How to Get Client Results & Grow Your Own Agency with Content Marketing

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Brandee Johnson is an entrepreneur, a marketer and a speaker. Since 2015, Brandee has owned and operated Limelight Marketing, a growth agency based in Pittsburgh, Kansas.

Limelight Marketing helps companies develop brand stories to attract and convert customers.

Prior to owning the agency, Brandee spent 15 years working for leading brands in national and global corporations including Lego.

She has implemented and integrated a variety of marketing and IT systems including marketing automation, CRM, and eCommerce platforms.

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About Brandee Johnson

Phil Singleton: Hi Brandee, welcome to the show!

Brandee Johnson: Hi, Phil. Thank you. I’m excited to be here and thank you for the invitation.

Phil Singleton: Yeah. This will be a blast. I’m so excited to connect with you on the show. First question I would like to ask is how you got started in business, those first steps out of college. What were you next steps in the business? Did it happen right away and what got you to build and grow the agency you have today?

Brandee Johnson: Yeah, absolutely. I’m happy to share that. Right out of college, I took a job in Kansas City, actually, which is where you’re at, Phil. My husband and I moved up to Kansas City and that’s where I spent the first 10 years of my career. I worked for a company called Deluxe Corporation. They have a large facility and large presence there in Kansas City but they’re headquartered out in Minneapolis. During my time there, I think what I most gained in that experience is I worked under some really amazing leaders. I feel like I’ve developed a lot of my leadership style and just the way that I like to approach business by emulating and learning from others so I felt like we’re doing it really, really well.

I also think it was a really great opportunity for me to build business acumen. In the different and various roles that I was at at Deluxe, I had the opportunity to work cross-functionally, so really understanding how sales, and marketing, and operations, and finance, and all the various departments of organizations and corporations, how they work together and drive different aspects of reaching common goals. I also did have the opportunity to put my degree to practice there as well. My undergraduate degree is in marketing and so I had the opportunity to start with some smaller and then grow into meeting some of the top corporate initiatives, anything from new product launches to outsourcing of work, and mergers, and acquisitions. So, just a really, really awesome experience there to work with some great leaders to pick up a lot of experience and just to learn a lot about business.

Then from there, after those 10 years, my husband and I moved back to our hometown area, which is Pittsburgh, Kansas, and it’s where I live now, and I went to work for Lego. During my time at Lego Education, I led their education department for North America from their marketing communications team and I also did a lot of global work. So, just had a really great round there from a marketing perspective, and leading a marketing team, and growing a marketing team. My team was responsible for so many facets of marketing communication from content development to eCommerce to digital email campaigns, and video, and built an online community. So, lots of really great experience there under a really well-known and a well-respected brand.

So, I’m actually one of those … I think I’m a little bit unique as an entrepreneur in the sense that I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs and a lot of people went out on their own because they didn’t necessarily love working corporate or didn’t love having the boss. I was really never in that role. For the most part, I loved both companies that I worked for and I enjoyed most of the people that I worked under, but I did, probably from my late 20s, I really did start to have an itch to explore the entrepreneurship route. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in a household of entrepreneurs or what it was, but I did have that kind of burning desire and that dream for many years.

So, in 2015, Lego was relocating our headquarters to Boston and so I had a decision that I was going to need to make over the upcoming months and that’s the time period that I really started to explore starting marketing agency. I came to that mindset pretty quickly after the announcement of that’s what I thought I wanted to do. It was interesting though because I’d worked on the corporate side of working with agencies but corporate side versus agency, there’s just a tremendous amount of differences and things that you need to learn and understand. Pricing marketing service is not something that you typically do out of corporations.

I spent about six months just really digging deep and exploring. I tried to talk to as many agency owners as would take calls with me just to learn and explore and get feel for the landscape and the opportunity. Yeah, it was at the end of 2015 that I’ve started Limelight Marketing. I started myself and Jenny Breeze who is our account manager still in our team and Jenny and I had worked together at Lego Education, so she came with me from the start and in the last two and a half years, we’ve grown from a team of two ’til we now have a team of eight who work here full-time as well as our extended dream team with some freelancers and contractors that work with regularly.

