After 17 years in advertising/media industry, as President and Co-founder, Brent Barbee launched Conquer in the summer of 2015. The media agency is a response to a growing media marketplace, largely fragmented across TV, digital and social platforms.
The vision for the company is to provide principally driven planning that leads to intelligent buying solutions across all media. Conquer serves clients across the country from offices in Atlanta, St Simons Island, Indianapolis, and across Michigan. Client categories include but are not limited to: consumer packaged goods, non-profit, and entertainment brands. Brent lives in St Simons Island, GA with his wife, Tonya, and three children.
Connect with Brent on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- About Conquer
- Media strategy and macro-media categories
- Media budgeting and spending
- Media attribution – Marketing Science
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio, brought to you by on pay. Atlanta’s new standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:25] Lee Kantor are here, another episode of Atlanta Business Radio. And this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor on pay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories. Today on Atlanta Business Radio, we have Brant Barbee with Conquer. Welcome, Brant.
Brent Barbee: [00:00:43] Thank you, Lee. Great to be here.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:45] Well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us a little bit about Conquer. How are you serving folks?
Brent Barbee: [00:00:50] Yeah, So conquer is a media agency. Specifically, we like to say a paid media agency because we deal with the strategy of placing ads and the execution of getting that done for our clients.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:02] So what was the evolution of the idea? Have you always been involved in this line of work?
Brent Barbee: [00:01:08] You know, really, I have most of my career. I’ve been in some sort of media work or advertising work. I started in ad sales, TV ad sales way back in late nineties, early 2000s, and then went agency side with a full service agency. And out of that we actually birthed Conquer in 2015. That’s right here in Atlanta.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:28] So from a standpoint from a client standpoint, are they coming to you to just solve this specific problem or better? What would be the problem they’re coming to you to solve?
Brent Barbee: [00:01:38] Normally we like to sort of partner at least over a year’s time with them go on the journey of kind of executing, you know, the media aspect of their marketing plan or, you know, maybe more involved just overall would their marketing plan. But the relationships really like a partnership, I like to say. I mean, we have a seat at that table, talk through their various challenges, maybe with what they’re trying to accomplish with marketing and then, like I say, like to try to mediate ties, those business goals and to things that we can put out into the marketplace.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:08] Now, isn’t media part of every marketing strategy? I mean, you have to get your message into the hands of your possible consumers in some means, and media usually is that path.
Brent Barbee: [00:02:20] Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, it depends on you’re right there’s some there’s some lever there whether it be I think some lean into the PR side of getting their message out and others have a a very methodical budgeted media budget and they fully expect to spend money to to get the word out and and they want to measure that return on investment. So we’re really on that side of the the budget. We’ll advise on what the budget should be, you know, based on what they’re trying to accomplish. But oftentimes the client will have a budget, a specified budget, which will then begin to divvy up and we get the media exposure they need with that budget.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:02] Now, is there a niche you serve? Are you do you have a sweet spot in terms of industry or types of clients you like to work with?
Brent Barbee: [00:03:09] Yeah, I think we’re sort of all over the map portfolio wise, which is great because we can kind of weather any type of like weird industry trends and things that could arise if we were more so a specialty agency. But we I would characterize our client base is sort of an emerging brand, a challenger brand type situation most of the time where we’re taking on a much larger ed in the space. But we deal with national brands and we deal with those national media brands to get those. Those media plans taken care of?
Lee Kantor: [00:03:44] Are they mostly B2C or do you do some B2B?
Brent Barbee: [00:03:48] Mostly to see. Yeah, we have a wide range. We work with consumer product know we’ve got CPG brands like Farm Rich and CPAC that are fun kind of frozen food snack brands. And then we have some more sort of interesting things like Arkane, which is a which is an attraction in northern Kentucky, you know, south of Cincinnati. That’s a literal place you can visit and see how big that you know. Noah’s Ark actually was. And it’s a it’s just amazing. You know, we work with faith based, we work with CPG, we work with a lot of different types of clients. That’s a lot of fun.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:32] Now, when you’re having those initial conversations, are they coming to you because they’ve had a media partner and it’s not working out or they’re coming to you maybe for the first time to do an extensive media buy or media expansion?
