience in my [00:26:40] agency background in that. Not only is it more compelling to come with data, like [00:26:45] market data, but it tends to get picked up more by the PR machine.
[00:26:49] Because [00:26:50] You know, folks are looking for not just opinion pieces, looking for hard data that they can reference [00:26:55] for their own purposes. By the way, I'm, I'm interviewing Susan from Audience [00:27:00] Audit on my podcast here soon. I can't wait for that conversation. People really should mark their [00:27:05] calendar for that one because she's brilliant and she holds the key, I think, to [00:27:10] helping niche agencies really.
[00:27:11] Skyrocket their domain authority. I mean, it, it did for [00:27:15] us. We actually are in talks to do some more research, [00:27:20] partnering with one of our vendors that learned a lot from the retailer and now they want to [00:27:25] do a consumer study. So again, that just helped us snowball that authority [00:27:30] and it's been wonderful.
[00:27:32] Yeah. And a quick shout out to Drew McClellan, who [00:27:35] introduced us, introduced me and Susan as well. Thank you, Drew, for this wonderful introduction. [00:27:40] When it comes to hiring. Do you feel or do you, have you had to hire [00:27:45] for, um, hire employees when you're six employees current or past with a specific [00:27:50] background in crafts?
[00:27:51] Was that a priority for you? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, one of the selling [00:27:55] points that we put forth, one of, one of our value propositions [00:28:00] is, You want to hire us because we speak your language. We know, and the [00:28:05] example I always give, which your listeners might be like, huh, I don't understand that. But if you were a crafter, [00:28:10] you would, you would know the difference between an H hook and [00:28:15] a knitting project.
[00:28:16] So an outside generalist agency would put up an Instagram post [00:28:20] showing a crochet hook. And a knitting project. And we say, you know, [00:28:25] we know the difference between a crochet hook and a knitting needle. So we speak your language and we [00:28:30] really understand the nuance of all these crafts. And it's definitely [00:28:35] true.
[00:28:35] I mean, once clients start working with us, I hear that feedback all the time where they're like, Oh, it's so refreshing that I don't [00:28:40] have to explain all this to you. And so it is really important that our employees. [00:28:45] Also do the crafts, speak the language. I encourage my employees to do [00:28:50] multiple crafts because an account manager might be working on a knitting client and a sewing client.
[00:28:54] [00:28:55] So yeah, that's definitely part of our culture that we nurture on a regular basis is crafts, [00:29:00] crafts, crafts, crafts. Is that true across all roles or are there some roles that are more [00:29:05] important to have someone with a specialty background in crafts for your, for your agency? [00:29:10] All roles for us, really. Yeah.
[00:29:12] Yeah. Yeah. Have you ever employed [00:29:15] a salesperson? You know, not [00:29:20] specifically as one role, you know, my, my AEs are [00:29:25] all. They're all amazingly talented and understand how [00:29:30] to upsell an existing client. So I would say, you know, their sales role is [00:29:35] always trying to help that client solve their problems. And, you know, if there's an opportunity to offer a service [00:29:40] that does solve that problem, then that's, that's wonderful.
[00:29:43] I happen to love, [00:29:45] love, love sales. So I'm always the one [00:29:50] raising my hand. I'm like, I'll do it. I'll do it. I'll do it. You know. I'll do it. I, I just love it. I live for it. [00:29:55] So I've just always fallen into that role myself. Do you [00:30:00] productize your agency services? Yes, we do. [00:30:05] And then how did that, was that always the case, or how did that evolve over time?
[00:30:08] How did you figure out the packages? [00:30:10] It wasn't always the case. Well, let me say yes and no. I would say that we [00:30:15] have a core set of services that are replicated [00:30:20] from client to client. We used to be the kind of agency that [00:30:25] would do anything and everything. So if a client came to me and said, [00:30:30] Oh, we would like you to do this very obscure service that you guys don't [00:30:35] do on a regular basis.
