Interview With Central New York Marketing Expert Scott Gardner
Scott Gardner is the owner of Agilé Marketing Services. I’ve known Scott for about 14 years, and he’s always offered great insight into the branding and marketing process. He’s worked both with local and national clients, helping them get more clients and business by sometimes using what others might term unorthodox principles but which are actually dynamic and logical. I hope you enjoy this interview; if you do, Scott answered more questions on another blog of mine.
1. Let’s get this out of the way first. Which dorms did you live in at SUNY Oswego and how did you enjoy the experience?
My wife wouldn’t let me live in the dorms! Hehe. I actually got my degree at Oswego just after 2000, when I was already in my late 30’s. I have a very nice house near Phoenix, on a small hill across from a cemetery. The neighbors are quiet. Mostly.
2. Your company leads with Agile’ rather than Agile; what was behind that decision?
The name of my company, Agile’ [pronounced ah-zhill-AY] is essentially a made-up word. It sounds French, but there’s no French word like that. The entire pharmaceutical industry is built on made-up words. You do that so you have a blank canvas to paint your brand on. But if your name is Joe, and you run a lawn care business, it’s best to just call your business “Joe’s Lawn Care” or “Lawns By Joe” or some such. Be as honest and direct as you can about what you do. It will save you a ton of time and money down the line.
3. In your opinion, unless your business is only local (lawn care, snow removal, pizza joints etc), is it easier marketing to a local audience or to a national/worldwide audience?
It depends on what you’re selling. I’ve worked for national and international companies in the past, and continue to work with people whose markets are national or even international. If you use the right media, like audio and video online, it doesn’t matter if you’re across the country or right next door. The plan and the tactics matter, not the location. As long as you’re not talking about a strictly local business, of course.
4. You talk a lot about “target market”; exactly what does that mean and how can people figure out what that market is?
A target market is the group of individuals who make up the ideal group of people who want or need whatever it is you’re selling, and can afford to buy it. If you run a corner store in a neighborhood, you’re selling convenience, and anyone who can walk to or drive to your business is theoretically your target market. Not everyone who wants or needs a car is your target audience if you’re selling high end sports cars or bullet proof luxury sedans.
Shameless plug: in my latest book Profile Your Target Market I talk about identifying who you see as your target market, and how to reach them with marketing messages that cut through the noise.
5. You work mainly with small businesses. What are the biggest mistakes you believe most of them make when it comes to marketing or branding?
The biggest mistake is not following a system. Even a bad system can be changed or improved on if you follow it. Systems (no matter what they are or do) usually have benchmarks built in. As they say, “If you can measure it, you can manage it.” I find most business owners bounce from activity to activity without completing them.
Have a system – as simple a system as you can get away with. Complete the activities in your system in an orderly fashion. Measure your results and analyze them. Tweak your processes and try again
6. Is there a great marketing benefit to networking events for most businesses?
Two very scary words for a lot of business people: Networking and Relationships. Call them something else if those words freak you out. No matter what you think, no one is truly a “self made success.” Someone is there beside, behind or in front of you. Ideally, you want happy customers to refer other customers directly to you.
This happens by meeting people – Networking – and then mutually helping one another – building Relationships. My broad definition of marketing is: “Presenting yourself and your business in the best light possible to prospects, customers, the media, and the world in general.” You’re marketing yourself by smiling when you meet a new person, or by saying Please and Thank You. So yeah, it’s essential to network in order to have a successful business, in my opinion.
7. In your book “Profitable Web Hosting“, you talk about the concept of ‘value’. Is there a definitive way for small businesses to figure out their value?
What can you offer a customer that they will enjoy? The value of a nail is in holding up a picture of a loved one, not in making a hole in your wall. Value is something you give, not something you sell. Find something you can give that will add value to a person’s life, and they will buy from you.
8. Not to call out one of your former clients, but do you see value in updating one’s website to more modern standards every once in a while?
Technology is constantly changing. This includes the tech of the web as well. Sites I put together for clients fifteen years ago literally don’t register with search engines today. Content should be constantly updated. If you aren’t moving ahead, you’re dying. This is true with tech as well. Buildings finished this year are more fire resistant and structurally sound than ones completed just a few years ago.
It’s difficult – impossible – to tear the older buildings down to put up something better. That’s not the case with web sites and other places your customers and the public can connect with you. Even if you don’t change the content or the look, you should still review your site on a regular basis.
9. How is it I’m just learning that you’ve been writing a blog for just over 7 years now? Wouldn’t that be an example of bad marketing? Lol
I don’t think so, and I’ll tell you why. My message is narrowly focused. It’s not meant to reach everyone. The best messages aren’t meant for everyone, and certainly not everyone at the same time. The Agilé view of marketing doesn’t fit the mold for all small businesses and entrepreneurs. While I think our message of Recognized Expert Status is valid for large corporations as well, the head people who could get behind this system are insulated by their own in-house marketing staff. While I think I’ve done some dang good posts in my blog over the last six or seven years, we’re not for everyone. But I think if you go looking for us, you’ll find us.
10. Go ahead and promote yourself; you’ve earned it!
Agilé Marketing Services is a boutique firm, specializing in Recognized Expert Status. We help our direct clients become the go-to person in their industry or niche, commanding higher profits and increased mind share among their prospects. For those who can’t work with us directly, I offer a number of books (four as of July 2017) and online courses. You can find us at AgileMarketingServices.com or email me directly at Scott@AgileMarketingServices.com.