Phil Singleton: That’s awesome. I’m curious when you decided to go out and create your own agency. Was it a little bit scary? Were you excited about it? It always seems like some people have, and myself included, I think when you go out and you lose some feeling of security from working from a corporate job into the real world without a safety net, so to speak. Was there any hesitation there or did you feel like … ? Since you already had established corporate career twice and Deluxe, let me roll back a little bit, isn’t that like a digital marketing? I always think of them in terms of almost like the full service digital marketing I really say rolled into that. What does Deluxe do again?

Brandee Johnson: Yeah, they would actually loved it that you know them for that because rewind and this was …

Phil Singleton: Was it phone books before? Was that what it was?

Brandee Johnson: No, it’s checks.

Phil Singleton: Oh, okay.

Brandee Johnson: Yeah, physical checks that you write and so their primary customer, at the time that I started working with them, was banks. When I started there, they were really under the start of a transformation for the company so their core was really still in the check program but during the time that I was there and then continuing and into today, they’ve really just transitioned and transformed themselves and just to your point, they now offer a very wide and deep breadth of services including a lot of digital marketing services to banks and small businesses.

Phil Singleton: Cool, so you had done that, so you were there for it, which would be awesome experience. And were you part of that transformation? When you were there was it still more …

Brandee Johnson: Oh yeah. I was definitely a part of it and I feel like in the time that I was there, those 10 years, they made a lot of forward progress, and part of several of the mergers and acquisitions that I was a part of was in that stream of acquiring digital focused companies, and companies in the marketing space, so I feel like I definitely had a chance to experience and be a part of that, but I also know that they have just continued to excel in that area since I’ve left as well.

Phil Singleton: And then you went to one of the hall of fame, Fortune 500, top marketing companies in the world in terms of having a great, powerful brand that’s just done all sorts of really cool things. So gosh talk about, yeah.

Brandee Johnson: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: A great resume and pedigree there in terms of your experience. So what I’m wondering is, did you roll out of that? Or was there a little bit of hesitation or scariness, or did you feel like this was the right time? There’s just no question type of a deal.

Brandee Johnson: Yeah, that’s a good question, and it was a combination of the both, but I will not hide the fact that, yeah it’s extremely scary. For me it was at least. To your point, I had had 15 years of somewhat security working for a corporation, you feel pretty confident that you’re gonna get your paycheck every couple weeks or every month, whatever that is. And the weight of supporting others and other people depending on you for their paycheck doesn’t exist, or it’s not the same at corporate.

Phil Singleton: Right, yeah.

I love talking to other entrepreneurs about it, ’cause I think we share a sense of what it’s really like to go through that process.

– Brandee Johnson

Brandee Johnson: So it was absolutely scary and I was nervous, but I really just, I felt like I did the due diligence that I needed to vet out the opportunity and really educate myself. I know like the last two or three months that I was still at Lego and exploring this, I mean honestly I was putting in tons and tons of hours and sometimes all-nighters just trying to educate myself as much as I possibly can and to prepare, but then you get into it, and it still stays scary for a while, but you start to build up a clientele, and you start getting traction, you feel good about the work that you’re delivering, really pouring yourself into your client relationships for retention, but also working to try to grow the agency. So yeah, I love talking to other entrepreneurs about it, ’cause I think we share a sense of what it’s really like to go through that process. And honestly, I’m still going through it.

Phil Singleton: We all are all the time. I mean I think part of digital, and I think this is one of the things I see here up as a speaker in Kansas City, I think inbound marketing is really important for our own businesses is having a steady flow and having that retainer base type of a client, ’cause you see a lot of folks who are concentrating on one time projects or maybe just doing, say, only websites, total feast or famine thing, right? You get a bunch of clients, and I see this again from the outside in, ’cause my whole thing is our ideal clients are probably similar to yours, in that you wanna bring them in and maybe you’ve got some upfront work, and then you wanna be part of their team forever if you can keep that value, right?

Brandee Johnson: Absolutely.

Phil Singleton: But other companies are out there still I think going after those one time digital projects, a website or what have you, or a software project, and I see it at least once a year where somebody that I’ve known or been around, maybe hired or got too big too quickly because they felt really confident with a big workload, but it kind of can be feast or famine on that fixed fee stuff.

