The world of digital and creative marketing moves at a breakneck speed year-round, so it takes real movers and shakers to head up a company, like M&P. When Zach Phillips and Kaitlin McMillan met working at DOPE Magazine—a cannabis-focused publication—the seeds of our company were planted—pun intended. After Zach was “officially burnt out” from working in the cannabis industry, he left to venture out and the real fun began.
Zach has literally traveled the world working the technomad life. After growing up in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, studying creative writing at Valparaiso University, and moving to Detroit, he found he was particularly skilled at using metrics to tell a customer story while at the Flint Journal. He moved on to work at a marketing agency in Portland as the lead for SEO, and then decided to go his own way, bouncing around Europe as a freelancer, working wherever he had WiFi. He spent significant time in Portugal, Ireland, England, Cyprus, Israel, and the Netherlands, but as the pandemic began, he decided to move back to the states and ended up in The Windy City.
(Zach Phillips in Paphos, Cyprus)
In honor of the new year, we’ve asked Zach to take time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about his personal resolutions and vision for M&P for the upcoming year. Cheers to a new year, may your resolutions come to fruition.
Happy New Year, Zach! I wanted to start out by having you give me a little more background on how M&P came to be. What made you want to team up with Kaitlin to start this company?
As I transitioned my freelance clients into a formal company, Kaitlin reached out and informed me she was doing the same thing! Her company was focused on the creative aspects of marketing, while my company focused on the data and growth aspects of marketing.
We found ourselves partnering together with clients to provide a full-service approach. Soon, it became an easy decision to formally become one agency that could provide clients with everything under the marketing sun!
That’s so cool. There’s nothing like finding the perfect business partner and combining superpowers. Starting a business can stir up the past as you look forward into the future. Is there something that you learned when you were younger that you've carried with you into making this business?
I was actually a thespian when I was younger. In that regard, I was a part of numerous improv groups. The skill of improv is something I use every day running a business. Not only in the comedy sense but being quick on my feet and being able to build upon someone else's idea is essential to running any company.
If I were to give any advice to young entrepreneurs, it would be to study the art of improv. It's a skill that's wildly useful beyond the borders of the stage.
As a writer and actor myself, I couldn’t agree more. If I might add, I think a great piece of advice for young entrepreneurs is setting goals. What are your personal goals for 2022? Any New Year's resolutions you'd like to share?
Survive? I feel like the bar is low after the last two years.
(Zach Phillips in Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Fair enough! How about your goals for McMillan & Phillips this year?
We've had incredible growth in our first year. We went from one employee to 11 employees, and had our revenue grow 600 percent from our former agencies. My main goal this year is to maintain the level of service we've provided over the last year at scale.
M&P has grown, because of the great work our team keeps producing. I'm very conscious that we need to uphold the same high-standard level while continuing to expand!
That seems like an excellent goal. What's the project that you're most looking forward to this year?
Kaitlin and I worked hard to launch our creative agency podcast, Manipulating The Masses, this year. It's been a lot of fun to explore marketing in an abstract way. I'm looking forward to seeing how that project continues to grow and evolve as we dive into different subjects.
Oh, dang! There’s going to be a podcast?! I can’t wait. Are there any specific types of companies you're trying to attract?
The ones with a big marketing budget.
Great business plan. On the topic of business plans, any new content marketing strategies that you'll be employing this year?
I find the social media side of our business absolutely fascinating. The industry is constantly evolving and working brands within that system is something that always takes experimenting.
The change we'll be exploring actually occurred with college athletes. After a ruling, college athletes can now do endorsements and product integrations into their social profiles. I'm curious how brands will integrate with this new market of spokespeople available to leverage on their social channels. Also, Facebook might get broken up by the government, so there's that, too.
Are there any content marketing strategies that you think are fads?
Isn't content marketing essentially a never-ending wheel of fads? Information moves so quickly, and there is so much of it on the internet, that the only pieces of information that make their way onto our screens are trends and fads. The key is knowing which ones to engage with and which ones to leave alone.
(Zach Phillips in Sevilla, Spain)
Clearly, you have a good eye for the trends to follow. How can people up their content marketing game in the new year?
I think there are two strategies that can improve a content marketing game. First, share content that showcases the lifestyle created by your service or product. CBD is a chill hike. Boat propellers are a day on the lake. IT solutions are about easing someone’s mind from the idea of dangerous digital attacks. There is always a feeling or lifestyle associated, that’s why people buy, not because of the actual deliverable.
Second, take part in the discussion. There are always hashtags and cutting-edge topics being discussed on social media channels, forums, news sites, etc. Utilizing a brand to contribute to the discussion is a great way to lead the industry, garner visibility, and get potential customers to agree with you … who doesn't love a little validation?
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