What was the scope of their involvement?
We had a couple of meetings during which New North drew from our goals and repeated the ideas back to us in written form, proving that they heard what I was looking for. I didn’t try to push into the details at that point and gave them a couple of months to prove their effectiveness. While we did get into a one-year arrangement, I also made it clear that I wanted to see that we were moving in the right direction, and New North would deliver what they promised.
We had a kickoff meeting featuring many key stakeholders of the business with Tobin Lehman, New North’s principal. He spent close to a business day with us to understand what exactly we did and what differentiated us. It was a differentiated selling proposition workshop during which he learned what was different, unique, or better about us, and how that would be represented. He wanted to make sure that he understood the buyer persona we were after — what they looked like, how old they were, what kind and what size of businesses they worked in, what their roles and titles were, and what level of education they had. The first day consisted of a lot of questions, drawing information out of us. From the high-level ideas we talked about, Tobin came back to us with a more detailed marketing plan listing what he thought the team should execute in the next 30–90 days. He suggested that we work on a new website but work on what we had first and seek improvements.
New North quickly created improved content for us. They gave me the visibility I wanted, and I got weekly updates from them about the progress. When they came back at the end of the first year, they proposed diminishing the contract. New North felt they could give me the same things at a lower cost since they’d come to know our business better. I rejected that proposal and asked them for more services since I felt I was getting a good return on investment. I doubled the size of the contract, so, instead of getting the same for less money, that efficiency was applied in order to get more. Tobin was surprised by that, but I did it because we were getting a good return on market awareness, leads, and quality of content.
In year two, they redesigned the website, continued managing our AdWords campaign, increasing the scope, and performed some unrelated marketing duties for us including the update of a variety of sales sheets used by our team and a HubSpot implementation. They also helped us go after and identify particular markets we want to chase and develop strategies for them.
I asked and encouraged New North to be an outsourced marketing department for our IT sales team and wanted the two to interact.
What is the team composition?
We have worked with 3–4 people from their team in the course of our interactions, depending on the task at hand. We engage Tobin from time to time if there’s an escalation for strategic engagements or contract changes, but, on a daily basis, we deal with Jacob Brain [Inbound strategist, New North]. I interact with him around twice per month, and my team interacts with him twice per week. We also receive weekly updates. He’s done a good job of keeping us informed about what they’re doing.
How did you come to work with New North?
Tobin and I were members of the same association, which gave me an awareness of his company but didn’t give me any preference towards him. I felt compelled to check him out given that, out of the vendors in our local marketplace, we wanted someone we could meet with face-to-face frequently and felt there was a lack of vendors with a B2B focus. There are some good vendors around, but we wanted a well-rounded set of skills and a company small enough to make us feel like we mattered to them. We also wanted a group whose principal was not just a marketing person but a strategist. When we looked at some of the people we already knew in the area (six companies in total), we weren’t able to come up with someone who checked off all those boxes. This made me go back to the personal Rolodex and look at whom else I knew in the marketing space. I called Tobin and interviewed him on the availability of his team and his approach. He won me over quickly.
Tobin is a very bright person, and he spoke about marketing in a different way. The majority of agencies we’d talked to or worked with mainly saw their job as that of generating activity. Consistently throughout the conversation, Tobin translated the effectiveness of his work into leads and sales. There was a differentiator in terms of his focus on the actual business value being delivered by what he did, and he understood more about the B2B space. Tobin and his team had a lot of experience in the B2B space in terms of how they would onboard a customer and build a marketing plan.
We looked at some of New North’s portfolio and felt that they had the design expertise we needed. We didn’t want to hire two firms but rather one which had the B2B understanding and could help with our strategic goals but also had design talent. We had to look good and needed them to be multi-purpose, an outsourced one-stop shop, and not just send emails, provide design, and so on. As a digital design firm, New North clearly has a focus, but they were more than glad to take on other duties as assigned.
In short, Tobin’s expertise and approach in translating everything to business value, along with the B2B focus of the firm, and the fact that they had good design expertise made us choose them.
How much have you invested with them?
Over the past two years, we spent around $144,000.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with New North in January 2016.