Hello! It’s finally time for my next edition of Sky’s the Limit, a blog of Q&A-style interviews featuring women entrepreneurs who live in Columbus, OH. I’m especially excited to introduce you to today’s lady boss, Jaclyn Tracy! She’s the co-founder of Brand Effect—a digital branding and consulting agency. Jaclyn and I knew of each other in college; we had mutual friends while living in Chicago and both attended DePaul University. After we graduated, Jaclyn landed a job at Leo Burnett—one of the top advertising agencies in the world, while I specialized in public relations at Edelman. Now, we both live in Columbus and have reconnected. Jaclyn is currently helping me modernize my site and branding, and I’ve loved every minute that we’ve been able to work together. It helps that we’re both obsessed with analytics and believe the best marketing and ad campaigns are born from data-driven insights.
Columbus is extremely lucky to have a marketing talent like Jaclyn. She moved to Columbus to be closer to her fiancé, Kevin Bingle. Together, they launched Brand Effect to help e-commerce startups, small businesses and advocacy organizations thrive in a crowded market place. She’s worked with some pretty awesome brands including Pack Life LA and Le Coeur Watch Co. If you’re interested in her work and the services her company provides, click here. I hope Jaclyn’s story inspires you to live fearlessly and pursue your dreams. Enjoy!
You and Kevin launched Brand Effect in December of 2017—can you share why you started it and what services you offer?
After moving from Chicago to Columbus, I joined Kevin in his own venture as a political digital consultant. After about two weeks of independently working together in the political space, I realized that if we wanted to sustain a business it had to be in the brand world, where quality creative is valued and long-term planning and building is possible.
We love helping our clients with their business development and brand strategies, website design, and their digital advertising and optimization strategy.
Going back to the earlier days, can you tell me about the process of launching Brand Effect from concept to reality?
Ever since I was little I wanted to own my own business. When I worked at a couple large advertising agencies in Chicago, I wanted so badly to be a bigger part of the overarching long-term strategy of the company, redesigning the digital infrastructural road map. But at an over-sized agency, you either put in a decade of late nights, crazy deadlines and stressed out clients OR you jump ship. I chose the latter.
We are in a new era of advertising, and the big ad agencies aren't cutting it because they are too top heavy. With how fast innovation is happening these traditional agencies physically can't be nimble enough. And now that Publicis Groupe and Omnicom own the majority of the ad agencies in the world - all those big decisions are made by a small number of people in France and New York City, and executed worldwide.
So, Brand Effect, in essence, was born out of the frustration of working at a traditional ad agency owned and controlled by a behemoth holding company.
Brand Effect is similar to a traditional advertising agency in our core structure, but operationally, we are the complete opposite: we have very little overhead. There are only four of us full-time each of whom focuses on one of our core areas: Account, Creative, Strategy and Analytics.
The rest is made up of a large network of freelance or independent contractors. That keeps cost low for our clients and allows us to stay nimble while working with some of the most talented people in the industry. We are always looking to bring on more freelancers - contact us if you’re interested.
What do you want people to know about your brand?
I want people to understand why we named our company, Brand Effect. ‘BRAND’ — is our commitment to quality creative. ‘EFFECT’— is our commitment to data optimization and results.
What is your specialty/why should people work with you?
Data-driven creative and website design. In our online world, where technology and creative intersect, everything is measurable. Data tells us what customers like and what they don’t like so that we are able to constantly improve our creative work. It's about testing theories, looking for patterns, modifying programs and delivering a product that is statistically more likely to offer a positive outcome.
What’s been the hardest part about owning a small business?
The overwhelming amount of work that it takes just to manage it, from finances, to finding qualified people who can help execute our vision, to inventing workflow processes. We spend a lot of time and energy re-inventing ourselves, our processes and our operational structure.
Would you consider yourself a creative person or a taskmaster?
Definitely creative. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of checking things off the list, but I love to pave the path forward more than anything else. I honestly have trouble with routine daily tasks because they bore me.
Have you had any “OMG, pinch me” moments as a business owner?
My fiancé has been working for Governor John Kasich for 10 years now. But when Kasich and his family showed up to our launch party, it just made me realize, "We are really doing this thing!” “We are really charting our own path forward!”
For the dreamers, the entrepreneurs or people still looking to start their own business, what advice do you have?
Listen to your instincts and follow them. I truly believe the universe has a way of leading you down the right path. But you have to listen to it, you have to stay in tune with it and you have to trust it.
You live and work with your fiancé/soon to be husband; how do you maintain a work/life balance?
It’s a work in-progress. But meditation, exercise and Regan Walsh, my Life Coach, are huge helps in our forward progress.
Do you set goals? How often and when do you check yourself?
Of course! I reset my goals whenever I feel like it's time to reset. And I know its time to reset when my emotions tell me it’s time to reset. Right now, it’s often. Kevin and I are currently flushing out a long-term strategic plan and I have been having these deep reflective moments on almost a weekly basis. When I reset my goals I write down action items for how to achieve them. And those goals stay on my daily to-do lists until I am able to check them off or decide they are no longer worth pursuing.
What are you most proud of?
I’m the most proud of our team. And how we’ve grown together this past year. Our monthly team summits, at which we check in with ourselves and our team, have been enormously helpful. They have helped us to stay nimble and pivot or further define our direction when needed, empowering each of us to move forward.
What’s been your biggest sacrifice since starting your own business?
My time. I work constantly, which has definitely had an impact on my social life. But I don't have kids right now, and I'm doing what I love, with the partner I love, so I can't really complain!