The pandemic gave a local marketing firm a chance to pursue interesting side businesses

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This article has been published 12/06/2021 (183 days ago), the information it contains may therefore no longer be up to date.

No matter how successful a business may be during the pandemic, there probably aren’t many that weren’t a little nervous at first.

For Winnipeg-based branding and marketing agency Brandish, principals took advantage of this unusual moment in the market to pursue certain entrepreneurial trends that are generally seen as unconventional to the agency world.

Among other things, during the pandemic, Brandish started some interesting side businesses: after an intense re-branding project with Robertson College, Brandish became a capital investor in this company; after a long commitment as a benchmark agency in Birchwood Auto Group credit operations, Brandish has developed a digital lead generation platform targeted at the auto dealership market for which it is seeking financing in order to launch more widely on the market; and just this week, he’s launched a landscaping business that he hopes can turn into a “high brand experience” in this industry across the country.

Lee Waltham, five-year co-founder and managing partner of the company, said, “When the pandemic started, it really made us take this part of our business a lot more seriously. It was really the catalyst for us. to formalize this and make everything happen. ”

It helped that Brandish had already taken the position that he would focus intensely on just a few clients, and the clients he had focused on were themselves facing a dramatic inflection point regarding the direction their businesses were taking. .

For example, Robertson College had created an online division a few years before the pandemic and had already made a big investment in technology and processes.

Paul Holden, CEO of Education Canada Group, the parent company of Robertson College, said that because he was already working on his online offering, he was able to move much more easily to a virtual environment when the pandemic struck. .

“We were able to build on what we were already doing online,” he said. “It gave us a huge advantage.”

But it wasn’t just technology that helped the career college have one of its best years yet.

The college undertook a huge Brandish-designed marketing pivot that focused on telling a story and creating a journey that students would follow, rather than just trying to present themselves in front of as many people as possible.

“From my perspective, Brandish is the greatest thing that has ever happened to Robertson,” Holden said.

No wonder Brandish was asked to invest.

It’s an illustration of what Waltham says is Brandish’s approach to partnership.

“A lot of agencies are not positioning themselves as a true partner,” he said. “We don’t want to have the typical supplier relationship that is normal with many agencies. ”

His relationship with Birchwood Credit – which has now migrated to the entire Birchwood Auto Group – has given Brandish a better understanding of the dynamics of the business.

As a benchmark agency, Brandish has led much of Birchwood’s branding and customer experience work through the terrifying closures that have included a migration to a fully digital retail platform.

Brandish had already set up a digital products team with a 10-person store in Toronto and had acquired technology from another company that was not applying it like Brandish had in mind for his acceleration platform. of sales and lead generation, called Tilt.

The platform offers a different way of dealing with leads, made possible, at least in part, by the increasing level of comfort for everyone to engage with brands on digital media.

There are many different channels that auto dealers have to answer many questions: live website chat, SMS, phone to the dealership.

“It can be difficult to have someone on the phone at the dealership,” Waltham said. “Our platform aggregates all of these communications from various channels and puts them in one place.”

After a soft launch several months ago, it already has nearly 80 dealers across the country using it. Brandish is set to go into the market to raise around $ 1.5 million with the goal of having a presence in 450 companies over the next 18 months.

Looks like he’s been getting a good reception so far. The tool allows for varying degrees of interaction with the customer, much of which is not specifically transactional.

A senior Birchwood executive, who asked that his name not be used, said: “The long game is to sell. We hope that if people are comfortable with our business and trust us and trust the process, it will lead to a better customer experience. ”

Creating a rewarding customer experience is what Brandish knows how to do and in another unconventional game he hopes to create such an environment in the landscaping industry where it hasn’t necessarily played a big part.

Once again this week, it launched LaFortune, a lawn, patio and home maintenance company, in partnership with an existing operator.

Waltham cited the company that launched 1-800-Got Junk as a model for what they’re trying to do.

“A lot of businesses don’t focus on branding and customer experience in a way that consumers in that space are looking to engage with those businesses,” he said.

From an agency resource perspective, Waltham said they believe they can create a real force multiplier in a company that has never really experienced an enhanced brand experience.

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Martin cash

Martin cash

Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news for the Free Press since 1989. During those years he wrote through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) of Fortune’s fortune. many local businesses.