First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jennifer Kelly: Health-wise, currently, we are healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded New Initiatives Marketing Inc.
Jennifer Kelly: New Initiatives Marketing Inc. (NIM) was born during the last downturn (2008/2009 financial meltdown) after being let go from my excellent corporate marketing job. I had spent from 1994 -2009 working in the marketing departments of great companies like Future Shop, Motorola, Siemens, and The Financial Times over in England. When the financial crisis landed me out of a job, I simply started consulting. At that time, virtually all the other marketing departments I could go to work at had laid off their staff; there was no opportunity in that direction.
After consulting, essentially a marketing manager/director for hire on a fractional basis, I started to see the need for a dedicated marketing department for hire on a subscription basis.
At the same time, marketing was getting more and more complex, and smaller companies were expected to have the same marketing muscle as the big companies, and that is just impossible financially. So our subscription model of a whole marketing department’s worth of brains, technology, and execution ability for a monthly flat fee started to become more and more in demand.
Today we help smaller companies that don’t have a marketing department in-house, and we also support enterprise companies’ in-house marketing departments. Clients like our approach as there is a flat fee, excellent up-to-date skills, a quick ramp-up time without the need to increase headcount.
How does New Initiatives Marketing Inc innovate?
Jennifer Kelly: We pay attention to our clients’ questions, needs, frustrations, and objections to see if there is any glimmer of an opportunity there to refine, add, invent, or get rid of a service we offer.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jennifer Kelly: It threw us off balance during the early part of the pandemic (March-May); after we caught our breath, we started to think about adjusting our way of doing business to the new reality. An example is that pre-COVID, we sold annual subscriptions for our marketing department services. Now we’re selling the subscriptions for a shorter time-frame. At the moment, most of our clients appreciate a shorter commitment as their businesses are changing quickly too, and few have line-of-sight to commit to an annual plan.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jennifer Kelly: Yes. The difficult choices were mostly mine to make. I had to get my mindset right to cope with the reality of the uncertainty of the pandemic and what that was doing to our clients, suppliers, and collaborators. The 75Hard program really helped with that focus. It’s a free program, and I’d recommend it to anyone no matter the stage in your career. Lessons learned are that mindset is everything and focusing on what you can control is everything. Those seem like they are too simple to be the lessons learned, but they are everything. We’re still not out of the pandemic, so I’m keeping an eye out for how much things will “return to normal” and how much “things have changed forever.”
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Jennifer Kelly: Working out – doing the 75Hard program and having a good board of directors and business coach to help talk through the stressful times.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jennifer Kelly: Competition for us are other companies offering the same service, the decision to hire in-house, and a clients’ choice to do nothing. Doing nothing is always a stiff competitor.
We plan to stay in the game because we want to. I can’t give away our plans!!
Your final thoughts?
Jennifer Kelly: Thank you for the opportunity.