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IAM1804 – CEO Helps Small Business Entrepreneurs Grow through Great Marketing

Podcast Interview with Amie Thompson

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode, Gresham Harkless Jr. interviews Amie Thompson, the President and CEO of Creative Allies, a minority-certified marketing firm that offers a wide range of marketing services to help entrepreneurs grow their brands.

Amie shares her journey in entrepreneurship, including how she became the CEO of Creative Allies and her passion for helping other business owners grow their businesses through great marketing. She also discusses the importance of providing augmentation to small business owners so they can focus on growing their company while Creative Allies handles the marketing services, such as website design and development, photo and video works, and social media management.

Additionally, Amie shares her CEO hacks, including using Trello Board to prioritize and organize tasks and ClickUp for project management. She also emphasizes the importance of knowing yourself and your strengths as a CEO so you can hire the right people with the right skills for your team.

Overall, the episode provides valuable insights and inspiration for entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses through effective marketing strategies.

Check out one of our favorite CEO Hack’s CEO Web Shop. Get your free audiobook and check out more of our favorite CEO Hacks HERE.


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Transcription:

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Amie Thompson Teaser 00:00

So we're able to augment the team, let the CEO, let the leadership focus on growing their business from the technical part or the specialization that they have. Then we handle the marketing for them.

Intro 00:12

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 00:37

Hello, this is Gresh 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 over 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, the business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, and what I like to call a CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on the visibility game, a.k.a. Marketing, Advertising, PR, and Sales. I would just say the name of the game is being found and these tools will help you to do that. We have heard the philosophical question, if the tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? If there's a really, really great product or service and no one knows about it, how great is it really? What impact does it ultimately make? This is where we will go into this month looking at visibility, branding, marketing, public relations, sales being the lifeblood of businesses, building media companies and so much more.

This is probably one of the most exciting and probably the most excruciating topics, but we hope this month to demystify, or maybe even vanquish the fear and help and arm you with the tools to be able to increase your visibility. So buckle up and sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Amie Thompson of Creative Allies. Amie, it's great to have you on the show.

Amie Thompson 02:08

Thank you for having me.

Gresham Harkless 02:09

Yeah, super excited to have you on. What I wanted to read is Amie's bio so you can hear a little bit more about all the awesome things that she's doing. Amie is an executive, investor, mentor, and leader and the current President and CEO of Creative Allies, a minority-certified marketing firm for entrepreneurs. Her company offers a wide range of marketing services to grow their client's brands.

Creative Allies creates best practices from lessons learned over its 10-year history to connect its clients with buyers, fans, and followers to enhance the brand story. Amie's passion is helping other business owners grow their businesses through great marketing.

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

Amie Thompson 02:45

I'm ready.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:46

Awesome. Let's do it then. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit more on how you got started, what I call your CEO story.

Amie Thompson 02:52

Sure. So I certainly like to call myself an accidental CEO. It wasn't something that I set out to do. I've spent most of my career doing sales and marketing operations and different leadership positions, but always working for another company and working for someone else.

I've been doing investing probably for 10, 15 years now. And then we came across myself and some of my partners came across Creative Allies in 2015 and decided to invest in the company. So the company has been around for a while. We invested in the company in 2015, but over time, the original folks started to do other things and an opportunity came up in 2018 to lead the company. So I took advantage and here I am.

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Gresham Harkless 03:33

Nice. I absolutely love that especially how, I think so many times we forget that there are multiple ways you can quote and quote, start a business or get into a business.

So I love that you mentioned that story because I think so many times people don't realize that there are a lot of opportunities from sometimes existing businesses to invest and support them. And maybe you can step into that as well too.

Amie Thompson 03:51

That's right. Absolutely. And it was really the timing was really great because I was actually looking to wind down in my current role. I just felt like I needed something different and more.

And so really, the stars are a little bit aligned. But I think, like you said, people sometimes think they have to start something from scratch and that's not the only option to get there.

Gresham Harkless 04:15

Yeah, absolutely. And I think even if you decide to start a business, it sounds like with yourself, I don't want to put words in your mouth because I know we're going to hear a little bit more on what you're doing, but I think you get to make it your own or make those adjustments and changes according to what would improve the business as well.

Amie Thompson 04:23

Yeah, absolutely. Creative Allies started actually as a company that was really focused on the entertainment industry. Doing marketing services. So, like you said, one of the cool things about running a company is you could make those changes and adjust.

I don't personally have a long history of entertainment in my background. We still do that, but now our company is really focused on providing marketing support to entrepreneurs. That's more me. That's more my style, my background. So, yeah, over the years, we've just slowly changed the focus of the business. So it's exactly what you were saying.