Brent Barbee: [00:04:49] Yeah, I think it’s both. I mean, we definitely have some that are unhappy with maybe who they’re they expected to do this for them and they’re looking to to make a change. And then we have others that are sort of living the you know, 50% of this must be wasted. I just don’t know which 50%. So can I get a better idea by hiring someone like us to come in? We do some auditing services that are just that, you know, we look at what they’re currently, you know, what they currently have on their media plan and active and, you know, are there things that they could be doing better from our perspective. And so a lot of the times that’s how our relationships start. It’s just trying to scratch the surface of the problem and then and then dig deeper once we all have done that due diligence.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:37] So the first step in an onboarding situation is to kind of audit where they’ve been. And then my maybe kind of understand, hey, was the problem in the last thing that you did a function of the content quality or creative versus where it was and the frequency was shown in that environment?
Brent Barbee: [00:06:01] Exactly. You know, all things are considered certainly, but media, when you measure it, it gives you a great idea, especially in the digital space. Now you can see what messages were responded to, had more engagement, which ones really didn’t gain the traction that you want and and how to maybe introduce some new strategies based on other client work we’ve done that could help them because there’s some similarity there.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:26] So how does one kind of track the effectiveness of any given media outlet when it comes to a purchase, especially in consumer products? Like if I pick up that frozen food at Publix, how do you know I did it? Because I saw the ad on, you know, on the Kelly Clarkson Show versus the ad that I listened to on, you know, some radio show I was listening to on the way to the Publix.
Brent Barbee: [00:06:57] Sure. Yeah. You know. There are definitely very there’s there’s a lot of definitive ways you can measure And we we always caution though, to not. To not be over so concerned with measurement that the message doesn’t cut through. So, for example, you’re making it harder on the can for by punching in a code or doing some certain things just so you’ll know that it worked. But today’s media market has gotten way more tricky in that way. You can promo codes have become more prevalent, you know, scanning QR codes. There’s things that we can do that the consumer can appreciate that. We can also get a good indication that that media program is working. And, you know, in the instance also with retail, many of our retailers also have their own retailer specific media now that really connects those dots more effectively for us. So we like to incorporate those tactics to not only does it reward the, say, Kroger customer, but it also gives us a good indication or precise indicator that that works.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:12] So now in your work, you refer to what you do as marketing science. Like what percent is science and what percent is art? And when it comes to creating advertising that sells.
Brent Barbee: [00:08:28] Sure. I think a lot of the science part, whether it be doing audience research or testing audiences in the digital space to see if they’re responsive, that can be scientific. We try to take information to and from our past plans and see if it’s helping us predict maybe tactics and media add weight that would be effective for this. Our next wave of media. So it’s we’re it’s an information loop, if you will, that we’re educating ourselves on and becoming better as we as we move forward each time. The art part, that’s really, you know, can we measure some of the message? Are we doing AB testing between images that we can see which one the consumers seem to respond to better than the other? And then sometimes, yeah, there’s just kind of a persuasive magic that a great creative director applies to a message that it’s hard to measure. But that’s everyone knows that it was sort of the artistic approach that that helped it stand out. So there’s a little bit of everything going on and working together to to make an effective ad plan.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:43] Is there any advice you can share for entrepreneurs or business owners listening right now? Is there any low hanging fruit that they can take advantage of themselves?
