The industry needs to be more favorable towards giving us more of what we want as consumer.
As a part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with my fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Jerry Kelly.
Jerry Kelly is the Chief Marketing Officer and partner at Madwire® and Marketing 360®. He is responsible for brand development, strategic planning and partnerships, market analysis, product development, and R&D innovation for internal assets. Jerry is originally from the Dallas area and currently resides in Loveland, Colorado with his wife Brooke and their 3 daughters, Emma, Grace, and Cazyn.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I can’t think of just one mistake I have made along this journey of over 10 years, as this business is sometimes all about trial and error. I can, however, share some creative ideas I have tried in the past that have paid dividends, even still today.
I always try to look for creative ways to reach people and, in our early days, my partner Joe and I thought it would be a good idea to dress up mannequins and put them on the roof of our building. We dressed them as superheroes and put them right next to our logo. Our startup building was on a busy road that is a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Needless to say, it drew a lot of attention. We would look out the window and laugh as people would drive by and honk and we could see we captured their attention. Parents would bring their kids by to take pictures of the superheroes. It was awesome. We got some good press out of it and the locals still talk about it 10 years later.
The takeaway I learned was that good marketing sticks and makes an impact. You never know what piece of creative or concept will be the tactic that works. You just have to have the guts and intuition to go for it and not be afraid to fail.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
The tipping point for me was early on. The first campaigns I built started driving success and I fell in love with the analytical approach to a digital first strategy.
My background working as a DOD contractor in the NRO was heavy data-driven, so I was well equipped to build data around outcomes. Once I figured out that my space ops career could apply to marketing data, I hit the ground running. At that point, it was just about building measurable outcomes that could generate sales.
I continue to do things differently everyday, re-evaluating my core base of understanding. One thing is for sure — we have to be able to measure it, period, or we can’t do it. The concepts of marketing may change, but the fundamental thinking of “analytics first” never has and probably never will.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Never stop learning. Find your pace. Understand what you are good at and maximize that part of your potential. You don’t burn out if you are doing what you love, so make sure you love marketing and are not in the field just for the heck of it. This industry, like so many others, requires passion and an adventurous spirit. I always look at things like: what I’m creating could be the next big idea and how is what I am building going to make a difference? My frame of mind stays focused on the impact I can have on others and that makes me work hard and never stop learning.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are?
I am grateful for my faith and the love I have seen through my walk with the Lord. I have always prayed for the favor of God in my life and I believe that God has truly blessed me.
I have several people that have helped me along the way. I would have to start off with my high school basketball coach. In 9th grade, he saw talent in me and I made the varsity team as a freshman. The belief he had in me propelled me in getting a baseball scholarship and earning 2 degrees.
The next was my opportunity to work as a Department of Defense contractor within the National Reconnaissance Office as an analyst project manager. I had several leaders that truly believed in me and gave me great opportunities. These opportunities opened doors that lead me to a great career supporting some amazing missions. I grew as a leader and fell in love with the analytics side of the business.
Then to Madwire. My good friend and business partner, JB, and his dad also saw talent in me and brought me on as a partner in the business in the very early stages. Watching what we have built in Madwire has been one of my life’s greatest milestones.
On a more personal level, the ongoing support of my family keeps me grounded and gives me my purpose for working towards my goals. My daughters, Grace, Emma, and Cazyn, and my beautiful wife, Brooke, have all helped me get to where I am today.
Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?
I think all marketing will eventually just be audience / user behavior / purchase based. It will be all about the in-market audiences -less around search and more about behavior. This pivot is occurring quickly and generates better experiences for the consumer, as they will get the ads they want.
The industry needs to be more favorable towards giving us more of what we want as consumers. Salesy marketing is annoying and disruptive. On the other hand, it is refreshing to get served a cool piece of marketing when it is something you want. That is the difference.
Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started?
1) This is going to be tough.
2) You will have to always be willing to learn.
3) Data is your best friend.
4) Build out your IP quicker.
5) Build marketing that is cutting edge.
Marketing for a small business is one of the toughest jobs. You can build the perfect campaign and deliver amazing results, and the company can still go out of business. You can help to grow a business only to watch it be sold, and then the account is transferred out. You can do everything right and sometimes a business owner will still fail. The toughest part is watching any business not make it. I am passionate about making a difference when given an opportunity in this SMB space. I find it very rewarding when a business trusts us.
With that being said, it is my mission to make sure our strategies, concepts, and technology are what the SMB market needs and is the difference-maker for these businesses. Over 10 years, I have learned that if you give it all you got and make a difference, the outcome will take care of itself.
Thank you so much for sharing these fantastic insights!