This post is part of Flywheel’s “Designer Spotlight” series, which features an interview with a designer/coder/mover/shaker who uses Flywheel.
Josh Ames, CEO at SparkReaction, a web design and inbound marketing agency located in Des Moines, IA. While Josh does some design work, much of his day involves dreaming up marketing solutions (which is why this particular “Designer Spotlight” will be a little more focused on marketing). You can find out more about Josh and the rest of the SparkReaction team here.
What do you do?
As CEO of SparkReaction, I wear many hats. On any given day I could be programming websites in the morning, designing graphics in the afternoon or planning marketing campaigns at night. On a daily basis my team and I are helping businesses grow and succeed online.
What’s your workspace like?
Mobile. I spend a lot of time in a makeshift office in a spare room at home, but during the week I am out and about. In the desire to develop a strong partnership with clients, we believe in meeting them at their place of business. This could be anywhere from a coffee shop downtown to a Google hangout online.
Is there something that sparked your interest in marketing?
Simon Sinek once said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” My interest in marketing and running a business was sparked by the need to want to help others. I’ve had the entrepreneur bug since I was in high school and knew pretty early on that I wanted to do something with marketing or business. With the pace at which technology has been evolving and rapidly changing how we go about our daily lives (both personal and in business) it’s extremely tough for business owners to stay caught up. There are a lot of other components to running a business and for most; marketing is more of an afterthought. I love to constantly be learning and thought that I could take that and my desire to help others and put it to good use.
Where do you find inspiration for marketing solutions?
I read A LOT. I have a ton of blogs that I read on a daily basis and I’ve also set up a couple of lists on Twitter to follow thought leaders of the marketing industry and other inbound marketing agencies. There’s always somewhere to turn or something to read to gain inspiration. What really drives me though is talking with clients about what their goals are for their own business and determining the best way to achieve those goals in a way that’s going to WOW them and their customers! If you need inspiration follow us on Twitter @sparkreaction
What’s the best part of your day at work?
The best part of my day is delivering a project to a client that exceeds their expectations or showing the results of a recent campaign that leaves clients stunned and excited. I also love working with my team. Surrounding myself with strong, visionary people that share the same common goals, but also are fun to be around outside of work as well. Whether it’s grabbing beers at 3:00 or catching a midday baseball game, we like to not take ourselves too seriously all the time!
What’s the hardest part about finding marketing solutions?
I wouldn’t say that finding marketing solutions is necessarily difficult, however what’s more difficult is getting businesses to really understand what their goals are. As cliché as it sounds, a goal needs to be S.M.A.R.T. I talk with business owners all the time who say their goal is “more phone calls or more leads.” That’s great but it takes a lot of coaching to get them to dive deeper into that and really come up with a specific goal. Is it wanting to increase your leads by x% or increase organic website traffic by 150% in 6 months? Most business owners don’t think about goals in this way, however it is critical to know in order to develop a marketing solution for how to get there.
If you couldn’t do marketing, what would you do?
I absolutely love to travel and experience other cultures but don’t get to as often as I wish I could. If I couldn’t do marketing I’d like to have a job that would allow me to travel around the world and experience the cultures like a local (think Anthony Bourdain). When I do travel I’m not as much into viewing the “tourist” destinations as I am about going off the beaten path and finding the places only locals would know.
Have a favorite marketing campaign?
I love the new Kmart Ship Your Pants and Big Gas Savings campaigns. As we all know Kmart has been on the down and out over the last few years and I believe that these campaigns are bringing their brand back into the spotlight. I don’t necessarily believe that it will directly impact their sales, but I also don’t think that is specifically what Kmart was trying to accomplish. The inherit idea of both campaigns is centered around the ability for them to go viral and to get people talking about their brand.