CXO Magazine Interviews Mellissah Smith, CEO, Marketing Eye
After running a creative marketing agency for 5 years primarily focused on big corporate, I realised that there was a need in the market for small to medium sized businesses to have an experienced marketing manager at an affordable price.
Making marketing affordable for all companies has been our mandate and as such Marketing Eye has developed a number of models to help small businesses with all areas of marketing.
We keep everything in-house including public relations, advertising, branding, web development, film production and multimedia – allowing us to keep the costs of these services down. It works and clients appreciate that their brand is being managed under one roof.
Why would companies decide to outsource marketing rather than insource?
When a company gets to a certain size, they should have a full time marketing resource. However, it’s the time between startup and reaching this point where businesses struggle with their marketing and growth plans. This is where an outsourced model fits in and helps businesses achieve their goals.
Companies like Marketing Eye are instrumental in giving small to medium sized businesses a Marketing Manager to run their marketing departments. Any business that wants to grow needs this. Larger or more established businesses often have a full time marketing resource, but having an outsourced marketing service often fills in the gaps, gives the company an extra set of marketing eyes or provides important direction and creative based on past experiences that an organization may or may not have had.
Is it mainly SMBs that you work with?
Marketing Eye is focused on helping small to medium sized businesses achieve their marketing goals. We work with this market as it gives our marketing consultants the greatest satisfaction. By having a qualified marketing manager who would normally only be found in the top jobs in big corporate is a resource that SMB’s need but normally cannot afford. We fill this gap.
Marketing is always described as the first thing that gets cut in a downturn. Did that play to your advantage over the last year?
Absolutely. The inquiry rate last year was the best ever. Marketing Eye grew 30% in over the year and was quite selective with what clients we took on. The bottom line is that companies that want to grow or maintain strong customer relationships need marketing. Whilst they may decide to reduce headcount, there will always be a role for marketing companies like ours to ensure that marketing activities continue over downturns. The companies that invested in strategic marketing over the last 18 months that we work with have benefited greatly.
You’ve talked a bit about Green Marketing. Do you think consumers and marketers are hitting the mark there or have efforts tended towards “greenwash”?
There is so much talk and so little action. To be honest, it doesn’t cost any more money to be environmentally friendly, yet companies are lazy or don’t have a strategic green policy in place, so green marketing is not something that is at the forefront of organizations.
We work hard on encouraging businesses we work with to undertake green marketing. Sure, in some cases a glossy brochure doesn’t look quite as good as one that is not environmentally friendly, but if companies don’t start thinking green, then one day it will be too late.
Education on what green marketing is would help businesses, but at the end of the day, we can run seminars over and over again, but the same people who are typically receptive to ‘green marketing’ and being an environmentally sustainable business will attend hoping to learn more, whilst the others just sit at their desks and continue on their merry way.
Where do you see your company heading over the next five years?
The next 5 years is incredibly exciting for Marketing Eye. We are about to release a finance package for startups and small businesses whereby they receive the Marketing Eye service agreement for 12 months but pay it off over 2 years. For $17.95 per day, it makes marketing affordable for all businesses. I believe that this is the great growth area. In early stage businesses, capital is needed in so many areas of the business and often marketing is not undertaken at the level that it should because companies are stretched. We are giving all businesses an opportunity to have every chance to grow in the early stages of their businesses and I think that there are many businesses that will take this up.
Marketing Eye is also in negotiations with a French company who is buying the rights to the concept for Europe. This is exciting for the company and particularly important for our growth strategy. Europe has millions of small businesses that are the ideal target audience for Marketing Eye’s services.
What’s the biggest challenge for the company at the moment? How do you seek to address that?
The biggest challenge right now is finding people that are skilled across all areas of marketing. With so much specialization going on, marketing professionals are wanting roles in consultancy firms, but don’t come equipped with the right skills and experience.
What’s the biggest opportunity for the marketing profession, at the moment?
The Internet. Who would have thought that no marketing campaign can afford to ignore a particular medium. The opportunity for business people to run successful and sustainable low cost businesses online is phenomenal.
For the marketing industry, the ability to keep up to date with the technologies and the platforms that influence target audiences or for that matter, engage them, is imperative to staying alive.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Clients are friends and friends are clients. It is really simple. Without this relationship with your clients, there is no business. Treating everyone on a human level rather than ‘corporate’ level will keep your business running in the good times and the bad.
What are the skills that you promote and most respect in business?
The people I most respect in business are those who achieve their goals but don’t step on anyone to get there. I have been fortunate with a number of mentors who have guided me, given advice and at times told me the cold hard facts of life. This honesty and ability to be receptive to hearing things how it is opens the door to learning and growing.
The entrepreneurs organization taught me to work ‘on’ the business, not ‘in’ the business. As entrepreneurs we all know that this is what we should do, but so many of us fall in the trap of working ‘in’ our businesses. It took years, but eventually I got there but you have to be surrounded by good people to be able to do it.
Published on CFOworld.