One way to get to know me is seeing sample work product. If you’ve gotten this far, you probably have some pretty specific questions that you’d like answered before we discuss solutions to your business needs. I get it, though I have to say I’m much better in person and would love to talk about it.
You have never worked at an agency. How can I have the confidence that you will manage all aspects of our business relationship professionally?
After graduating from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications: Advertising, I made a decision that working for a traditional ad agency wasn’t the right career path for me. Since then, in every position at every company, I’ve worked closely with ad agencies to help execute content and media strategies for communicating the brand message to a broad audience. Check out my LinkedIn profile for recommendations that I’ve received from trusted partners at those agencies. Most important to me when working with third-party resource is clear, open communications, project management and accountability. You can trust that I will take the same approach to all aspects of your business.
You don’t have any experience in my product or industry. What makes you think that these services will benefit my brand?
There are so many different brands out there that have a compelling story to tell! Sadly, most don’t tell it well. And while I may have yet to work with businesses like yours, the truth is, the building blocks of brand storytelling are common to most if not all industries, geographies and audiences. I believe that clearly articulating the brand story, which includes positioning, mission and voice, is vital for successfully marketing any business. Let’s start a conversation to see if the level of customer engagement that I promote is right for your business. If not, chances are great that I have a contact with a different background or skillset that may be a better match for your immediate business need.
Why isn’t it part of your core service offerings to manage the tactical side of the marketing plan we put together?
A lot of our conversation to this point has been about where to start: a clear brand storyline. And while I will push for this before tackling anything else, the successful execution of our plans is just as important to me! I imagine us clearly articulating the brand mission, position, story, voice and benefits, then putting together a content marketing strategy or storytelling blueprint that helps direct our media efforts (website, social, POS, events, etc.). From there, count me in for helping get things started, it’s just my intent to help make you self-sufficient (even if it means making myself unnecessary). Coming in and putting the structures and processes in place for your current team, closest to your brand, seems like the best long-term play for successful brand marketing for your business. But count on me to roll up my sleeves and work alongside you and your team to help get there.
You’re looking at him. I filed for an LLC (limited liability corporation) in February 2018. Please visit the California Secretary of State’s website for more information. I have a number of individuals and businesses that I work with to deliver a successful engagement with a client: a team of a-list players that make up my virtual agency. In most cases, those resources assigned to your project will have a 1099 relationship with Scott Kolbe LLC unless we decide that a direct relationship is more beneficial to you.
Have laptop, will travel! Haha, I travel a lot. But I’m currently based in Northern California, where I moved a couple years ago to work with Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. I have found that I can work very closely with my clients using a hybrid on- and off-site model, meeting in person when it’s beneficial for the project and working via video conference, email and phone otherwise. I hope that works for you! In any case, I’m happy to discuss and customize a model to meet your business and project needs.
I have done consulting work for a number of years while working full-time for companies like Beam Suntory, Oakley, BJ’s Restaurants and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. In February 2018 I formed an LLC and have since been working solely on small-to-mid size business engagements around branding and storytelling opportunities.
Glad you asked! If some aspect of my site or background piques your interest, let’s chat about it! I can be reached at the following, and I look forward to getting in touch:
A marketing advisor never sleeps! Like most businesses, I’m open when my customers want me to be, so I’m happy to flex around your schedule. My normal business hours are 8am-6pm PST, Monday-Friday. Certain engagements require night and weekend work to take advantage of storytelling opportunities, so just let me know when and where I’m needed. I am happy to work on emergency projects at the rate quoted in the terms of our contract.
It all starts with reaching out and starting a conversation about your business. I’m excited to learn more, and I will be quick to help audit your current marketing efforts and identify the opportunities to help differentiate you from your peers/competitors. Once we start to zero in on what the brand means to you and your customers (oftentimes not the same), we can put together thoughtful messaging strategies to help build brand awareness in a way that resonates with the right people in the right place at the right time (classic advertising speak). But our goal is to create an emotional connection that helps break through the clutter, and we can only do that after spending some time together discussing what success looks like for you and your team.