Brent Barbee: [00:09:53] Sure. I think, you know, the interesting part about today’s media market is that many things are becoming, you know. Many things are are able to be managed by an independent entrepreneur. Maybe it’s somebody on their staff, but those platforms are set up so that it doesn’t require necessarily a specialist to do it in its simplest kind of basic starting form. Getting started form Facebook advertising, for example, or Instagram. All these paid social vehicles and LinkedIn to are fairly turnkey and really built to help. Those that really don’t have a tremendous amount of expertise in this space. You know, they they’re training you up. They want you to be able to use it and to empower it for your business.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:46] So do you treat when it comes to media like do you treat a Facebook or LinkedIn ad campaign in a similar manner you would as a television and or like a more traditional media? Or are they.
Brent Barbee: [00:11:02] You know, sort of I think the you know, with LinkedIn, for example, you know, it’s it’s a platform that allows you to reach out to individuals. I think, you know, there’s a flooding of LinkedIn right now that is probably becoming a little annoying to some people. And some of the ways that you can be sort of solicited on that platform. But it is a very sophisticated social media platform. And if you if you embrace some of the things that they’ve built to help you reach out, say, be to be you can really be precise with it. And yeah, I mean I think you have to think about about it sort of like a TV spot, but it can be even more personalized because of the platform.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:45] Is there a story you can share, maybe a success story in terms of working with a client and maybe share, you know, it’s the name of the client, but share the problem that they had when they came to you and how you were able to help them get to a new level.
Brent Barbee: [00:12:00] Sure. I think where we really see some tangibility oftentimes is when we’re trying to capture leads for a client that can then be handed off directly to their sales force or, you know, whomever they wish. And we’ve got numerous stories, really, of where we’ve built subscription bases and a very flywheel snowball kind of build month over month. And it’s very measurable and it’s just really rewarding to see, I think, for our media planners and buyers and also the client can see that there’s a tangible. Affect to their advertising, whether they had somebody opt in to give their their number or email or whatever to engage further. We’ve had several like that that have been trial subscription base that have worked out really well through the power of media.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:55] Now when you’re working with somebody sales funnel, how do you kind of maybe score the value of a lead that comes in that’s at the top of the funnel that maybe agrees to join a list and then they work their way through the funnel to the final part where they buy something. Do you kind of give. That person or different score as they work their way down, or is there more value to being, you know, at different parts of the funnel in terms of what the client expectation is?
Brent Barbee: [00:13:33] Sure. I think, you know, as media planners and buyers, we think about the funnel a little differently and that each stage of the funnel requires almost a different tactic, paid media tactics. So, for example, at the top of the funnel, you would have more broad awareness that maybe our TV tactics and broadcast or what have you that are a little harder to measure, but we know they’re getting through. And then as the individual often opts in and we get more information on them and they say they’d like to know more about the product or what have you, then we switch tactics to nurture that lead. But we also have things going on at the stage of the funnel, even if they haven’t opted in that are a little closer to home, whether it be, again, as I mentioned, maybe on a social page, you’re reaching out to them in a more personalized way or that’s the way it feels. And then even down to the bottom of more conversion where this person is literally maybe typing their information into an ad unit and it’s very transactional and it’s the completion of the funnel until the the salesperson, if you will, would get in contact with them or they make the purchase themselves on an Adidas type site.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:47] So if you had that kind of equation, so you have an awareness, you have a nurture, you have a conversion, you have a purchase, like is an awareness, like, you know, a value of one say, because that’s the beginning. And then a purchase is a valuable value of 100. Like, how do you how would you kind of measure that or would you use different way to measure that, that kind of journey?
Brent Barbee: [00:15:15] Yeah I think, you know, with we talk funnel, you know, we want to be as efficient as we can On the broader reaching topic or tactics, You know, we look at things like cost per thousand, cost per thousand impressions or what’s that going to cost us? That’s kind of a common metric we use when we’re buying media. And then as we may be willing to pay a little higher CPM as we get to tactics that are a little more precise and have a higher likelihood of conversion down the funnel, maybe that CPM for that tactic can be higher than maybe the 7 to $10 we were willing to pay for the broader reaching, if that makes sense.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:59] So you always use kind of a cost per thousand as the guide.