Brandee Johnson: Absolutely.

Inbound Marketing & Content Marketing

Phil Singleton: I think if you don’t practice what you preach on the inbound side a little bit, then … ’cause I mean hiring first one or two hires is obviously really scary but then, I think I’ve got seven mouths to feed myself, is kind of how I look at it, and take that as a big responsibility, right? But I think if you can get more stable, that’s important. But it always kind of feels like each hire, getting on is … so I totally, we could probably talk about that piece all day long.

Brandee Johnson: I’m sure.

Phil Singleton: But yeah, pressure’s always on to keep it rolling, keep delivering for yourself and your clients and your team.

Brandee Johnson: It is.

Phil Singleton: But it’s exciting. So let’s dip in and segue into that, like what, I wanna get into a little bit of a discussion about inbound marketing in general, and then like we were talking about, in the green room before, so to speak, the things that you’ve seen that are moving the needle for yourself and for your clients, and give us a little insight, ’cause I really wanna pick your brain. Half the time I wanna interview these people like yourself is like ’cause you’re really smart and you’re really good at what you do and I actually wanna steal some ideas. So start spilling.

Brandee Johnson: Well that’s a huge compliment coming from you, because you’re putting out some amazing content and have done really well, but yeah so I just I think part of it is I really really believe in the concept of inbound marketing. I talk to prospects and clients all the time, and oftentimes they look to us as the experts, say, where should I be investing my marketing?
Phil Singleton: Do they know? I mean when you start talking about inbound marketing is something you think few of the people are familiar with this term, or do you kind of bring it up and have to educate them. What’s the market like when you talk to folks a bit?

Brandee Johnson: Yeah, I would say there’s not … I mean it’s growing. Awareness is building and I think it also depends on kind of where the company is located as to whether or not they’ve heard of it, or who at the company you’re speaking to, if you’re speaking to a CMO or a marketing director they may be more familiar with the term than others, but you know, I don’t hone too much in on inbound marketing as a term as much as I talk about the concept of inbound marketing, which is your buyers’ people today are spending a lot of time online, and we’re less reliant than we were many years ago on sales reps or on companies to inform us as to what products they offer, how they can meet our needs, and you know generally, whether I’m looking to purchase a small commodity product or a professional service, or something like an automobile or a house, people are starting on their phone doing a search or on their desktop, and so just the nature in which consumers look for information to influence and guide their purchasing process.

You know I think everybody can get their minds around that that’s happening online. And so the overall concept of inbound marketing is to put out and create really really great content that attracts your target audience. So content like blogs that are super informative and they’re not always just talking about yourself or your company or your product but they’re helping your target audience solve a problem that they have or give them information that is of value to them. Videos that can educate your target audience, can inspire them, can motivate them, can train them. Website content that really works from an SEO perspective in drawing the right type of visitors to your website but then also, once they’re there, it gives them really valuable and engaging content that causes them to want to take the next step to explore further with you.

And so yes, I talk about and I use the word inbound marketing, but really it’s more the concept of what inbound marketing is that I think is important for people to understand and to get a feel for how we might be able to help them.

Phil Singleton: So then, let’s assume its an initial conversation, you’ve got a new client prospect and, is that part of your process too? Are you guys on the phone? Do you meet with people? Ideal content, does it come to like I saw our ideal client, and are you initially kind of having a conversation about the condition of the website and then saying, okay, we need to talk about things like blogging or getting video content and talking about things like SEO and what it does. Or where does it usually start, I guess, is …

Brandee Johnson: Yeah, so you know it depends. To answer the first part of the question, many of our conversations happen via video conference or via phone because we’re working with companies all across the United States and a portion of our clients are here locally, but there’s also a good portion that are not, and so a lot of our conversations happen remotely, but in those cases where we can meet face to face we do that as well. And many of the conversations just start by listening to the problem or the challenge that the prospect has and oftentimes, sometimes they know the root causes of their problem.

