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IAM1779 – Founder Helps Brands with Marketing and Advertising

Podcast Interview with Patrick King

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

It broke our hearts to hear earlier this year Patrick passed away and we wanted to repurpose this episode to celebrate the time he took out and spent on this show.

In this episode of the I AM CEO Podcast, host Gresham Harkless Jr. speaks with Patrick King, founder of Imagine, a full-service marketing and branding agency. Patrick shares his background and how he got started in the industry, including his early love for art and design and his fascination with the way marketing can influence behavior. He also discusses the services Imagine offers, which include digital marketing, branding, and campaign development for professional services, tourism, and hospitality clients.

Throughout the episode, Patrick shares valuable insights on branding and marketing, emphasizing the importance of understanding a brand's audience and staying on top of industry trends. He also discusses the role of customer service in building strong client relationships and the need for deep specialization in order to excel in a specific industry.

Overall, the episode offers valuable advice and insights for anyone looking to improve their branding and marketing efforts, particularly in the professional services, tourism, and hospitality industries.

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Patrick King Teaser 00:00

I've spent a lot more time working with clients in more of a customer service capacity. So for me, client service is just as important as the work that we do. I'm just as passionate about that as I do being able to roll out a great campaign.

Intro 00:17

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs, without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:43

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresham from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners. Or what I like to call the CB nation architects, those that are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focusing on knowing thy numbers. I could hear the phrases from Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank, and if you understand or don't understand exactly what numbers is, think finance, economics, accounting, capital, investment, funding, bootstrapping, anything that's around numbers. So, we have to understand how important it is to know your numbers and how important that is for you to forecast, make decisions, and to be able to truly strategize around your business and do that successfully.

Things are gonna be a little bit different obviously, this month. So look for CEO hacks and CEO nuggets and interviews that focus around this. But more than everything else, make sure that you know your numbers because they're extremely important to the life of your business.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Patrick King of Imagine. Patrick, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Patrick King 02:08

Hey, thanks for having me Gresh.

Gresham Harkless 02:10

No problem. Super excited to have you on, and before we jump in, I want to read a little bit more about Patrick so you hear about all the awesome things that he's doing.

Since founding Imagine in 2004, Patrick has helped brands from small local companies to Fortune 500 brands like CenturyLink, Nestle, and Xfinity. His business and marketing device has been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, the Washington Post, Comcast Business and Chief Marketer.

Patrick is currently the president of the American Marketing Association's Washington DC chapter. He also serves on the board of trustees for CASA – a nonprofit that provides volunteer advocates for child victims of abuse and neglect.

Patrick, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

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Patrick King 02:51

Absolutely. Let's do it.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:52

Let's do it. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit and hear a little bit more on how you got started. Could you take us through what I call your CEO story, what let you get started with your business.

Patrick King 03:02

Yeah, my story started when I was really, really young. My brother and I were at a family reunion, we were staying at an uncle's house. We were running through the house being crazy, like kids that age do, and my uncle in an effort to slow me down, maybe to preserve his house sat me down at the kitchen table and goes look, I heard you like to draw. Could you draw a logo for my company? I said, absolutely. What's a logo? And we go in the kitchen and he starts showing me the post cereal box, the post logo, the Quaker logo, Campbell's logo, stuff like that. And he said basically it's a way to draw a name in a way people won't forget.

So I spent about two or three hours at the dining room table, end up creating the logo that he would use until he retired, which was maybe less than 10 years ago. That got me falling in love with how art can have such a great purpose. I was setting type in print shops and helping other relatives and their friends with business cards and flyers, even like VHS sleeves and stuff. And in my mid to late teens, I started to fall in love with the way that marketing works, the way that you know, a message, a commercial a piece of print can alter somebody's behavior. And I thought, I don't know what type of black magic that is, but I'm gonna learn it.

So that set me set me on a path to learn all about marketing and advertising. I had freelanced through my twenties and then when I was 26, 27 my brother came to visit from DC. He had just gotten out of the military and got a job up there and he said, if you really wanna make something out of this gig, you have to go where the clients are. So about six months later, I had a U-Haul going up 95 to DC, stayed with them for a little bit. Six months after that I decided, hey, I've got two or three projects, not necessarily long-term clients, nothing to base their company on, but I'm gonna do it anyway.

