Let us tell you our story…
Norelle and I founded Marketeering Group back in 2011—we believed that there ought to be a way for creative and technical talent to come together and directly help small businesses and communities of real people, not just some big tech company. So, we’ve spent the past six years building that solution.
As of June 2017, we’re really proud to announce the relaunch of our brand, no longer as just an Agency, but as a Coalition.
As part of this relaunch, we wanted to share more about who we are and why we do what we do. Here is our story…
Norelle and I both grew up in the greater Seattle/ Eastside area, and we were both from families of five children who were homeschooled.
While our little brothers were friends, Norelle and I didn’t meet until we were at Bellevue College (BCC back then). I had graduated early from high school, and she was doing full-time running start through Skyline High School.
We met soon after I became the Student Body President—she was the News Editor for the school newspaper, called the Jibsheet— and we began dating after suffering together through an early morning accounting class over winter quarter.
After graduation, I transferred to the University of Washington to study Comparative History of Ideas. Norelle, after a year-long internship in Texas, transferred to Seattle Pacific University to study Communications and Journalism.
We got married in 2009, when we both were 21, and moved to Queen Anne. It was while living in Queen Anne that Norelle worked for various employers in both the startup and financial industries, where she perfected her professional content abilities as well as her administrative ninja skills.
Meanwhile, I worked on several tech startups and side projects during the Great Recession. My day job was ad sales—first for Kiro TV, followed by Pacific Publishing, and finally, PopSugar’s city publications. During that time I engaged with nearly 1,000 local small businesses, startups and community organizations. They all had the same problem. They lacked the time, expertise or technology to properly manage their digital presence. At the same time, starving young talent like us were struggling to find career-related work.
It wasn’t until the city publications at PopSugar were discontinued in 2011, and I was laid off, that I had time to work on the idea that had been brewing for the previous two years. I called up as many of my past clients as I could and asked to take them to coffee. I wanted to understand exactly what it was that they needed, and at what price could they afford to get it. From there, I was determined to build a new business model to make this idea work.
Among the most useful conversations I had was with one my best friends’ dad. I grew up across the street from their family as a kid. Fast-forward a dozen years and Tom, my buddy’s dad, was the owner and operator of Doc’s Grill out on Bainbridge Island (this was before he opened the Port Townsend location).
It was the deal we struck that inspired me with the model that we eventually sold easily to several other restaurants, bars, spas and salons. Tom wanted a set monthly rate to cover anything that was needed to manage his restaurant’s marketing, with service that was flexible with the season.
Before that conversation, I was literally digging through my closet for old iPods and other things I could sell on Ebay, just to afford a computer to work on. But after a few months of supplying our original service package to a handful of early clients, I signed enough business to not only pay myself, but also lease a tiny 400-square-foot office above Sushi Samurai on Queen Anne. Norelle kept her day job to ensure we could cover our bills, but she helped out with content marketing as much as she could over evenings and weekends.
We first brought Mike on part time to help with link building, but he quickly became a vital part of the original team. Mike helped formulate the first three package levels, which were based on trends and needs that were happening in SEO back in 2012.
That year was when we first made deals with technology partners and signed contracts for monthly guaranteed work. We found some great tools that were just in beta at the time, which locked us in at low subscription rates for grouping clients in bulk, which kept costs as low as possible.
Late in December of 2012, I finally signed a client that was large and secure enough to take the next risk… Mike and I drove to Norelle’s work to help pack up her desk, because we were finally ready (and needed) for her to be on board full-time.
For nearly four years we kept the same pricing structure because we believed it was the only way to actually deliver these services to hundreds of small businesses.
We grew like a weed, but our margins were always so thin that scaling was our constant financial challenge. For the majority of those years, I focused my energy on building the team and process, as well as working directly on client accounts. Norelle managed accounting, HR, office operations—all while also doing her ‘real’ job, content marketing, and building a team of writers.
There’s no better boot camp for learning to run a business than bootstrapping, let me tell you.
After many transitions and lessons learned, we’d outgrown our second office by the end of 2016, and moved to our current location in Belltown. After we were all settled here, I looked around and realized that we’d finally built an efficient, knowledgeable team. I was no longer needed for the day-to-day operations.
So, like when I was 13 and realized I wanted to be a CEO, I started researching exactly what a CEO ought to be doing. Early in January, I rewrote my job description from chief problem solver and more toward chief executive officer. I hired Andrew Klein to be acting CFO and help us balance our financial trajectory for growth. At the same time, I began to revisit how to more truly fulfill the original vision that is Marketeering Group.
Over the years, Marketeering Group has had several projects that never came to completion, in addition to some important services we had been unable to sell or offer with our old pricing structure. Norelle and I decided that now was the right time to enact all of these changes, and more.
Today, you’re looking at a rebirth Marketeering Group for what it was meant to be, a coalition.
Danny Done, CEO/ Founder of Marketeering Group