HOW WE WORK: THE RELATIONAL MODEL

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We’re serious about being a
relational agency. Here’s how:
JoshuaOneNine is the marketing department for local brands, not just another vendor in a silo. Our comprehensive approach is best compared to having your own employees on staff. Imagine if you put out job postings looking hire a team of professionals to handle all your marketing. What would you expect to pay each of them? (A lot.) What would you expect them to do? (Pretty much everything.) How often would you expect to communicate with them? (All the time.) What would that communication be like? (Warm and relational.) Would you expect them to also have a second job with your competitors? (No.) Would you have contracts with hard ‘renewal dates,’ or would they just, you know...work for you?

JoshuaOneNine has developed a model that puts the relationship first. We‘re always on the same side of the table. Here are the top ways we live that out:


Inclusive, Flat Monthly Fee
NOT Hourly, and NOT Commission

Business owners (including ourselves) prefer predictable costs. And as a relational agency, the overwhelming bulk of our conversations with you should be about marketing ideas, not money, fees, and invoice scrutiny. Since its inception in 2007, JoshuaOneNine has worked on a flat monthly fee, not hourly, and not on commission. You shouldn’t need to hesitate to ask us a question or call for a meeting because the clock would start ticking on an hourly fee. We also don’t care how much your separate advertising budget is. Whether you’ve got an additional $20,000, $200K, or $2M for annual advertising, we don’t make any more or less. There’s no secret ulterior motives, so we’re not constantly inventing reasons for you to increase the ad budget. We’re on your side of the table, with only the brand’s best interests in mind. You just sign-up for a custom-prepared package, pay us the same fee every month, and then we do whatever needs done within the scope of that package. It’s like paying an employee a salary, and it’s what it actually looks like to be a relational agency.


Our Fees are Separate from Your Ad Budget
We don’t “take our cut” from one big pile of money

If you were to hire a full-time marketing employee, your actual advertising budget itself wouldn’t be included in their salary. You would pay them for their work, and then the ad budget would come out of a separately-allocated pile of dollars. Again, because we’re serious about being a relational agency who functions as your marketing department, our arrangement follows that pattern. Our fees cover the cost of our services, value, and expertise, but when it comes time to actually place paid ads, that would come from a separately-determined budget, for which you would be billed directly as we place various ads on your behalf. JoshuaOneNine is not the middle-man for your advertising dollars.


Contractual Freedom
Like an employee, we just work with you until one of us decides otherwise.

Another perk of working with JoshuaOneNine is that our contracts don’t have “end dates.” You’re not signing up with us “for a year.” You’re just signing up with us. On purpose, our structure is “cancel anytime with 60 days notice.” If that never happens, we keep working together. But if at some point, either of us determines this isn’t a good fit, it’s silly to be stuck together 5 more months until the “contract is up.” Relationships should be mutually chosen, not artificially impacted by a calendar, and since there’ll always be a culture of reporting, communication and ongoing feedback, there’s no need to create unnecessary stress by manufacturing arbitrary ‘renewal’ dates. Again, this is how you’d approach hiring an employee. It’s what it means to be relational.


We Only Grow if You Do
Our flat monthly fee only increases if your revenue does.

Again, in the relational spirit of prioritizing creative ideas while minimizing conversations about money, our flat, monthly fee only goes up next year if your revenue does. Our agreements include simple, built-in annual escalators tied to results. We don‘t believe in expecting a raise “just because.” We need to earn it. So we only grow if you do. Which means if you’re paying us more next year, it’s because you can easily afford to...because things are working.


Category Exclusivity
We’re loyal to you. We’re not working with your competition too.

This is one of the big perks of working with JoshuaOneNine, and one we offer voluntarily. Within your category (which we’ll define together), you’ll be the only business on our roster statewide. As our work starts producing results, we don’t use our success with you to drum-up dollars from other related businesses in town. We’re committed to you. When our creative team brainstorms a new idea for your industry, we don’t spend 2 seconds wondering which of our clients should get it. You get it. Frankly, this is why we’re pretty selective about which local brands we partner with. We’ve only got one available roster spot per category, and (especially in highly competitive industries) we’re looking to work with the business who wants to grow, make an impact in our community (and beyond), and become a true local brand.

Want a Truly Relational Marketing Team?