There are amazing brand stories that aren’t yet being told all around the world! However, practically-speaking, I do my best work in the United States at this point, engaging with clients from coast-to-coast. I am near a major airport and can make client meetings, presentations and launch events as needed by the project team. I like to meet with clients early in the engagement and then as the project allows I maintain a close-but-remote working relationship. My goal is to empower the internal team with the right tools, guides and processes to succeed as if I wasn’t there. You may say that I try hard to work myself out of a job…however, I’ll be there as long as you need me around.
Beer is definitely an interest and a passion: I’m a homebrewer and have experienced commercial craft brewing both on the production and the marketing side. But the truth is, the building blocks of brand storytelling are common to most if not all industries, geographies and audiences. I believe that clearly articulating the brand story, which includes positioning, mission and voice, is vital for successfully marketing any business. Take for example some work that I did for a company outside my sweet spot – Suterra, a division of the Wonderful Company and a global leader in environmentally sustainable pest control. There’s a story to be told there, and they are the company qualified to tell it! Applying the same principles of brand marketing to Suterra’s story could help them differentiate and engage, growing sales and loyalty as a result.
I recently formed an LLC to provide marketing services to business and industries that could benefit from my experience. Part of that experience is a wide and deep network of organizations that I trust in areas of marketing outside my sweet spot of brand storytelling. So I can easily scale my virtual organization to meet the needs of any client, established or growing. Once we brainstorm the needs of your organization, I will provide a detailed blueprint of what I feel it will take to provide solutions to your business pain. That plan will look at the resources available internally as well as those that can be assembled at a moments’ notice for defined project work. We can structure interactions in the way that best suits your internal workflows with the overall goal of providing a complete solution, on-time and -budget. If I am not the right partner for the short- or long-term project we identify, I’m happy to connect you with a specialized marketing services provider that better matches your needs.
Thanks for your interest! I’d love to speak with you about your business and specific branding or storytelling needs. From there we can decide whether or not my service offerings are a match and go from there. I am actively engaged with a number of clients at the same time, some in the same industry, but you can be confident that your proprietary information and assets will not be shared outside of our project team. For a list of select work, check out my Storytelling page.
The information you share about your brand and business is important to me. Once we have entered into an engagement, whether a project or a retainer relationship, any details shared will be be covered by a standard non-disclosure agreement for the duration of the engagement. Any questions, just ask!
Is working for multiple brands in the same industry during an overlapping period considered a conflict of interest?
Great question! I want my clients to have the confidence that their intellectual property, sales, operational processes and other information will be kept confidential for the length of the relationship, which is why my project estimates include terms and conditions as well as a non-disclosure statement. To that end, I may engage in project relationships with other companies in the same or similar industries before, during or after our formal agreement. If you have any questions or concerns, I’m happy to discuss at the beginning of our business together, just ask!
I’m happy to! A benefit of having 20+ years of marketing experience across a number of different geographies means that I can offer up industry-leading resources to accomplish your goals. Once we talk about your business and objectives and begin to scope out an engagement we’ll know better what needs you have in the short- and long-term. I’m confident that I’ll be able to help project-manage relationships with any member of my “virtual agency,” however I’m glad to help you find the right resources inside or outside my network!
I’d like to say there’s a standard rate card for marketers that looks at years of experience, channel knowledge, scope of work and other variables, but there’s not. So I’ve considered the following when establishing fee schedule:
- How I work – I’m confident that I can be extremely productive working with most people. Any challenges to our working relationship will come up very early in conversation.
- Process and structure – while there is not foolproof formula for successful engagement, I have the breadth and depth of experience across industries necessary to establish a successful track record. I’ll bring those tools to the table, and create new ones as we go along.
- Quality of work product – I want for your team to be proud of our work together. I take immeasurable pride in the quality of my deliverables, and I hold myself and others to a high standard of performance.
Our work will be priced according to various levels of investment from both sides. These prices are either per hour, per project or based on a retainer arrangement. All prices are discussed and agreed upon at the start of the engagement.
