Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

I don’t know about you, but immediately, I see the words “change” and “unknown” as, you know, scary things. Change and unknown are not words that come naturally to me, which is ironic because my millennial generation has grown up with change. 

  • Born in the 80s: Lots of hairspray and neon colors. Tape cassettes. Boom boxes. Phones attached to walls. 
  • Growing up in the 90s: We fought the wind with our brightly colored windbreakers. Upgrading to satellite TV and dial-up internet. Later getting a CD player with anti-skip technology for bus rides. 
  • Starting to become an adult in the early 2000s: Tying up the phone line for hours just to illegally download one song (shhh!). A phone that you can take with you anywhere. And then the iPod?! 
  • Here we are 20 years deep into the 2000s; I don’t need to tell you how far it’s come. 

If none of those resonate with you, don’t let that scare you. My point will still resonate.

Marketing is similar in so many ways. Gone are the days of buying ad space in the newspaper and Yellow Pages. (Funny side story: I actually sold “space” for Yellow Pages for a few months. It wasn’t the best job I ever had.) 

Now, “space” is bought via digital ads, social media advertising, and influencers. You can post for free on social media platforms and market your company in ways never thought of before. Phones have become vital since they have cameras and video recorders. They can even help you edit those photos and videos and then upload them almost instantly to your social media. 

Change Is Inevitable

Change and growth are necessary parts of life. And yet, change is hard and sometimes scary. 

Business owners can be reluctant to change:

  • “Why fix what isn’t broken?” 
  • “I’ve been doing fine without this.” 

Here’s the thing, though: You’re no longer just competing against your local companies. You are competing against everyone. Standing still often means falling behind. 

Changing and growing isn’t just about doing a TikTok dance, using the latest trendy music on your Instagram reel, or finding the funniest hashtag; it’s about staying relevant and competitive in an ever-evolving marketplace.

Is Change Fun? No. 

In my personal life, I’ve seen the power of embracing change. Do I always like it? No. Do sometimes I go kicking and screaming? Maybe. And when you’re in the thick of it, it can feel icky and messy. But if you look back over the course of six months or a year, all of a sudden, you notice growth. You notice the mess was figured out and you’re actually in a better place for it. 

Is Change Necessary? Yes.

As a digital marketer, I’ve seen this happen with businesses, too. Those who are willing to experiment with new strategies, knowing it could be great or could be a lesson, are the ones who end up growing. Not every campaign will be a smashing success, but even in failure, there’s valuable insight to be gained. Each misstep is an opportunity to learn, change things, and grow.

Personally, while I never want to stop learning and growing, I hesitate at “change.” So, I fully understand the lack of enthusiasm that some have to step out of their comfort zones. However, you truly cannot have one without the other. You cannot truly grow without changing…something! 

Growth is part of our culture at The Business Growers. In fact, it’s literally part of our name. Maybe in my next decade of life, I can learn how to fully embrace change knowing it always leads to some sort of growth. 

If this is screaming at you, whether personally or professionally, it’s time to step out of that comfort zone. Learn how to go down swinging, but also learn how to get back up and try again.

What Is a Fractional CMO?

What Is a Fractional CMO?

Maintaining a full marketing plan that drives growth and positions your company for success is not easy. Beyond all the tedious daily marketing tasks, there’s also strategy to consider. Often, it’s too much to do in-house, which leads growth-hungry companies to seek outsourced help. Enter: a fractional chief marketing officer. 

As a fractional CMO-centric marketing agency, we’re here to shed light on the concept of a fractional CMO, their main responsibilities, and why partnering with one could be a game changer for startups or lean businesses.

P.S. Get your very own fractional CMO and implementation team with The Business Growers. Schedule a discovery call to view our marketing programs for MSPs and IT Companies to ensure rapid growth and execution support.

What Is a Fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO is a highly skilled executive who provides part-time, strategic marketing leadership and expertise to companies. They act as a dedicated CMO without the full-time or in-house commitment. 

Their role involves designing and refining marketing strategies to propel business growth based on key goals. They do this while working with a company’s existing marketing team or managing agency partnerships — if those exist. 

Often, a growing startup might only have one or two in-house marketing people who are locked in the daily grind. A fractional CMO supports those individuals and funnels strategy to them so they can execute the details.

TBG provides strategy and execution. No in-house team is required. We bring the team with us.

Duties of a Fractional CMO

From strategy to leadership and budget recommendations, a fractional CMO connects ROI-driven goals with proven methods to achieve them.

  • Strategic Planning: A fractional CMO formulates marketing strategies aligned with the company’s overall objectives, customizing them to deliver revenue-oriented results.