They might know, they might come to us or through our conversation they may know that they need a new website, but oftentimes they may not even know exactly what they need, but they can usually articulate their challenge that they’re facing, and so that’s always where I like to start, rather than saying, hey I’ve assessed your website and here’s what’s wrong with it. Or here’s what you’re doing well, just like help me understanding your business. How you acquire new customers and talk to me about your client retention and what are some of the challenges that you have? And what are some of your goals this year. And okay, that’s a cool goal. How do you plan to reach that? Are you on path to get there? What if you keep doing what you’re doing today, what’s that gonna look like? I always feel like that’s the best way to really understand their goals, their challenges, a little bit about their business, and then to either just offer help in ways that they may be able to execute on their own, or to offer our services if I feel like it’s a good fit in an area and opportunity that we can bring great value.

Phil Singleton: That’s great. That’s awesome. And you’re, like you guys working with a certain size of employees or I mean is it, I’ll give you an example. So like in our case, lot here in Kansas City, lot of home services, professional services, kind of those smaller, I say larger small business. Some serve nationally, but we’re not usually serving like Fortune 5000 companies so much, but there are some eCommerce sites that are larger. But for the most part, a million to 100 million in sales is kind of where we sit, and a lot, 80% of them are probably local, I say metro or regional focus. And some of them are national. What is kind of your stuff look like? I know your background and where you’re from, I’m guess that it’s, I’m picturing in my mind a much larger client, but tell me where I’m wrong or right.

Brandee Johnson: No, well yeah, absolutely. So yeah I would say that our ideal client or kind of the right fit client is like a mid-size business, upwards to a larger business, doesn’t necessarily have to be a Fortune 500 type client, but most of our clients are about 50 million and up. We do work with a couple clients who are in the billion plus range, but that’s certainly not representative of all of our clients. Good fits for us typically companies will have at least one person dedicating to their marketing efforts, sometimes they have a larger team.

Phil Singleton: That was my guess is I bet you there’s at least probably a marketing person in there, a dedicated person or more. So is that, help, your model is when you’re dealing with somebody … ’cause it is awesome, even our case, for some smaller, larger small businesses, man when there’s a marketing person in there that you can jive with, it sure makes everything go a lot better. They’re like the key to a lot of really good content, at least from my perspective.

Brandee Johnson: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: Can you speak to that a little bit?

Brandee Johnson: Yeah absolutely. I mean I think that’s where we’ve seen the greatest success and where we can move the fastest. And it’s not always about moving fast but where we can get quick decisions and feedback from clients that allow us to execute the programs to drive results. So there are exceptions to this. We have clients who, where we’re working directly with the owner, and there have been some that work really well and there’s some that don’t. So if we are working directly with an owner, it’s important that that owner have real strong buy in and commitment to the program and either put a lot of trust and faith in us to make some decisions where we’re not slowing it down. Or it’s a priority to them and so they’re reviewing and giving good feedback in a timely manner.

I would say the majority of our great success stories come from working alongside and with a marketing team or a point of contact for marketing who can help provide some feedback and information about what’s going on in the business and with the products and such so that we can create and spend our time really focusing on content creation and then helping to publish and execute that content

– Brandee Johnson

But yeah I would say the majority of our great success stories come from working alongside and with a marketing team or a point of contact for marketing who can help provide some feedback and information about what’s going on in the business and with the products and such so that we can create and spend our time really focusing on content creation and then helping to publish and execute that content. I’m sure, as you’re very well aware, Phil, that for content marketing programs to be successful, there does have to be some degree of frequency and consistency. And so having a point of contact that can help keep things moving forward is important for us.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, I wanted to ask you a little bit more about content marketing in a second here. But one thing I was just talking shop almost a little bit with you here, is have you ever … ’cause this has happened to me a couple times, where I’m thinking of one client in particular that we work with them for like five years, but over that five year period, there, it seemed like every year or so there’d be a new marketing person coming in. And then it just seems like somebody new comes in. You gotta almost like prove yourself again, or growth of the case, or what are you doing here type of thing. And I’m saying this, it’s not always like that, but the idea you gotta re-familiarize yourself and it’s almost, to some degree, I felt like I was having to prove myself. And then finally the third one that came in, it just didn’t, it was just like it didn’t jive.