That was the end of 2004. Imagine has been around ever since.

Gresham Harkless 05:19

Nice. I absolutely love that story. And it is so funny going back to running around the house, I always feel like sometimes our gifts, our passions or even our callings might be a better word, are often placed us early on in life.

And sometimes we ignore them. But I'm glad to hear that, obviously, you took that opportunity to create that logo and you ran with it with everything you're doing with it. Imagine now.

Patrick King 05:40

Yeah. It's funny how those things that you can look back and go, oh, why didn't I start this sooner? And I think it's something that we all have.

Gresham Harkless 05:49

Yeah, absolutely. I would definitely agree with that. I know you touched on it a little bit, could you take us through exactly what you're doing with Imagine and how exactly you serve the clients that you work with?

Patrick King 05:58

Sure. So we're full-service marketing and branding agency. I would say we're digital marketing agency, but really all marketing agencies are digital nowadays. So, our work is mainly in the professional services, tourism and hospitality spaces. The tourism hospitality work we do is usually with local governments. So we'll work with their tourism or economic development departments and come up with either reimagining their brand, developing long-term campaigns or serving as just a consultative and execution arm to whatever they have in-house, so that their campaigns can launch much sooner.

They've got support for thinking big and having bigger ideas. A lot of our professional services work is in the digital space, so a lot of social, a lot of email and a lot of branding. So as I'm sure a lot of brands are rebranding more often now, just as a way to try to stay top of mind, and that's something that we do a lot of.

Gresham Harkless 07:04

Nice. Yeah, I absolutely love that. And as you mentioned, especially you know, during obviously disruptive times and non-disruptive times, I think you always have to have that kind of pulse to your client, pulse to what's going on.

I love that you're able to help people, as you said, reimagine those things because I think so many times and I don't know, correct me if I'm wrong clients don't necessarily know how to communicate some of those things and how they can manifest themselves through everything that you all are creating.

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Patrick King 07:29

You're absolutely right. It takes a process in order to be able to get it done right and get it done thoroughly. Sometimes it's really easy to go, yeah, I know our brand needs to be different in response to the way that our customers change, or the way that the competitive landscape has changed.

But to actually have a step-by-step process that gets it done right and makes sure that the brand is authentic, it's something that you have to do, you sometimes need a partner to guide you through it.

Gresham Harkless 07:57

Yeah. So, I wanted to ask you now for what I call your secret sauce. This could be for you or your business or a combination of both, but what do you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Patrick King 08:07

I guess a couple of things. When it comes to me personally I have a different background than maybe a lot of agency owners. I created, imagine without a prototype. I never worked in an agency. I never stepped foot in an agency. So I think my perspective is a little more unique. I've spent a lot more time working with clients in more of a customer service capacity. So for me, client service is just as important as the work that we do. I'm just as passionate about that as I do being able to roll out a great campaign.

What makes Imagine unique, I think is how deep our industry focus is. There aren't a lot of agencies out there that really hang their hat on being able to do local government tourism, hospitality, that sort of stuff. While there are some, of course, because it's a huge industry, you'll see that a lot of agencies will do that and seven or eight other things. I think in order for you to do it really well, you really have to spend your time staying on top of how trends are changing. You have to really dive deep into what the industry's all about. So I think as far as Imagine goes, I think it's a really deep specialization.

Gresham Harkless 09:24

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. This could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Patrick King 09:37

As far as books and apps and things go, I tend to bounce like a pinball. Between, being inspired by this book or being totally addicted to this app, but I think the one thing that's been helpful throughout the entire journey is the strength of your network. It's not necessarily from a sales perspective, although that's helpful.

It's having peers that are more successful at running their businesses than I am at mine. That's a great way for me to learn because now I can ask questions. I can see it firsthand. So having a strong network of fellow business owners that I'm not selling to, they're not selling to me. So we're on equal footing. I think that's probably my biggest hack.

