What was the scope of their involvement?
For a startup, it’s challenging to hire an agency. It can be extremely expensive. The Holy Grail is to find the right agency at the right size that could do the work cost effectively but add value and do things well. We had worked with a couple of other social media ad agencies that were more expensive than LYFE. What I found is that the people that were doing the work were novices, and they were learning as they went. They add a lot of value in the form of ideas, and they didn’t push the envelope. They basically were executing a strategy that we put in place, and ultimately, that proved to have no value. In the beginning, I felt that we got a little burned out with some of the agencies not really adding value in the form of advertorial social media ads in generating and targeting audiences and so on.
With LYFE, I think they’re trying to grow while helping to grow our company so that we can expand our service with them, rather than them trying to acquire new customers. It’s probably more cost effective to grow the existing base and the services we provide to them. I’m sure they’re doing both, but that’s how we felt we’ve added more capability. LYFE has done a phenomenal job. We’re in the pet space, and they gave us somebody who loves pets. She does an amazing job. She understands that there are three reasons that people buy our portraits (one is to celebrate the life of their pets and the love they have for their pets; two is to memorialize a pet that has passed; three is the most unique and meaningful gift you can ever give a pet lover). So it’s tough to communicate all of that, while also establishing the emotional connection. They really understood that and did a phenomenal job with the content curation. It has been a very cost-effective strategy, and their quality is superb. Initially, they wanted my review and approval on their posts, and now there’s no value I can add. Their choices are excellent.
On the ad side, I think the most complicated aspect of our product is that there is no one-size-fits-all ad. In our industry, it’s easy to identify people that love pets. What’s hard is figuring out who the people are within that environment who are more likely to buy really expensive pet products. Who makes a good audience? Is it somebody who has bought organic food for their pets? Or is it somebody who takes their pet to the groomers every month? Is it none of the above? LYFE has done a good job helping us identify the different audience targets and testing them all.
We also learned that the marketing is cost effective, but prospecting is not, and at the end of the day, prospecting is what fuels our ability to be successful in marketing. So we’ve been looking at some different strategies. Like, how do we use social media more effectively on the marketing side? We’re starting to talk and figure out ways of generating more cost-effective prospecting. One of the things that we’re trying and that seems like it’s working well is outsourcing the content writing to somebody else using Upwork and similar services. The content is specific where we’re trying to drive prospecting through the content distribution networks so that people self-qualify. It’s just another way of looking at it. It’s a whole different dimension and strategy, and I haven't heard anybody else propose that. The other big thing that LYFE has proposed that I've not heard before is the ability to connect third-party data providers through social media platforms with additional data sets that were not available through Facebook. For instance, using the Experian’s and Equifax’s of the world in getting consumer purchasing behavior data sets that we can then overlay and streamline down to pet interests, gender, specific age groups, etc.
How did you come to work with LYFE Marketing?
A good friend of mine in the digital marketing space referred LYFE to me because he knew I was trying to find an agency. Sean, one of the principals, was on the onboarding calls, and he’s really project managed the strategy with me and his team. That struck me. He’s on the call with us every week, and he’s making sure his team executes on the strategy. His participation is valuable, because obviously he has more experience than his team, and his involvement throughout the process has gone beyond our monthly fee. I don't think he feels limited by that. Whenever we need to have a strategic conversation, we get on the phone, we talk about it, and we implement. Their team also joined our Slack channel. They’re just flexible, and that’s added a lot of value.
How much have you invested with LYFE Marketing?
We have a monthly retainer with LYFE, which has been about $900 a month for about nine months, plus some special projects here and there. I’d say we’ve spent a bit under $10,000 with LYFE.
What is the status of this engagement?
I think we started working together in July 2016.