Episode 199 Featuring Alex Bond

Go-To-Market Strategies and Creative Branding with Colby Flood

Go-To-Market Strategies and Creative Branding with Colby Flood

Colby Flood is the Founder of Brighter Click, a growth agency specializing in Go-To-Market, Creative, and Paid Media Strategy. On this episode we talk about the importance of research and education, GTM strategies, how to scale via creative branding, and much more.



What is Brighter Click

Colby Flood: So Brighter Click is a creative strategy and paid media agency that works with e-commerce and e-commerce software companies. We really focus on the mix of importance between, you know, media. How are you doing your strategy, but also what type of content are you putting out there to reach your audience?

So we focus on those two main priorities on the acquisition channel. We do Facebook and Instagram ads and Google ads as well. 

Alex Bond: I know you guys seem to be really popular in the Facebook space. I was visiting your website and you got a lot of really good banners and markers that say that you guys are, you know, consistently working with them to great success it sounds like. 

Colby Flood: Yeah. Thankfully we've won seven awards this year so far for Facebook work with e-commerce companies, so it's been great to see the team get rewarded for the hard work they're putting in. But yeah, Facebook is really kind of our bread and butter for service-wise. 

"Education First with all things"

Alex Bond: So, you know, on your website, on Brighter Click's website, you state that your mission for the brand is to be education first with all. What does that mean specifically and you know, even more broadly why that's important? 

Colby Flood: Yeah, that's a great question. So our main core value at Brighter Click is education first, and it comes in three pillars.

It's the first is educating our team, which feeds into the other two, right? If we don't educate our team, we can't educate clients and we can't educate the public. So we focus on making sure we provide our team educational opportunities through conferences, through paid courses, through trainings, through consultants, whatever it may be, to better them at their craft or the position they wanna move towards.

And then, like I said, there's two other pillars that that feeds into educating our clients. You know, I started Brighter click with a mission of, I don't wanna say doing it differently, cause that sounds so cliche, but doing it differently in the sense that most agencies are very bad. Communication and that can have a bad impact on the client's performance and just overall experience as well.

So while we focus on bringing great results, right, we bring high return on ad spend and you know, all those fun buzzwords. We focus on having good, soft skills, making sure that we're communicating with clients properly. And part of that is leading communication through education and making sure that we are providing the background, context and information that they need to understand what's going on in their account and how they translate that to other marketing aspects or other parts of their business. 

And then the third is educating the public, which is putting out free educational content for people who may not work with or come in contact with brighter click in any other way cause our goal is to give people an opportunity. I personally didn't graduate college, dropped out after the first year, went to a school you may have heard of, called Western Carolina in the mountains and had to teach myself everything. 

And frankly, at the time, digital marketing wasn't taught well in college. So we strongly believe, and I strongly believe, that you can teach yourself and you can get to the career path that you want to get through self-education. So our goal is to put out opportunities for people to consume so that they can get where they want to go. 

Developing a portfolio as a startup company

Alex Bond: So the hardest part of creating a startup company is developing a portfolio. I want to know how you go about that process. I know everyone kind of attacks it differently from, from what I'm hearing you say in your previous answer soft skills, transparency, that sort of stuff is a little more key than shoving, you know, metrics in someone's face. Could you explain that process of maybe developing a portfolio and getting clients?

Colby Flood: Yeah, so developing a portfolio, you know, I started out freelancing and had to move towards building out a company because that's just the way that it worked out. I didn't have funding or revenue to hire people from day one.

So, you know, I started working with smaller clients and of course it took soft skills. It took setting expectations with clients, so what would be needed just so that they could succeed and we could succeed. But it also just took work in tirelessly to just get the results needed and to get people where they needed to go. So it kind of built up over time being able to build a portfolio.

One place that I really did that very well was Upwork the platform online and was able to start building out kind of credibility and trust through there. And you know, word of mouth picks up and when you're bringing one person results, they tell. They're business colleagues and things like that about it, and it just kind of grows from there.

Alex Bond: No, that's a great strategy. You know, Upwork is extremely helpful. How's your portfolio of clients looking right now? Before I dive into, you know, kind of the process a little bit? 

Colby Flood: One thing we're really kind of focusing on right now is working with e-commerce companies and e-commerce software companies that are wanting to either go into kind of recently exiting series A of investor funding. 

People that have that high growth kind of potential and opportunity. We're not limited to that, but that's kind of where we're going. But we have worked with quite a few startups who are going through funding. And, you know, over the past three years we've worked with startups through growth of over 274 million in funding to be able to help them push forward.

So it's been great. Our portfolio or just our client base right now is good. We're actively looking for new opportunities to bring on new clients. 