I believe that understanding how I work is more valuable than a list of previous companies and projects. That’s why I do a little research on your company before our first meeting which may help identify strengths and opportunities in your business. Until we work together formally, I can only give you my outsider’s perspective on your marketing and branding efforts – there may be a lot going on inside that I’m not privy to. Right or wrong, it’s a free, no-obligation view of your company from a consumer perspective and a jumping-off point for a conversation about making up the difference between where you are and where you want to be.
I understand that marketing, while necessary to differentiate your product and engage new and current customers, can be an expensive line item on the budget (if budgeted at all). Each project is estimated separately, and the prices for services are determined upfront before the agreement is signed. Let’s work to find a solution that meets your current need at a price point that is comfortable and build any ongoing project relationship from there.
Based on a breadth and depth of marketing experience across industries, together we are able to design, develop and deploy solutions to your business’ needs faster than other services. I trust that speed-to-market is a competitive advantage for your brand, and I have priced my hourly and retainer services accordingly. Happy to discuss!
I love a good road trip! Understanding how the brand performs (and is perceived) in key geographies is vital to designing high-performing efforts for those markets. This function best falls under consumer insights and research – two areas that help inform growth strategies and targeted marketing efforts. If your brand is looking to expand and/or reach a new audience, then traveling to those markets is what we will do! All aspects of business travel will be built into the project plan at the start of the engagement.
Why leave the corporate world to start a consultancy? Seems like you were working for some pretty iconic brands…
They were all fun stories to tell, in their own ways, and I’m confident that I gave 150% of myself while I worked various marketing roles in software, beverage alcohol, restaurant and sports performance. Not all separations were deliberate, however all were very liberating. I have honed my skills as a marketer, project manager and leader over years and careers with some pretty amazing companies, however at this point I truly believe that I add more value working with hand-picked customers and a curated list of trusted partners to create something remarkable. That is exciting and engaging to me, and I’m ready to share my experience to help your brand stand out, not to just blend in, using proven strategies and high-performance tactics. What’s not to love about that?!
Who are you as a person? What personal pursuits and passions make you more qualified to work on my brand?
What type of project manager are you? How often can I expect to hear from you; receive status updates on projects; and to what extent will we be able to participate in the process? This is our brand, after all, and no one knows it better than we do.
As a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) I have a broad range of experience managing efforts of different size, scope and budget. However, just as important as the past experience is how I approach our future engagement: my professionalism with stakeholders, my relationship with partners and my leadership of team members. Early we will establish the proper cadence for communicating project status, and I expect you to hold me to that. I am a big fan of easily-digestible dashboard reporting, which are perfect for executive status meetings. And I wholly expect your participation in the process, to whatever extent you are willing and able. As a brand owner or executive, no one will ever understand the brand origin story at your same level. NO ONE. However, that’s not the goal: we need for current and prospective customers to connect with an aspect of your brand that is meaningful to them, not only to you. And that’s what you’re paying me to help you accomplish. Ultimately, we’ll find the right balance after a short time working together, and adjust where needed.
The brands you’ve worked with are on a completely different scale than mine (budget, volume, distribution, etc.). What makes you think that your experience translates to a brand my size?
Different scales, true, but similar challenges! Brands both established and growing have challenges engaging fans and paying customers. Which is why the fundamental building blocks of a good brand story are a strong mission statement, positioning and voice. From there, the content marketing strategy scales to what’s most appropriate and effective for the customer. With a clear roadmap of where the brand is headed, high-performance execution of the strategy and tactics and solid measurement of the results, brands of any size are able to see the immediate and long-term value of their marketing spend. This is a great end-goal for our work together, at whatever level.
As a 20+ year marketing professional, I have experienced a number of different industries, sales volumes and geographies. From engaging a relatively small, highly-targeted developer customer base for InstallShield Software Corporation to global retail sales associates at Oakley, I am fortunate to have worked on many different aspects of successful campaigns. Today I’m turning my passion and expertise over to you with the goal of growing your sales in a competitive industry like yours.
