There’s something to be said when an entrepreneur stops trying to do everything and focuses on what they do know. Ryan McManus knows marketing. In just shy of two years’ time, he’s gone from corporate marketer to agency founder with a 15-person team.
ContentVia is a full-service sales and marketing agency focused on startups, making about 90 percent of their client base.
Startups are in a unique spot when it comes to marketing. They can’t afford the traditional agency that’s more catered to an established brand anyways, yet hiring one marketing person doesn’t always cut it. McManus says that one person may be good at web design, social media and copywriting, but what about graphic design,, analyzing analytics and sales?
ContentVia offers the power of a marketing department through an agency. The company’s list of services includes graphic design, web design, video production, digital and print advertising, media buying, public relations, social media and sales.
“The value that we bring to a startup is that we’ve productized the product launch process,” McManus says.
ContentVia’s approach takes a logical, sequential look at the process. Strategy is discussed before branding. A client doesn’t get a website before their brand is built. It’s a process that’s helped launch 15 startups over the last 20 months.
As they have rapidly grown, ContentVia has moved from B2B and B2C clients to those with physical and digital products. They’ve also become well-versed in something that’s become synonymous with startups – crowdfunding.
“I’ve ran six campaigns, advised 12, and talked twice that number out of it,” McManus says. “I’m more realistic about what crowdfunding is and what it needs to be.”
Simply put, crowdfunding is a lot of work. McManus says there’s a ton of misconceptions about what it means to run a crowdfunding campaign. Campaigns are generally an expense – not a guaranteed money maker. But, “Crowdfunding is one of the best ways to get validation and launch your product,” McManus says.
He would know because he’s been behind two very successful campaigns, The Defender and Tympani. The Defender’s nearly quarter-million dollar success was their own proof of concept they could take on the product development process.
As for the realistic piece, “We do strategically small crowdfunding campaigns,” McManus says.
While any startup that runs a campaign dreams of that outrageous, way-over-the-goal success, that’s not always in the business’ best interest. McManus points out that there’s a big difference between planning your campaign around 400 pre-sales and then ending up with 4,000 backers.
While McManus knows crowdfunding, he’s surrounding himself with a team of people that are better than him in other areas. It’s the model by which ContentVia grew.
McManus studied marketing at Ohio Dominican University, landing in the dream scenario of securing a full-time job before graduation. He rose through the ranks of the company, all the way to marketing director when he decided to swap corporate for entrepreneurship in January of last year.
“It was a pivotal point in my career where I was either going to stay in corporate and continue to move up or go out on my own,” McManus says.
For the previous four years he’d been toying with and developing startups. An idea for an app that tracked food trucks never quite came to fruition, but an early 2012 crowdfunding campaign did make him part owner of a coffee shop.
“They were all good lessons for me about building brands and building startups,” McManus says.
However, he realized, “The best thing I can do is to help other startups with sales and marketing.” He stopped focusing on everything he wasn’t good at – coffee, food trucks, etc. – and, “When I did that we had a ton of success.”
He started with just a few clients, marketing the services he could do well, but wasn’t necessarily the best at, and started building his team with people that were better in different areas.
“Those initial clients replaced my income and that allowed me to start figuring out the type of marketing agency I wanted to be,” McManus says.
While he landed at helping startups, that entrepreneurial mindset is something that applies to ContentVia’s employees, too.
McManus wants to support young, ambitious entrepreneurs. The company encourages employees to be entrepreneurial. Get the payoff of working on their big idea while having the safety net of ContentVia.
While hiring is always a challenge to find that right fit, McManus has found a wide talent pool that fits the bill in Columbus.
“There’s a ton of talent,” he says. “There’s a lot of people looking to be found here.”
For more information, visit contentvia.com.