Send an email, tell us how your local brand wants to make the community better, and get the relationship started. Or keep reading for more on how we work...
Introduce
Yourself

HOW WE WORK: IN THE BEGINNING

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You’re trying to grow. Make sure the
foundation is rock solid.
At the beginning of a partnership, it’s important to set expectations for what happens when, and why.

Often, new clients approach us thinking they can ‘plug & play’ a marketing agency into what they’re already doing. They assume they already know what “needs” to happen from a marketing standpoint, and the only thing holding them back is that they simply don’t have the time, resources, or desire to do it themselves. That approach tends to treat the partnership primarily as an opportunity to offload a dusty list of backed-up projects onto someone else’s desk. Respectfully, that’s not a situation JoshuaOneNine prefers to step into.

Rather, as a relational agency focused on building local brands for the long term, we tap into our expertise and take the lead by implementing a tried-and-true process which includes a foundational PVB, and revisiting your current distinctives, differentiators, messaging, and strategies from the ground-up. Everything is on the table, and what we recommend changing or updating always varies from client to client. But like a house, your brand’s foundation is what we’ll build-on. And if it’s shaky, rushed, or incomplete, the work we do later risks being scattered, disconnected, and less effective.

Our experience has identified a minimum assortment of foundational marketing elements vital to any local business’s growth, and as relational teammates invested in your success, we recoiled at the prospect of withholding essential services because you “weren’t paying for it.” So in each package, everything below is included (to varying degrees based on the exact package and agreed-upon fee). But this is where we start.
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Online Audit: Analysis & report card of your digital footprint, with implemented optimizations
Brand Creation: PVB Identity Conference, Distinctives & Differentiators. This is the big work.
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Website Consult: It’s your digital front door; it should be optimized and look like the brand
On-Site Print Materials: The brand doesn’t stop at your physical front door, either.
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Online Listings: Inaccurate Google info will never be an embarrassing thorn in your side again.
Evergreen Growth Ads: Good ol’ fashioned, top-of-the-funnel ad campaigns for strangers.
The takeaway is: you’re trying to grow. And we don’t want to send new strangers to your house while it’s still covered in tarps, tape, and construction dust. So these are the six areas we tackle first. There’s much more to follow that may be based more on your individual needs, but this is what you can expect (and should plan for) when you start working with JoshuaOneNine.

Ready to Grow Your Local Brand?

Send an email, tell us you’re open to letting someone else take the marketing wheel, and get the relationship started. Or keep reading for more on what really differentiates us from anyone else...
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Yourself

HOW WE WORK: Programs & Events

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How to make your brand famous.
(And how that yields results.)
Building brands and creating ongoing strong & courageous content is what we do best. So beyond the foundation, each package includes varying amounts of the unique creative services that differentiate us from any other agency: content creation & ad placement for a limited number of events, sales, promotions, and initiatives...as well as what we call Programs: the ongoing, recurring, predictably-formatted pieces of high-profile creative content that take your brand to the next level.

Of all the more fundamental things we do, Programs are where the fun really happens. They’re like the flashy free agent athlete who pulls up in a Maserati and struts in with a fur coat. These are the regular pieces of content people may come to “know you for” over time, which is why it’s critical to establish compelling Programs that are also on-brand, so we’re communicating core messaging and not just entertaining people. Examples of Programs include: podcasts, contests, blogs, featured item shows, testimonials, FAQs, brand shows, and dozens more. And their formats can range from writing to audio to video to photo graphics. The possibilities are endless, and it’s these ideas that set us apart as an agency and set you apart as a brand. We brainstorm and develop the idea, create the content in the most impactful format, then distribute it to relevant eyeballs and ears on the schedule we decide together.

Here’s a list of areas we’ll tackle in Phase Two, once the foundation is built.
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Programs
Major Brand Initiatives
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Large Scale Events
Small Scale Events
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Organic Social Media
4R: Reputation, Reviews, Responses & Reporting
The bottom line is this: your brand is comprised of Distinctives and Differentiators. The Distinctives come first, they focus on the who and what, and are the foundation upon which you build. Then the Differentiators follow, addressing why someone should choose you over your competitor, and setting your brand apart as the clear leader in your category.

Put Your Brand on the Map. For real.

