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Back in 1986, Mike Crawford helped create an entirely new kind of advertising agency and public relations firm, one that focused exclusively on technology clients. At the time, this level of specialization was unheard of, but M/C/C proved the doubters wrong, growing into the Southwest’s number one advertising agency for technology companies – and one of the top high-tech advertising agencies in the country.
Under Mike’s direction, M/C/C continues to evolve and blaze new trails from traditional marketing communications to real-time, digital engagement with their clients’ customers.
In the agency world, M/C/C is atypical. They’re not purely one thing or the other. They’re the modern, digital agency, the traditional Mad Men agency, the press-getting PR firm, the social media innovators and the SEO experts.
MO: Can you talk about why your agency’s mantra is, “living the unexpected?” Do you practice this mantra in your personal life as well as professionally?
Mike: Absolutely! For more than 26 years, M/C/C has worked with a variety of B2B and B2C companies to develop pro-active marketing strategies. Originally a technology-based marketing agency, we created communication materials that were just as innovative, “unexpected” and unique as the technology we marketed. But we did it better, faster and cheaper than everyone else. As we welcomed more clients we wanted them to know that our work was different than the average advertising agency and we felt “living the unexpected” was the best representation of our company’s brand. Today, the mantra serves as a constant reminder to live life to the fullest inside and outside of the office. We work hard, but we also play hard. As for living the unexpected in my personal life, I like to stay competitive and up-to-date, so I’m involved in CrossFit. I’m also an avid water skier and I like to share that with my employees when I teach them how to water ski. Additionally, I raise Longhorn cattle on my ranch.
MO: Is it possible for a business to significantly boost their SEO without the help of an agency?
Mike: Yes, I believe it’s challenging for a company to significantly boost their SEO without professional help. SEO is something that has to constantly be monitored, evaluated, tested and optimized. Professionals know how to tweak, test and implement strategies that get results. However, it is possible for a business to partake in SEO-boosting activities by posting relevant content on platforms like Google+, Blogger or LinkedIn. In fact, over the past several months we’ve found Google+ to be an excellent SEO resource. Because Google uses Google+ to authenticate authorship of Web content, we have a Google+ page and update it with content we’ve developed and published ourselves. We do this to tell Google what field our expertise is in and that our knowledge of it is current and up-to-date. As a result, Google recognizes our website’s authority on those topics and increases our SEO. But Google+ only scratches the surface of good SEO strategy.
MO: Can you provide an example of how you’ve brought your clients and their customers closer together through new and innovative marketing and social media strategies?
Mike: Sure! For the past several years we’ve worked with family entertainment leader, Chuck E. Cheese’s on their social media strategy and blogger relations program. With our help Chuck E. Cheese’s has taken their brand online and engages with their fans every single day. In addition to managing the company’s social media sites, we also work closely with hundreds of mom bloggers on behalf of the brand. A fairly new concept in the world of social media, mom bloggers have become a major player in the marketing and branding world. As a leader in family entertainment, it was crucial for Chuck E. Cheese’s to build lasting relationships with influencers like mom bloggers through authentic engagement – both online and off. With this goal in mind, M/C/C crafted a multi-stage plan that established a strategy with detailed tactics for each stage of the blogger relations program. These tactics included active Twitter outreach, blogger reviews with top mom blogs and engaging with moms and fans on Facebook. Through our efforts we successfully established an engaging mom-blogger network between Chuck E. Cheese’s and their customers. These lasting partnerships not only play out online, but also in store. In a world where word of mouth is the biggest recommendation any company can receive, these relationships are priceless.
MO: What advice would you give to a small business owner who is considering their marketing options and limited by a tight budget?
Mike: My advice for small businesses just starting their marketing program is three-fold. Step one: find out what your buyers are expecting to get from your product or service and figure out how your competitors are marketing it. Market research and years of experience have shown that business owners who know little about their customers’ will face numerous challenges and spend lots of money. Step two: Develop a great looking website with outstanding content. Consumers are online, which means your customers are online. Whether you’re B2C or B2B, make sure you develop a website that represents your business. From there it’s easy to create affordable business cards and print materials that match. Step three: Develop a phased plan to implement social media elements. A lot of small business owners think they need to “do it all” at once. So they immediately jump on all social media site. While it’s great to see their enthusiasm, a small business owner needs to know what their customer wants, what the market demands and how they fit into that picture. Once this is established a company can begin to venture into the world of social media.
MO: What’s the biggest risk that you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?
Mike: I’m not sure I can pinpoint the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. I look at all decisions as an opportunity to do something great. For example, I saw opening my advertising agency as an opportunity to make a difference in the way the emerging technology industry was marketed. I remember this playing out following a conference I attended in 1994. I heard Larry Ellison speak about websites, and I was so interested in the possibility of having one that I drafted plans to develop it. It was a risk and a chance, but it worked! It was the agency’s first step into the digital world of marketing. It’s through market testing that I learned the recipe for a successful marketing campaign is a combination of traditional practices, emerging trends and a dash of the unexpected.
MO: What are some of your predictions of how social media will evolve in the coming years and how will that impact the PR & marketing industries?
Mike: For the past several years the trend in social networking has been for consumers to engage with brands online. Right now that trend is expanding into the business to business (B2B) market. At M/C/C, we help market our B2B and B2C clients by merging marketing trends with traditional practices. Lately, we’ve been busy producing videos for our clients’ social media profiles, and they’ve been very successful. I definitely see the future of social media including heavy video elements and plenty of personalization.
As a marketer, it’s important to have your eye on the horizon and the wisdom to know when to jump. Keep in mind that whether a company works with an agency or not, traditional business practices likes transparency, honesty and creativity should always be an integral part of the marketing strategy a company pursues. Those elements will never change.