I mean it was, and I think I … one of the things I think not working with the owner or somebody C-level is, if it gets, and again I’m coming at this totally different ’cause I think our ideal clients are a little bit different, but in this original case for me. I think I was really close to the owner in the beginning, and then when a marketing person or team came in I kind of lost that connection with him, and then all of a sudden now they were having some turnover with marketing folks. I mean you ever see that? When somebody comes in, you’ve got a marketing person there. It’s almost like you have to kind of, well what are these guys doing here? What’s their role again? You almost feel like you have to prove yourself? Or is that just happening to me sometimes?

Brandee Johnson: No, no. No I don’t think you’re the only one who faces that. So you know, as a younger agency, being two and a half years old, we probably haven’t faced as much of that as we will as we start to say we’re five and 10 years old, and there’s a longer time span for that. But even in the duration that we’ve been working in this capacity, yes, we have had those situations and those challenges in a few cases. And I think my advice for my own team and for others is we try to make sure that we have hooks into multiple people within the company, so that our engagement isn’t solely based on or reliant on one individual being there, because there is turnover, and that just happens and so if we can at least have hooks and relationships with two, three people at the company, I think that helps to minimize I guess, that risk.

But it’s certainly there. And I don’t know that there’s a great way to avoid it, ’cause you know when there is turnover, especially if its a marketing director or someone who has decision making authority, they may have experience working with another agency, or they may, almost worse than that, is just not having experience working with an agency, and then not necessarily understanding the value or thinking that it’s almost a weakness if you would have to work with an agency. Like we can handle this all in house. We should be able to. So I think that the experience that you’ve had is real.

Phil Singleton: It happens. Yeah, so okay. Let’s get into content marketing. We talked about this in the green room beforehand about specific things that you see that are kind of moving the dial for your own agency and in particular some clients. Can you give us an example? Not necessarily, don’t name the client or anything, but you know, an example of something where you came in and focus on content marketing. Specific things you were doing that maybe they weren’t? Or weren’t’ doing as well? That helped them to grow or attract more business?

Brandee Johnson: Sure, yeah absolutely. Without sharing a client name, I’ll kind of talk to a bit of a case study that we have for a client that we’ve been working with and some of the results that we’ve seen. And I think that this example is kind of … illustrates what we see with other clients as well. But this particular client had been pretty successful in their business and in growing their business. They sell nationally and they sell both [B 00:24:34] as well as BCE, from a B to B perspective I could … if I shared some of the brand names, they would be names that you would recognize. But they had really gained some traction focusing on a certain niche or a certain persona in the market space. And a lot of the content that they were creating for social and for email and on their website was really targeting this specific niche, which was around like wedding planners and event planners.

And what we saw together in working with them was a real opportunity to not abandon that niche or ignore that niche but to really open up the net and to pull in a different target audience. And so we worked with them to help define that buyer persona or a couple of buyer personas there where we felt we could help them in growing and reaching a new target base. So I think one important thing kind of picking out a lesson learned or something that maybe a listener could take away that helped with the success was we did put in the effort to define those buyer personas so that as we … before we ever started creating content, we had a pretty good feel for who we were marketing to and what they cared about. So that was one step.

The second step was …

Phil Singleton: And is that just from research? Or did you do client … how did you go about getting familiar with the ideal clients and stuff like that?

Brandee Johnson: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: Is that just an interview with the company?

Brandee Johnson: In the best case scenarios, and it was true for this scenario, we had the opportunity to interview people who worked in the company, clients, as well as doing industry and competitive research to understand kind of what competitors are doing, how they are positioning themselves, and then kind of carving out some unique messaging for this company. But yeah it really came from a combination of some true customer insight from conversations with customers as well as those other two.

Phil Singleton: And did that, when you presented the findings and things like that, could you see the light bulb going off a little bit about, okay now I can see where the bullseye is type of a deal? Or how did that …

Brandee Johnson: Yeah I think so. This has been like a really great client to work with. So it’s kind of lucky in that space, but yeah it definitely did. It was insightful and I think we were able to then quickly kind of start to pivot, okay we’ve got these good strong buyer personas built that are built on true insight and now just what we think. But we did a little bit of the due diligence to get some good insight. Just in transparency so that people can kind of take this into, okay how can I utilize this? I’m not talking, we’re not an agency who specializes and goes deep and like, okay let’s create these 20 $50,000 competitive research and customer insight gathering. It didn’t require that, it was the smaller scope but it went deep enough to where we really felt like we got good insight.