Their process in working with their clients

Alex Bond: I've talked to a few people in the past and I'd like to get, you know, your ideas on this, on let's say things are going smoothly, brighter click is booming. Clients are lining up to work with you guys. 

Have you had to figure out how to balance your portfolio to ensure that, you know, you don't take on too many clients? Or how do you know which ones to take on which ones are ready and which ones you know, might not be? 

Colby Flood: You know, that's a great question. So, what we do, and I think this will answer all parts to your question.

What we do is when we initiate conversation with a prospect, we'll just kind of get on a call and, and learn a little bit about who they are and what they're wanting to achieve in their business. And you know, just make sure that, I mean, frankly, their expectations are aligned with what's possible with paid media these days cause things have changed so much.

And then we'll go into their ad account and run a full audit. So we run an audit to understand their technicals, you know, as their tracking set up correctly, and website a schema markup and metadata and all that fun stuff. And then we'll look at their campaign structuring to make sure they have a setup that is possible to scale or what we need to do to fix that.

Their audience selections and then their creative. And copy and build out a plan from there. Our goal is to be able to have confidence that progress can be made or that we can improve things before we kind of sign any dotted line. And a lot of times with that too, we'll see opportunities for website conversion rate or email marketing services we don't provide.

And that's where on the follow up call, we educate them through the audit and make sure they understand it is a two-way door, right? I mean, there's gonna be opportunities. Facebook ads are important, but that's one piece to the whole marketing stack there. So that's kind of what we do. Just make sure that realistic expectations are set, that we have a clear plan that we can follow. And that all the resources and all the kind of assets needed could fall into place to be able to win. 

Alex Bond: No, that's great. I think that makes a lot of sense. And I want to actually break that down a little further. So you're going through the whole process of onboarding this client. Let's break it down to that strategizing process.

What does that look like more from like a bird's eye view? Now you decide you wanna work with them, what's that kind of look like from the top down? 

Colby Flood: Yeah, for sure. That's a great question. So when it comes into strategizing a new account for paid media, one of the first things that we look at is quantifying if they're a high data or low data account.

And by that I mean we take a look at their pixel data and we wanna understand in day one, are they ready to be retargeting, website visitors, add to carts, check out initiators. Do they have enough people in that pixel group? For each pixel group for the past 28 days to retarget. If they do, then we would consider them high data, and that means that we can go ahead and start looking at setting up top of funnel, middle funnel, bottom funnel, and loyalty campaigns and we have a process we do for that roadmap.

If they're low data and they don't have enough retargeting pixel data to hit website visitors or add to carts, then we know we need a completely different roadmap where we need to focus on A, getting them sales because it's always revenue first. But B, building out their ad account as well and building out their pixel through things like video view campaigns.

So we can start doing middle of funnel retargeting and then build out bottom of funnel as well. So there's two really different paths and that's kind of a simple way to explain it that we go for. And then specific strategy kind of on the next layer is dependent on the business, the product type, and that's where that comes into the messaging and creative strategy.

I'll give you an example. Work with a sustainability business. They were a disruptor product, so they were a product most people weren't familiar with. It was compostable clinging wrap, right? You think of wrap, that's plastic, but they take byproduct waste of making french fries and turn that into cling wrap.

And it's compostable or or it's not gonna waste in the landfill, in the oceans. So we had to figure out how we could familiarize and normalize people to that product cuz it's so new to them. Right? So we had to come up with a messaging strategy, similar situation if we're looking at a different type of business with e-commerce or software as well.

Alex Bond: And something like that, you don't really have a rubric to look at. When you explain that to there's not really anything that pops in my head to be like, oh, that sounds like this product. Let's look at what their strategy was and see some inspiration. 

I mean, you gotta kind of start from scratch with something like that, which I can imagine being in a creative strategy space, sometimes you get to be more creative the smaller the boxes a little bit. Is that something that you've found is working with a company like that where you have to kind of like push the boundaries and think more creatively? Is that more successful or is it easier when you have something that's like, you know, candles? 

Colby Flood: Yeah, we're always looking for opportunities to kind of challenge ourselves creatively. You know, the great thing kind of being in the agency space is we do have variations of clients within the same vertical so when it comes to messaging strategy, cause messaging always comes first and then we look at actual visual, creative, we work to categorize. 

Our messaging purposes by like very high level topics that can then fold down to be business specific that way. So as we work with clients, we look for these types of trends and look for these type of things so that we can have that in our kind of data bank to have in the future.

So things like founder story content, or PR content for disruptor products or life-changing events, messaging if we're trying to sell something very specific, right? So things like that, that can be like high level categories of creative or messaging that we can start to work with that way. 

The founder story strategy

Alex Bond: And you've said recently on something that I read that you are a big fan of creating the founders story because it makes the product and the company more relatable to the client is like, that's one of the most impactful ways that you can, you know, put forth ad campaign.

