A “Refreshing” Take on Marketing: An Interview with Terri Hartley Hoffman

Crew Team RowingI had the opportunity to speak with the founder of Marketing Refresh, Terri Hartley Hoffman, recently about her company and their innovative approach to online digital marketing services.

Marketing Refresh provides inbound marketing, marketing strategy, web design and development, SEO, social media management, email, and metrics services to their clients.

Terri’s 19+ years of marketing experience and her relationships with other freelance marketing specialists allows Marketing Refresh to offer specialized marketing talent that does the heavy lifting of marketing for their clients to drive results and meet their clients’ goals. I had fun speaking with Terri and getting to the root of what makes Marketing Refresh so successful.

Q: I saw on your website that your title is “Chief Puzzle Maker.” It’s an intriguing title, but what does it mean?

A: There are so many areas of specialization in marketing. I like to focus on client relationships and the business issues that lead them to believe that they need marketing services. I assess their goals and develop a roadmap to lay out the foundation – the corners and edges of their plan – in effect laying out the shape of the puzzle. I then begin to fill in the pieces. I love finding that one key piece that makes it all fit together so that all of the pieces fall easily into place.

Q: You mentioned that you like to leverage talent to help clients meet their goals. Do you mean the clients’ talents or the talent of Marketing Refresh and its partners?

A: Both.  Marketing plans and solutions are not one-size-fits-all. We leverage the talent of the client in that we need their information, their input, their direction and often, their execution. We leverage our partner network for writing, as we do with GlobalWrites, as well as others for web development, event management, and PR. I always need to find the person that has the one “blue” piece that is going to make the puzzle all come together.

Q: You are definitely not afraid to collaborate and find partners to help you reach your clients’ goals.

A: It’s not just a matter of not being afraid. Working collaboratively is critical to me and to my business. This is the only way that I CAN do business. We aren’t the typical, big marketing firm that believes we can do it all. It takes a bigger team.

Q: What is your favorite thing about marketing and running your business?

A: My answer is pretty selfish, really. I find it personally satisfying to know that we’ve made the puzzle. We’ve really helped the client by engaging a great team of people. I often feel like the quarterback who listens to the head coach or owner of the team (the client), finds the right players and then coaches them to score a touchdown and achieve their goal. I enjoy the practice of marketing but I love the teamwork the most.

Q: What is the hardest part?

A: The teamwork is also the most difficult part of a project. I love challenges and it is difficult to get people facing the same direction in an unselfish way. Great team members have humility and are willing to collaborate and work together as a team.  That’s why the companies I currently partner with are so valuable to me.  They are all stars in their own right, but also great team players.

Q: Why did you start the company and how is it different from when you began?

A: I started the company out of fear and the need to survive. I had a great job and when the economy tanked, I was laid off. I was a single mom with 2 kids and I needed to put food on the table. The timing was right because it was over a summer. I was able to spend a lot of time with my children and think through what was missing out there and where I could provide value. The key decision moment to start my own company came when I was working with a recruiter who had set me up with an interview for a VP of Marketing position for a large company. The recruiter told me, “They will love you and offer you the job, but it’s not the right job for you. You’re an entrepreneur.” I realized that I was about to step into a traditional marketing practice that had grown stale for me. This was when HubSpot and content marketing were pretty new, so when I went out to start Marketing Refresh the timing was right and everything came together. Many marketing companies get stuck in a rut, and you just can’t do that really in any business. You have to keep up and evolve to be successful. That is something that is important to me for keeping Marketing Refresh successful and current.

Q: If you had to sum up Marketing Refresh in one sentence, what would it be?

A: “We’re the lamp, the lifeboat, and the ladder.” They shouldn’t have to worry about the terms and acronyms of digital marketing. We can figure out how to get them there. Sometimes we need to be the lamp to show the way, sometimes the lifeboat to pull them out of the muddle of conflicting and possibly drowning marketing tactics, and sometimes the ladder to get them to the next level. Most clients are able to say, “Phew, that’s just what I need right now.” We are their virtual CMO.