So after building this persona, the next step we did was we wrote and put the time into developing some really strong brand messaging. So that would be another, if I were picking out another lesson or tip of advice that people could move forward with is, before you start writing content, also go through the due diligence to really create good brand messaging. We just recently put a blog out around brand guides that you could check out and it has some good information about the process.

Phil Singleton: Yeah I will link to that for sure.

Brandee Johnson: Awesome. Awesome. But I think there’s a lot of importance in that sometimes companies wanna step over that or skip that. But it can be problematic down the road, as you start to create content and you’re like, okay really what message are we working from? So we did that, and then we had to get into I guess you could call it the fun part or where you start to see results and so we started developing content and for this particular customer, our focus is helping more on driving eCommerce sales. So we’re not as focused right now on the B to B side, we’re kind of helping with the B to C side. And we have been creating video as a pretty significant portion of our content marketing, and we’ve tried to … we’ve worked with a client in a way that allows us to really maximize their investment.

So we kind of plan in three month chunks and try to get the very most content out of every video session that we go into. And we’ve really had a great success sometimes going to the client and getting a lot of video footage on site. Their location, and then we also do a lot here locally. They’re not a local customer here, so we do full fledged video shoots here, where they don’t have to come here and they don’t have to invest the time to create video content. The majority of this video content is like short, snack-able, sharable social media videos. So there’s lots of different types of videos for different purposes and different needs, but for this particular client, creating those short, sharable, snack-able social media videos is a key part of their content strategy.
We’re also doing blog content and then have just started in building out kind of re-platforming their website. But content creation is important and it’s one piece that then, where we’ve really seen results is in publishing and promoting that content. So we do that through eMall marketing, but social media has been a really strong channel for them, and just in reaching their target audience. So we do that both from an organic perspective as well as some paid social. Primarily for this group it is on Facebook and Instagram, we’ve seen really great success with Instagram because it is a client that sells online through eCommerce we have the …

Phil Singleton: And it’s wedding related, I could see that being great.

Brandee Johnson: Yeah, yeah. Yeah some of this is. But yeah, it’s … we have the ability to like watch the full-close gap. So we can see like the campaign we ran last month drove a 200% increase in product sales for that specific product that was being promoted or that product category. So that’s when it gets really exciting and you can … that’s where we love to work is in a space where we can measure results. You know we’re constantly looking and seeing what’s working, what’s not. What types of content have the best … create the most engagement, which types of content drive the most website traffic, which ones convert prospects into customers, so…..

Phil Singleton: And when you put people on a new website, are you putting them on like HubSpot CMS, WordPress, or is there a favorite there?

Brandee Johnson: Yeah, so we typically build … we do a little bit of … we do a lot of WordPress websites, we’ve done some websites in Pyro and actually, for this particular client, with them being an eCommerce, we’re actually gonna use Shopify for them.

Phil Singleton: Okay.

Brandee Johnson: That’s what they’re using now. That’s what they were using prior to working with us and we’re gonna update their site. Or actually develop a new site, but Shopify had a lot of benefits, so we decided to stay there.

Advice for New Marketing Directors

Phil Singleton: So I do wanna get to kind of the last couple questions of the interview here, the show, but one thing I wanna ask if you could just put it in a nutshell, let’s say you’ve got somebody out here that’s listening that’s a $50 million, $100 million company, they just hired let’s say a marketing director for the first time, so they’re not gonna be able to step in and hire an agency right off the bat, what would you tell somebody, not knowing much about whatever the business is that’s in this role to do so that they could be maybe a hero or get some kind of traction on their own ahead of time to look at before maybe they could … and I think that’s what ends up happening sometimes is people come in, they’re hired for a certain role, they try and do what they can, I guess, to prove their worth or their value, and they can’t really just come in on day one and say, oh I think we need to hire an agency. It’s like, well what did I hire you for? Right.

But some people do that later. They realize they’ve taken it so far and they either need to hire somebody else or get some outside help to get maybe some help in all the areas or tie it all together or what have you. What would you tell that person right now? Say, okay, focus on these couple things right now and this will help you kind of be the hero and then come talk to us later, type of thing.