Can you talk about that a little bit and why you think that's so valuable cause that seems like one big strategy to, you know, put a lot of eggs in. 

Colby Flood: Yeah, for sure. So, founder story, we've definitely seen some great results with. So we're seeing with the younger generations in specific that they like to kind of see behind the scenes, they like to see what's going on.

And kind of B2B sales too. People like to do business with people they know, like, and trust, right? So it's not even about working with Brighter Click, it's about working with me or the team that you're familiar with, right. So with founder story content we generally find this works great for retargeting and we combine it with a couple of other things.

So like brand mission or founder story and localization. So like people love to hear a good founder story if it's in their local area or their country as well. So we do find good results with that. And one thing I've heard feedback on is some business owners. 

Have concern that maybe their story won't resonate or they don't have a good founder's story. Run with it, test some different opportunities and, and see what you can come up with. Just kinda unmask that veil and let people behind the scenes, they'll love to see that. 

Social media ad strategies

Alex Bond: So kind of moving into challenges a little bit, what do you consider to be the toughest part of, you know, social media ad strategy?

Colby Flood: What I'll say is this, you if you look at the kind of general consensus or pulse of what peoples are saying about. Facebook ads here lately. You hear, you might hear things like, oh, they don't work anymore, or they don't, they're not as good as they used to be. And if we're operating like we did in 2017, they don't work anymore because things have changed.

And what we're really seeing now is that what used to be a channel that was all about kind of growth hacking, knowing the best bid strategy and audience type and all these types of things has faded away. And we really need to be marketers again. We have to focus creating great ad creative and putting out great brand messaging with our content, right?

So I think that's going to be the biggest bottleneck for most businesses going forward, not just with Facebook ads, but with most channels, is creating content that resonates with people, creating content that actually. Causes movement and makes a difference that way. 

That's what we are seeing and that's why we've started to move forward or move towards being kind of a creative strategy agency, not just a creative production agency where we make shiny graphics, but creative strategy. So we make sure there's a purpose behind it. 

Alex Bond: As to why the gold shine instead of the green shine. You know, the, I think that's really cool and cause you know, a lot of companies do focus on the strategy and not the creative strategy. It's kind of like this type of brand. We'll put you here. We'll put this bit out there and we'll see how it works. And what I'm hearing you say, Colby, is companies kind of need to go back to fundamentals in terms of actual ad campaigns. 

Colby Flood: Yeah. Fundamentals and you know, one thing you notice, especially kind of the bigger the company you work with is a lot of times marketing can turn into just data reports and you can lose sight of the end user and why they may not be purchasing or converting for your software.

So really just kind of empathizing and remembering that marketing is human to human interaction at the end of the day. Even though we can be behind a computer at a desk and be making all of that content or that stuff, they're not just numbers on a spreadsheet.

Being a member of Forbes Business Council

Alex Bond: Moving on on top of being, you know, the CEO and founder of Brighter Click, you're also an official member of the Forbes Business Council. Now can you tell us a bit about that organization and your role in it? 

Colby Flood: Yeah, for sure. So, Forbes Business Council and the entrepreneur.com Leadership Network. Two great opportunities to be able to network with other kind of high achieving founders or entrepreneurs. It's been great opportunity to be able to get on the networking calls and just kind of tap into the community that they have and then put out some content on Forbes as well, write some articles for Entrepreneur and Forbes.

So it's been a great time for me. Like I said, one of our core values and kind of the main decision to move forward with pursuing those two channels was to be able to put out free education to the community. So it's been a great opportunity to do that. 

Alex Bond: That's amazing. And you know, I read that it's invite only. So that's a pretty exclusive club to be a part of. 

Colby Flood: I've enjoyed it. Yeah. Forbes is something I always read. I've always read. So proud to be a part of it. 

Free education advocacy

Alex Bond: Part of what I'm hearing is that you really appreciate the advocacy free education piece of that. How has that, you know, affected you on the other end? So you get to help other people out, but how has it affected you as a CEO and founder, a professional, that sort of thing? 

Colby Flood: You know, it's given me great aspect of honestly, like building out training programs and just onboarding programs within our company to make sure that we are setting up our team to be in the best spot they possibly can to serve our clients.

So, always kind of thinking about, you know, one thing that, this is gonna sound odd, but one thing that. Is my kind of zone of genius or that I enjoy doing is just creating like educational tracks. And while I'm doing that, thinking through at each stage what questions somebody might have or confusion somebody might have, and then reworking the educational track to make sure they have all the background information before they get to that question or problem. 

So I know that may sound a little bit odd, but those are just kind of the things I enjoy doing, getting people fired up about learning and then, and then moving forward with where they want to go with it.