  • Marketing Leadership: Even as a part-time resource, a fractional CMO acts as a leader to the whole marketing team, providing guidance and direction to execute as decided.

  • Market Analysis and Consumer Insights: Staying up-to-date on market dynamics, trends, and competition is crucial. Fractional CMOs conduct thorough analyses to foster data-driven decision-making, enabling businesses to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing environment.

  • Marketing Budget Optimization: Fractional CMOs manage marketing budgets efficiently and identify areas for improvement with the goal of maximizing returns on investment.

Why You Might Need a Fractional CMO

Every company must market itself, and we’re talking about more than on social media. Marketing is a core business function. How will potential clients or customers know you exist without making your presence known? 

While some companies may eventually need a full-time team on their payroll, startups and organizations running lean can greatly benefit from a fractional CMO.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Hiring a full-time CMO can be an expensive undertaking, particularly for small to medium-sized businesses. Partnering with a fractional CMO allows access to C-level experience without overcommitting on finances.

  • Expertise and Experience: Fractional CMOs bring a wealth of experience and knowledge from multiple industries while keeping themselves continually current on what’s happening in the market.

  • Flexibility and Scalability: Fractional CMOs offer flexibility to adapt their role as your business evolves, ensuring marketing efforts align with changing demands. Whether you’re scaling up or down, fractional CMOs can ride with the waves.

  • Fresh Perspective: An external viewpoint can inject creative ideas and strategies into your marketing efforts, challenging the status quo and fostering innovation.

Your Fractional CMO + Execution Dream Team

Digital marketing will continue to evolve; that’s a given. Access to specialized expertise and strategic guidance without compounding expenses is a strategic advantage no matter what direction marketing evolves. Fractional CMOs offer cost-effective solutions, expert knowledge, and the ability to enhance your business performance through cutting-edge marketing practices.

Laura Johns, founder and CEO of The Business Growers, is a fractional CMO for tech and MSP companies. If you’re ready to be seen online, schedule your discovery call today to lock in more knowledge, growth, and scalability.

Your In-House Marketing Team’s Guide to AI

Your In-House Marketing Team’s Guide to AI

As a marketing agency, we are constantly looking at new ways to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into our own marketing and the strategies for our clients. It has become more than just a trend—it’s a necessity. AI is transforming our industry and revolutionizing the way we acquire data, create content, implement marketing and digital campaigns, as well as how we communicate with clients and report information.

AI is a game changer that, when used correctly and ethically, can empower agencies, angency owners and marketing teams to work more efficiently. History tells us that, as marketing leaders, if you’re not looking ahead, you are getting left behind. Doing the work today to know and understand how AI can, and will, impact our work helps us stay on the forefront of innovation rather than waiting for competition to outpace us.

AI: More than a Tech Trend

As an agency spending our days in the world of tech marketing, we’ve seen firsthand the shifts AI is bringing to our field. With projections that AI-driven marketing will drive 45% of the global economy by 2030 (PwC), it’s clear that AI isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a strategic necessity for marketing teams aiming to stay ahead of the curve.

Streamlined Efficiency for Marketing Teams

How much time is our marketing team spending on mundane tasks? Don’t know? Try time tracking for a week. That alone will provide all the insight you need to know where your team should start with AI. It isn’t about replacing your creativity; it’s about amplifying it. By offloading repetitive tasks to AI, marketing teams can focus on strategic thinking, brainstorming innovative ideas, and nurturing client relationships. The real profit and impact-driving activities that matter in your business.

Personalization Redefined: Tailoring at Scale

As they scale, most agencies and marketing teams struggle to keep customer relationships a priority because, let’s face it, the day-to-day grind gets in the way. But, as we know, personalization is the magic ingredient in marketing that sparks connections. This is where AI can act as a secret weapon, enabling agencies and marketing teams to craft personalized experiences at an unprecedented scale. Think dynamic content generation, email customization, and product recommendations—all based on user preferences and behaviors. This isn’t just about algorithms; it’s about building meaningful relationships with our audience.

Data-Driven Insights: The Marketer’s Treasure Chest

For marketing teams, data is gold. Enter AI-driven analytics that transform data into actionable insights. Predictive analytics helps us anticipate trends, sentiment analysis unveils customer emotions, and competitor analysis guides our strategies. With data in our arsenal, we make informed decisions that resonate with audiences and deliver results.

