Betsy Linnell on Branding, Strategy and Making Smart Alliances
Since 2007, Betsy Linnell has slung her expertise as a CMO-for-hire, providing an opportunity to tap executive level marketing smarts that small and medium sized businesses have leaped at.
The next evolution of her business launched in 2012, bringing a gang of enterprising creatives together under the banner of B-Line Marketing Management, so clients don’t just benefit from strategic marketing planning. They get tangible results, executed by hand-picked teams of the best freelance creatives suited to the task. It’s a model that allows business people, especially entrepreneurs running their own small and medium sized businesses, to focus on the day-to-day operations of their business where they flourish.
We asked Betsy to tell us what’s new… apart from her powerhouse website.
You’ve been offering marketing management and planning as an independent consultant for the last 6 years. What differentiates B-Line from your previous operation?
B-Line is really the result of an evolution that has been ongoing since I started my business in 2007. As my client base grew, I expanded my service offerings based on my client’s needs. My business model has allowed me to be flexible and bring in the resources that my clients need, while still keeping the price affordable.
In 2012 I realized that the business had grown to the point that it was bigger than just me. To recognize this, I changed the name to B-Line Marketing Management.
What is a brand and how important is it for a business to get theirs dialed?
A well defined brand strategy serves as a foundation for all marketing and communication efforts for a business.
It’s the representation of what a business does, what it stands for and how it operates. A brand is so much more than just a logo!
Often the development of a brand strategy is the starting point for many of my clients. We go through a process that defines what the business is all about, who their target audience is and what sets them apart from the competition. We then use this information to develop marketing strategies and design creative that works.
A solid brand strategy takes a lot of the guess work out of marketing.
What are some of your local client success stories?
Mile One Eating House is one of our clients. We are thrilled with their success since opening in 2011. When we first started working together, they had a solid vision for the restaurant.
We helped articulate this vision and developed the brand that Pemberton now seeks out to “Get Well Fed.” To bring this brand to life our team included the lovely and talented Lisa Richardson and graphic designer Brigit Sirota Goldammer. We developed their brand strategy, then put it into action with words and graphics. This strategy has been the foundation for everything that we’ve done together since.
Another Pemberton client is Tiyata Village at Pemberton. We developed the marketing campaign that helped to sell out the first phase of building lots. In addition to Pemberton based businesses, we also have clients in Whistler and in the Okanagan.
How rewarding is it working for smaller local businesses? What is it you like about that smaller scale?
It’s very rewarding to work directly with business owners and give them access to expertise that has typically only been available through traditional advertising agency model.
The small scale means that the work we do has a direct impact on the bottom line. Small businesses don’t have big resources to play with, they need efficient solutions. I love being able to help businesses achieve their goals.
You worked for Whistler Blackcomb for over a decade. What’s been your biggest take-away from working for a big corporation?
Working for Whistler Blackcomb was a fantastic experience. Being the marketing manager for the leading resort in North America was my dream job! I worked with some really talented people, both in and out of the organization and I learned a ton. The biggest take-away has to be developing my ability to plan and market strategically. This skill has served me really well and I am thrilled to be able to apply it to help other businesses reach their goals.
What was your first clue in life, that when you grew up, you’d be a good project manager?
I’ve always been a planner. I like things to be organized and I must admit that I like to be in control. So, being a “project manager” is a role that I take on quite naturally. I like things to go my way.
Who do you like collaborating with best? What are the skill-sets you value inviting to the table?
Because of my strong “project management” (read: control freak) tendencies I like to work with people who bring other skill sets to the table. That way, you have a team of people who each look at a situation from a different angle, through the lens of their particular area of expertise. When you layer these points of view together you get some really great thinking.
What is the secret to great facilitation/wrangling/cat-herding? (Where do you practice this best? As a parent? Or as a strategic marketer/project manager/ agency head? Or leading the PAC?)
I don’t think there is a secret! I’m just trying to do the best I can.
From a marketing standpoint, having a clear vision in the form of a strategy or plan really helps to streamline efforts. I don’t like wasting time so I try to be as efficient as possible.
Tell us about Pemberton’s second shift?
Pemberton’s second shift is when all the enterprising parents out there get back to work after their kids go to bed. Being self-employed and having a family you quickly realize the value of the second shift. That shift is what allows me to have a flexible schedule and pick up my kids from school every day!
As an independent operator, where do you draw inspiration and collegiality from?
Working for yourself, you do have to be careful not to become too isolated. I’m fortunate that I have great clients who I truly enjoy working with so I’m very inspired to provide solutions for them. I also get to work with a wide range of professionals who are experts in their fields.
For my own professional development, I am a member of various associations and gain a lot of inspiration from other female entrepreneurs.
Who would you most like to sit around a table for a pick-your-brain, ask-me-anything, no-holds-barred conversation?
That’s a tough one!
Locally, I really admire Danielle Kristmanson, founder of Origin Design and Communication. I’ve worked with her as a client and a contractor and have watched her grow the business from a two person operation in her house to where it is today with offices here and in Montreal. I know that there is so much I can learn from her experience. Danielle, are you free for lunch sometime soon?