Brent Barbee: [00:16:05] Sure. Yeah, that’s certainly a buying a buying metric we look at. And to keep ourselves accountable, you know, we don’t want to overpay and something that’s going to be less targeted.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:16] But also you want to at some point somebody has to buy something. So having lots of impressions of people who never buy anything, even if it’s cheap, isn’t a good value in the long run.
Brent Barbee: [00:16:27] Exactly. Right.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:29] Now, how much of your work is spent kind of managing the expectations of your client? Because I would imagine, you know, a lot of people think that, you know, if I do this, I should get a return at the end, even though, you know, you’d like to get a return. But there’s no obvious guarantees on anything. Yeah.
Brent Barbee: [00:16:46] Yeah. I think we’re really trying to set expectations. You know, you ask, you know, how much time is spent managing those expectations? Well, a lot. You know, we have an entire vertical on our team, you know, account strategy that, you know, deals with primarily deals with client interface and keeping us accountable to the business objective we were setting out to accomplish. And but we answer it with a lot of communication. We answer it with a lot of on the on the front end, setting a a metric or expectation that we can all sort of rally around as as a reasonable expectation to reach or if it’s a stretch goal. We all agree this is a stretch goal. We’re going to test this a little bit, you know, and then we communicate via like dashboard visualizations frequently. And that may mean weekly with some and maybe a little less or a little more with others. But communication is really the key. And it is it’s a lot of our time. But but, you know, we’re meant to be a partner and a good steward of their dollars. So we definitely open the doorway to communication. And like I said, we provide them a dashboard and everything that they can even log in on their own oftentimes to check up on things.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:05] So what do you need more of? How can we help you?
Brent Barbee: [00:18:10] Well, I think, you know, we’re we’re on a we’ve got very ambitious growth goals every year. We’ve had a tremendous trajectory since 2015, and 2023 was our biggest year. I’m sorry, 2022 was our biggest year yet. So we just really want to keep the momentum rolling and more introductions to to to partners we could work with. It’ll be great. I hope you know this. We definitely want to grow in Atlanta. We want to we’re we’re HQ here, but we’re working with brands all over the country, so. Yeah.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:43] But yeah, a good a good client for you is the actual brand or is it do you work with marketing agencies that don’t specialize in media as as in-depth as you like? Who is that good client for you?
Brent Barbee: [00:18:59] Yeah, that’s a great question. I appreciate it. We work directly with brands and then yes, we work with other agencies, several here in Atlanta and other areas of the country where they that’s one of the things one of the things that isn’t under their roof and that’s paid media. So we many times will come in as that paid media partner to complete sort of their account management team. And and those those have been really fruitful as well. And we’ve had relationships like that for years. So yeah, I encourage other agencies love to network with them and find out how we can help them, even if it just means coming in and again giving them kind of a consultancy of of approach. We have we’ve worked with some brand strategy agencies that just want to know could media solve this problem? And those are fun meetings and fun relationships as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:54] And then the paid media, you’re not just you’re not excluding social media, right? So paid media could include the social media platforms as well, right?
Brent Barbee: [00:20:05] Yep. Every social every social platform has paid ads there. Some are better than others, but they certainly monetize their platforms that way. And so we just feel like, you know. We want to be a good partner to those platforms, even by by doing those ads well for clients. But as I mentioned, you know, a lot of those you can kind of go direct to and test it, but it sooner or later it becomes a full time job when it when it begins to work for you.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:38] So if somebody wants to learn more, have a more substantive conversation with you or somebody on the team, what’s the website.
Brent Barbee: [00:20:44] Sure it’s conquer WW dot com so conquer worldwide or conquer WW.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:52] Well Brant thank you so much for sharing your story today you’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Brent Barbee: [00:20:56] I appreciate it.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:58] Thank you. All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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