We’re excited to have interviewed Kansas City SEO expert Valerie Jennings from Jennings Social Media & MarTech (JSMM) for the next installment of our Featured SEO Expert Series!
Valerie Jennings founded her agency, Jennings Social Media & MarTech, in 2003. Since its beginnings, Jennings has transformed her company from a small social media consulting business to a highly competitive strategic MarTech firm. Jennings is among the top individuals honored with the international recognition of a 2020 Silver Stevie® Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in the business services category. She is a 2020 FOLIO: Top Women in Media honoree and the DMN 2020 Marketer of the Year.
What would you say is unique and/or challenging about the current social media marketing industry?
“Social media marketing has grown tremendously and is ever-changing, making it difficult for marketers and businesses to keep up with the trends. According to Pew Research Center’s most recent 2019 study, just 5 percent of American adults were using social media when they began tracking social media adoption in 2005. By 2011, that share had risen to half of all Americans, and today, 72 percent of the public uses some type of social media. That’s seven out of every 10 people.
“I founded my agency, Jennings Social Media & MarTech, before social media usage was widespread, in 2003. Content has continued to be the core of the business from day one. Keeping a pulse on the trends by reading the latest reports on a weekly and sometimes even daily basis is how we stay ahead of all the rapid changes across platforms, including changes in algorithms, best practices, preferred content, relevant messaging and more.”
How does your agency stand out in a crowded market?
“As a performance-driven agency, JSMM follows the data. We utilize artificial intelligence (AI) and martech tools to automate data and reports for our clients and provide transparent lead generation reports. We recently implemented an aggressive customer relationship marketing (CRM) strategy for clients to create synergistic processes alongside sales teams, while also establishing accountability for our marketing and sales goals.
“Additionally, as industries are finding creative ways to pivot during this global recession, we updated our website, jsmmtech.com. We also shifted our branding to a bright and bold palette of magenta pink, yellow, black and white, influenced by the latest design trends that have gained popularity during the pandemic and appealing to Gen Z.”
Can you share a success story from a campaign centered around your Kansas city or a local market?
“When a global animal health client wanted to reach a new market of consumers in Australia, the agency utilized a growing and evolving sector, influencer marketing, to reach this goal. Largely focused on business-to-business (B2B) efforts, the new tactics would provide new data and immediate analytics to track brand reach and social media engagement.
“Over the course of six months, we partnered with four micro-influencers in the pet market on Instagram. We created brand collaborations in which influencers tested our client’s pet nutraceutical product for osteoarthritis with their pets and provided reviews in the form of Instagram content.
“Since launching the influencer marketing program last January, our client’s following has grown by 37 percent and garnered unsolicited testimonials and positive product reviews.”
What is the best advice you ever received in business?
“The financial health of your organization determines the overall health and success of your company and your ability to survive market disruptions. Conducting regular internal audits, identifying bottlenecks and utilizing technology to engineer new systems processes are essential components to staying ahead of unprecedented business disruptions.”
What do you think is the most important quality that makes an agency truly great?
“The agency has always focused on technology and the rapid adoption of martech and data-driven automation systems, which has allowed us to grow year-over-year. And our foundation has been the talent, culture, trust, collaboration and accountability that create a sense of community.
“JSMM survived the first recession, and we came out stronger on the other side. Throughout the pandemic, we have been able to retain our full team, and we worked to develop a scalable business and staffing model to attract top global talent that allows for work/life balance and greater client resources.
“Most importantly, we are constantly evolving and adopting new digital strategies.”
Any predictions for the future of the industry?
“While the future is unknown, research and data are the backbones of our agency. I strongly value autonomy and give my team the independence to research new approaches, come together to discuss and find ways to integrate these with emerging trends to help clients stay relevant.
“I take pride in being able to empower my team to experiment and grow where new strategies and technologies can be tested. Anyone who works on our team is encouraged to research new approaches and implement those ideas, tools and systems in ways that make a profound difference in the agency’s operations, client outcomes and the industry at large.”
What is your reaction when you hear that “SEO is dying”?
“SEO is a driving force behind lead generation. During the pandemic, businesses that were not online had to scramble to get there, and SEO became a focal point again in determining online success. Not all businesses can afford a large digital advertising budget, so one of the best ways to be discovered is through organic search. In most of our client cases, SEO has been a steady and supplemental lead generation drive alongside paid search, and in some instances, we have been able to reduce our ad spend as organic search picked up or doubled our weekly leads.”
What do you think is the most important contributor to keeping clients happy?
“Transparent reporting, data accuracy and being a team player are the keys to keeping our clients engaged and satisfied with their account growth. While there are many contributing factors that create healthy client relationships, the details we provide on our weekly status calls provide agnostic data that allows both the client and our team the ability to make decisions together. While our consultative approach amplifies what we do, the clients have a detailed report that allows them to see and track the success of their programs such as SEO performance, organic and paid leads, content metrics and more.”
Interested in being considered as an SEOblog “Featured SEO Expert”? Reach out to our team at [email protected]! We’d love to hear from you and give you a high-traffic platform to share your SEO agency’s story and insights.