Ballistic Arts Transforms into a Lead Generation Digital Marketing Agency
July 27, 2020
A New Approach
Running a Digital Marketing Agency for almost 2 decades hasn’t been easy. It’s been a ton of work, a lot of ups and downs, competition is rampant, and there are lots of times when nothing seems to go right. It’s a school of hard knocks as they say. From the back half of 2018 until the earlier part of this year, I endured what I would call a “sh*t-ton of hard knocks”. And from that experience, I have to say that the old adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is true.
I’ve learned that in order to survive, sometimes you have to endure through long horrible bouts of what’s not working presently, while trying to adapt, pivot, and change. Kind of like the caterpillar becoming a chrysalis and then having to fight through its tough exterior to transform into a strong butterfly. Or flying an airplane while it’s crashing and burning and then trying to fix it. Geez – I’m full of metaphors and old references today…
In any case, I’ll reserve my own personal entrepreneurial trial by fire story for another post. Let me get to the point of this post.
I’m writing to you today to tell you Ballistic Arts is no longer a creative company.
Wait, let me rephrase that. What I mean to say is that Ballistic Arts is no longer only a creative company. I forgot the word “only”. That makes a big difference. Clearly, I’m not the copywriter in my shop. Okay – read on.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But neither did anyone else…
I’ve learned that whenever I’m going through tough times in business, it’s typically a sign that something isn’t working and I need to adapt to the market. And in the many years of being in business, I was definitely going through some tough times.
Taking advice from a few business buds, and more than a few business audiobooks, I called some trusted client relationships and asked them about their struggles in marketing, and what Ballistic Arts could do to assist them. All of them expressed frustration in the area of social media. They felt it was a bit of black magic, and they felt like they had to employ social media in their marketing because that’s what everyone else is doing.
But they ultimately didn’t know what actual returns they were getting from their marketing dollars.
Now, because up until that point in Ballistic Arts’ history, our primary focus was to deliver beautiful creative work to clients, we never really understood what returns clients were typically looking for. In fact, I was honestly a little scared to ask because they were spending a fair chunk of money on us. What if the answer was less than flattering? We would leave the actually-getting-results part of marketing to the client and their other vendor partners. We were in charge of making things look nice. Clients were happy with our work. So, why rock the boat?
But these conversations really shone a light on what was missing for our clients. Times are tough all over the place, and clients need to find out exactly how effective their marketing spend really is.
There’s another old saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Yes, clients were happy with our creative work, but they couldn’t find a reliable partner to help them actually generate leads.
So what can Ballistic Arts do?
“If you could figure this out, that would really change my world”, said one of our long term clients. I started getting curious. I mean, it’s true – as a small business owner, every dollar counts. And if you’re unsure you’re spending your marketing dollars in the right way, it must feel like a bit of a gamble. Maybe it’s because I’m a small business owner myself who has always been the sales guy, but I thought that if I was spending money on marketing, I would expect to see a return. I want to see leads and results!
So I started to look around the industry to see what is out there. What I found was that unless clients are working with much larger agencies (and thus spending a lot more than our typical clients are used to spending), there aren’t a lot of mid-sized agencies that can marry creative with data to generate sales leads. In fact, either there are agencies like Ballistic Arts that are really good at creative work but are crappy at lead generation, or there are digital marketing agencies that don’t understand the power of creative storytelling.
And with that, I decided to change the direction of Ballistic Arts into a digital marketing agency that can generate actual returns for clients, with a focus on lead generation. I mean, the business was failing anyway, so what did I have to lose?
Taking the bull by the horns
Having an insight and actually having that insight come to life are two completely different things. Having insight is easy-ish. Executing it is another story entirely.
As a leader in a company, there is an expectation that I provide direction in my company. It makes sense, right? Who else is going to tell me how to run my company? However, I learned that just because I am personally in love with an idea, that doesn’t mean everyone else will love that idea or be inspired by it whatsoever. Change can be scary. Change in your workplace is definitely scary. And if there is an inkling that a leader isn’t 100% sure of an idea, well, needless to say, it ain’t gonna go well. And… that’s what happened here.