How do you stay up on the latest trends in the industry? How can we be sure we’re getting the most accurate information from the most reliable sources?
Not only am I a student of marketing best practices, but I’m a consumer who’s passionate about many brands across a variety of industries, including Airline, Beer, Loyalty, Restaurant, Retail, Services and Travel. I subscribe to industry publications, follow influential leaders in the space and attend conferences and seminars from notable speakers on topics I care about. I use this site create and curate content about engagement marketing that works – and some that falls flat – all with the express purpose of learning to do it better. And if I can share that knowledge with peers and customers, then I’ve contributed to a more honest and transparent form of marketing.
I am happy to provide the contact information of past customers, partners and employers. I also have favorable recommendations on my LinkedIn page. Many would say that I’m a passionate marketer who cares deeply about brands he works on and the teams involved. My strengths are project and partner management, and I address any shortcomings with additional training and certification (for example, I’m Hootsuite and Google Partner certified). Case studies from previous clients can be found here (and the list is always growing!).
As a benefit to clients, integrated into this site is a fully-loaded project management system which tracks progress and communications throughout the lifecycle of the engagement. There is a client-facing side that is used for status checks, feedback and final approval on deliverables as well as a back-end system used by the solution providers responsible for the work. Both areas are password-protected and clients will have a full list of those partners and resources with access. Questions about how to use the project management tool? Just reach out and I’m happy to give you a walk through.
What tools do you use to manage your website and search engine presence? Do you offer any services to help companies like mine do it myself?
I’m a fan of do-it-yourself, so I like to use tools like WordPress and similar content management systems when it comes to managing your web presence. There is a plugin called Yoast for WordPress that helps you structure your pages and posts so that search engines like Google can find and index relevant content and images on your site to improve your search engine ranking. My WordPress site is connected to a Google Analytics account via a small snippet of code on each page, which helps me understand more clearly what pages are popular and where I need to be more engaging. Forms on the website are connected to a Salesforce.com Essentials account to help me stay on top of client conversations and conversions. I like Hootsuite for managing my social media presence, but I’m sure that I’m using only a fraction of its full potential. Happy to discuss other bells and whistles that you may see on my site that interest you!
Tell us about your website. Who maintains it; what platform is it built on; and how might I start hosting a similar site for my brand?
Great question! My website is based on a paid WordPress theme (Carton-Pro) that I found suited my needs best. It uses masonry to readjust content tiles on the homepage and on deeper category pages to properly display my posts and content at any resolution (desktop to mobile). There are thousands of free and paid themes out there for WordPress, and chances are there’s one to fit the needs of nearly every small business. What I like about WordPress is the ability to do it myself: I set up the site initially and then have the tools I need to add content, functionality, shopping and many other features. That’s why I promote the use of WordPress or a similar content management system for the small business clients I work with. My site is hosted by Godaddy.com, which includes a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate to provide my customers with the assurance that their contact and credit card information will be encrypted/protected during online purchase. Any other questions, just ask!
I have taken every precaution to ensure that scottkolbe.com and any information exchanged therein remains secure. I have a SHA-2 level SSL certificate issued by GoDaddy.com and second-level trustmark certification through McAfee. Issued to individual websites, this level of certification ensures that any personal information like email and credit card information is only captured using 2048-bit encryption (I don’t have access to your credit card information following purchase).
You can always confirm that the page you are viewing on scottkolbe.com is secure by checking the address bar of your Internet browser for a secure connection and the bottom right-hand corner for the McAfee Secure trustmark.
Personal privacy is important to me. Which is why I won’t ever share or sell personally-identifiable information without prior consent. At this point, the only records I keep of visitors and customers is their name, email address and IP address. This is more for reporting purposes than anything. Additional, non-personally-identifiable information can be collected and reported through Google Analytics in order to measure the success of advertising efforts on site traffic and conversion, for example. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out and we’ll talk about it.
Is all of my brand’s project documentation found online on box.com? Who else has access? Is it a secure site?
I have chosen box.com to house a majority of the project work for my clients. This could include initial project documentation, plans, strategies, drafts and versions of finished work. It will never house client billing information or transaction data. Box.com is the industry leader in cloud-based, secured storage solutions, and I find it most efficient to share and archive our work product on that platform. After we begin an engagement you will receive access to a password-protected project site that has a record of our work together. Only you and your project team have access, no other clients. And box.com has recently secured the entire site with secure socket layer (SSL) technology which further encrypts user login information for your protection.
Sadly, this is something that many businesses face today, and I have gone to great lengths to protect my site and the information and assets therein. My site was hacked in early 2018 due to a bug in one of my WordPress plugins. Hackers found and exploited the bug, using my website (and email address) to spam lists of recipients not related to my business. Thankfully my brother and I found and quickly addressed the issue, and no customer project or other data was compromised. Since then I have installed a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate on every page of my site in order to prevent this from reoccurring. And while hackers are always working hard to take down commerce sites big and small, I will do everything I can to restore order to the site and minimize any downtime for our engagement.
Why start with brand positioning? I know what my brand is and how my customers perceive us. I want to go straight to social media and creating consumable content.
As a brand owner or executive, no one will ever understand the brand origin story at your same level. NO ONE. However, that’s not the goal: we need for current and prospective customers to connect with an aspect of your brand that is meaningful to them, not only to you. Their point of connection is not always the history of the company; the founders; challenges along the way; etc. What I propose is that we need to identify and respect the INTERNAL story, then ask customers what part of that story resonates with them. Once we have identified the EXTERNAL story, I am all for identifying the proper marketing channels for that message, whether social, digital, events, public relations, advertising or other.
To me, there’s a difference between bashing a brand and providing constructive critique. I’m a consumer AND an experience marketer, which means that I am qualified to wear both hats when evaluating the efforts of companies’ marketing efforts. When I’m engaging with a potential client, I want to be truthful about where I see opportunities to improve, otherwise I’m providing very little value in the exchange. If information that I provide in my assessments, studies or other deliverables is factually inaccurate, tell me! My intent is never to misrepresent a brand. However, I do have an opinion about best practice marketing and my assessments, favorable or challenging, may reflect that.
Well, that’s the secret sauce, isn’t? There is no single formula, only best practices for presenting your brand in such a way that it’s discoverable by your target customer. My approach looks at the brand story first – it’s mission, positioning, benefits, voice and competition – then finding the appropriate, integrated marketing channels to tell that story to the right audience when and where they are most receptive to consuming the message. With all the competing noise out there you’ve got a brief moment to engage them at a deeper level, prompting an emotional response to invest more in learning about your brand. Let’s talk about what’s necessary to create that high-performance moment for your business.
Let’s talk about it! I’m sure there is a reason that your competitor spent time and resources against an effort they just put out into the world. They have a passionate and experienced team working against challenges similar to yours, and this is their approach. Once we have clearly articulated the brand positioning, including the mission, benefits and voice, and we have an agreed-upon content management strategy, then let’s examine your competitor’s campaign through those lenses to see if they make sense for us. Perhaps we missed a tactic along the way and they beat us to the punch. But chances are it wouldn’t have made it to our list, at this point in time or ever, because it doesn’t fit with the direction we’re headed. Good to discuss it though, just to make sure!
It’s really easy to critique other companies’ marketing practices…what about coming up with your own theories on how marketing should work?
Great point! I hope that you find my content to be a good mix of created and curated content. I have my own favorite brands and industries that I enjoy following, so a lot of my work is centered around reverse-engineering the best (and worst) practices to prove the point that successful marketing is evolving and brands need to keep up. I have also published works of my own that illustrate a perspective on how thoughtful communications can engage an audience. Together, the complete body of work available on scottkolbe.com is intended to be a personal log of high-performing marketing practices for myself and perhaps a toolkit for brands looking to take their efforts to the next level.
I’m sorry to hear that we didn’t deliver on our agreement, coming up short of your expectations. Let’s discuss the specifics of your feedback to see first if there is an immediate resolution. If not, I will be happy to review the statement of work/estimate against what was discussed and presented. These types of conversations are best face-to-face, so I will do my best to secure time for us to discuss in person. Hope this helps.