Send an email, tell us what you’d do if you had your own TV show, and get the relationship started. Or keep reading for our bold points of differentiation...
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Yourself

HOW WE WORK: OUR DIFFERENTIATORS

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“We’re for everyone” isn’t a strategy.
And we’re definitely not for everyone.
The JoshuaOneNine relational model is uncommon, and as a result, we’re not looking to grow our agency by doing several shallow one-off projects for hundreds of clients. Rather, we’re interested in going deep with a dozen (or so).

Currently, we are looking for our next wave of new clients! But...here’s what you should know about us upfront:


Who We Work With
Local businesses who want to become Local Brands

You’re a leader, and you want your business to become a local brand that leads its category (or maintains and expands its current position of leadership).

You want to grow. Things might be “fine” right now, but you believe your products and services should have a bigger audience, and you want more than just “fine.”

You believe your business products and services actually make the community a better place. It’s not about the widget; it’s about what the widget does, or how it makes someone feel, or how it improves their lives.

You “get” the importance of branding, advertising, and marketing, and consider it an essential pillar of your business, not as a burdensome “necessary evil” that is largely an “untrackable waste of money.” We work with local businesses who understand the value and importance of what we do, aren’t afraid to invest, and realize that it takes expertise and experience. We work with branding believers, not branding skeptics.


Who We Don’t Work With
Other Businesses in the Following Categories

Because of our existing exclusivity agreements, JoshuaOneNine is no longer able to work with:
  • Other jewelry stores in Illinois
  • Other toy stores in Illinois
  • Other lunch or dinner restaurants in Illinois
  • Other audiologists in Illinois
  • Other bed & breakfast micro-event venues in Illinois
Franchises and MLMs
JoshuaOneNine’s purpose is that you are worth a new creation. Respectfully, franchises and chains don’t fit well with that idea. So if you’re bringing the 212th location of some popular national restaurant or clothing chain to town, we’re not your agency. We want to work with local entrepreneurs and risk-takers who are building their dream from scratch, without a plug-and-play handbook from some corporate office. Actually, let us clarify: we’re good with franchises as long as you’re the Franchisor, not the franchisee. If you want to become a multi-site brand that opens a bunch of new locations, we’re your agency.

Open, Vocal Antagonists to Christianity
This one is tricky, but we need to mention it. JoshuaOneNine is an openly Christian company with deeply held biblical values. This certainly doesn’t mean that all our clients (or employees) will always be Christians, but suffice it to say we’re not interested in helping grow the brands of owners who encourage hostile, judgmental environments where Christian values are scorned, mocked, or ridiculed. If you’re cool with Jesus, we’re your agency. If you couldn’t care less, or believe something different, or consider yourself ambivalent or neutral, we’re still your agency. Most of the time, it’s never an issue. We’re here to work, not preach. But if you lead the local Atheist group or think our Christian values will become a problematic distraction for you, we’re probably not your agency.

Businesses where a single individual is the brand
JoshuaOneNine excels at working with brands who go beyond one individual’s name or reputation. This doesn’t mean your brand can’t have a person’s name in it. For goodness sakes, Ford Motor Company and Hilton Hotels have a person’s name in them. The point is, Ford and Hilton aren’t (and never were) about branding Henry Ford or Conrad Hilton, as individuals. For us, we prefer to avoid the uncertainty and unpredictability associated with branding a single person’s name. This would include solo insurance agents, solo personal trainers, solo lawyers, solo realtors, solo chiropractors, etc. So if you and a few colleagues run “Cutting Edge Photography” with that nice, brandable entity name, great! But if you’re Jenny Johnson Photography, we’re probably not your agency. Or if you and a few partners own Clubhouse Insurance Group, great! But if you’re solo insurance agent Tyler Tylerson, we’re probably not your agency.


Other Things JoshuaOneNine Doesn’t Do

One-Off Projects ...with a PVB Exception
If you’ve heard we do great video work and want us to cut a one-time video for you...we don’t do that. If you heard we do great digital audits and online report cards and want us to analyze your digital footprint for a one-time fee, we don’t do that. If you liked a website, found out we built it, and want us to build one for you, we don’t do that. If you heard that we have good relationships with local media and want us to negotiate your next ad buy, we don’t do that.

