Impact Networking’s Managed Marketing Services Shine as a Diversification Strategy
Aaron Dyck on Impact’s Unique Managed Marketing Services Division
Written by CJ Cannata | April 4, 2023
Managed marketing services are not a conventional offering in a dealer’s managed services portfolio. But then again, nothing about Impact Networking is conventional.
Frank Cucco, co-founder, CEO and partner of Impact Networking, is one of the most aggressive and innovative owners Frank G. Cannata and I have had the opportunity to work closely with in the dealer channel. I first met Cucco 10 years ago, shortly after I joined The Cannata Report. What stood out to me then, as it does now, is that Cucco recognizes the value of marketing and has always emphasized marketing and branding in Impact Networking’s business strategy. Fast forward to today, and Impact’s managed marketing services are a vital part of its managed services portfolio, which also includes cybersecurity, IT & cloud network infrastructure, and digital transformation management.
Cucco entered the managed marketing services arena when he acquired Borchew Design Group Inc. (BDGI) in 2008. Cucco had worked with the firm on startup branding for Impact Networking beginning in 1999. He was impressed with its services and the results it delivered, as were Impact’s customers, many of whom asked Cucco to help them market their own companies, which led him to acquire the company in 2008. BDGI initially maintained its existing client base, handled all of Impact’s marketing, supported sales and marketing for Impact Networking’s clients, and worked on facilities design. The team eventually split into three groups—Impact Networking’s internal marketing operations, Impact Facilities Design, and Managed Marketing Services (for clients).
In 2020, Cucco concluded he needed to change the managed marketing services business model and management team. He felt he needed someone well-versed in selling marketing services but also someone he could trust to oversee the entire division.
“It was really tough in the beginning, and we had a rough go at it,” Cucco said. He reached out to Aaron Dyck, well-known and widely respected for honing his entrepreneurial marketing chops at companies like LMI Solutions and Clover Imaging Group, for his perspective and advice. Cucco was not expecting Dyck to suggest himself, but when he did, Cucco was thrilled. Cucco immediately recognized his good fortune and hired Dyck.
“Aaron is the real deal. He really took the marketing business from a really bad place to a really good place. He is going to get the job done, no doubt,” Cucco said. “I was really excited when he offered to take the role.”
When The Cannata Report launched its Young Influencer editorial franchise 10 years ago, Aaron Dyck was honored for his impact at Clover Imaging. Now as president of managed marketing services at Impact Networking, Dyck reflects on his career and his current role.
CJ: What was your role when you first joined Impact Networking, and how has that role evolved?
AD: We found small and medium-sized businesses were not just looking for a website or how to use social media. They wanted to make an investment in driving brand awareness and new business leads.
Along the way, they wanted to add recruitment and retention. We wanted to take the subjectivity out of marketing. Our approach was simple in that we leveraged data to come up with the strategy and tactics. We have been focused on this approach to ensure we’re industry agnostic. Frank Cucco gave us the resources to build a team where everyone develops solutions by working together on one floor.
CJ: How did you build out the managed marketing services division for Impact Networking, and what type of businesses do you serve?
AD: Most agencies staff to a client. We don’t do that. That’s not something that you see from agencies or marketing service companies. We spent a lot of time and energy to hire and employ some of the best talent. We’ve also been very fortunate in that Impact’s managed marketing has experience from small to big brands across many verticals, including manufacturing, medical, hospitality and technology, among others.
CJ: With your primary customers in the SMB space, do you have to do anything unique to help them achieve the results they are looking for?
AD: Here’s how we approach managed marketing services for small businesses. Let’s say we’re looking to drive leads along with recruitment and retention. We needed to become obsessed with who the customers were and where to reach them. We then built a profile of the existing customer, which we use to target new prospects. Most importantly, we figure out the strategy first based on data. Many businesses skip that step and move right into tactics.
We recognized that to become a successful managed marketing services agency we had to tie efforts to results that directly addressed client objectives while also being able to grow with them. We measure our results quarterly and learn what’s working and what isn’t. We have periodic business reviews every six months. Ultimately, we’re looking at the data and what we did, providing data-driven insights, then pivoting, changing, or adjusting accordingly. We call this agile marketing.
CJ: What is the client typically asking for when you are doing your intake, and what do you deliver?
AD: A client will often say, “I want to triple my business next year, [but] I don’t know what I’m doing.” We initially deliver a paid assessment, and they want to know how that works. Our research team studies the client’s industry. We look at things like new and old competition and industry growth or decline. We then present the client with these insights and start building out a 36-month marketing services strategy.
Clients ultimately get a plan with a flat rate bill, paid monthly, like many other managed services – and for a minimum period of 36 months. Since we have all the people in-house, including creative, development, and account talent, to ultimately deliver against the client’s objectives, we immediately get started.
CJ: How many employees did you begin with, how many do you have now, and what can you tell us about the environment they work in?
AD: We started with 80 employees in 2020. We now have over 100. Our managed marketing offices total 150,000 square feet over eight locations, with just under 50,000 square feet at our N. Michigan Avenue headquarters. We are really invested in an environment that fosters innovation and collaboration.
CJ: What are the most successful methods for attracting and securing new business?
AD: At Impact Networking we focus on sales. We are actively focused on selling all our services, including our managed marketing services. To that end, Impact Networking’s Managed Marketing Division has subject matter experts in eight different Impact Networking locations. They all know how to sell and understand the DNA of Impact Networking, which includes educating the sales force to find new opportunities.
CJ: In previous conversations, you mentioned a business philosophy anchored in part by mandating that employees regularly work onsite. What are the benefits? What are the challenges?
AD: The benefits of live human-to-human contact and collaboration – both planned and by chance encounters – are immense. We leverage these benefits to better ideate and problem-solve. Relationships are what we build with and how we grow. People want to work here because it’s all about culture. They believe in the culture and want to grow here personally and professionally. A lot of people came here right out of college and are now in leadership roles on the front line of sales.
CJ: Given your nearly 20 years of experience working with dealers and other industry vendors, what ideas, thoughts, or guidance do you have for leaders struggling to determine the best policy about working onsite vs. remotely?
AD: It depends on where you are and what you sell. As for us, we had a no-work-from-home policy, and it was one of the best things we did. We’re closer because we truly function together as a team. I’m not going to tell you there’s a right or a wrong policy, but ours works for us.
CJ: Are you aware of any other dealers doing anything similar with regard to diversification?
AD: This really is different. We have been speaking at all the different industry events, and what we are doing here is really different than any other dealer. I’ve been fortunate to travel and see bigger dealers and have not seen anyone providing exactly what we are. That is not saying they can’t or should. Frank Cucco just recognized the importance of diversification for Impact Networking, and this is one of the ideas he came up with.
CJ: Given your experience in the industry and the dealer channel, what other thoughts would you like to leave for our audience?
AD: The big takeaway should be that everyone is looking to diversify into areas outside [document] printing. As a group, dealers are savvy sales organizations with great cultures and tenured employees. We, at Impact Networking, believe they have a great opportunity to leverage these assets in other areas. Managed Services is a natural extension. But you have to be 100% committed to whatever you get into. You have to be all in, or you will have no chance of success.
Impact Networking’s managed marketing service was profiled in The Cannata Report’s March Diversification issue cover story, 5 Under the Radar Diversification Opportunities for Office Technology Dealers.
To read the full article, visit The Cannata Report.