I appreciate your interest, and certainly hope that your experience has been a good one. There are a number of reputable review sites out there, and I would encourage you to use any of them to provide feedback on my services, including Angie’s List, BBB, Manta, Google Reviews and others. A great article was written outlining the pros and cons of using the various sites, as well as industry relevance, etc. You can find that article here. And if you’d like, we can discuss whether a case study about your project could benefit other customers like you! Please see examples on the Storytelling page.
Invoicing and billing process and payment terms will be agreed upon at the start of each engagement. Much of my work can be purchased and downloaded online through a secure checkout process. Other work may start with a formal acceptance of an estimate and finish with an invoice, usually payable Net 30 by credit card, ACH, PayPal or check. Pretty standard stuff, but happy to discuss what makes the most sense for our work together.
How long does it take to “build a brand?” After a branding workshop, will I have what I need to market the brand myself?
I’d love to tell you that marketing is a structured formula and exact science, but it’s neither of those things. It starts as a set of plans and an understanding of the brand’s true north (the brand story and guidelines for telling it), and then trial and error to connect that story with your customers in a thoughtful, meaningful way. My goal is to give your team the tools to run the marketing side of your business without me! Ultimately, that’s a win. However, not every company has an experience marketing function capable of executing the plans we lay out. That’s where we brainstorm on options to either evolve the organization or bring in trusted third-party partners to help in the interim. In either case, the goals is to deliver solutions to your business pain on-time and -budget, optimizing for available resources internally or externally.
I’m glad to hear that you’re excited! Me too. It really starts with a conversation about your brand and where you want it to go. I promise to do a little prep work before our first meeting in order to make it most productive. Reach out to tell me what aspects of marketing interest or confuse you and we’ll start there. There are plenty of examples of my work throughout this website, feel free to browse work that I’ve done across Loyalty, Craft Beer and other industries. After we’ve had our first conversation we can decide whether working together on a project or retainer basis makes sense. Hope so!
If we’re at the point in our engagement where I produced a competitive market analysis it means that we have signed a contract to work together on a project or retainer basis. This is a great opportunity to look at your brand compared to others in the area. I use the most accurate information available at the time of survey, including sales, capacity, customer and marketing data, to conduct an audit of your marketing efforts against comparably-sized peers. If you have a specific competitor in mind, just let me know and we’ll see what competitive intelligence we can gather on their communications tactics!
This entire site is an example of the professionalism and quality you should expect from working together! But more specifically, if you’re interested in seeing some specific examples of my work, please check out the following:
- Epic Brewing Company – marketing review
- Giordano’s Famous Chicago Stuffed Crust Pizza – content marketing strategy
- Natural Grocers – marketing review
- Suterra USA – marketing review
- Klean Kanteen – proposed resource description
- Sacramento Market Study – synopsis of complete market study
- Renegade Brewing Company – mapping marketing-sales integration
- Zappos – disruptive storytelling pitch
- Columbus Market Study – synopsis of complete market study
In addition, I’ve had great experience working with many of the brightest minds in marketing:
I am always interested in providing the best work product based on information and resources available at the time of delivery. The speed of marketing is rapidly changing, but I will do my best to keep reports and statistics up-to-date so that we can together make educated decisions about your business. You may see the following statement at the bottom of my deliverables, which just reiterates the above:
Information is based on best available, public resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. All trademarks are the property of their respective companies.
Are you also able to manage and execute the plans that we create through this process? Where does your involvement in my tactical marketing efforts end?
I’m here to help! My goal is to help formalize the marketing plan that may have been brewing already and set it up for successful execution. Your internal team may have the bandwidth and experience to execute the tactical side of the blueprint that we put together. In other cases, you may need some outside help. Part of what I offer is a wide and deep network of organizations that I trust in areas of marketing outside my sweet spot of brand storytelling. So I can easily scale my virtual organization to meet the needs of any client, established or growing. We will outline in the terms of our engagement what level of tactical support you wish for me to provide.