Have you ever heard the expression that with age comes wisdom? Well, Major Tom is celebrating our 22nd birthday — and we have a little wisdom to share!
While we’re always growing and learning as an agency, we’ve picked up a few reliable tips and tricks guaranteed to support your success in digital marketing and development.
So, in keeping with the occasion, the Major Tom team has gone back through our 2+ decades in the industry and picked 22 pieces of essential advice that we think you should know!
Let's dive in.
Whether you’re just starting a new client-agency partnership or already in the thick of a project, a working relationship you can rely on is vital for success. You should trust your agency, and vice versa — but that means being able to question and challenge each other, too.
Building a dynamic like that doesn’t happen without a little elbow grease. So, what exactly does it take? To build a partnership you can be proud of:
In the immortal words of Coach Taylor: clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
Transparency and accountability are a two-way street, both before and after you’ve signed on with an agency partner. Start the process with a clear brief (including your goals, budget, and timeline), and you’ll set collaborators up to do their best work. The more information you can provide about expectations, the more efficiently and effectively an agency can work to address your needs.
Just as importantly, both you and your partners must be willing to be vulnerable — no one has all the answers immediately, but if you’re transparent about challenges and blindspots, your collaborators can get to work on addressing them.
The biggest marketing wins come from knowing who you are as a brand and being authentic to those values. Go too far afield, and things can get dicey fast. The same goes for choosing your agency partners. While you should always evaluate their capabilities and services, make sure you have a sense of their culture and values, too.
It’s why Major Tom’s five core values are such a huge part of how we choose both clients and team members — and build successful long-term collaborations.
Even the best client-agency relationships take hard work, every single day. If you start running on autopilot, your projects will stagnate, too. Keep the lines of communication open, continue to challenge each other, and consider tools like a KPI scorecard so they know what you value most and can evaluate projects accordingly.
Marketing is all about change. Take it from us, the digital landscape looks very different in 2022 compared to when Major Tom started out — and it will only continue to change from here.
That’s a challenge for your brand, true. But it’s also a phenomenal opportunity to stretch and grow as you test new channels, technologies, and ways to connect with your audience. You need to maintain your hard-fought authority and audience loyalty without falling behind the competition.
How do you find that balance? To stay on top of the trends while staying true to your business:
You should never take a “set it and forget it” approach to your marketing. Whether you’re trying new channels and tactics or testing and refreshing existing assets like messaging and ad components, there’s always room to optimize for better results.
Keep in mind that means making decisions with data. We all have personal preferences, but there’s plenty of room for subjectivity regarding beauty in design or compelling copy. Test your results, and the data will lead you to future success.
Think about how often your website is the first touchpoint for a prospective customer. It should put your best foot forward, and doing that means keeping it up to date. There’s no hard and fast rule for how often to make an update, but consider taking a look every 2-4 years — or about as often as you’d change your smartphone.
Here are some signs that you should make a change: the technology has evolved, there’s a specific problem you need to solve, the site just looks or feels old, its functionality is lagging, or you’re falling behind competitors.
A common mistake (particularly in web development) is letting internal wishlists and requests dictate the direction of a project. Your users drive your revenue and growth, so your site and your campaigns need to serve their needs and experience first.
Avoid bells and whistles that don’t benefit (or hinder) the user journey.
By the same token, your big goals for your business should drive marketing decisions. You should understand the value that marketing brings to your business and be able to communicate that to top management. With their buy-in (and their insights), you can make sure every campaign delivers ROI.
The data you need to make strategic decisions won’t always come from the top of your organization. Be sure to spend time talking to people at every level of your business, as well as your customers, to get the best context and perspective.
Every marketer has faced a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in their work. But sometimes, the most stubborn roadblocks just require a little change in perspective. If you’re stalling out, try bringing new minds on board (and avoid groupthink), double down on testing to deliver the data you need, or get some tips on how to get past a creative block straight from our creative team.
Whatever happens, make sure to keep the will to succeed.
Tough financial times can lead to hasty decisions — like cutting budgets and slashing marketing. But cutting spend can be an even bigger disruption and cost you revenue. Keeping your sales pipeline flowing during a recession isn’t easy, but the right partner can help you build a strategy to get it done.