[00:30:35] Would you do it? And I would go, Oh, yeah, absolutely. I don't know if I know how [00:30:40] to do it, but yes, I'm going to sell that to you. I'm going to say yes. And then we would get in trouble down the road [00:30:45] because we didn't have the skillset, we didn't have the expertise. We didn't have had, had enough experience [00:30:50] to really crush it with that service.
[00:30:53] And so it was actually [00:30:55] Drew who was teaching me. I think he refers to it as the [00:31:00] artisan bakery versus the bread factory. We moved away from being that [00:31:05] specialty bread maker, you know, the one that does rye bread and sourdough bread. Oh, and we make bagels and [00:31:10] we do chocolate croissants. And do you want a muffin?
[00:31:12] Oh, I'll make you a muffin. We moved away from [00:31:15] that to, we have three kinds of bread. You can have this one, this one, or [00:31:20] that one. And if you want the specialty, I'll [00:31:25] refer you to someone else that does that really, really well. And so I think that's helped us too. [00:31:30] You know, you might think that you're turning away all this other business, the folks that want the muffins, [00:31:35] but in reality, it's really just made us even more.[00:31:40]
[00:31:40] honed in and more expert at the three types of bread that we do [00:31:45] offer. So what we do is when a client comes to us, we'll do what we call a strategic [00:31:50] analysis, which is a deep dive piece of research into their business. We want to understand what they're doing [00:31:55] well, what they're not doing well. So we do a whole analysis and then we come back to them with a 90 minute [00:32:00] presentation on what we found.
[00:32:02] And then the proposal piece. Where if they wanna [00:32:05] engage the agency that's customized based on what we saw in the [00:32:10] research, and typically we're choosing from going back to the metaphor, those [00:32:15] bread options. So Sure. Makes sense. It, it's a, you know, it's a select offering, but [00:32:20] it's customized to each client.
[00:32:21] Sure. Yeah. Tell us about your Mastermind. [00:32:25] So the Mastermind is a group of retail business [00:32:30] owners. I'm on my third round with the same group, so we have. Six folks in the [00:32:35] mastermind. And like I said, this is the third time that we've done it. We do it for about 12 [00:32:40] weeks and they come together once a week and we do two [00:32:45] different things.
[00:32:45] One, one week in the month I teach a topic. And [00:32:50] again, it's something I know Carol is struggling with or the mastermind members have specifically [00:32:55] requested. I do like a 10, 15 minute teaching lesson with a slide [00:33:00] deck about it. And then we have discussion about it. And then the opposite week, the second week of the month, [00:33:05] we do what I call a challenge round and the challenge round is they're bringing [00:33:10] their bite sized problem to the group and we break it all apart [00:33:15] and ask questions and dissect it all.
[00:33:17] And then hopefully that retailer goes away with, Oh [00:33:20] gosh, I've got. tons of new ideas on how I can solve the problem. So that's kind of the two features of the [00:33:25] mastermind. How did it start? What was the inspiration behind it? Oh, gosh, that's a [00:33:30] really good question. I think it really originated from just how much [00:33:35] value I got from being part of a professional network.
[00:33:38] And actually, some of the [00:33:40] concept I stole from Drew, which is that challenge around component. He does [00:33:45] that in the networking groups where every agency owner comes, comes with a problem and then the [00:33:50] other agency owners help them to dissect it and break it apart and hopefully come up with a solution. [00:33:55] So I did borrow that from my experience being in a network.
[00:33:58] I just, I've gotten so [00:34:00] much value out of, out of being part of a professional group that I thought there's gotta be some people that want [00:34:05] help with this. And also it was just another lower [00:34:10] price point. Entry point for clients that couldn't afford the retainer based [00:34:15] fee. The mastermind was an affordable way that they could get some consulting and come [00:34:20] into the inner circle of stitch craft at a lower price point.