Not only was there luke-warm reception to my idea at the time, but there was also downright apathy. In fact, as some of you know (you can probably read in my glassdoor reviews btw), there was quite a bit of turnover and contempt from this. Again, I won’t go into all the salty details of my “woe is me small business” sob story, but this new announcement won’t go down in history as my Gettysburg Address.
So, having failed to inspire a single person on my team, I decided to take a course in digital marketing just to get a lay of the land myself. I mean, just because I have personally used social media doesn’t mean that I get the power of it. That course really opened my eyes that my hypothesis was true. The most effective marketing campaigns (with the numbers to back them up) need both solid creative and a really strategic and data-driven approach. This requires collaboration between both left brainiacs and right brainiacs. And moreover, most aeither agencies were happy being creative, or they were happy providing data – but not both.
Now, I’m not saying I’m the digital marketing expert in my agency after taking a course. Far from it. But it did give me the foundation I needed to start building out a team of experts that would help with Ballistic Arts’ transformation.
Ballistic Arts is no longer only a creative agency. We’re bringing more to the table, baby.
Becoming a Lead Generation Digital Marketing Agency
Because we have almost two decades of experience creating brands and telling stories, we have an instinctive sense of what will resonate with an audience and what won’t. However, because we never had any data to support our viewpoints, it was always challenging to prove our opinions to our clients. Over the years I have attended hundreds, if not thousands of meetings to discuss the exact pantone of green we should be using for a client, or to talk about changing the length of a specific shot in on of our videos. These decisions were always based on gut feelings, without having any real data to point us in the right direction.
But with data and metrics to track campaigns, improve upon them, and then re-leverage our creative gurus to further enhance our clients’ value propositions, that has proven to make a BIG DIFFERENCE!
So, we started approaching clients with our new offering – creative digital marketing that produces actual sales leads. We’ve had heart to heart conversations with clients (who in a moment of crisis) informed us that they had x number of months before they had to shut their doors. Had these conversations happened before the new Ballistic Arts, I’m not sure how I would have reacted, nor would I have had a solution to help them. With this client in particular, well, they’re still in business and we’re still working with them. That’s all I can really say, but they’re doing a fair bit better than okay.
By leveraging our years and years of creative experience with our new data-driven team we now marry all the branding bits of a campaign with strategic precision. We analyze a clients’ persona audience, tap into those audiences in social media with our special blend of creative storytelling, produce a data-driven sales and marketing funnel from top to bottom, tally up the leads, and package them to our clients to close.
Ballistic Arts’ All Access Pass – Knowing which half of your advertising works
We started offering our All Access Pass so that our clients can see firsthand how well lead generation digital marketing can work when you successfully marry creative with data. Clients pay a monthly price to get access to our entire agency. It’s kind of like going to the gym, but for your marketing muscles. Clients tell us exactly the metric they want to achieve (i.e. how many leads they want a month). We then work backward with them on how we can generate leads for them. This idea isn’t exactly unique, but our process and approach is.
Because we have a fully integrated team of creatives alongside our digital marketing department, we are able to handcraft digital ads that are more attractive than what our clients are used to seeing. What’s more, the buck stops with us.
That means, no longer are creatives fawning over what kerning levels will work for a logo. Or wasting thousands of client dollars on reviewing stock photography for an ad (seriously, this happened). We reduce wastage because we have a set number of agreed-upon hours to spend on delivering a result. Clients rest assured that if something is or isn’t working, our data will show it. By course-correcting quickly through audience analysis and A/B testing on all our creative advertising, we save clients money. So, yes, we can tell which half of your advertising is working.
Welcome to the new Ballistic Arts
To have our clients say how much of a material difference they’ve seen in our approach has been really rewarding.
To see our new team members internally gel and thrive alongside our vets has been refreshing and gratifying.
It feels right. And while this has been a bit of a journey, I know that it’s just beginning.
I believe this will be a continued work in progress as we’re continuously iterating our process.
That’s the beauty of running a Digital Marketing Agency like Ballistic Arts. It takes practice, and we’re getting better every day.
I can’t wait to meet you and discuss how we can help you generate leads with creative advertising. Ring us up. I’m excited to hear from you.
Send us an email or call me at 604-553-1081
Until next time,
Ted Lau – Founder and CEO of Ballistic Arts.