One year ago, Core Creative was at a crossroads. They knew they could be approaching their lead development efforts in a more strategic way, but they didn’t have the tools or the structure in place to make it happen. Then, VP of Marketing and Business Development Angi Krueger received an email from us about the inaugural Newfangled Seminar. After reviewing the agenda, she and President Ward Alles purchased the first two tickets we sold to the seminar last year.
Less than one year later, Core Creative has radically changed their approach to their digital marketing by fully implementing the tools and strategies we introduced at the seminar. In this short video, I speak with Angi about her experience at the seminar last year and the months following it, and why she and Ward have already signed up to attend for a second year in a row.
Mark: Last year you and Ward were the first two people to register for the seminar. Did you know that?
Angi: No, I didn’t know that!
Mark: Yes, you were the very first registrations. I think it was the first week we opened it, and we didn’t know you. You had attended a webinar or something, but we had never actually spent much time together. We weren’t really sure what to expect. This year you were in part of the early-bird registration sets and I thought it would be interesting just to hear from you about why you did register last year, what was the experience like last year, what happened after the seminar and what made you to make the crazy decision to register again this year.
Angi: Last year it was just serendipitous because when we saw the email come through, I was like, “That’s it. We’re going.” We had spent a lot of time … Actually, you didn’t know me, but I’ve known you for a couple of years. Back when I went to a business development conference with David Baker and Blair Enns speaking at it as well. We spent a lot of time the last couple of years really working on our positioning and where we were going as an agency, because we knew we had to have that in order before we were to get to some really strategic concept marketing for new business development.
We spent a lot of time over the last couple of years really getting that in order and figured out. We were growing a lot, so we were very busy, but we knew we needed to focus there. We were finally at a stage where we were about to build a new website. We were having those conversations. We knew we wanted to move to the marketing automation platform, but I… and I’m sure there’s other agency new business in my same position… I felt a little bit on an island and I knew I had to tackle this on my own and with my own initiative.
So when the email that came you guys were having the conference on it, I’m like, “We’re going!” I basically made Ward come with me because I … I basically have to sell to him to say that this is a good idea that we should be doing this and I want to be a part of it and truly understand what it was going to do for the business. By having him come with me and actually be part of that, it was just really a game changer for us. It was not a typical conference, which I loved about it. Typically you go to a conference with all these people and you try to interact with people.
It was really nice to have that personalized attention from you guys and you didn’t feel like you were at a really big large conference where I was just going to walk away and be like, “Okay. Now what?” I felt like there was something there that just provided a sense of urgency for us to just, let’s do this and let’s do this now, because we are … Our frame of mind, we just have to do this. This was that extra push we needed to go ahead and move forward and really focus on it. We actually put a staff on a lot our web development that we were doing and make sure we were integrating this in the right way as part of our strategy. It was really influential for us.
Mark: Absolutely. What did you think about the format? You mentioned that it’s not a typical conference, and most people looking at this won’t really understand what this is about. We specifically designed the Newfangled Seminar to be … First of all it’s a small group. We have a cap of 30 people total including us. That cap is there because that’s the number of bedrooms at Fearrington. It’s an all inclusive resort and everything’s taken care of. What I’ve taken to saying, which is true, is that you show up, and you don’t get in a car and you don’t take out your wallet for two days. You’re just there. Because, you all need to be together. And what we saw last year was that all the activity and the frenzied conversation between all the principals and decision makers, that was at least half the value of the conference from my perspective.
Angi: That was definitely one of the most valuable takeaways for me personally too, because you don’t get to be with a lot of your peers in the agency space when it comes to new business development. Locally you’re all competitors to some degree. I don’t have some forum around here with other agency new business people where we’re talking regularly. It was just so refreshing to talk to other like-minded people and hear their challenges that they’re going through. It was just really, really interesting to connect with these people on a very different level. Because you are with them for two to three days the whole time. You’re not off on your own. You’re really integrating and talking with everybody. It’s really interesting. We’re sharing best practices, “hey, what works for you? What didn’t work for you?”
Personally, I actually felt really good about it because I thought, “geez, we have a lot of all this stuff.” We have the foundation already set, so we weren’t starting from zero like some people were. Which was fine too. You have to start somewhere. It was just really helpful because I could learn from other people and they could learn from me, too, about what we’ve experienced. That part of it. That format, honestly, I’ve never been to a conference like that. It’s just very unusual, but in a good way. I think all conferences should be like this. It’s basically all inclusive, you don’t have to worry about that. The food and the location is incredible too. You did a great job hosting.