I’m a big proponent and a big believer in cascading goals…my advice would be understand top corporate executive goals.

– Brandee Johnson

Brandee Johnson: Yeah, absolutely. Well you know, I think, I’m a big proponent and a big believer in cascading goals. So I guess having this conversation with a marketing director, brand new to a company, you know, my advice would be understand top corporate executive goals and if they’ve … hopefully they’ve already been cascaded down and you know as a marketing team what your goals are and how they align. If that hasn’t been done, let’s try to do that to see where the focus should be, but most … I’m gonna assume here that they would be held accountable or would have goals around website traffic, lead generation, and helping, delivering sales qualified, or marketing qualified leads to their sales force. Let’s just say.

If they have an eCommerce store it’s probably also enclosing eCommerce sales, driving eCommerce revenue. But my advice would be to start with analytics and data and see where you’re currently at and what your baselines are. So do you have good website traffic? Because if you do, or if you don’t, there’s different tactics that you’re gonna wanna focus on. If you don’t have good website traffic, then before you start spending a lot in optimizing and working on mid and bottom funnel content, let’s work on top funnel content, making sure the website’s optimized from an SEO perspective. That we’ve got, we’ve done the due diligence on keyword research and that we’ve aligned the website pages to help drag that site traffic.

I would also advice that person to make sure that they have a good social media strategy and a strategy that identifies what channels they’re on, what types of content they want on each channel and who they’re reaching. And then if they do already have good strong site traffic and really what the need is is optimizing that … turning more anonymous visitors into leads, then there’s some different tactics around content that you can do there. But yeah, I guess if I were to roll that up in a nutshell it’s just really, use data to identify where your current state is and where you have opportunities. And then put together a really strong content strategy that addresses the most priority paying points to start gaining some traction.

Brandee’s Kansas City Favorites

Phil Singleton: That’s great. Great advice. Really appreciate. All right, let’s bring this back home now, and I wanna ask, I know you’re in Pittsburg KS, but you’ve also told me in the past you come up to Kansas City sometimes.

Brandee Johnson: Yes.

Phil Singleton: What are some kind of your favorite things up here? Just kind of in terms of hanging out in Kansas City, or what you recommend people or I guess if you’re in Pittsburg and you’re coming here, how far of a drive is that?

Brandee Johnson: It’s about an hour and a half.

Phil Singleton: An hour?

Brandee Johnson: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: So you’re not up here all the time I guess. Sometimes?

Brandee Johnson: Yeah I’m not there all the time, but I get up there you know pretty commonly, and having clients there I get up there.

Phil Singleton: Okay so you’re up here quite a bit. So is there anything that you’re like, you jones for, or you really like and have to have that’s in Kansas City that’s a favorite in terms of anything, a restaurant, places to to hang out frequent?

Brandee Johnson: Yeah, well you know when I lived there I lived in Olathe. And so kind of I have an area that I’m most familiar with and that I like to go back to. You know one of my favorite restaurants that I like to go to is North.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, okay.

Brandee Johnson: I went to North, yeah. I like that a lot.

Phil Singleton: Is that in Leawood? North’s in Leawood, isn’t it?

Brandee Johnson: It is, yeah. It’s in Leawood, so it’s a little bit outside of … it’s not necessarily in Olathe but it’s definitely in the area that I would frequent when I lived there.
Phil Singleton: Our first house, our first … before the one we’re in we were in Olathe, so that was my first stop from Taiwan to Kansas City was we had a house out in Olathe, so that was my stomping ground for a little while too.

Brandee Johnson: Nice, nice. I also like Westside Local.

Phil Singleton: Okay.

Brandee Johnson: Kind of down in the downtown area, I like that a lot.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. All right, last question now is the $10,000 question. I’m gonna … wake up tomorrow with $10,000, all your knowledge but none of your contacts or any other assets. We’ll give you a phone and an internet connection and a laptop, but where would you kind of start today to kind of rebuild Limelight to get it where it is today?