Gresham Harkless 04:58

Awesome. I absolutely love that. So I know you touched on a little bit, and I want to hear a little bit more about that impact that you're making. Can you take us through how you serve your clients and what services they are provided for?

Amie Thompson 05:08

Absolutely. So we are a full-service marketing company and we're small, but the way that we work is we actually have a community of freelancers and partners that we work with. So we have a team of about six people, six to eight at any given time, but right now six people. If we take on a project that needs certain expertise, then we pull from our freelancer community or our partners to do that. It's been really great over the past couple of years because the customers get the best person in every role, but I'm not having to manage that overhead and keep those people employed the whole time.

So we have a core team that's buried and can do a lot of things. But when we need to pull from our community, we do that. I would say website design and development is probably the top service that we offer and what we do the most, but we do video work. We do photography. We do social media management, et cetera, et cetera. So, the idea is that we want to provide a kind of that augmentation for small business owners. A lot of times if you're a company like us, four, five, six people, you don't have a full-time marketing person, but marketing is actually one of the most critical parts of your business and to help you grow your business.

So, in many cases, our clients don't actually have internal marketing resources. It might be the CEO that's doing marketing, or they have an intern or something like that. So we're able to augment the team, let the CEO, let the leadership focus on growing their business from the technical part or the specialization that they have then we handle the marketing for them. That could be project-based, like a website where it's a certain start, certain finish, or it could be something ongoing where we're managing their social media, for example, or we're writing blogs for them, something that's ongoing and so we're really flexible in what we do.

My goal is to help the entrepreneur run and grow their business. And so if that means, taking some stress off of you, taking something off of you by handling your marketing, then that's what we try to do.

Gresham Harkless 07:05

Nice. I love that you're able to partner, but on an even deeper level to be able to, it sounds have that conversation and be solution-oriented, where you figure out what will help them to reach their goals. Then you have a slew of freelancers and people that you can lean on, on top of the team that you have in place.

Amie Thompson 07:20

My main goal is to see other people succeed and know that our team helped play a part in that. That's really rewarding for me and the rest of my team.

Gresham Harkless 07:27

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

Amie Thompson 07:39

Yeah, it's a great question. I think running a company, you learn more about yourself than you ever have or ever want to. But I think the things that set me apart are a couple of things. One is that most of my clients are just like me. So there's a familiarity where I can have a conversation with the client and know exactly what they're dealing with. Perhaps 2 years ago, I was in the same exact spot and so even though I'm coming to you offering marketing services, I still run a business. So I still hit all the same pitfalls that most of us hit. So there's like reliability I think with me and my team compared to some of our competition, where it is about being a small business owner and being successful in that way.

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I think the other part is honesty. I know I would say this, a lot of people say that they're honest and it's not that people are dishonest, but I'm more brutally honest and transparent and I have thick skin. So if we deliver something or we recommend something that you don't like or you don't want to do or it doesn't work, not everything we do is going to work. It's okay. My focus is always on how do we help? How do we get better? How do we help you get better?

I think asking for feedback is something that I try to get all of my clients to do. So I think that trust is also another thing that in combination, those three things, I think make me a little bit different.

Gresham Harkless 09:01

Yes. I absolutely love those three things. I'll often say that, especially when you put yourself in somebody else's shoes or you can see, or you're literally going through the same experiences as they are, you start to realize how would I want to be treated? I love how that trust, that accountability, a lot of the transparency as well too, because I think a lot of times at the end of the day, business owners, CEOs, entrepreneurs want to be successful and they need that person to tell them this may not work.

This is not my recommendation so that they do at least have that partner so that they can make the best decisions they can to get to where they want to be.

Amie Thompson 09:33

That's right. Another kind of motivator for me. I don't ever want someone else to feel that way where they feel like they're being taken advantage of just because they might have the money to spend to really about helping.

How do I help you? How do I teach you? Some of the things that you can do on your own etcetera. So it certainly was partially from a bad experience that I had with the vendor to making sure I don't treat my clients that way.

Gresham Harkless 09:57

I appreciate you so much and sharing that. I think that goes right in line with what you said, as far as putting yourself in a client's shoes because there's lots of people that have had that experience and it's kind of like the business card where you have a really, really beautiful business card.

It looks phenomenal, and has all the flash and pop and all of those things, but who's going to hand it out to people? How is it going to get out so people can call you? I think so many times, people that are making the decisions, CEOs, and business owners don't realize that marketing piece. So I love that you understand that, understand their goals, and make sure that you try to marry both of those as best as possible.

Amie Thompson 09:57

Absolutely.

