First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mathew Butka: My wife, 7 children, and I are doing fantastic! Living in rural New Hampshire has many benefits. Not the least is relatively little potential for exposure.
Sure, we have had to adapt to various changes because of the lockdown; however, I saw that time as a blessing. We were able to slow down a bit and spend more time together and less time traveling to various activities and sporting events for the kids.
Since my first child was born nearly 15 years ago, we have been unschooling, so all of the changes to local education systems have had zero effect on us.
Now that restrictions have loosened a bit, life has gotten busy again, but it’s great to see my children back on their sports teams and playing with friends.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Black Tee Consulting.
Mathew Butka: My company is one of the many blessings that has come out of the response to the pandemic.
For over 14 years, I have been in some form of digital marketing: blogging, affiliate, website design, SEO, SEM, PPC, and so on.
And over the years, I have had a couple of different marketing agencies that offered these services, but the problem was that, even in a small state like New Hampshire, there are plenty of other “agencies” that offer the same exact thing.
There is no differentiation between 95% of the Marketing Agencies out there, and my previous companies were just “me too” service providers like the rest of them.
The reality of this hit hard in March as the US entered lockdown. Overnight, I saw about 80% of my revenue disappear as my clients had to slow down, pause, or cancel their services with us. It was a strange few weeks where it seemed like everyone was just staring around, trying to figure out what to do next.
That is when I realized I had to pivot.
Business owners were left in limbo because they didn’t know what to do next. They were rudderless ships. What they needed was someone to help lead them through the chaos and back on track with their business.
Black Tee Consulting was created to help business owners navigate not just issues caused by the nation’s response to the pandemic but also the ongoing confusion and noise that most marketing agencies peddle onto their clients.
How does Black Tee Consulting innovate?
Mathew Butka: Our clients are industry experts in their field, and they want results, not boring, technical discussions about how various marketing tactics work.
Clients have told us that they need simplicity in their marketing systems: inbound, outbound, emails, paid advertising, websites, video, print, written content.
As such, we develop marketing systems for our clients that allow them to focus on their business (innovations, fulfillment, customer service, etc.) instead of babysitting an in-house marketing team or outside agency.
Our clients utilize Black Tee Consulting as their fractional CMO. The average cost of hiring a CMO in-house can easily exceed $400,000 per year when including bonus pay, commissions, profit sharing, and benefits.
We provide all the benefits of having a CMO at less than half the cost.
An additional benefit to businesses who might be seeking our services is added accountability and freedom. If a company no longer wants to take advantage of our services for any reason, they can cancel at any time. This is much easier than trying to replace an in-house CMO and keeps our feet to the fire to keep producing at a high level.
How has the pandemic affected Black Tee Consulting, and how are you coping?
Mathew Butka: Black Tee Consulting probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the pandemic. Even though I knew that the old marketing agency model needed to be thrown out, it sometimes takes a jarring event to try something new.
At this point, the biggest impact the pandemic has on us is in our meetings with clients. Most have been moved to Zoom and phone calls, which is great for everyone because there is less time wasted on travel.
An added benefit for our clients is that they enjoy cheaper costs to advertise on pay per click platforms like Google Ads and Facebook.
With so many businesses throwing in the towel, there is less competition, and the costs to get our client’s message heard is much lower.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mathew Butka: The only difficult choice I have had to make was to change my focus from my previous business to Black Tee Consulting. Relationships are important to me, and I wanted to be sure none of my clients or colleagues felt like they were being abandoned.
For me, the biggest takeaway from the last 7 months is this: if you see people in need and you have the ability to help, then step up and be the leader. You don’t need anyone’s permission.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Black Tee Consulting in the future?
Mathew Butka: In life, in general, not just business, communication can alleviate most stress and anxiety. As a business owner or CEO, it is easy to think that you have to be the strong, stoic type that shoulders all the burden.
The best thing a business leader can do is share with their team the various challenges the business may be facing. This not only brings the team closer as they work towards a common goal, but it increases trust in a company’s leadership while boosting morale.
And we all know that multiple minds working on solving complex problems are better than just one.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mathew Butka: Because of our uncommon approach to marketing, there aren’t very many direct competitors.
However, from the outside looking in, many potential clients may see us as just another marketing agency (which there are thousands of across the US).
So we need to make sure our messaging is on point so we can educate business owners about how our value proposition can be a massive benefit for them.
As long as agencies provide mediocre results and deliver complexity and confusion in the process, we will have a place in the market.