Advice to eCommerce professionals

Alex Bond: So what would you consider if you had like one takeaway, I guess, what would be one piece of advice you would give to any e-commerce professionals trying to build or scale their e-commerce brand right now?

Colby Flood: The number one thing I could say for any e-commerce business right now is don't forget to start with the building blocks. I see a lot of times e-commerce companies can want to go straight to acquisition and they want to go straight to Facebook ads or Google ads and creating a brand guide or a brand bible, or just core USP guidelines.

And what happens is this, let's say you work with specialization agencies, which are important. You get one agency for Google ads, one for Facebook ads, and one for email marketing. If you, as the business don't have a centralized unity of. Brand messaging, brand purpose, USP, buyer personas, all those fun stuff.

And you put it straight to the specialization agencies. They may all come up with different things and they're not communicating with each other and it may or may not work. And a lot of times you'll see. Because of the way the landscape is now, or you have to be very strategic with your creative, it won't work and it turns into a cycle of just burning through agencies and blaming the platform or the agency.

So what I could really say is just make sure you spend your time looking at your go-to-market strategy, putting together your branding. And then really attacking acquisition. 

Alex Bond: Acquisition. That's what we were talking about earlier. That's a tough piece. And I think the way that you break that down again, answers a lot of questions on the way. 

Future of digital marketing

Alex Bond: Acquisition. That's what we were talking about earlier. That's a tough piece. And I think the way that you break that down again, answers a lot of questions on the way. 

So what do you see as maybe like the future or what does, you know, creative strategy look like five years from now? You know, how are you guys trying to innovate? Is that, you know, kind of going back to basics and the fundamentals, it's hard to predict what technology's gonna look like five or 10 years from now, but from your experience, what have you kind of specifically seen trends moving toward?

Colby Flood: That's a great question. You know, there's a lot of things up in the air. Is TikTok gonna get banned? I see four or five states at the time we're recording this, have banned it from government devices and it'll probably get banned in 2023. Ai, we keep seeing AI image creation and now chatgpt just came out, which is like AI everything, which is just crazy. If you haven't tried that and you're listening to this, give it a look. 

But the biggest thing that at Brighter Click that we're looking at is making sure that we really push forward with the creative strategy piece. And I know I keep saying that and it sounds so simple, but if you look at just the, the way that most creative agencies are set or even most advertising agencies, but most creative agencies are set up, they're set up in a way that the client has to send a creative brief to the agency.

And the agency just produces the creative and then sends it back and waits for the next one. And what that does is it's basically outsource graphic design where the business owner or the cmo, or whoever it is, is the creative strategist.

The problem there is, a lot of times they're creating content for a platform they haven't run ads on and aren't tuned into. So you have creative strategy coming from someone that may not be a hundred percent up to speed on that platform or channel they're making it for. And a graphic designer who has no background context of prior performance data.

In that account, we're wanting to focus on being an agency that combines all of that, where we take the creative strategy and we either do the media buying or communicate directly with your media buying team, track the performance, and always be performance first. With our decisions for future briefs or iterations of creative, we're trying to basically take all of that off the business's plate of responsibility.

And improve performance by once again, just being performance first with creative. So that's where we are going with things. And I hope that a lot of other creative agencies do the same in the coming years. 

Alex Bond: I think the one stop shot makes a lot more sense. You know, last thing you need is a graphic designer that just makes something, that one looks really good and probably could be helpful. But it doesn't really match up with the research or the messaging or the branding that you've put a lot of time and effort into because they wanna make something that looks cool. 

A lot of times people in a creative space want to be creative. They like autonomy and they like, saying, no, trust me I'm the art guy, or I'm the graphic designer. I'm the creative, so let me do this. And you know, that can create some, some conflict. Is that something that you've experienced in the past? 

Colby Flood: Definitely. And you know, we always want to be creative, right? But sometimes you can keep it simple right. We don't wanna limit our creative abilities or the creative ability of our designers or creators or things like that, but we want to make sure the way that I put it when we bring on a new designer or a new creator, is we work to kind of like at a bowling alley, when you set up those bumpers for the lane, like we work to just give you the lane to create in that, we make sure you understand the platform.

How Facebook ads work, best practices, things you can and can't do up to date on new trends. And then you take that and then craft content within that lane that works. And it would be different for TikTok or for different channels that way. So that's our goal is to just kind of set the focus and then let them use their expertise within.

Alex Bond
Alex Bond

Meet Alex Bond—a seasoned multimedia producer with experience in television, music, podcasts, music videos, and advertising. Alex is a creative problem solver with a track record of overseeing high-quality media productions. He's a co-founder of the music production company Too Indecent, and he also hosted the podcast "Get in the Herd," which was voted "Best Local Podcast of 2020" by the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia, USA.

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