Gresham Harkless 10:29

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

Amie Thompson 10:40

For me, one of the things I use all the time is Trello. I live by my Trello board and that helps me prioritize, and stay organized a lot of different things in one tool. So I love that. We have a couple of tools and other tools that are team-oriented. But we have a project management tool that we use, it's called ClickUp. I love that it's simple, one of the things about some of these apps, I look for simplicity and cost.

So I want something that's free or very low cost and something that's very simple. So I can learn how to use it in a day or so. It gives you the core of what you need at this point in my career and in the company. I'm not looking for all the bells and whistles. I'm looking for the core of what I need to be more productive. So I would say those two things are probably my favorite tools that I use.

Gresham Harkless 11:27

Nice. I love both of those and any kind of project management software that allows you to take all the things that are moving and all the parts that are moving, even the people that are involved, and be able to put that in 1 place. But I love that simplicity piece because I think so many times when you get tools, you feel like you have to have a PhD to figure out exactly how to use them.

But that simplicity, to get you to where you want to be to get, whatever it is, your goal needs to be is so huge and important. So I love that those are two actually work with.

Amie Thompson 11:53

Yep, absolutely. Yeah. Like I said, when you're a CEO, you have no time.

Gresham Harkless 11:58

Yeah, absolutely. And just as you said, when you decided to turn your business and kind of work on the websites and that process, I think a lot of times these people that create these hacks and these tools, a lot of times they see that there's something that's missing in the market and it may be a tweak or a change that speaks directly to a person.

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So like you said so well, just having a conversation, and asking people what they're using, helps out so much because there might be the same type of quote and quote systems, but they might be communicating in a different way or designed in a different way and that speaks directly to you. There's nothing wrong with using that.

Amie Thompson 12:30

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Gresham Harkless 12:32

Awesome. So I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. So this is a little bit more of a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell your best client, or if you hop into a time machine, you might tell your business self.

Amie Thompson 12:43

Yeah, I definitely would say know yourself. That is another thing that I think sounds simple, but people don't spend enough time just with themselves. I think that's good for your personal life, but also certainly running a company, really spend time getting to know where you're strong and where you're not. Because again, as a CEO, you don't have a lot of extra time.

Like you were mentioning before, there may be things that you are able to do, but you shouldn't be doing them. There may be things that need to be done and you actually don't have the skill to do. You have to be able to quickly identify what those things are so you can hire the right people or partner with the right people. I think that there's just such a difference being an employee and then running everything.

So the things that maybe make you a great employee might not be the things that make you a great CEO. So spending time, whether it's reading, whether it's taking personality tests, whatever it might be, but taking time to really know yourself would be the advice I would give both to myself. In my youth and also to any other business owner.

Gresham Harkless 13:36

Yeah, absolutely. I think you mentioned it as well in the beginning, when we were first starting out, but a lot of times running a business, you'll learn more about yourself than you care to know.

I wanted to ask you now 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 Amy, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Amie Thompson 14:05

It's a great question. Being a CEO really is like you are the captain. As you said before, you're the person that is guiding everything. You're the person that is the buck stops here type of person. You're setting the direction. You're changing the direction when it needs to be changed. So it is a lot of responsibility and a kind of blessing and a curse. You don't have a boss, right? Sometimes that's good. There's a lot of freedom in that but sometimes It's not good. You could have blind spots that you don't see.

If you don't have a good kind of network of people at your same level to help you with that, that can be tough. I often say I don't ever want to do anything else. I don't ever want to go back to working for someone else, but it can be stressful because everything is on your shoulders. There are times where you don't hit payroll. You have to take a little money out of your own pocket and make sure that gets done.

So, all of the responsibility falls on you. But the reward, I think, is you're helping your team grow as professionals, you're helping your clients grow as better business owners. So, there's a lot of reward in it as well. But, yeah, it's a tough job but can be very, very rewarding.

Gresham Harkless 15:17

Yes, absolutely. I appreciate you talking about that kind of holistic definition of it. The double-edged sword where you definitely have a lot of that opportunity to work for yourself and that opportunity to chart the path and do those things. But I think often, as you said, so well, sometimes we realize that we're not working for ourselves at times too. We're working for all our clients, the people that are on our teams, and it ends up being very, very taxing as well, too. But I think, if you're stepping into that position or that opportunity, it's great to know the holistic part about it.

So I appreciate you sharing that so much and appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is just pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know. And of course, how best they can get ahold of you and find about all the awesome things you and your team are working on.

Amie Thompson 15:57

Sure. Our website is creativeallies.com. You can also find me on social media on Twitter and Instagram. It's Amie_CEO.

Gresham Harkless 16:08

Absolutely. We'll definitely have the links and information that shown us as well too, so that everybody can follow up with you. So appreciate you again so much and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Amie Thompson 16:16

Thank you.

Outro 16:19

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. 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 www.ceogear.Co. This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

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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(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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