Last week I had an opportunity to present some new material at the monthly Lunch & Learn Seminar at the Dot Printer in Santa Ana, CA.
Meet Trailblazer Seth Avergon
Today we’d like to introduce you to Seth Avergon.
Seth, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I formed my own marketing/business strategy firm based largely on a need that I saw in the market that no one was filling. Up to that point, I had spent most of my career on the corporate side (marketing vice-president, marketing senior director, etc.) and I had dealt with a number of advertising agencies and marketing consultants. While they were all competent in their specific skill sets, none of them had the ability to truly develop a business or brand strategy and then effectively manage the tactical deliverables that would enable that business strategy. Avergon Marketing Group was born of a need to bring both strategy and tactics together under one roof and provide clients with substantial value – versus having to staff a full marketing department. From there, the business has grown into mentoring, which I do with smaller companies who may not be able to afford the full suite of services we offer but need some high-level input on their marketing and growth plans. In addition, I work with private-equity and venture capital firms on brand and marketing evaluations. In the PE and VC world, I focus on identifying the value of the brand and the critical path to articulate that value proposition and accelerate the return on investment for those investors.
Has it been a smooth road?
Despite having close to 20 years of marketing experience, starting my own business came with an entirely different set of challenges and I had to face the “three-legged stool” of self-employment; you have to get the work, you have to complete the work (and do it well), and you have to get paid. The early days were definitely challenging as I moved from sales/business development to project manager to accounting. Whether you are male or female I think the biggest challenge is wearing those many hats and then, as the business grows, learning to delegate tasks.
We’d love to hear more about Avergon Marketing Group.
I specialize in business and marketing strategy. As the websites states, “We bring insight, creativity, and passion to your marketing initiatives” and that really is true to the brand DNA. When I approach a new client I try to learn about their organization from the inside out, talking with the C-level executives, managers, and customers. Before I can build a better marketing and growth machine for a client, I need to understand who they truly are. Sometimes, that is different from who they think they are, and that is OK. The process is always illuminating for both of us.
The thing I am probably the proudest of are the accolades I have gotten back from clients. Most start out with a need for a specific deliverable – a digital ad campaign, social media strategy, web development, etc. and almost all of them come away with some form of business or marketing strategy that goes well beyond that deliverable and a better vision for where their company can go.
What were you like growing up? Personality wise, interest wise, etc.
I was an energetic kid. I loved learning things and experiencing new adventures – even trying new foods. I was obsessed with learning as much as I could and I loved reading about space exploration and other planets (I am still a bit of science fiction fan.) I also got very interested in martial arts and started training in traditional Okinawan karate when I was ten years old. That led to later training throughout my teens and twenties in Ninjistu, Jeet Kun Do, and Filipino Kali. I think the discipline of the martial arts very much influenced who I am today.
We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
I think female leaders (and perhaps to a lesser extent male management) struggle with finding the right balance. As a leader, you need to lead and sometimes that means that people are not going to be happy with your decisions. However, a good leader also listens to their people and takes their advice when appropriate. So you need to be tough and visionary, because you are the individual charged with moving the organization forward, but not too tough or you will be thought unreasonable. You also can’t be too soft or you will be viewed as a pushover and will get nothing done. It really is a tough balance to strike and I have seen the female leaders I have worked with (as well as males) struggle with when to be hard & tough and when to be softer.
Jumping right into the tactics is fun. Creating a cool promotion or coming up with an out-of-the box campaign that will get people’s attention is one of the most enjoyable parts of marketing.
Making sure your campaigns and all of your tactical marketing work is rooted in a sound business strategy is harder.
Everybody loves the fun stuff. Do the hard work to make sure your marketing initiatives are moving your business forward.
I see a lot of motivational memes, videos, etc. floating around the Internet. Many with a similar theme, “Don’t ever give up”, “Work harder”, “Put in the extra effort”, “Chase your dreams and keep going until you get them.” While many of these are good messages, I think there is also a danger in this thread of constantly pushing. Hard charging forward 24/7 can be exhausting. Moreover, if you don’t have the energy to “Go for it!” these messages can be demoralizing.
I had an opportunity to be part of a panel discussion on Marketing for Manufactures put on by the American Marketing Association and California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC) at Brandman University this past week. Great event and terrific questions from the audience. Loved it.
It is nice to have people agree with you, it really is. Everyone on the same page, in full agreement, it just feels good.
Be cautious of that bubble.
I will be on a panel discussion on Marketing for Manufacturing put on by the American Marketing Association and California Manufacturing Technology Consulting.
This topic is a bit more esoteric, but I think worthy of discussion. In our careers, we encounter various requests from customers, business partners, and corporate colleagues - all asking of us something.
When many corporations think of market research, they imagine expensive and elaborate studies. Large swaths of data, focus groups with one-way mirrors, telephone call centers with scripts, and a lot of time and expense. While all of the tools mentioned above are valid ways of conducting quantitative and qualitative research, market research does not need to be that complicated. Sometimes a lighter approach can be less daunting and yield good results that can still help guide a company.
Of the all disciplines in business, marketing is one if the few that touches almost every department in an organization. As a marketer, you need to have an understanding of every element that comes in contact with the customer experience.