May 1, 2008

Smart Marketing w/ Jay Lipe

Filed under: Meeting Marketers — Robert John Ed @ 2:35 am

One thing I’d like to do more often is interviewing marketers from all over the place. I think it would be valuable to learn from all sorts of people in all sorts of positions. To kick off this practice I asked a friend to help me out with his marketing expertise.

Jay Lipe owns Emerge Marketing, has published two marketing books and is an all around nice guy. His business is oriented around helping growing companies of all sizes with their marketing. I can personally attest to his wealth of marketing know how. He’s already done many of the things I personally aspire to.

Here’s the Q&A:

1. You run Emerge Marketing in Minneapolis. What spurred you to start up your own company and what were the biggest challenges in getting it off the ground? What are the best parts of owning your own biz?

One day, after working 8 years in corporate marketing assignments, I got two taps on my shoulder. One of htem was from my current employer, and one was from God. Both of them were telling me “You can serve others better by being on your own.”

Finding my first client was the biggest challenge. I didn’t start my business with contracts from a previous employer, my wife didn’t work for a company and I didn’t moonlight before I launched Emerge Marketing. I basically started from scratch. I called and met with everyone I knew who might be looking for a marketing plan specialist and 3 months later I ended up with my first client. Ironically, he stiffed me for $2,000 and we ended up in court, but it didn’t matter. I was hooked on owning my own business from then on.

Ongoing, my biggest challenge is knowing that success or failure rides solely on my shoulders and no one else’s. I can’t hide behind anyone else, I can’t take a month off and I can’t cruise on autopilot. I’m very exposed, but luckily I have a very understanding boss.

What do I love about working for myself? I love that I can “bend time.” That is, if I have a marketing plan meeting with a client the next day, and my son has a baseball game or my daughter and I have a Daddy-daughter date night that evening, I can still do both. It’ll mean I work a little before the night’s event, and then I’ll burn the midnight oil to finish the client project, but in the end it all gets done and everyone is happy.

Working for an employer, I found that the employer took an all-or-nothing mindset. The needs of the employer came before those of my family, so I said no thanks. I wanted ultimate control over my schedule, and I’ve known for quite some time that I’m a better manager of my own time than anybody else.

2. I hear a lot of discussion about how to market in a downward economy. There is some debate in terms of becoming more conservative or marketing aggressively. What is your take and why?

Realistically most companies can’t market more aggressively during a downturn. Yet many foolishly choose to QUIT marketing instead of intelligently drawing back.

My advice to business owners is to stay frequent, but downsize your presence. By that I mean, if you run monthly ads in a publication that are 1/2 page, keep running the ads monthly but reduce the size of the ads to 1/4 page or 1/8 page. You will save money with the space reduction, but you will maintain FREQUENCY. This is smart marketing

3. Both of your books (Stand Out from the Crowd and The Marketing Toolkit for Growing Businesses) were great resources for business owners. What advice can you give to aspiring authors, marketing or otherwise, on the process of writing a book?

I think the key for me was to fall into the habit of writing at the same time of day, every day. Even if I didn’t have anything to say when I plopped down in front of my computer, I forced myself to write then. After just a few minutes, the physical act of typing on a keyboard opened up a floodgate of ideas and I was off and running.

4. Many of the people who read this blog are just out of undergrad and are beginning their careers. Do you have any advice for us in terms of career management and improving our skill sets?

Network like crazy. I just had coffee with a 25 year old product manager who is taking his company by storm. He’s rising fast within the ranks and really establishing a career growth track. But that all could end with a management change, a buyout or a layoff. Then where is he?

He told me he works 60-70 hour work weeks, and is so busy he isn’t able to keep in touch with his associates at other companies. I remember being that way once….6 months later I was out on my ass and playing catch up to network with as many people as I could. All he has to do is lunch with 1 person a month outside his company and he’d be much further ahead.

5. So many business owners know they need to do a better job of marketing, but they don’t know how or where to start. How can they take the first step, build momentum and maintain it?

Hire me (laughs). Seriously, marketing your company is a lot like taking up a new sport. At first you’ll have good days, but and awful lot of bad ones. You’re facing a steep learning curve, but you would in anything whether it’s running a company or learning how to play the piano. What separates the good marketing companies from the bad ones is…commitment. Commitment not only from those implementing the makreting but also from the comany’s leadership. If a company stays committed to its marketing, and weaves a culture of marketing into the fabric of the company, its marketing WILL be successful.

BTW, if any of your readers are looking for a free, practical resource to help them market their company, they
could check out my monthly e-newsletter Marketing Tips & Tools.



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