I recently had the opportunity to talk to Kirsten Chapman, principal of Twin Cities-based virtual marketing and PR agency KC Associates. As KCA's web site notes, this isn't a typical agency; her group works only with b2b technology companies, and is comprised exclusively of senior IT marketing and PR professionals. The result, as Kirsten (front row, checked coat) points out, is that KCA clients pay for talent — not overhead.
WebMarketCentral (WMC): How, when and why did KC Associates get started?
Kirsten Chapman (KC): KCA got started by accident. Back in the late ‘80s, there were 3-4 of us making a decent living doing contract work and one day the team said “We have a business here and we should really treat it like one.” So, in 1993, we collectively developed a plan to focus exclusively on IT companies (since all of us had good experience in that industry) and now, nearly 15 years later, we have a SWAT team of very talented, super-experienced people who can deliver on nearly any marketing and PR requirement — from strategy and product marketing and marcom, media relations and lead generation.
WMC: How would you describe KCA's ideal or typical client?
KC: Small to mid-size IT products and services companies, primarily in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area of Minnesota.
Our group provides both advisory and agency help. Our marketing execs (not account or client execs) come from inside companies and have great empathy for clients’ business objectives and the struggle to achieve them. Those that benefit the most from this are smaller organizations that may or may not have internal marketing staff. If they do, it’s often not an executive, but they know there’s more to marketing than brochures, advertising and websites. They simply don’t know what to do. They need more than an ability to execute, they also need guidance on what to execute and why — something only an experienced biz dev-type marketer can provide.
What separates KCA from typical advertising or PR agencies?
KC: We’re exclusive to IT products and services companies, and we bridge the gaps between sales and marketing, and between strategy and execution, with a full line of integrated marketing and PR services guided by veteran marketing executives. We’re also a virtual firm, so it’s all brain power and results with no overhead.
WMC: How do you market or promote your business?
KC: WOM is obviously the top tactic, but we’re also systematic in our outbound lead gen program, which is a service we provide to clients. These two things work together — most companies have heard of KCA, but the lead gen gives us control over reaching out and keeping our name in front of prospects as well as getting introductory meetings. It also shows off how good we are in this area — most agencies don’t know how to do this effectively and don’t have telemarketers on staff. Additionally, we have a monthly e-column, VantagePoint, each written by a different person and we also send out some kind of creative, fun mailer 2x/yr, which updates our database as well as builds brand awareness.
WMC: What's the biggest or most important marketing lesson you've learned since KCA got started?
KC: Generating new business is easy; finding the right people to deliver the services is what really counts and it’s where the rubber meets the road. If you want to keep client churn down, make sure you’re always doing the right thing — by them — and find talent who thinks the same way.
WMC: Anything else you'd like to add?
KC: KCA is nothing without its great team of extraordinary talent. Make sure you pay people fairly, give them work they like to do and create an environment for them that’s with people they like and respect — co-workers and clients alike. If a client is a pain-in-the-ass and makes life difficult for the team, fire the client.
Terms: b2b technology marketing, virtual marketing agency, IT marketing Twin Cities
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