[00:34:24] And as it [00:34:25] turns out, everybody that's in my mastermind right now has at some point. Become a client. [00:34:30] So they've onboarded to be, you know, they drink in the Kool Aid and now they're all [00:34:35] clients. So, uh, that was also a really awesome conversion tool. That's great. That's a [00:34:40] great testimonial. Kind of, kind of, um, stepping back to any more of a global [00:34:45] look at the, you know, the business you've been in business for 14 years, there's certainly some agency [00:34:50] owners.
[00:34:50] Who may be somewhere on their journey, they're probably some of them who are [00:34:55] generalists today. They've, they see the value of verticalizing and they're [00:35:00] tempted to do that. With that frame in mind, what are the, in your mind, the positive aspects of [00:35:05] verticalizing an agency business? Well, I got to tell you, Corey, I've [00:35:10] never known different.
[00:35:11] I've only known life in the niche [00:35:15] and I, I mean, I just am the biggest fan of that. I, I Thank you. I, A, love [00:35:20] being in the space that I'm passionate about. I, I have the privilege of waking up every day and [00:35:25] thinking about my hobbies, thinking about my passions and the things that [00:35:30] juice me up creatively. You know, if I was niching in some other [00:35:35] industry that I didn't really care anything about, I might not be as excited about it.[00:35:40]
[00:35:40] I've been able to combine those two things. So for me, that's the number one thing is if [00:35:45] you can find a niche that you're genuinely passionate about and interested in, then... [00:35:50] Can I ask a follow up question on that? So would your advice to one of these agency owners is looking at [00:35:55] sort of the landscape of different verticals to go after, how important is it that they actually...[00:36:00]
[00:36:00] They have a, like they enjoy that vertical or that, that [00:36:05] craft or that, that medium. How important is that? I mean, can you, can an agency be [00:36:10] successful in just being like more of a transactional kind of approach? I mean, [00:36:15] I think it's obvious that it, you know, you're, you're curious and interested in the things that you're [00:36:20] passionate about, you know, so, and it doesn't feel like you're working.
[00:36:22] I mean, and what's that old adage that. [00:36:25] You know, if you find something, the work you love, then you never work a day in your life or whatever that is, [00:36:30] that's true for me, and even in my, you know, my spare time, like last week here, my local [00:36:35] town had a fiber festival and, you know, I'm like, got to go to work, you know, got to go to the [00:36:40] fiber festival and shop for yarn, you know, Sorry, honey, I'll be home at the end of [00:36:45] the day.
[00:36:45] You know, stuff like that, where I'm like, pinch myself, like, oh, gosh, I get to spend a whole day at the [00:36:50] Fiber Festival and it's work. So yeah, I would encourage people, you know, it's just human [00:36:55] nature. You're gonna be more invested in something that you're naturally curious and interested in about. [00:37:00] What about the negatives?
[00:37:02] Have you ever said to yourself, gosh, this, [00:37:05] This vertical or this niche is just, you know, not working out or, you know, any, any kind of [00:37:10] challenges? You know, well, I feel like crafts [00:37:15] chose me in a way and, you know, there was not an [00:37:20] intentional choice about, oh, I'm going to niche. Which niche am I going to [00:37:25] choose?
[00:37:25] I'm passionate about crafts. I'm going to pick crafts. You know, I fell into it [00:37:30] because I love it. And so some of the downsides are, you know, when I was in the [00:37:35] networking group, for example, you know, I would sit at a table with other agencies and look at their financials [00:37:40] and think, Oh my gosh, they're charging what, how much are they getting for, you know, the [00:37:45] same services I'm providing, they were making three times the amount because they were able to charge more [00:37:50] because those businesses.
[00:37:52] And deeper pockets and crafts has never been [00:37:55] at that same caliber. It's just, you know, my clients don't pay what [00:38:00] other agencies are able to get from their clients for the same work. So that's a [00:38:05] little bit of a downside that the pockets just aren't as deep and they just don't have as much [00:38:10] to spend. You know, if I had picked some other niche that.