Now, we do do all of those things, of course. But not as one-off, one-time projects for one-time, one-off fees. Again, our growth model is to go deep with a dozen, not shallow with a thousand. We’re looking to get married, not hook-up. So if you want a video, or an audit, or a website, or an ad buy, you’ll need to become a core, full-time client. Then you’ll get the world.

HOWEVER... there is one exception. We are able to offer our full PVB Identity Conference package as a stand-alone, one-time service for a one-time fee. Why? Because even if you were a new full-time client, that’s where we’d start anyway. So we don’t mind offering that for a one-time fee, because should you choose to continue the relationship with us, much of the foundation will already be built. And if you don’t continue, you’ll have a new brand, complete with a distinctive asset suite and differentiating language.

We do offer a few other things as one-time services too (like speaking engagements/consulting for out-of-market businesses, personal brand coaching for local business owners, or renting out our studio space), but when it comes to the core content creation and distribution services we’re most known for, those are reserved for our relational clients.

Nickel Dime You
Again, working with JoshuaOneNine is inclusive (based on whatever package you’re on). Meaning, we agree upfront to the scope of what we’ll do (and what your monthly flat fee will be to account for that), and then we just do whatever needs to be done. We don’t nickel dime you with surprise invoices whenever something unexpected comes up, because unexpected is the norm for local businesses. This keeps the relationship the priority. No surprise charges.

Cause Marketing
We’re not a fan of ‘cause marketing’ events or campaigns (e.g. sign up on Tuesday and we’ll donate a portion of your enrollment fee to XYZ charity!). Meh. No. Preferably none of that. Largely because they’re typically ineffective and come off as trying to cash-in on philanthropy...which is morally dicey. Just be a good person and don’t use charity to make money.

Political and Social Topics
If you’re interested in using your official brand pages to advocate for potentially divisive social or political causes, we are not your agency. (And don’t pretend you don’t know which issues are controversial.) In the 90’s, when Michael Jordan was asked why he didn’t use his massive platform to take a more public stand on social issues, he said, “Because Republicans buy sneakers too.” We love that sentiment, and highly advocate for the separation of business and social commentary on the official brand channels of businesses who aren’t fundamentally built around social, religious, or political issues. Remember, we’re trying to help you grow. And our growth efforts are put at risk if half your potential customer base is alienated because you posted a rainbow flag, a blue lives matter image, a black lives matter image, a pro-life pledge, a “no person is illegal” sign, or a MAGA hat during an emotionally-charged season when your business has nothing to do with those issues. We don’t believe in creating obstacles for any customer, no matter their beliefs or party affiliation. We can’t overstate how strongly we feel about this.

HOW WE WORK: DIFFERENTIATION CHECKLIST

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“Bullet point charts are the soul of
wit.” - Bill Shakespeare
One Last Differentiation Chart
We don’t want to make poor use of anyone’s time. So if you’re wondering whether JoshuaOneNine is the agency for your local business, we’d sum it all up like this:
Who We Are
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    Relational
    Teammates Committed to Success
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    Comprehensive
    Deep w/Few Local Clients
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    Disciplined Brand Building
    Deliberate & Strategic
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    Long-term approach
    Sniper-Selective, High Impact Initiatives
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    New Creators
    Ideas and Content that are Strong & Courageous
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    Idea-Generating Thought Partners
    Inclusively Priced
Who We Aren't
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    Distant
    Vendors Just Looking to Cash a Check
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    One-Offs, Silos & Fragments
    Shallow w/Dozens of Nationwide Clients
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    Activity for Activity’s Sake
    Fast & Hurried
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    Short-term approach
    Endless Flow of Low Impact Events & Promos
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    Derivative Copycats
    Ideas and Content that are Weak & Mediocre
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    Order-Taking ‘Yes Men’
    Cheap
If you believe the path to success involves teaming-up for the long haul with a devoted group of local marketers to create & distribute innovative campaigns that turn strangers into fans and transform you from a local business into a local brand... we’re your agency.

Still not Scared Away Yet? Intriguing...

If you’re still interested in JoshuaOneNine after reading through that bold gauntlet of differentiation, we should probably talk. Send an email and get the relationship started.
Introduce
Yourself
If you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little farther. See the clients JoshuaOneNine has helped turn into Local Brands, or jump right to the How to Grow page for some advice we shouldn’t be giving away for free.