Mark: They make it easy, they really do, I’m actually part of an agency peer group and there are 10 agencies from around North America and every six months we get together and we go to a different agency location, and it just so happened that it was my turn and I had an event there. Sort of on a whim. I realized during the event, “oh wow, this is perfect.” This is exactly what should happen on a regular basis. That was actually the seed inspiration for that. Last year was the first year, and it went according to plan.
For this year, we’re changing a lot of things around based on what we saw did work, but also what we saw we needed more time for. The main theme this year is just to create more space for people. More space for conversation, for interaction, for one-on-ones with us, with each other. Just to really chew on these ideas that we put out, and to get the most time out of their time thinking. Right? That’s what we’re doing this year.
Angi: That was one of the most valuable takeaways I had too. It was just that focused time to say we’re gonna sit down … That’s why it’s nice to have a colleague there. I know that’s not ideal for everybody but if you have somebody else like an agency president that is in your position of interest of getting new business, I think that’s really helpful to have that time and that focus. We all know how hard it is to focus on yourself. It really gives you that opportunity. Then to have you guys there to help consult, saying “what about this? What about that?” It just really cultivates some different thinking other than just the two of you or even you on your own. You have other people around you to bounce ideas off of, so it’s really beneficial.
Mark: Absolutely. That’s what I love so much. Seeing that energy happen, seeing that conversation happen, seeing all these ideas take off in a million different directions as people get inspired. I’ve seen that at any conference. At any good conference, so much of the value is just being in the room with all these smart people who are all thinking, and who are all just in a bit of a different state of mine than they’re in day-to-day. Inspiration is just everywhere. The excitement of the room is really quite rewarding. What happened after the conference, right? After the seminar, what did the year look like after you broke from that? How did it change course?
Angi: We have a leadership team here at our agency and I came back and made a presentation or a pitch about why we needed to invest and move forward in our efforts to do this. We have this capability to some extent internally as well, but again, it’s hard to put that focus on it when you have clients to serve as well. I think that’s the boat a lot of us are in, is agency new business and marketing people. I really got the support and advice from our leadership team to move ahead. We decided to go ahead and move forward and hire you guys, Newfangled, to help with the consulting.
It was a great experience from day one. I got our lead developers in part of the process and things like that. I didn’t do this all by myself, I had our team part of the process. So having them part of the process was really helpful. For me, just having that ongoing consulting just really helped to keep me on task and keep me moving forward and then keep the rest of our team on task and moving forward as well too. We put it in action about two months afterwards.
We had a few hiccups on our end just because we had some resource issues with trying to get our own sites developed. It actually really helped us get focused and help get a clear understanding of what will work and things like that. We kicked off our new site in January and we’re just now starting our program. I know we’re on the right path. That’s part of the reason I’m coming back again this year because it’s all about, again, making those connections again and having time to focus on what we’re doing. It’s really helpful to focus on everything and just really dive into the whole process with two feet, and just being really engaged in it from a total 360 approach.
What questions didn’t we answer? What did we learn and what can we do better? I just know it will open our minds to that. Plus, I saw you have Blair and David coming this year. David Baker and Blair Enns. I love both of those guys. I have a lot of their best practices and things so I’ve learned a lot from them over the last couple of years as well, so having them there to meet with them face to face and talk with them a little bit more will be a great added bonus.
Mark: That does bring it full circle a little bit. Initially meeting at a new business summit who knows how many years ago with David and Blair, and then last year and now this year back with Dave and Blair being a part of this, which I’m really excited about. What you mentioned about one of the reasons why you want to come back reminded me of that new business summit that David and Blair did for 10 years and I spoke at the last seven of them, and I was always so amazed because I would go and hear this content seven years in a row. It wasn’t the same content, obviously, they were talking about the new business summit ideas, right? So a lot of the concepts were consistent and that’s why a lot of people went to that conference.
I would see that, because Newfangled had changed, because we had grown in our own marketing, I would hear that content differently and get different things out of it each time. That was a really interesting experience. Again, showed me some of the peripheral value of the conferences. I think you’re going to hear these concepts and you’re going to take completely different things away from it than you did last year. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Angi: Last year it was figuring out how are we going to do this, how … I had all of that going on in the back of my mind. How am I going to get by and how am I going to get support? How am I really going to get this done? Because I know that committing to this is a lot of work. It’s a lot of getting your agency fully engaged in the process, too, when you do come back. It is a full effort. You need your strategists and your experts to see how things generate that content and they have to understand the big picture to understand how it’s going to effect new business at the agency. All that was going on through my mind. Now that I know what I’m doing, more so, it will just be nice to focus on those things that I’m missing right now and that I need to pull it all together.