[00:38:14] It was [00:38:15] more lucrative. Maybe that would have made my path easier, but I, I doubt [00:38:20] it. I rarely am envious of those bigger agencies. And [00:38:25] actually it seems like even when they had bigger revenue numbers, their profits weren't as big, [00:38:30] their margins weren't as big. In fact, I've always had better margins than a lot of [00:38:35] people that were at the same table.
[00:38:36] And then the other benefit, the other. Upside [00:38:40] is I have not struggled as much with employees. Some of those bigger [00:38:45] generalist agencies, I think have bigger turnover. Um, because an AE can [00:38:50] work for generalist A and then job hop over to generalist B and C [00:38:55] and D, you know, those skills really translate.
[00:38:56] Whereas me, my employees are [00:39:00] so thrilled that they get to work in their craft, in the, what they're passionate [00:39:05] about. I think for a lot of my employees and people that have worked for me, that comes first, [00:39:10] is the privilege to be able to wake up every day and think about yarn or think about quilting or think about the [00:39:15] industry.
[00:39:15] They love that part first. So I've just had an easier time cultivating [00:39:20] culture and employee retention. My longest legacy employee right [00:39:25] now is going on 12 years with me. My people stay and it's [00:39:30] just a lot easier to retain them. So I would say that's another upside of niching [00:39:35] is if you can find those employees that are also equally as passionate about whatever your niche is, [00:39:40] it's easier to cultivate that culture.
[00:39:43] That's awesome. Yeah. [00:39:45] Last question. What's your motivation? What's my [00:39:50] motivation? Well, I say that I, I [00:39:55] mean, I've really come to a place where I am sincerely and genuinely passionate about the [00:40:00] industry. And when I see people struggling or the industry as a [00:40:05] whole struggling, I do feel personally compelled to do what I can and lend my [00:40:10] expertise to raise all ships.
[00:40:11] So that's what I usually say is our agency [00:40:15] exists to help Carol. Sincerely and genuinely do a better job being a business [00:40:20] owner because I want those craft shops I want to be able to go into my local [00:40:25] neighborhood yarn shop And buy yarn locally. So I need to make sure I'm doing [00:40:30] what I can to support Carol so that tomorrow she's not [00:40:35] put out of business by the big box stores or that, you know, that she exists [00:40:40] and that crafts in general, I mean, I just feel like.
[00:40:43] As far as culturally [00:40:45] speaking, the handcrafts and being able to be a maker and make something with your [00:40:50] hands, there's fundamentally a beautiful thing. We all need more of [00:40:55] that in our lives, you know, that tactile experience and I don't [00:41:00] know, here I am, I'm gonna go off now, but you know, the, the process of making your own [00:41:05] clothing or making a quilt that keeps you warm and the community [00:41:10] connection that we have in our industry, like, I just, I feel in [00:41:15] my heart, like, I just want to do whatever I can to help the industry grow and thrive and be here [00:41:20] tomorrow.
[00:41:21] Well, I can tell that that's a true, authentic statement for you based [00:41:25] on our conversation today. And that's clear to me why you're so successful with this [00:41:30] venture. So that's beautiful. Yeah. Where can people reach out to you if they want to connect with [00:41:35] you? If they wanted to follow up with any questions?
[00:41:37] Yeah. And I would encourage people to do that. I'm, Open [00:41:40] arms when it comes to helping other agency owners, especially. My website is [00:41:45] stitchcraftmarketing. com and we do have a contact form there. Just click on that navigation and fill out the form and [00:41:50] I'll reply back to you via email. Beautiful. Thank you so much for joining me.
[00:41:54] Yeah, thanks. [00:41:55] Great. It was a real pleasure. All right, folks, that's it for today. I'm Corey Quinn, and I [00:42:00] hope you join me again next time for the Vertical Go To Market Podcast. If [00:42:05] you receive value from the show, I would love a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. [00:42:10] Thanks, and we'll see you soon.[00:42:15]