That’s coming from firsthand experience. Major Tom has weathered multiple recessions ourselves. They tend to prove a famous quote from Henry Ford: “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”
While we’re on the subject, remember: sooner or later, short-changing your strategies and campaigns will impact the results. There’s a big difference between being efficient with your budget (e.g. by outsourcing certain tasks) and taking shortcuts with the quality of your marketing. Just like a bad haircut, you can’t hide sub-par work forever.
For businesses looking to grow, good is the new cool. Marketing ethically, authentically, and inclusively is crucial to making everyone on your team and all of your customers feel welcome — and you should surround yourself with people who can ensure that you do.
Your audience (and your business) will only grow as a result. McKinsey & Company report found that companies with diverse teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability.
It’s less costly to retain an existing customer than to win over a new one. Yet it’s easy to forget current customers as you chase growth. Any robust strategy should include plans for remarketing that make existing customers feel valued — and keeps them coming back.
Our last tip on marketing trends is a reminder: don’t change for change’s sake.
Whether you’re deciding between individual elements on a website or building separate waves of a campaign, maintaining brand consistency will help build familiarity and credibility with your audience. When it comes to ROI, that trust is worth its weight in gold.
Of course, long-term success for your business is larger than any one winning campaign. It takes more than tackling a single trend. At Major Tom, we have some thoughts about big-picture strategy and taking the 50,000-foot view.
To set your projects and your business up for growth, remember:
We don’t mean that you should take uncalculated risks, or throw your budget away on unexamined ideas. But you should approach every project as an opportunity to go above and beyond the initial request — and imagine what might be possible. It’s what inspires Major Tom’s drive to seek greatness for our clients, and fuels the research and insights of our very own Strategy Propulsion Lab.
Humans aren’t perfect. Even the experts. You should be ready for the possibility that not every campaign will be a big win on the first try. Lay some ground rules about testing and experimentation early, allowing collaborators to find the best approach for each campaign.
Think of this as switching your perspective from “win or lose” to “win or learn”. Just remember to set up processes that will let you put those lessons into practice the next go-round.
There’s no agency in the world that isn’t used to rapid change. We know it can be both scary and exciting, often at the same time. But you can make the choice to lean into those changes rather than being scared of what’s to come.
Whether you’re looking to elevate your career or find a new opportunity for your business, it’s an opportunity to throw your hand up and grow.
When you’re looking for inspiration, it can be tempting to take the guardrails off. But while it’s always smart to question your assumptions about a project or process, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. The best ideas come when there is a clear objective in mind and specific parameters for success.
Sometimes, lightbulb moments are hard to let go of. But even if you’ve come up with a clever concept, it’s crucial to stay open to other perspectives. Great solutions can come from anywhere, and you should give your team the space to deviate or evolve, even if you already have an answer.
Make room for diverse perspectives on your team to help spark this kind of innovation. And most importantly: let the best idea in the room win.
The same principle applies outside of your creative work. Process documents are living, breathing documents that should evolve with your business. There’s always room for improvement, but if you’re too focused on following past rules to the letter, you can miss opportunities for growth.
And don’t forget: a process isn’t always written the same way it’s practiced. Whether within your team or with an agency partner, stakeholders in a project should share their lived experiences of processes to continuously impact change.
Major Tom's three strategic values, these questions are essential for getting to the heart of both the wins and challenges that you face as you grow. They'll help you imagine what could have gone differently, how you can use previous work to spark future successes, and figure out why a project played out as it did.
It's a crucial step in making sense of your results to find clarity in chaos.
When your collaborators are a fit for your business, everyone grows together. It’s why Major Tom invests time, energy, and resources to connect with people that are a fit for our business, our ambition, and our values. If you share a vision with your collaborators, they’ll reinvest that passion back into your business — and you’ll both thrive in the long haul.
Of course, it would be impossible to cram every lesson we’ve learned as an agency into a single blog post. Two decades is a long time in the world of digital marketing, and we’ve spent every second working to learn, improve, and better help our clients thrive.
If you’re looking for more expert advice — and the support you need to help your business thrive — we’re always ready to help. If you’re looking for more marketing and insights, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter below.
What I have is a malevolent curiosity - I do tend to take a different perspective.
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