Spencer Hadelman is the founder and CEO of Advantage Marketing. The agency is based in Chicago and handles the marketing and media needs of its clients.
At Advantage Marketing, Spencer Hadelman leads in building “client relationships” and “longstanding and genuine partnerships that provide customized, personal service and care to achieve their client’s marketing goals.”
In 2015, Spencer Hadelman founded Advantage Marketing, comprising a team with more than 30 years of “combined marketing experience.”
As a leader, Spencer Hadelman goes beyond implementing marketing campaigns. He also “listens to client needs and takes pride in offering clients a cost-effective model to achieve strategic goals quickly and efficiently.”
Spencer Hadelman and Advantage Marketing have worked with a variety of clients. They include “national golf resorts like Sand Valley and Bandon Dunes, higher education institutes such as University of California Berkeley.”
Likewise, Advantage Marketing and Spencer Hadelman have worked with retail and e-commerce brands like Stance and Sanrio.
Aside from running a marketing agency, Spencer Hadelman also speaks at conferences across the United States, including The Golf Business Conference and Videonomics.
For his work, Spencer Hadelman has also received numerous industry awards. These awards include Crain’s Chicago Notable Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneur 360, and Chief Marketer 200.
I realized it was time to start my own company after seeing clear holes in the agency industry, with client relationships being my top priority. Spencer Hadelman, Advantage Marketing
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Spencer Hadelman: After a decade of experience in marketing, I founded Advantage Marketing in 2015. I realized it was time to start my own company after seeing clear holes in the agency industry, with client relationships being my top priority.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Spencer Hadelman: One major challenge I encountered when I first started Advantage Marketing was learning how to prioritize clients and how to effectively manage my time. I learned that not everyone is going to be happy with every decision that is made, but it’s important to go with your instincts and make the best decision for yourself and the company.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Spencer Hadelman: When I first started Advantage, I was on my way to pitch a new potential client and I ended up going to the wrong address — the company I was pitching had the same name as another company, and I ended up at the wrong business. It was a good learning lesson for me to always double check email signature and not rely on Google.
It’s important to always be learning and exposing yourself to different examples and processing them to see what can come of it.
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
- You can never learn enough
I think it’s important to always be reading business books, biographies, investigative reporting, and other forms of journalism. It’s important to always be learning and exposing yourself to different examples and processing them to see what can come of it.
2. Group think
Getting together and always leaving the door open to come up with new ideas as a company. I believe in a culture where everyone has a right to an opinion and idea, and I make sure that people aren’t afraid to share them. In company meetings always leave time for the question: “does anyone have an idea to improve the company”.
3. Have and promote a confident culture
As a company, you need to believe in yourself, your process, and have the faith you know what you’re doing and that you’re doing it right. Have the confidence to go out on a limb and take chances. For example, hoping on a plane when you have a 10% chance of getting a client, but they’re willing to see you. You need to take those chances and believe in yourself and what you’re doing.
4. Be adaptable when it comes to your employees
You must always adapt as a company to become great. Understand situations where your employees work best (i.e. as a team, with clients, on the road, etc.)
5. Incentivizing every level of employee to buy in
You want everyone to buy in — for example, giving a commission on a potential new client introduction, etc. Give people the opportunity to buy into the company and give them a reason to want to.
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Spencer Hadelman: We are living in a time when purpose is regularly being integrated into mainstream businesses. Before you dive into becoming a purpose-driven business, you need to remember that you can have the greatest desire to make a difference, but if you can’t effectively execute on it, your mission will not see its full potential.
With that said, I agree that having a social impact angle will most often result in success for your company.
Now more than ever, consumers are demanding more — more transparency, more inclusivity, more sustainability — from the products and services they choose and the companies they support. People want to know what’s going on across the supply chain and how an organization is supporting people and the planet.
In 2015, a Nielsen study found that millennials are willing to pay more money for items if they believe them to be sustainable. Furthermore, Neilson states that sales for products linked to sustainability have increased approximately 20 percent over the last five years.
What do you want to say to the person at the 23rd hour who is having second thoughts? Spencer Hadelman
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Spencer Hadelman: Multiple touch points and diverse marketing ecosystems. This means digital email, social marketing, traditional marketing, etc. Also, make sure the language you’re using at the point of sale is convincing for the people who are on the fence. What do you want to say to the person at the 23rd hour who is having second thoughts?
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Spencer Hadelman: Putting your customer first is the best way to achieve brand loyalty. Consistency, quality, and creativity are also important aspects to remember when it comes to the reputation of your brand.
The best brands have an “it” factor, and strong differentiators that set them apart from competitors. Figure out what makes your brand special, then emphasize that in consistent messaging. Don’t market yourself as something you’re not — identify your target audience, and don’t try to be everything to everyone.
You also need to show the value in your products or services. Create marketing materials that highlight how your products or services benefit the customer.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Spencer Hadelman: Follow me and Advantage Marketing on:
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!