CEO of Advantage Marketing Spencer Hadelman founded the company in 2015. He started the company because he saw a need in the agency industry that he could fill.
According to Spencer Hadelman, Advantage Marketing sets itself apart from the competition because of their “dedication to our clients’ success.”
At Advantage Marketing, Spencer Hadelman and the team “take the time to get to know our clients and develop personal relationships with them.” They also act “as partners and an extension of their internal teams.”
Not only that, but Spencer Hadelman also treats their clients “as friends.” They make sure to be there “for each other not just in work, but also in life in general.”
Spencer Hadelman learned “how to invest in relationships and how to care about people” from his father. He showed young Spencer “the right way to do business outside of a business setting.”
As an example, Spencer Hadelman remembers how his father used to “always play golf with clients and he said during that time he didn’t talk about work once.” This way, his father “invested in the relationship,” and he got the deal done.
For his success, Spencer Hadelman has received several industry awards. He has won Crain’s Chicago Notable Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneur 360, and Chief Marketer 200.
Our dedication to our clients’ success sets us apart from other agencies. Spencer Hadelman, Advantage Marketing
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Spencer Hadelman: Our dedication to our clients’ success sets us apart from other agencies.
We take the time to get to know our clients and develop personal relationships with them, acting as partners and an extension of their internal teams, and working in the trenches alongside them.
I consider a lot of my clients friends, and we are there for each other not just in work, but also in life in general.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Spencer Hadelman: Always make sure to schedule time for breaks. Working in an agency atmosphere with multiple clients and projects to juggle can easily take over all your time.
Being able to still maintain a work/life balance is important to avoid burnout.
Make sure that you have an activity that allows you to be away from your phone and email for 4–6 hours a week to clear your mind.
We are always connected and people feel like they always should be working, it’s important to have an activity you enjoy and to take care of your mental health.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Spencer Hadelman: My father showed me how to invest in relationships and how to care about people. He showed me the right way to do business outside of a business setting.
When my father worked, he would always play golf with clients and he said during that time he didn’t talk about work once.
He invested in the relationship and he showed me how to get business done in that sense.
A good company is a company that does what they say they’re going to do, is consistent, and delivers on expectations.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Spencer Hadelman: A good company is a company that does what they say they’re going to do, is consistent, and delivers on expectations.
What makes a great company is going above and beyond this with intangibles, showing that they care. A great company is a proactive vs. a reactive partner.
They are not afraid to make a mistake; instead, they think outside of the box and are ok with making calculated risks. While a good company is content with the work as is.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Spencer Hadelman: Have an honest conversation with yourself.
Self-evaluation of your work, your process, industry analysis, competitive analysis, etc..
Find out what’s causing the plateau and think about how you can evolve — are you being too comfortable?
Don’t become content with what’s currently happening, always be thinking about how you can evolve and grow — not just when you’ve plateaued.
What makes a great company is going above and beyond this with intangibles, showing that they care.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Spencer Hadelman: It’s important to always remain nimble and set up contingency plans, especially during uncertain times like we’re all facing right now.
When planning strategies, budgets, etc., you need to prepare for hypotheticals and how your company will deal with uncharted territories and roadblocks that come up.
Work for the best outcome possible, but always have a backup plan to prepare for the worst.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Spencer Hadelman: There are a lot of things to keep in mind when running a company. The downside of entrepreneurship is not always talked about enough.
Some things to keep in mind are:
Employees will always disappoint you — As much as you like and believe in someone, there comes a time when they do something that is selfish or doesn’t live up to the standards set for them.
In these circumstances, you need to remember that it’s not their name on the door.
Don’t take it personal, it’s business — There was a time that Advantage was not chosen by a company that a friend of mine worked at.
This wasn’t because of our relationship, but rather the company felt they could save money and do something better internally.
You’re not always going to be the best fit for every opportunity, and that’s OK.
Never forget that people look up to you — Employees will come into my office and ask for advice.
Sometimes I forget what the CEO title means looking from the outside in.
It’s important to make yourself available for these questions as much as possible, and not overlook the fact that you’re leading by example.
A great company is a proactive vs. a reactive partner.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Spencer Hadelman: One of the best ways to build a trusted brand reputation is to connect with your customer directly.
This can be done as easily as creating customer feedback surveys. But it doesn’t stop there; you need to act on this feedback so that the customer feels that their opinions are appreciated and heard.
Whether the feedback is positive or negative, take the time to respond, or even reward the feedback with incentives like percentages off of purchases.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Spencer Hadelman: Again, this is where consistency, quality, engagement, and creativity come in.
Meaningful and consistent content that promotes conversation and engagement through comments will be most likely to be prioritized through social media algorithms.
Creating impactful content means using quality images and video. Your creative will have a direct reflection on your brand, so always make sure that your images are sharp and crisp.
When drafting captions for this content, be sure to keep is concise, creative, and always proofread before you hit share.
Reviews and comments are inevitable — whether good or bad. Always be sure to delete anything distasteful, but always respond to reviews, especially a bad review.
When tackling a bad review you need to make the customer feel heard. Listen, ask questions, and validate the customers feelings.
Then you need to focus on solving the problem.
Be confident that you not only understand where the customer is coming from, but also what you can do to make it up to them, and what they truly need in order to feel that the issue has been resolved.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Spencer Hadelman: Too many people focus on dreams vs. a strategized business plan.
If you become too focused on a big picture dream, rather than the little tasks that get you to that dream, you’ll end up spreading yourself too thin and being all over the place.
Get focused and take it one step at a time.
Get focused and take it one step at a time. Spencer Hadelman
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Spencer Hadelman: I’ve always been involved in philanthropic efforts outside of my agency work.
I currently volunteer my time across four boards amongst two organizations — Canine Therapy Corps, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago.
Eventually, I would love to start an organization that gives Inner-City kids internship opportunities.
A lot of companies could give internships and exposure to Inner-City kids, and that could change their lives forever.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Spencer Hadelman: IG: @advantagemrkt_chi
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!