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Working with Savoir Faire and Principal Stephanie McLaughlin

Steph McLaughlin, Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications

Discovery digital marketing is not a nice-ity; it’s a necess-ity

Once we receive an inquiry from a potential client, our first step is to arrange a discovery digital marketing meeting. This could be anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours long or maybe more than one meeting. Instead of using a typical agency presentation about past successes, Savoir Faire goes through a different process for “getting to know each other.”

What really matters to us is understanding the challenges of the business owner or stakeholder. Where are you stuck? What hurts? What problems can we help you solve using our marketing toolbox? We aim to explore the issues and the obstacles they’re facing. If they say they need a new website, we won’t immediately say, “Sure thing.” More likely, we’ll ask why you think that’s what you need, and then explore that answer.

We’re keen to dig down to the real reason you think you need a new site. What itch do you think a new website will scratch? As a result, our business development meetings might run a bit longer than you’d expect, but they’re vital for building mutual understanding and beginning to build the trust necessary for forming a robust, effective partnership.

After our first meeting(s), the next question is often, “What’s the path forward?” The answer is usually: more conversation. We don’t do it to be obtuse or difficult. The simple fact is that any scope of work we deliver to you will be built to solve your specific problem and will fall within the budget you’re comfortable investing to solve it. To do that, we need to dig deep into your specific challenges and circumstances.

Most of our clients have been with us from between three and 10 years. Our objective isn’t to apply a Band-Aid and send you on your way. It’s to help you solve problems and address challenges that support your success in the long run.

What’s this gonna cost me?

Somewhere between $1,000 and $1M.

Take for instance our project with a services client. Initially, we were tasked with managing their ad campaigns. To achieve this, we delved into their past reporting, explored their ad manager and brainstormed how to refine their current strategy into an effective ad campaign. Based on this, we assessed what it would take to continuously keep it on track.

After running the paid campaign for a time, and the company allocated more money for marketing, we went through the full discovery digital marketing​ process with the owner and team leads to determine challenges and growth opportunities. The result of that exercise was not a new website, but to bolster and optimize existing content to attract more visitors to the website and give them good reasons to convert into leads.

This client didn’t immediately ask, “What is this gonna cost?” There’s no easy, obvious or routine answer to this question, as far as we’re concerned. Typically, our conversations about budget are collaborative since what we can do for a client will vary if the budget is all the cash in the owner’s wallet or $75,000.

Another reason we can’t predict what your program is going to cost up front: at Savoir Faire every program is developed to fit the client, their challenges, needs and budget, which means every project is unique and costs different than anyone else’s. We take into account your human resources, timeline and budget.  The only standard “package” we offer is our website maintenance program, which many of our clients utilize once their websites are current and stable.

The cost of a project largely depends on you and your chosen investment in your business. We often say, your budget is the gas pedal. Most of our clients are small and medium-sized businesses; they don’t have all the money they would like to have to fix all the problems they want to fix in a single go. So we prioritize and work to solve problems over time, continually refining the program.

Go steady or break up?

Usually though, we work for a couple months and assess whether it’s a good match — for both parties.

Sometimes it isn’t, which doesn’t bother us because compatibility is key. We are a small but mighty team and any challenging client dynamics can quickly disturb our team microbiome. Therefore, just as clients assess Savoir Faire, I watch them closely to ensure they’re a good fit with us.

We brought on a client once and, during our Discovery digital marketing phase, the client contact wanted us to ignore an entire element of their business and competitor landscape. It became clear they already had their mind made up on what the solution should be and they were looking for a rubber stamp. That’s not what we do. Stephanie is clinically averse to being a “yes man.” If you don’t want a true look under your hood and our honest opinions on how to address your challenges, then we’re not the right fit for you.

I know what I want … I think

Many clients come to us thinking they know the exact solution they need. This is either because they’ve drawn their own conclusions, someone else has influenced them, or they don’t know how certain tools can be deployed to achieve a result.

It’s like going to a chiropractor for headaches, only to find out that a tiny stone in your shoe is causing you to walk strangely, which transfers all the way up your spine and leaves your head pounding. Removing the stone and doing some corrective work ultimately soothes the headaches. Something similar happens in marketing, too.

While you may understand your problem or challenge, it’s possible the solution is deeper or more complex than you’ll anticipate. Our unique strength is our constant need to ask “why.” We’re driven by curiosity. If something makes sense, we can quickly adapt. But without enough explanation, we’ll probably push back. This investigative trait works well for our clients; it ensures we all understand the problem and its ultimate solution. If you need a website, we need to know why. This understanding informs the best course of action, be it creating a new website or optimizing your old one.

Working with Savoir Faire and Principal Stephanie McLaughlin – Savoir Faire Marketing & Communications

We don’t oversell or overpromise

What stands out about Savoir Faire is our dedication to providing honest, appropriate solutions for our clients. We don’t oversell or make hefty promises. Instead, our focus is to deliver the most effective, efficient solutions that are customized to cater to our clients’ unique needs.

Our journey begins by diving into the core of your business. Understand this, successful marketing isn’t just about strategies but also understanding your business inside out. Unlike some agencies that operate independently, we prefer to think of ourselves as an addition to your team – a part-time chief marketing officer (CMO) and her valiant marketing team, if you like.

Accountability goes both ways

But remember, working together isn’t just about collaboration, it’s also about accountability. We promise you that we won’t oversell services or inflate costs. We are fully responsible for the work we deliver. If any team member stumbles, as Principal, Stephanie considers it her stumble. However, two-way accountability means that we also expect you to not unduly delay projects on your end. Remember, successful collaboration requires balanced involvement from both sides.

Working together is key to our shared success, and we aim to keep momentum and morale high. Consider a client who juggles an unpredictable sales team, or another client that has only a single in-house marketing person, also closely aligned with sales. They inevitably face challenges. Yet, we always push forward, staying focused on what progress we can make.

A small but mighty team

Stephanie often describes the team as a group of mid-career professionals, excellent at what they do, who are ready to apply their skills on behalf of Savoir Faire’s clients. Stephanie brings the same mindset to her team that she does to her clients. Our newest member has been with us for four years. Our longest member has been with the company for 15. She finds great people, gives them interesting work to do and treats them well.

One thing that sets our team apart from other companies of similar size is that, for the last decade,  we have employed a dedicated project manager. (For years, Stephanie tried to do it herself, but it was a mess. Just ask Janna!) This allows each member of the team to focus on their area of expertise and to know what’s expected of them and by when. Our project manager acts as a conductor, making sure each train stays on the right track and gets into the station at the right time.

A trusted confidante

Savoir Faire celebrated its 17th birthday in 2024. In that time, we’ve worked with a wide range of companies in diverse industries. We have become gifted and experienced in helping businesses succeed. But let’s focus on Stephanie, your trusted advisor in this journey.

“Sometimes, I think about earning a counseling certificate, as I often find myself acting like a therapist to clients. Even when we’re not talking about marketing, I often guide them about their business and overall perspectives. This is a rewarding part of my work, as it shows that clients see me not just as a marketer, but as a partner and an adviser,” Stephanie said.

Our role goes beyond offering marketing guidance. Your openness in sharing the details of your business – even things loosely connected with our work – has turned us into more than just advisors. The more we understand your business, the better our recommendations will be. We cherish our transition from marketers to a trusted support system.

Whether you’re branching out or you’re juggling several initiatives, we’re always there to assist. But where we shine most is when we’re considered essential to your decision-making process. From responding to sales queries to preparing for board meetings, we’re proud to be part of your team.

The trust and longevity we’ve built with clients allows us to understand their business better, adding important context to our work. Every conversation we have with our clients adds to our understanding of their business needs and challenges. This is the type of relationship we strive to have with all our clients. 

Working with Savoir Faire and Principal Stephanie McLaughlin – Savoir Faire Marketing & Communications

“I often find myself acting like a therapist to clients...”

~ Stephanie McLaughlin

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