Brandee Johnson: Well yeah, that’s a really good question. So you know, some of this I can look back on and say gosh, what would I have done differently just from the lessons I’ve learned? I think that one of the first things that I would do is I would give some careful thought to what do I do or the people that I want to bring on to this team, what do we know a lot about and what are we really good at? And let’s start with some focus on who we want to serve and we don’t wanna be everything to everyone, so let’s define a focus and let’s develop some strong brand messaging so that as I start to go out and reach out and put up a website and start social and all of those things that I would do very quickly, that I have a strong brand message that resonates with that target audience.

So that would definitely be one thing that I’d do immediately and before I got too busy doing the next things which would be, I would definitely have a website and start getting active on social media, maybe have one or two content pieces that are high value that I can offer to my target audience. But then, and I don’t know if this is against the rules, do I have any contacts? Do I have my friends?

Phil Singleton: None.

Brandee Johnson: None, none, okay. So I won’t reach out to them since I don’t have them. Yeah, I would definitely develop some really good content that I can start sharing online, but I also would recognize that that kind of true inbound strategy, it’s more of a marathon than a spring, so I’m in a situation where I need some good, quick results and I don’t have six, eight, 12, 18 months for those leads to start coming in. I would also pick up the phone and start calling.

Phil Singleton: Right. I mean at the end of the day it’s pretty much everybody realizes this, so there’s some hard work that goes into it. Have you guys, have you ever considered … I hear of a lot of people done it but I’ve never done it myself is how people will go out and like try and hit a trade show even and then they get on a vertical or something and have some kind of message for that group. And I think there’s a lot of people out there that end up getting lots of clients that way. I’ve never tried it, but do you guys do any of that?

Brandee Johnson: No, we haven’t. We haven’t done any trade shows. We have done some networking events. I think the closest to that that we’re actually getting ready to do next week is I am speaking at a conference. It’s a smaller conference, there’s like 50 to 80 people I believe that are gonna be there.

Phil Singleton: That’s great.

Brandee Johnson: It’s in the healthcare industry. So very verticalized from an industry perspective and I think there’ll be some good networking opportunities, but yeah, we haven’t done the trade show route.

Contact Info & Special Offer

Phil Singleton: Awesome. Well let’s wrap this up and tell people where they can find you and anything else that you might have in terms of or anything else you might have that you wanna promote or tell us what’s going on or what’s on the horizon?

Brandee Johnson: Yeah, awesome, absolutely. Well yeah, to connect with me from a social perspective, my social preference for professional networking is LinkedIn, I’m on there often and definitely would love to connect with you. Connect with me, shoot me a message, if you message me reference this podcast. That’ll be great. It’s always nice to know how people came across my profile, so love to connect with you on LinkedIn. Our company website is We have a blog, we have a resources page, lots of good information there, so check that out. And then also, if anyone’s listening to this podcast and would like to get in contact, we are gonna offer a free content assessment. So reach out, whether that’s on our website, dropping a form, or giving us a call. You can shoot me a direct email and we’ll schedule a free content assessment where we’ll do a free 30 minute discovery call, take a look at your content and give you some tips and ideas and recommendations.

Phil Singleton: Wow folks, you better jump on that because Brandee is very sharp, and what I love about you is that you’ve got, I mean you came in at these different levels, so your perspective is really unique in terms of working for large company, a middle-sized company that transformed from kind of traditional into a … really I almost consider them, I don’t know if they’re a digital powerhouse, but Deluxe is definitely was out there, and is having a run or now had a really good run. And now you’ve gone out and taken all that and bundled that up and you’re helping small larger small business, middle-sized businesses, so please folks, take advantage of this, ’cause there’s a lot of knowledge within Brandee, from her perspective and her background, and you got a really solid team too and I’ve sure learned a lot by following you and reading your content. So I hope … is there any limit on that? Maybe the first couple people, ’cause you might get, who knows?

Brandee Johnson: Yeah, let’s say the first 10 people.

Phil Singleton: All right.

Brandee Johnson: I don’t wanna limit, go ahead and you know, I would encourage, if anyone’s interested, please do reach out to us.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. Thank you so much for joining us today, and it’s been a pleasure to be able to talk to you and get some great insight.

Brandee Johnson: Awesome. Thank you, Phil. It was so nice to be on here.

Phil Singleton: All right, have a great week.

Brandee Johnson: You too.