This post was written by Gabe Kuhn, who, at the time, was a senior at the Love School of Business at Elon University.
This summer, through a mutual friend (thank you, David Troutman), I met Tracy O’Neill and she graciously agreed to take me on as an intern working with her marketing company, Two Crows Creative Group. Recently, Tracy and I sat down to chat about rebranding her business and the nearly two decades of experience she has in marketing.
How did you get started with digital marketing, and how long have you been doing it?
I have been in marketing (officially) since 1998 when I worked in New England Financial’s (now Met Life) marketing department in Boston. At the time, there really wasn’t much in the way of digital - we were still focused on printed materials for the most part. But lucky for me, the rise of electronic communication was happening right then, and that’s what allowed me to give up my commute from the Cape to Boston and start freelancing.
What is your strongest life skill?
I kind of want to say my sense of humor - but admittedly, that has got me in trouble a few times! So, I’d say my strongest skill is my ability to get a sense of people rather quickly.
How does this make you better at what you do?
Many of my clients have told me that I have an uncanny ability to figure out what they need and want, even when they are unclear themselves. I like that I can usually sort things out for my clients, because beyond delivering a service or end-product (website, blog, design), I think marketing professionals should make things easier, not more difficult. I don't think marketing professionals help anyone by speaking in jargon or passing off what they do as mysterious. The truth is, the simpler you make it, the more valuable you are.
What advice do you have for small businesses?
The best advice I can give to my clients is advice I follow myself. And that is - focus your energies on what you do best, and hire awesome people to do the rest. Examples from my personal life include cooking, home decorating and party planning (I do them!) and cleaning, accounting, gardening and hair coloring (I pay someone else!). In business, I have a coach, because I benefit so greatly from her expertise. My favorite clients are the ones who are deeply involved with and committed to what they do, and trust me to help them with the marketing piece.
How does being a business owner yourself help you to work more effectively with clients?
For the most part, I work with small local businesses and nonprofits who do a lot of grassroots marketing. So, my understanding of the local culture and what that means for an owner-operated business is huge. I understand how many hats business owners have to wear (even if you’re outsourcing - as mentioned above), and the challenges we all face in a “too much to do, too little time” world. I’m as busy as the next person, but if I can take the stress out of their marketing efforts, then I've done a good job.
What are Two Crows’ key differentiators?
Two Crows specializes in full-service, small business marketing. Well, what the hell does THAT mean, right? I’ve learned that doing “one-offs” for clients doesn’t really help anybody. Sure, I can design a poster for an event, but if we are not also doing something to promote it, engage people on social media, make sure the website conveys the message, etc. - then the effort is somewhat in vain. That is not to say that we don’t do some highly-specialized work for a few businesses, but our happiest clients are the ones that let us help them with the big picture on an ongoing basis.
How does Two Crows solve its clients’ business problems?
I’d say the most common business problems are lack of consistent visibility and a lack of engagement - and these feed directly into the business owner’s #1 problem - lack of time. Two Crows helps by swooping in (ok, my only bird reference… I couldn’t help it) and taking care of all of those things!