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We caught up with Bryan Wilks, CEO & Founder of Freeform Agency:
Q: Bryan, can you tell us something more about the company?
A: Freeform is an Inc. 500 digital marketing and technology company that takes a human-centered, design-based approach to helping organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow.
In 2013, Shea Roach (a CPA with extensive public and private accounting experience) and I (an MBA and alumnus of Harvard University and Stanford Graduate School of Business with decades of experience as a high level executive) brought our heads together to find the best way of closing the loop between marketing efforts and the revenue produced from those efforts—and Freeform was born.
We specialize in providing a proven and powerful low cost solution to our clients—which include large manufacturers, sports teams, entertainers, and nonprofits—all while following the core concept of providing specific audiences with unique content that appeals to their interests and meets their needs.
Q: Could you describe how exactly your process works?
A: I always say there are thousands of things you can do to grow, but only four things that are connected to growth.
The first step is to TARGET, which we do by tapping into multiple digital databases with over 2.2 billion monthly active digital users.
The next step is to DEPLOY content on optimal channels by bringing our clients into the digital spaces where prospects live, work, and play. We highlight our clients within these spaces by deploying helpful, value-driven content that causes prospects to naturally reach out and engage—yielding the maximum benefit. It’s a process that connects clients and prospects within 30 seconds.
Our next step is to ARCHITECT customized content. Programmatically, we tailor a specific message to attract the right person, at the right time, in the right context—compiling the perfect audience for targeting.
Finally, and most importantly, we MEASURE real-time results. We create a custom dashboard that enables real-time tracking of key marketing and sales results. The dashboard keeps clients updated on what content is being deployed and how a prospect found you, and also provides coaching on what to say to increase close rates when prospects call. Basically, we provide all the information you need to turn a profit.
We bring all of our client needs into one place and we repeat this four-step process until we achieve maximum results. Essentially, we are a turnkey solution that automates the marketing process with real-time dashboard results, without the need for complex or expensive software.
Q: How is marketing different today than it was just a few years ago?
A: Today, marketing is much more competitive and technical—making it extremely difficult for companies to find a good option connected to growth. Companies understand that they need to “do digital” and do it properly in order to grow, but the options for achieving this goal are far more complex than they were a decade ago.
One of these options is the impulse to hire a digital marketing “expert.” However, when it comes to hiring a marketing staff, it’s important to recognize that current demand for experienced digital marketing talent far outstrips available supply—leaving companies to engage in bidding wars to “win experienced talent” from a very limited pool. Even if you’re lucky enough to obtain in-house talent at a competitive market rate, you can end up spending a fortune on salary, re-training, software tools, and staff retention efforts.
Another option that has become more popular in recent years is hiring a digital marketing agency—yet this option also poses challenges in today’s digital environment. Today, most agencies like to sell Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but unfortunately, the vast majority of what is passed off as SEO is actually “old school” SEO—counter-productive techniques that may have worked five or ten years ago, but are now completely out-of-date.
These options, along with the complication of software offerings and required working capital, create a complex marketing environment that poses increasing challenges for both marketing companies and clients.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your business and how did you overcome it?
A: One of our biggest challenges has been finding ways to simplify growth for both our company and our clients in the midst of an over-complicated marketing world. In order to overcome this challenge, our approach to software has always been a central focus.
The following graphic shows the thousands of software options available for marketing and sales. As you can see, it’s a very challenging, complicated, and confusing space. However, the most critical piece of the technology ecosystem is the following: Does it help you drive growth? If so, how fast and at what cost?
The “true cost” of marketing software is never easy to find or calculate. Not only is there an initial price tag, there is also the cost of software implementation and management to consider.
Marketing automation platforms (MAPs) provide businesses with many benefits. However, because these platforms can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, it is important for companies to research the total cost of adopting such a platform and how the platform will impact other business functions or technologies. Even if managing the cost is attainable, achieving results and a positive Return on Investment (ROI) can be a slow process.
Over the years, we have found that the most efficient way to save time and money for both Freeform and our clients requires simplifying our approach to marketing automation. We have evolved from a focus on large-scale MAPs (such as HubSpot) to developing our own proprietary MAP and have since refined our process even further with the development of our latest innovation, ProfitHack.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: While Freeform paved the way for many venture-backed startups with a go-to-market strategy, we started to notice something curious: growth had become too complicated for businesses to understand. It was too expensive and it never happened fast enough. Meanwhile, Freeform was experiencing massive growth using proprietary systems and technology.
Eventually, we made a simple observation: in a very sophisticated technological world, businesses need to make growth simple.
Apple didn’t invent the computer, but the company developed its own versions that made the device simple and approachable for everyone. Following this logic, we saw an opportunity to make growth simple for everyone. As a result, in 2019 Freeform will launch ProfitHack—a product designed to replace marketing and technology with pure and simple growth. It’s a development we are incredibly excited about and we believe it will have a tremendous impact within the industry.Activate Social Media: