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Kristen DeGroot on Strategies for Staying Ahead

Kristen DeGroot, CEO of The Campfire Circle (an agency for agencies) has paved her way professionally by operating a very niche agency and has a lot of insights to share with people who want to start their own businesses.

Can you introduce yourself and share a little about your background?

I'm the CEO of The Campfire Circle, a relatively new agency. After spending 12 years growing and optimizing agencies, I decided to harness all of this experience into my own agency. I grew my agency WITHOUT any funding as I am very scrappy. I simply position myself as a thought leader for agency development and the leads just come to me. And I want to mention, I live and breathe business and am happy to share my experience and answer questions for other blossoming businesses. A lot of people were kind and helped me on my professional journey and now I get to return the favor so feel free to email me at any time. The service I get asked for the most is to create lead magnets to generate organic leads for agencies. I've found that this is way more effective than cold calls and emails.

As a forward-thinking professional, how do you identify ways to stay ahead in your industry?

There are a few ways to stay ahead in my industry and, really, any industry. * In addition to networking to gain clients, I network to find other agency owners and keep in touch with them to keep abreast of their innovative ways to run an agency * I set Google Alerts so that I get an email every day with newly published articles about my industry. This ensures I'm remaining competitive and innovative. * I often source tips from agency owners on HARO. While I source them to use in my articles and reports, I also get a lot of value when agency owners weigh in since their my target demographic. * I analyze what is trending in the digital marketing world and put my own unique spin on saying something everyone else is saying in a unique way.

How often do you reassess your competitive landscape and, as I know you're very busy, I'd love for you to share any tips you have on carving out the time to do this?

Because I take Google Alerts so seriously, I'm reading about the landscape every day. While it's not a full reassessment, I feel like spending 15 minutes per day reading about my industry and what my competitors are doing keeps me sharp!

What have been the most significant challenges you've faced when striving to stay ahead in a rapidly changing world, and how have you overcome them?

When I started my agency, which as I mentioned is boot strapped, I had to do freelance work while I launched and grew my agency. It was the only way to make it work but oh my goodness, I was working all the time. So worth it though.

Can you pinpoint a defining moment or experience where your innovative strategies led to success or a competitive advantage in your business or career?

A defining moment that led to me starting my agency was when I was working full time for an agency in New York. After about 6 months, they let me go because I brought in too much growth. After getting let go for doing my job too well, I decided that I want to grow agencies as a consultant and inspired by my experience, I also help my agency clients with the day-to-day and client work so that a lot of growth doesn't cripple them.

In your opinion, what are the key ingredients of an effective strategy for staying ahead in 2023?

Without spreading yourself too thin, choose a variety of strategies to stay ahead as this important part of business is not a one-size-fits-all. Having like-minded business owners to run ideas past and to ask what they're noticing in your industry are super helpful. Following innovative publications that continuously release articles about your industry and what's new, is also a great way to stay ahead. Another key factor to staying ahead is keeping a pulse on your target customers. Analyze buyer personas, send surveys, make phone calls, implement an email marketing program, etc. all help with customer insights. Knowing how your customers have evolving preferences, is the best way to stay ahead.

In your opinion, what role does continuous learning and personal development play in staying ahead, and how do you incorporate these practices into your own professional journey?

In my opinion, no one will ever run a successful business long-term without continuous learning and personal development,. Continuous learning keeps us on our toes and gives us expertise about our industries. It's silly to think any industry isn't constantly changing. Personal development helps you stay ahead as a leader in your industry. Understanding yourself and your human experience makes you more confident when talking to potential clients, knowledgeable when talking to business partners, and humble when you're dispersing thought leadership.

Looking ahead, what emerging trends or technologies do you believe will have the most significant impact on businesses or ambitious professionals, and how are you preparing to leverage them for future success?

Looking ahead to emerging trends, I honestly have noticed a lot of businesses going back to the basics. What does this look like? - With a combination of the pandemic and so many people spending so much time online, your target customers are likely craving a human interaction. To give them this, aim for more face time. Conferences are a great way to get face time. - Direct mail is making a comeback. Not many businesses do this anymore so let your business stand out with personalized letters, care packages, SWAG, etc. - Businesses are revisiting traditional PR strategies to shine a positive light on how customers perceive their brand. Maybe not so much press releases, but strong relationships with the media can get you far. I've noticed this shift to back to basics about 6 months ago so I can tell you I leverage face time and traditional PR. I plan to implement direct mail when I work through the strategy a bit.

Where should people follow you to find out more about your work?

LinkedIn or check out my blog


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