We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Ian Stewart. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Ian below.
Ian, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. What do you think Corporate America gets wrong in your industry?
The marketing and advertising industry has changed drastically over the last decade. In the past a few large firms held most of the business and had the most access to the resources needed for large-scale campaigns and creative content creation. But gone is the “Mad Men” era. In today’s marketplace, we have seen the rise of the importance for authenticity. Many organizations of all sizes are striving to have great customer service and not just flashy ads with big budgets.
My company, Root Source Digital has been serving clients for almost six years. We focus on true authenticity and providing the top services even at the expense of personal scale. We reap many benefits as our clients succeed.
There is a larger marketing firm in our area that, at face value, provides a great service for its clients, but every week we have individuals reaching out because they are tired of the automated system. They are tired of feeling like their service provider doesn’t have their best interest in mind.
A recent client in the training industry came to us with some ideas for launching their marketing efforts with the goal of increasing their brand awareness and generating new leads. Our team spent time discovering what they truly wanted. We dove into their core product and the problems they solve for their customers. We came up with a solution that costs less than their proposed plan and provided them better results than they had hoped for. This is what customer service and authenticity look like. We could have found a way to execute their plan and charge them double what they ended up paying, but that’s not putting the client first. As an organization, we have a core value of being an advocate for our clients, which means if we are going to be true to ourselves, we need to always do what is best for the client. The moral of the story is, growth and scale come easier when we follow the golden rule…. that has always been true, many of us have just forgotten it.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
Root Source Digital was founded in 2016 with the understanding that managing a brand is overwhelming. Our mission is to partner with brands and provide them with marketing that shows the true value of their work. We help people see the value in the work they do and how it affects the world. It drives them to live a bigger story, fulfill their passions, dreams, and discover their purpose. That drive is contagious throughout an organization.
At Root Source, we know that all marketing and PR starts with having a clear brand message. We are StoryBrand certified which helps organizations create their messaging. Messaging must be clear, customer-centered, and cut through the commotion of today’s marketplace. Once this pivotal step is complete, we put together a comprehensive strategy that leads to producing content to support their goals. Our team is equipped for large and small-scale video production, podcasting, photography, graphic design, and copywriting. We have worked with The PGA Tour, The Outdoor Network, Colorado Christian University, an international medical brand called Regenexx, non-profits of all kinds, startups, tech companies, and food and beverage brands like Old Chicago, Epic Brewing, and 477 Distilling. Above all, we want our clients to become household names.
Any advice for growing your clientele? What’s been most effective for you?
As a marketing agency, you would think our most effective lead generation strategy would be social ads or email marketing but one thing we help our clients discover is that building a brand is bigger than just advertising. At Root Source we have worked hard to develop for ourselves, word-of-mouth marketing through developing a whole brand and we consult our clients on doing the same. A whole brand stands on the pillars of a company message, visual identity, internal culture, and customer service/experience. When you have these in line it allows you to formulate a plan for developing systems, processes, and marketing. Marketing is very helpful in creating talk triggers. (Check out the book Talk Triggers by Daniel Lemin, Jay Baer.) A large part of creating those talk triggers is developing an effective corporate gifting strategy. (Check out the book Giftology by John Ruhlin.)
We have used strategic gifting and word-of-mouth marketing as our two largest lead generators. Combined with our digital marketing efforts, this has helped us stay connected to our clients and has generated referrals repeatedly. We can’t stress enough how important these two things are for lead generation, no matter your industry.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
From our team to our clients, people are the center of what we do. This carried over from my previous career as a pastor. My first ten years in the workforce was spent leading worship ministry, directing bands and ministry teams to produce weekly services. When I felt it was time to step out of vocational ministry and into the marketplace, I struggled to figure out what my quantifiable skills were. When you put “Pastor” on a resume, most companies have no idea what to do with that. Most people think a pastor’s job revolves around just reading the bible and drinking coffee while an acoustic guitar plays in the background. I had to step back and take inventory of the things I was doing in my role. As a worship pastor, I oversaw multiple teams of volunteers, managed scheduling, delegated tasks, and created the systems that enabled them to do their job. I was on a regular rotation of checking in with my teams, being attentive to their personal journeys, and gathering feedback on what adjustments needed to be made. Occasionally, I had to let volunteers go (which is a lot harder than firing a paid employee). I oversaw the communications at our church and built out how we presented ourselves to our community. I realized I could take my skills used at the church and apply them to starting my own business. Caring for clients and producing great content marketing was birthed out of my love for the people in my church, my desire to communicate clearly, and the standard of excellence that we strive to achieve on our team. If you think you need to make a career switch, I encourage anyone to take inventory of not just the tasks you are responsible for, but the “why” and the reason you care about those tasks. When you know your “why”, it’s easy to find a new role that you are qualified for AND passionate about.