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WMC Interviews: Jay Lipe

WebMarketCentral had the chance to sit down (figuratively speaking) with Jay Lipe, founder of marketing consulting firm Emerge Marketing, to talk about his background and his company, and to tap into his Web marketing wisdom. Herewith, the inaugural WebMarketCentral blog interview.

WebMarketCentral (WMC): What did you do before Emerge Marketing?

Jay Lipe (JL): My background is pretty much all in marketing. For almost twenty years, I’ve worked to market companies, products, services, universities, cities, even politicians.

After I received my MBA in Marketing from Northwestern (Kellogg School of Management) in the 80’s, I worked for marketing powerhouses like General Mills, Novartis and Select Comfort. I went as far as I could on that track, then I launched my own business, Emerge Marketing in 1994. I help small companies (less than 100 employees) gain focus in their marketing.

WMC: How, when and why did Emerge Marketing get started?

JL: September 23, 1994. On that day I met with a good friend who is also a top-notch strategic consultant. He encouraged me to start my own marketing practice and when I got home that night there were two voicemail messages from potential clients (neither of whom he referred). Things happen for a reason.

My first two years were spent helping Fortune 500 companies with outsourced marketing projects. Then I was hired by a $3 million manufacturer that needed a marketing plan. I continued to work for that company for another 2 ½ years and realized that serving small business people made my heart go pitter patter.

WMC: Who do you target, that is, who is your ideal or typical client?

JL: Small companies (to me, less than 100 employees), I work only with the president or owner, this person is usually a non-marketer and in their first meeting with me they say something like “I know we need to be marketing, but I’m not sure where to begin”.

WMC: What is your key differentiator (or differentiators), that is, what separates you from your competition?

JL: I have red hair and I play drums—I’m the only red-headed, drumming, marketing consultant that I know of!

Really though, what makes me unique is that I focus exclusively on smaller businesses—those with less than 100 employees. And I come from a big company background (worked in marketing management for General Mills, Novartis and Select Comfort). So, I can take the strategic marketing concepts that the “big boys” use, and boil them down to a level where small business people get them, and do them.

WMC: How do you market/promote your business?

JL: To me, successful marketing leverages variety. To that end, I use a variety of marketing vehicles to promote my business. They include:

The Emerge Marketing website – This is a key tool for me to connect with the online community. On my site I feature all my services, over 25 free articles on small business marketing topics and copies of all my newsletters. Check it out at

My Smart Marketing blog - I frequently update my blog with marketing how-to’s for the small business. In fact the tagline for my blog is “Jay Lipe’s blog at the intersection of Small Business Street and Marketing Avenue. Check it out at

In 2002, I wrote my first book, The Marketing Toolkit for Growing Business, and it has really helped expand my business. Three different kinds of people buy the book: 1) Early-stage entrepreneurs who have launched a business within the last 5 years 2) Established business owners with less than 10 employees who want more significant growth and 3) Small business leaders with larger companies (up to $100 million) who want growth, but without an internal marketing department.

I’m now at work on my second book for Dearborn Trade Publishing, due out next year.

I also give about 20 speeches a year in front of Chambers of Commerce, Industry Associations and Small Business organizations.

I write a lot of articles for online and offline publications. My advice has been featured in publications like Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, United Press International, Marketing News and the Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune.

I also publish an online newsletter called Jay Lipe’s Marketing Tips and Tools. If any of your readers want to be added to my subscriber list, they can sign up at my website.

WMC: What’s are the most important marketing lessons you’ve learned since starting Emerge Marketing?

JL: 1) Marketing has its own process – In accounting you close every month and you follow a standard process to balance your books. Small business leaders need to understand that marketing involves a process too. You analyze, plan, implement, and then analyze again. For more specifics on how a company can use this marketing process, I’d suggest my book The Marketing Toolkit for Growing Business.

2) Patience is a marketer’s best friend – Even brilliant marketing takes time to shine. People are too busy these days to drop everything and take notice of your marketing. You must do a new marketing initiative at least 5 times before your audience even notices. Any company that doesn’t stick with a new marketing effort for at least 5 times is short-changing itself.

3) Technology rules – The company that focuses on helping small businesses with their technology problems will make a lot of money. I’m just a little bit tech-savvy, yet I still feel overwhelmed by technology at times.

WMC: Anything else you’d like to add?

JL: Marketing is a discipline all its own. If you’re a non-marketer who’s responsible for your company’s marketing, you have to learn the discipline. In some recent research from the National Federation of Independent Businesses, more than one-half of the small business owners it surveyed launched their venture without any prior marketing or sales experience.

Also, this is increasingly becoming the Age of Marketing. These days it seems, business owners must know how to market their companies just to survive.


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