Lindsey Cartnett started Marketing Maven after working at a public relations firm in Los Angeles, being the Marketing Director for a Scandinavian publicly-listed biosciences company, and starting a PR division for a multi-million-dollar advertising agency in Los Angeles. After many hours on the road commuting, at 26 years old, she was fearless and started Marketing Maven at the beginning of the Recession. She wanted to bring accountability to the public relations industry the same way that direct response advertisers brought attribution to their media dollars spend. She announced that she was doing PR for DR, meaning Public Relations for Direct Response, and launched into the direct-to-consumer marketing world, which had been her work experience from the early part of her career.
StarCentral International recently caught up with Lindsey to discuss her journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
Today, Marketing Maven looks very different than it did in 2009. When Marketing Maven was born, the service offerings included Public Relations only. We have since added social media marketing, digital advertising, influencer marketing, email marketing, event support, market research, and creative services including copywriting, graphic design, and website development. Marketing Maven is now bicoastal with its headquarters in the Greater Los Angeles area and offices in New York City.
Marketing Maven continues to grow because we practice what we preach. We contribute articles to noteworthy media outlets, we speak at conferences, we have award-winning campaigns, we announce significant agency news, and we establish strategic partnerships that allow us to advance.
We also put our money where our mouth is in terms of having the core value of a growth mindset. This means being lifelong learners- something of paramount importance in an industry that is constantly evolving. Marketing Maven allows for education time for each employee and even sponsors it, so we are investing in employee education to improve our skill sets, learn more about the industries our clients work in, and cross-train our fellow staff. Our emerging leaders are strategically placed in leadership development programs and acquire new skills that they bring back to Marketing Maven.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
Marketing Maven uses LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram to increase brand awareness. Each platform is important for current and prospective clients, new hire recruiting, and employee engagement.
What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
Paid advertising only works if you have a solid strategy and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you’ve established to gauge success. It’s important to start with a competitive analysis, understand your target audience and know what’s going to drive them to convert into qualified prospects. It’s more than getting a lead to your website. You must have a plan to keep them, as a nurture campaign with a series of relevant emails that have a substance of value in order to ultimately have them convert into a valuable client.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
Pre-pandemic, we’d walk tradeshows with clients and they would do all of the selling for us. The best advocates are your existing clients who can show others the great work you’ve done for them. Today, we are working with our clients on case studies that they are proud of that we can share with prospects to showcase the work we do. We are also submitting case studies for awards so we can highlight award-winning campaigns in our marketing efforts. It’s great for us and for our clients!
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
The best form of marketing that has worked well for Marketing Maven throughout the years is word of mouth. The majority of our business comes via referrals so LinkedIn connections, one-on-one consultations, and a very customized approach are something that has proven successful year after year. Many times, we’ll do unique direct mailers prior to trade shows to request appointments and express our interest in working with specific brands.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
The toughest decision I had to make in the last few months was about office space. It’s hard to predict the post-pandemic office environment but I think the hybrid office is here to stay, at least during the next 5 years.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
When I started Marketing Maven at age 26, I thought it was bad to get a business loan, so I put all my expenses on my personal credit cards. It wasn’t until I got more education about business financing that I realized that was a big mistake. I received an excellent education about business finances through the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program.
What new business would you love to start?
I have many ideas for new businesses in many industries. Some are service-based and others are product-focused.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I would have invested more money in seasoned industry veterans with proven success in my industry who weren’t already from my existing network. I think that would have accelerated our growth in an even more meaningful way. The flip side is I have many great memories with people who I know, love, and trust. And to know I helped them get started and trained in their careers is very rewarding.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
The best advice I received was from my first PR boss. He told me that to be successful in this industry, I needed to have tough skin. I couldn’t let the little stuff get to me or it could eat me alive. I was to think of oil and water and just let anything negative roll off me. I still remember the pep talk to this day!
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
My biggest advice to a newbie entrepreneur setting up their first business is to ask for help. I didn’t realize the number of free resources for entrepreneurs until I was years into my business. There’s SCORE, SBDC, WEV and the list goes on! Many entrepreneurs are too proud to ask for help but I will assure you that there are many blind spots along the journey and being humble will get you a lot farther than being proud. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. And to sit with that thought and be okay with it is the first step to seeking help from someone more seasoned who has your best interest in mind.