Real-Life Triumphs: AI in Action

Let’s explore real-world stories that showcase AI’s might. Vanguard saw a 15% spike in conversion rates through strengthened messaging through AI. The American Marketing Association boosted their newsletter using hyper-personalization with AI. They gathered member interest data, generated content for articles specific to each newsletter reader, and customized subject lines based on the individual to transform and increase the frequency of their newsletter. These triumphs underscore AI’s tangible impact on marketing’s bottom line. 

Unlocking AI’s Potential: A Call to Action for Marketing Teams

For marketing teams, AI isn’t a future possibility; it’s a present imperative. It’s not about sidelining our expertise; it’s about enhancing it. AI empowers marketing teams to tackle complex challenges and innovate. By integrating AI into our operations, we not only elevate our strategies but also future-proof our agencies against a rapidly changing landscape.

Lead the AI Initiative for Your Marketing Team

Marketing teams that adopt AI are poised to redefine the rules of engagement. As we infuse AI into every aspect of our strategies, we’ll witness enhanced efficiency, laser-focused personalization, and data-backed success. It’s time to steer our teams toward AI-powered marketing excellence and unlock a future of endless possibilities.

 

Uplevel your marketing with The Business Growers.

 

 

 

 

 

Six Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting an Agency 

Six Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting an Agency 

By: Laura Johns, CEO – The Business Growers

This summer, I had the opportunity to sit down with CEOs from agencies all over the United States. Some were marketing agency owners working in real estate; others specialized in painting and some owned generalist agencies. Everyone at the table had been in my shoes in some capacity and experienced the same challenges and successes I had over the last few years. In just a few days at this conference in Vegas, my role as CEO was forever changed. 

The CEOs at this table were energized and inspired. They didn’t get up to leave the room every five minutes to put out client fires. They were engaged and tuned into the people sitting at the table. Several of them poured into me that week and have continued for the last few months. I saw what I wanted to become in them, and I loved it.

For the first two years as CEO at The Business Growers, I did what needed to be done to keep clients happy—late nights, long hours, and sacrificing family time for my laptop. During my week in Vegas, these CEOs gave me practical next steps (like reading Buy Back Your Time) and advice on exactly what steps to take to get me from working in the business every day to working on the business. And in just a few weeks, I’ve taken significant strides to make these changes and am seeing wins every day as a result. 

I’m grateful that these CEOs poured into me, so I want to take the time to do the same for others. As I reflect on the twists and turns of my journey as an agency owner, I’m reminded of the many lessons I’ve learned in the last few years. If I could sit down for coffee with myself before starting this agency, here’s what I would’ve shared. These are the six game-changing lessons that I’ve learned.

1. Do Good Work and Watch the Magic Happen

Entrepreneurs are often fixated on growing revenue and what it will take to make the next dollar. When I first stepped out on my own, I made many decisions out of fear. Rather than fully trusting myself and my capabilities, I was thinking conservatively about what this business could do. I was dreaming safe instead of dreaming big.

Here’s what I’ve learned. Delivering exceptional value creates a ripple effect that surpasses all the sales strategies in the playbook. When you pour your heart into your work, you watch satisfied clients become your biggest advocates. Referrals start flowing in naturally, and you realize that doing good work is the engine for success.

2. Make a Greater Impact with Niche and Specialization

When we first started, I took any client that wanted to do business with me. After six months, I looked at the numbers and asked myself:

  • Where are we making the most impact?
  • What client relationships are operating seamlessly?
  • What is making us the most money?

After dissecting these three things, I quickly realized we have a niche. My 19+ years in technology led me to realize that what I truly loved not only made me happier but also attracted clients who aligned with my passion. 

Today, we target our ICPs (ideal customer profiles), and we are looking for who we serve best – B2B SaaS, Telecommunications, MSPs, and other technology organizations or startups who don’t need or can’t afford an in-house marketing team. I learned that specialization isn’t about limiting what we can do but owning our expertise and scaling with a world-class offering.

3. Unleash Your Team’s Superpowers

The entrepreneurial journey isn’t a straight line; it’s ever-evolving. And the same holds true for my team. We are growing fast, which means our needs change quickly. And the skills my team has acquired over the last few years have also evolved. I’ve learned not to assume strengths and always keep my team in the know about the plan, whether it’s a two-week plan or a ten-year plan. The last thing I want is for us not to be aware that someone internally was interested in a position we filled externally. 

Each team member brings a unique superpower; as a leader, it’s my job to help them lean into their strengths. One of my favorite pastors has always prayed over every new church member. His prayer is, “God, help us make room for their gifts.” That’s the kind of business I want to build. One where part of the joy of work is that the team can flex their skills in a way that benefits both them and the business. As CEO, I’m always prepared for roles to shift and evolve—it’s the rhythm of growth.