Mark: It’s a completely different perspective, you know? Year one, you’re like, “okay, is it even possible? Can we even do this? Are we dreaming too big?” There’s lots of fear and questioning, anticipation. But now, it’s like you know, “we did it! We can do this. Now how do we make the most of this?” Now it’s confidence and excitement and intrigue almost. What’s next for this platform? You’ve got the power now which is thrilling. That’s a beautiful sort of year one to year two scenario.
That’s why I wanted to have this conversation with you just to hear about that story and I think there will be others interested in hearing how that kind of thing goes as well. That’s a bold move. Conference and everything aside, what it looks like from the very beginning when you start out on this kind of marketing of your agency. All the obstacles you see everywhere, which are real obstacles, right? And then what it feels like to have overcome them and to be living in this world and to realize the reality of a strong marketing system that you have a lot of confidence in. That’s a transformation.
Angi: Right. I mean what worked out great for us, and the timing all couldn’t have been better for us because we literally restructured our entire agency around practice areas that focused on being more specialized in certain areas. It just all fell into place in the right format in order for us to really capitalize on the strategic … Constant marketing around that too. We just had all these moving parts and the timing of this conference for me last year just couldn’t have come at a better time.
I’m so glad we did it at the right time and just jumped in. Because there’s never a good time, you know? It’s like, “oh, I’m busy. I have this going on.” Or there’s this initiative or that initiative. I would just say to anybody else that’s in my position at their agency, there’s never a good time but the sooner you know it the better. It does take a long time to get everyone on board to be part of the process, and to get really engaged and that’s really important.
Mark: That’s worth mentioning, and you’re not really giving yourself enough credit there. Over the past year, business has been great, you’ve grown tremendously, and you’ve completely redone your entire office space. You’re now meeting with me from your brand new office.
Angi: Right. Literally moved everybody.
Mark: You haven’t been sitting around. You’ve got all of this marketing stuff done in addition to life going on as usual and even being kind of busier than usual, right?
Angi: Right. It’s challenging. We all know how it’s hard to, you know … The agency life is challenging, trying to juggle client priorities. One of the biggest initiatives for us, and again, a big part of it was having our internal time and support too, and really just trying to get our team to understand we need to make ourselves one of our most important clients.
Angi: This is what we preach. That we need to be doing our own concept strategy and our own lead development strategy in a way we recommend for our clients at the end of the day. That’s always the biggest challenge and I know that’s very hard to do and we’re finally at the point where we have enough resources internally and made it a priority. That’s a huge shift. It’s not just me, it’s everybody at this agency that’s really helping out with everything to get the best it can be. From the consulting and the content strategy, all of it. Again, we do that with our clients but sometimes it’s hard to see the opportunities …
It’s good to have an outside person to help, and you guys specialize in that area, so that’s also helpful to have that as well, because you’re helping us through it in a different way than we would. Our team helped with making things, just amping it up another level, like producing videos or what not. I mean our creative team’s had a blast coming up with concepts for that, that we just started for the new website, and so we’re having fun with those and the different type of content we’re producing now more focused content I think has been really helpful for us.
Mark: Right, absolutely. The energy that you and Ward brought to the event last year was extraordinary. We were so excited when we saw the registrations come through again this year. The commitment you’ve shown over the past year to your own marketing. The brave decisions you’ve made. The overall positivity you personally bring to everything is just extraordinary. We’re so happy that we’re going to see you again this year. We obviously love having you as a client, and I really appreciate you taking part in this as well, to share your thoughts with other agencies out there.
Angi: I really look forward to seeing you guys in a couple months. I’m excited about what we’re going to take away this year, and I’m hoping like I said to you earlier, that a year from now I’m hoping to have some stories to tell about Core’s success.
Mark: That’s next year. Absolutely. Exactly. This year we’ve got Sarah Durham from Big Duck and MJ Legault from Origin to talk about how this all comes together and what the actual results are. Now you just launched last month so you can’t talk about that yet, but yes, next year you’re going to be able to talk about that. And that’s going to be awesome.
Angi: Yeah, exactly, and I’m really looking forward to that.
Mark: Well thank you so much Angi, really good to see you on the camera and I can’t wait to see you in person in a few months.
Angi: We’ll see you soon.
Mark: Okay, great. Bye!