As any entrepreneur, sales leader, or Pitch Day attendee knows, building a company that attracts investors and customers is often just as much about the talk than it is the walk. Marketing your product or service — the right way — can make or break a business.
That being said, early and even mid-stage companies may not have the resources to build a world-class marketing team in-house. Enter the duo behind recently-formed Brown McQueen, a marketing consultancy firm started by Tami McQueen, formerly Director of Marketing at high-growth Atlanta sales SaaS company SalesLoft, and Kara Brown, most recently VP of Marketing at Rubicon Global (yes that’s right, a 2016 Forbes Next Billion-Dollar Company.)
BMQ utilizes the experience and marketing chops of these ladies in both startups and large enterprises to provide small to mid-sized businesses with an outsourced CMO that can handle the entire scope of marketing activities, from branding to customer outreach to content marketing.
Between hotel stops and airport layovers (McQueen hopped off a flight from New Zealand and on another to meet Brown in Chicago), Hype grabbed some time on the jam-packed calendars of the Brown McQueen team to learn the story behind the new venture, how they will base a global operation in their adopted city of Atlanta, and the organizations they’re already lending a hand to— two weeks in and they already have clients!
How did you two meet? When did you realize you could be a successful team?
Kara: This is one of our favorite stories. We were introduced by a mutual friend — her exact words were something like, “You two will LOVE each other.” She was right! The connection was immediate — likely because we speak the same (marketing and sales) language. Tami was so kind, and more than willing to introduce me to her Atlanta network. I think Atlanta itself is a big part of our success, the city is welcoming and we’ve been fortunate to have terrific individuals supporting us.
Tami: Kara is a force to be reckoned with — she is fearless, whip smart, and she knows one speed and that is fast. Our relationship matured as we shared each other’s victories as well as our challenges. She listened to my guerrilla-like ideas and then tripled the impact by offering her insight. Sometimes you just know.
You both have a background in in-house marketing for successful, rapidly-scaling tech startups. Why did you decide to start an agency where, rather than work with only one company and set of products, you will have a number of different clients?
Tami: The most exciting and exhilarating aspect of taking the consultant’s perspective is that we will have the opportunity to solve different sets of problems for a diverse set of clients. We have complimentary skill sets and each bring a unique perspective to the same foundational best practices. It’s the rare combination of my startup hustle and Kara’s enterprise experience that allows us to deliver strategic vision and flawless execution.
Who are your ideal clients?
Our ideal clients are small to mid-size B2B or B2C technology or industrial companies with less than $50M in revenue. The focus of Brown McQueen has two functional areas of operation: A virtual CMO that will help maximize an existing marketing team’s performance, and a fully outsourced operation that allows complex organizations to focus on innovation, market agility, and revenue-focused customer acquisition.
Marketing can encompass a broad purview of work. What will Brown McQueen handle for clients?
We are the outsourced marketing team for our clients. Whether it’s preparing a go-to-market strategy, making the first marketing hire, or leading an existing marketing team through a digital or strategy transformation, we harness the tools to build growth machines for digital and field marketing, branding, content and customer marketing, sales enablement and lead generation initiatives across multiple platforms.
Do you already have any clients at this stage in your launch?
We do! We work for organizations like BAM, a recent Pacesetter Top 25 recipient, WIT (Women in Technology), and Supply Vision and G2Crowd (located in Chicago, Kara’s hometown).
Tami, startups in particular need their marketing and sales departments to work hand-in-hand. How will your background leading Marketing for a sales SaaS company help you bring not only marketing know-how, but also the sales knowledge, to your clients?
Tami: Building relationships with key stakeholders, such as sales leaders, grants insight into their challenges and in turn builds the trust necessary to effectively partner and drive toward the same revenue goals. High-growth organizations know the alignment between sales and marketing is the most important factor in creating a scalable, repeatable revenue machine. Collaboration between the historically-divided departments drives the shift toward an emergence of integrated entities, working together to plan marketing and sales activities to efficiently drive pipeline and revenue. When an organization is aligned in these areas, we see the growth of analytics, heightened emphasis on personalization at scale, and teams employing the right technology so that they can understand their target audience and their needs.
Kara, you have worked with companies at many different stages and sizes, from startup to global corporation. What lesson have you taken from large companies that can be applied towards smaller business marketing?
Kara: I’ve learned that small businesses have the same problems as big ones, but have to get more done with less. I saw this first-hand at Echo Global Logistics. As the 12th employee at Echo, I learned so much from working on the company’s 2009 IPO. The experience in its entirety was a real lesson in scale. Echo is now a $2B publicly traded company with more than 2,500 employees.
These experiences have given me a filter to understand how to make global decisions with the scrappy attitude of a startup, so Brown McQueen clients have the best of both worlds.
You’ve worked with many entrepreneurs. How does it feel to flip the coin and become the founders yourselves?
Tami: I wake up every morning excited about the opportunities that lie ahead of us and how we can impact the growth of the companies we are working with. Most exciting of all is that we are embarking on this exciting adventure together.
Do you have plans to grow the team?
Kara: Yes, we plan to grow the team. Part of our mission is to empower those around us. We’re committed to doing great work with good people.
Where will Brown McQueen be based?
Tami: Atlanta is home to Brown McQueen and where we are headquartered with global reach. Kara has deep roots in Chicago and I have been fortunate to build relationships with business leaders across the world. I spent a week in New Zealand in May speaking to technology companies launching in the U.S., and earlier this year in the U.K. for a similar purpose. Global companies such as these are great clients for Brown McQueen.
Kara: I’ve been blown away by Atlanta, truly. I’ve been lucky to meet and interact with individuals who have been delightful and happy to help. There are specific programs for women entrepreneurs that only exist in Atlanta, like LaunchPad 2x, Wei, and WIT.
Tami: The South got something to say and now everyone is watching. Forbes recently reported Atlanta as the No. 3 American city poised to become one of tomorrow’s tech meccas and we firmly stand in our belief that Atlanta will shatter all expectations of scaling a startup and survival outside Silicon Valley.