4. SOPs: From Good to Great

If I were running a solo shop, I would likely fly by the seat of my pants all day. With a growing team, this doesn’t lead to a sustainable business. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with a stellar ops team who have swooped in like superheroes to build our Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). They are taking us from good to freakin’ great one day at a time. With SOPs in place, we deliver more than just quality; we deliver consistency. And that is what will allow us to scale, not to mention it’s what sets us miles apart from our competition.

5. Hire Smart, Hire Early

Growth is exciting but can also knock the wind out of your sails if you’re not ready. Trust me. Fast growth means you must also hire fast, but here’s a critical lesson: hire before you’re desperate. Bringing new team members on board before you’re buried under a mountain of work ensures you can train them well and keep the ship sailing smoothly. Smart hiring isn’t just about filling positions; it’s about investing in potential and fostering a culture of continuous learning. When you bring on team members before you’re swamped, you give them—and your business—the space to thrive.

6. Learn from Other CEOs

I can’t say enough how good it felt to be at a table full of CEOs who’ve been through the same things as me. These connections are gold. They’re the ones who recommend books that speak to my soul and give me advice that’s changing the way I live my life and run my business. This year, I realized how important it is to network with fellow agency owners. Being a CEO isn’t always just about business; it’s about growth, learning, and having a tribe that’s got your back.

Business, like life, is a dance. But each lesson shapes me in unique ways. As I navigate my journey as an entrepreneur, I’m learning that it’s not just about business; it’s about the journey of growth for me and the journey of empowering my team—personally and professionally.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have learned what I learned already, and I know plenty more to come. My tips for a future agency owner – focus on quality, trust your team, niche down, find your people, hire early, get SOPs, and GROW, GROW, GROW!

New Marketing Firm, The Business Growers, Launches to  Offer Next-Level Growth Strategy for Businesses

New Marketing Firm, The Business Growers, Launches to Offer Next-Level Growth Strategy for Businesses

The Business Growers℠, a marketing firm for growth-focused companies, announces its launch today. The company will provide services for organizations nationwide, covering various areas, including branding, website development, design, marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and digital advertising.

The Business Growers builds upon a framework that evaluates businesses at three levels, from the foundational components of the business to its long-term scalability. The Know, Grow and Scale™ framework inspires businesses to use effective marketing to grow the right way and save time, money and energy in the process.

Laura Johns, a Mississippi native and 18-year marketing veteran, founded The Business Growers.

“After working for multiple tech startups and a multi-billion dollar organization, I’ve learned the roadblocks for growth when it comes to marketing are the same regardless of business size,” Johns said. “Often business owners are so focused on honing their craft that they miss the most important steps, sometimes very early in their business lifecycle. Our goal is to help fix that by education and proper execution.”

For nearly a decade, Johns supported marketing efforts at SmartSynch, a Mississippi technology success story that sold for $100 million in 2012 to Itron, Inc. More recently, she has led corporate marketing efforts at Fuse.Cloud in Jackson, Mississippi.

“I’ve learned that marketing mistakes can be costly, and some companies can’t afford to get it wrong,” Johns said.

Johns credits her executive-level experience and five years of consulting with small businesses as the keys that led her to discover her passion for helping businesses using the Know, Grow and Scale framework.

To learn more about The Business Growers, visit www.thebusinessgrowers.com.

About Laura Johns
Laura Johns is the founder and CEO of The Business Growers, a results-driven marketing firm based in Jackson, Mississippi. For nearly 20 years, Laura has led and managed marketing efforts for companies from technology startups to global, multi-billion dollar businesses. She spent nearly half her career serving as a corporate marketing executive in the telecommunications industry before starting The Business Growers. Her career focus is built around driving marketing ROI and developing strategies that lead to tangible success.

At The Business Growers, Laura developed a proven, three-step framework to monitor business growth, evaluate marketing effectiveness and ensure businesses have the right components in place to grow and scale.

Laura has been honored as one of Mississippi’s “Top 50 under 40” and “Top 50 Leading Women in Business.” Johns graduated Cum Laude with a degree in communications from Mississippi College and earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of Alabama.

About The Business Growers
The Business Growers is a Jackson, Mississippi-based marketing firm offering a variety of services, including branding, website development, design, marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and digital advertising. The company builds upon a framework that evaluates businesses at three levels, from the foundational components of the business to its long-term scalability. Johns created The Know, Grow and Scale™ framework to inspire businesses to use effective marketing to grow the right way and save time, money and energy in the process.

Contact The Business Growers today for a FREE, no-risk consultation, or learn more at thebusinessgrowers.com.

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