Out with the Old, In with the Bold: Our Innovative New Business Model and Image

It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years since I started Fletcher as a single mom with no clue how to run a business. I knew I loved public relations and I loved agency life so I went for it. The autonomy to be a mom meant more than any big corporate job I could imagine. So, I launched as a one-woman shop with a focus on marketing to women and helping brands understand how women think, process information and make purchasing decisions. A decade and a half later, women still control 80% of U.S. household budgets and she still reigns supreme as the CFO of the family and her individuality.

But, a lot has changed. There have been two Black Swan events that nearly brought me to my knees - The Great Recession and the global COVID-19 pandemic, along with a few bouts of burnout.  I have since questioned all my decisions and wondered if I should take another route because this business ownership thing was kicking my butt.

The communications industry has taken a big hit over the past few years and it’s all related to lack of trust. Americans don’t trust their own neighbors, much less brands, agencies, and the media. I set out to solve the problem from the perspective of our industry. How could we better differentiate Fletcher from other firms and give companies a reason to trust us over other options?

We’ve worked together on ideas for over a year and decided as a team, to shake things up. I opted to bet on myself and the amazing team we’ve built here because I trust our talent and value system more than anything. 

Adapt and Build Trust, Or Die.

About two years ago, I was dead asleep when my eyes shot open and I had an idea (most of my best ideas come to me during sleep and I grab my phone and start taking notes). It occurred to me that year after year, we had clients paying us the same amount of money and we were trying to outperform ourselves year after year. We’d sit in meetings and discuss how we could deliver more than the year before. The client wasn’t demanding more and the client didn’t always want to pay us more. Clients were either happy and if not, they left. This was team-actualized pressure.

So, I announced to the team that we are going to experiment with flushing hourly retainers down the toilet and we will never use the dirty “R” word again. We are going to guarantee outcomes. Several industry professionals think I’ve lost my mind, but there was an agency owner in London I spoke to who was having success with a similar business model. Instead of trading time for money, we will trade expertise and experience for guaranteed results. We’re great at what we do and I know we’ll win some and lose some, but we’ve gotten good at projecting what we can deliver and what we cannot based on budgets and whether client expectations are realistic or not.  The current retainer-based model of doing business made us all a decent living, but we aren’t always compensated for our experience or intellectual capital. 

We now develop customized scope of work options based on the premise, “How fast do you want to get to where you’re going?” There are many paths to the Marketing Mountaintop so how fast do you want to climb? Slowly, moderately, or lightning fast? Each path requires different resources, talents, and budgets. What can you afford? What do you want to achieve?

The new compensation model has worked and clients love knowing that they’ll get what they’re paying for or we’ll work uncompensated until they do. 

So, we do things differently around here now. Instead of worrying about billable hours, we focus on delivering measurable outcomes. We collaborate upfront on what success will look like and how we’ll measure it. Then, we roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Why the Name Change?

We’re going back to our communication roots and Fletcher Marketing Communications better describes what we do.  We use communications methodologies to drive business growth. Marketing begins with messaging or all tactics fail. I argue that marketing should report to communications, but it’s always the other way around. The two practice areas are so interwoven that if operated in silos, strategies are doomed to fail.

What About the Marketing to Women Niche?

Oh, it’s still there but we’re capable of so much more. Over time, we’ve taken on more and more business-to-business (B2B) clients and we’re killing it for those companies. We’ve grown into a brand strategy firm and we’ve gotten back to our communications foundation. For a decade, we tried to be all things to all clients but that’s not what’s best for the client, and it’s not what’s best for any business...

What Else Makes Fletcher Different?

We’ve changed significantly over the years. Here are a few philosophies we’ve adopted:

  1. The client is always the hero of the story. We’re here to serve as guides. So many times, I’ve watched agencies take all the credit for their client’s successes. I’ve heard clients complain about it too. The big agency people walk into the room and man, they have all the answers. That is not our approach. Your business got to where it is by the hard work and toil of many. We exist to augment your hard-won success through the power of marketing communications.
  2. We no longer hire entry level. With apologies to all the new grads out there, we’ve done our part to raise up a solid generation of comms pros who now work all over the world. The work we do is high-level and we don’t have the bandwidth to train people to leave for perceived greener pastures in larger markets.
  3. We adopted a hybrid-remote model. Our team is trustworthy, professional and perfectly capable of working independently. We collaborate on a daily basis, but the expensive downtown office space is no longer needed. Instead, we set out to build a company and culture that I would’ve wanted to work in 25 years ago. Flexible, nimble, transparent and supportive of family time and motherhood or whatever passions the team wants to pursue. This model serves all of us well and has led to a happier, more productive team.
  4. We set realistic expectations. If we can’t achieve the results you want with the resources and budget available, we’ll be the first to tell you. We won’t accept a client if we’re not sure we can deliver. 
  5. We adopted open book management - recently, I began working with a new business coaching organization and my coach kept asking why I didn’t share numbers with the team. I told her because I was afraid. I always hold my cards close to my chest - open book management would require me to be  (gasp!) vulnerable. The health of the business is a joint responsibility and everyone deserves the same information.  We’re all invested in our success; not just me.
  6. We truly care. I know this sounds cliche, but we care about our clients and we care about each other. We are diligent about your success as much as we are about our own. We practice transparency and ethics and we take your trust in us personally. 

What’s New on the Horizon?

Quite literally, everything. The brand refresh, the new business model, the content creation machine we’ve developed and the clients we’re accepting.

You Demand Results? We're All Ears.

We shine most among small to mid-cap companies with anywhere from $5 million to $500 million in revenue. Sure, we’ll work with a start-up if it’s a good fit and we’ve worked with $1 billion-plus companies, but we’ve found our sweet spot for success.

If you’re tired of the same-old agency approach, drop me a line, and let’s talk.

Check Out the New Website

If you're reading this, you're already getting a sneak peek at our new site, and we appreciate it. Be sure to watch the video case studies.

And rest assured, while we're shaking things up with our approach, aesthetic and website, we're still the same reliable crew you've come to know and trust. Whether you're a B2C or B2B company, we've got the tools to help you succeed. 

And our values? Trust, respect, authenticity, quality, and service—they're still non-negotiable.

Ready to talk? Let’s get in touch.