Gresham Harkless 10:25

Awesome. Now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. This could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client or if you hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Patrick King 10:37

What I would tell my younger business self, and I probably still wouldn't listen to myself, is, Take your time, be patient. I started the business thinking, wow, this thing is just gonna take off and I'll be retired in three years and I was such an idiot. But at the same time, you don't have to rush it. If you're gonna be successful in business, take your time at it.

Make sure that you're really good at your craft. Make sure that you're really enjoying the journey because in my case, sure, I thought that I would be retired in three or four years, here I am in year 16 or 17 and I still would rather be doing nothing else. So enjoy the opportunity that you have.

I guess another piece of advice I'd give to myself is, while you're not doing it for money, having money does help. So learn to appreciate it. I think the biggest thing is take the time to enjoy it. It's crazy, it's hectic. You'll spend most of your time feeling either on cloud nine or wondering if you're gonna make it through the month, but enjoy the opportunity to use the gift that you're given.

Gresham Harkless 11:48

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. Now I wanna ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on the show.

So, Patrick, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Patrick King 12:00

To me, being a CEO means working at the top and the bottom at the same time. So yes, it's your responsibility to set the vision. It's your responsibility to make sure that you're true north. You are the one providing the direction. But you're also the one that needs to demonstrate leadership in the trenches. You're the one that needs to be on the front line.

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Also, learning how the business is evolving, learning how it's growing, learning what changes need to be made to that vision that you set. So it's a matter of working up top, making sure that the C-suite runs fantastically. It's also your job to work alongside the people that are really working day in, day out to make the company grow.

Gresham Harkless 12:51

Nice. Yeah, I love that definition, working at the top and the bottom at the exact same time. Like you said, obviously you wanna make sure that you have that vision, you're setting that vision for yourself as a team. But I love how you talked about the bottom so to speak as well too.

I feel like it also dials into your secret sauce and how you mentioned like not being in the industry sometimes gives you that different perspective. I think so many times when you're in that industry or you have been doing it, sometimes you lose focus on the bottom, so to speak, and you lose sight of your customers, you lose sight of your team and the reason why you're ultimately doing what you're doing.

So I love that kind of balance beam, so to speak that you articulated.

Patrick King 13:26

Yeah. Thank you.

Gresham Harkless 13:28

You're very, very welcome and I appreciate that and I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, just see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course how best they can get ahold of you.

Find out about all the awesome things you and your team are working on.

Patrick King 13:43

Oh, cool. I guess that there is one last piece of advice I guess I'll leave with and that is that right now I'm outside of Orlando and our offices are in Northern Virginia. I'm taking some much-needed time off to spend time with some family down here. I think that while all this crazy stuff is going on we all feel like we need to be all hands on deck all the time, and there's usually no one that we're harder on than ourselves.

I think it's important for every CEO to make sure that you're getting some recharge time in, because if you don't now you deal with rapidly deteriorating results. It's better for yourself, both short-term and long-term, and it's better for your team. Make sure that you're squeezing again a bit of an escape.

Gresham Harkless 14:39

Awesome, awesome, awesome. And for people that want to get a hold of ahold of you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Patrick King 14:44

I think the best way our website, it's Then you can find us on pretty much every other social channel by just going to the channel slash we fight ugly. That's our tagline is doctors fight disease, lawyers fight injustice, we fight ugly. So it'd be, we fight ugly after pretty much any channel.

Gresham Harkless 15:03

Nice. I absolutely love that. We will have the links and information in the show notes as well too so that everybody can click through and find out about all the awesome things you and your team are working on. I appreciate tremendously that reminder, because I think, as you said so many times, especially if you're driven and you have a vision, you have a goal, you can beat yourselves up. We can beat ourselves up and we can treat ourselves worse than everybody.

I think if we don't keep our cup full, we don't take the time to recharge and realize the benefits of doing that and often how much more effective we can be by taking that time away and time to recharge, we're doing ourselves and we're doing our clients and even our team members of disservice.

So I appreciate that tremendously during times like this and other times as well.

Patrick King 15:45

Thanks, man. Thank you.

Gresham Harkless 15:46

You're very, very welcome and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 15:50

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts, subscribe and leave us a five-star rating.

Grab CEO gear at This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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