“Content is only as good as the impression it makes.” This sums up the philosophy of Imprint, the dynamic marketing company, nglccNY member and certified LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) that is making a significant impression for its dozens of blue-chip clients. In its six years of operation, Imprint has won numerous industry awards, including the Content Marketing Institute’s Content Marketing Agency of the Year in 2017. The New York City-based firm has a satellite office in Boston and a desire to expand to more locations.
nglccNY Media & Communications Chair Cindi Creager recently caught up with Imprint Managing Partner Andy Seibert to learn more about the Imprint team and the secrets to their success.
Cindi: Tell me about Imprint.
Andy: We are a content marketing agency, which means different things to different people. At Imprint, we define it as marketing with a publishing and journalistic bent. We help our clients engage with their customers through content programs. We help them determine who they are, identify their position in the market and figure out the unique things they have to say. Next, we do the content planning and identify both their key audiences and how they are going to engage with content. We also figure out when and in what format the content should be delivered, and through what channels. Then we actually create the content. We write articles, build websites, populate websites, make infographics and create videos. The next step is amplifying the content through social media, email and other delivery mechanisms. We then help measure the program to answer the all-important question: Did all this effort pay off? That's the full-service summary of everything we do. Each client is different.
Cindi: What were you doing before you started Imprint and what led you to branch off on your own?
Andy: I had been doing this for big firms, starting with running a small content marketing program at Time Inc. I then went to Hearst, where I started a custom content division from scratch. It was called SmartMoney Custom Solutions, so it was strongly associated with the personal financial brand. SmartMoney was a joint venture between Hearst and Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal. There was a print magazine and a website, smartmoney.com, and then I started this custom division. Over time we grew to be bigger than the magazine and the website combined. When Hearst sold their half of the venture to Dow Jones, I went over to figure out what to do with the print magazine and to integrate smartmoney.com into the Wall Street Journal platform. It was smart to combine with all the other Dow Jones brands, so they could leverage audiences for advertisers. SmartMoney Custom Solutions was later rebranded to be a Wall Street Journal content studio to support the Journal’s native advertising deals.
|Imprint Founder Andy Seibert|
|The Imprint Team|
So, when I did all those things six years ago, I thought, “Okay, this has been great, but I want to go back and do something entrepreneurial with clients.” Half my day was spent managing up or writing decks for people. At Imprint I try to keep internal bureaucracy to a minimum, keeping as much of our time focused on clients as possible. A big goal is to think differently, and not get caught up in what I've known before. I’ve built a team that's a combination of people from a variety of publishing houses. We have team members from Hearst, Dow Jones, Rodale, Meredith, Conde Nast, and Pace Communications. Everyone brings a different perspective. One of our managing directors is a former client at Fidelity, so we also have client-side experience.
Cindi: You’re a small firm doing big things. How do you make it work?
Andy: Since I grew up at big firms I still have a mindset that we’re competing at that level. I think, “Why can’t we do this? If I could do it there, I can do it with my own firm.” I have this great group of people. We're only 15 full-time employees and we don't get caught up by our size. It’s about doing quality work. We're not trying to chase the bright, shiny object, but to produce solid results for a client where they can stand up in front of a room and say, “This is my program.” We've won more than 80 awards for clients and very few have our name on them, so you would never know we're behind them. That's part of our m.o. — not to jump into the spotlight, but to say, “We put our clients in the spotlight.”
Cindi: Why is being a certified LGBTBE important for your company?
Andy: I remember listening to a podcast about startups, and the participants said if you decide to be a growth business, take advantage of all opportunities presented to you. One of those opportunities is engaging with the Chamber. We've got these big companies leaning in to say, “I want to know more about the companies within the Chamber.” I feel like this is the opportune time to lean in and say, “Here we are.” We're super excited about being certified. We have a whole effort going on where we've reached out to over 200 companies and registered on their portals. We’ve created a special entry page for those firms so before they go to our main site we can serve up relevant information. We’re a certified partner and we’re here to add value for them. We've only been in business six years, but we've been nominated for agency of the year eight times by three different global groups.
We’re still figuring out how to take advantage of registering with all these companies. We know just registering isn’t going to get us something, so we're also now adding email campaigns highlighting new content.
Cindi: You’re a very successful entrepreneur who happens to be gay. Why do you think it's so important to bring your authentic self to the table when you're vying for contracts?
Andy: Unless you're really yourself, you're holding something back and that could hinder you from showing you can be trusted. We’ve stepped back to look at the amazing clients we have now and asked ourselves, “Why did they choose us?” We think one part is that we understand their complex content marketing problems. The other is that they trust us. So being authentic at all times is incredibly important in gaining trust. Straight people have always been able to be their true selves. I'm a kid who grew up in the 1980s, and I didn't come out until I was in my mid-20s. Everyone has a different story, but it seemed so many people were still kind of in the closet when I was younger – especially at the big companies where I worked. It's a totally different ballgame, now, which is great. If I can help inspire anyone, I’d like to. Some Millennials have a mindset of, "I want to do this. I want to start a business. How can I figure out how to be a leader in my industry? I can be whatever I want to be, and my orientation doesn’t matter.” It's fantastic.
Cindi: What is one of the proudest moments during your time in business?
Andy: I'm super proud of my Imprint team, because I think they exemplify this modern, open, hard-working team that cares about both their clients and their co-workers. So I'm proud of building a team like this. In terms of a project, I'm very proud of a program we just did with T. Rowe Price, a global mutual fund company based in Baltimore. We partnered on a program they've just started winning awards for — helping financial advisors identify and start conversations with the LGBTQ community. T. Rowe Price is proud of the program and their customers seem to feel the same way. T. Rowe Price presents the program to financial advisors at big financial firms, and it’s been really well received. This is one of the first times I've ever done a program that was targeted at the LGBTQ community. Having a client who is committed to inclusivity, like T. Rowe Price, makes it so rewarding. It was fun, and we hope it will make an impact.
Cindi Creager is the Media & Communications Chair of the nglccNY Executive Committee and co-owner of CreagerCole Communications LLC, a New York City-based public relations firm experienced in LGBTQI issues.