Granular, a digital marketing agency based in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, recently promoted Steve Kroll from vice president to president of the firm. Kroll began working for Granular in December of 2015 as a consultant and joined the business full time a few months later. The seven-year-old agency, which counts several Fortune 500 companies among its clients, was already growing before COVID-19, but shifts in the market have accelerated that trend over the past year as Granular’s expanding team continues to work from home amid the pandemic.
What changes about your job with your promotion?
“Up to this point, my role has been formally overseeing sales and marketing and informally has been kind of running day-to-day operations for the agency. This promotion formalizes something that has been happening over the course of the last year, which allows our founder (Jordon Meyer) to step back from kind of the day-to-day operations of running the agency to focusing more on helping grow our business and steer the ship of where it goes. This allows me to really consolidate all functions of our agency – sales, marketing, client services – under my umbrella.”
What kind of growth have you seen this past year?
“Since March of last year, every month has been a record-breaking month in revenue, that’s month on month. We grew by 50% last year, which we had not grown that much in a previous year. … We’ve onboarded now five new employees, and it will be seven (new) full-time employees by the end of April, fully remote, not seeing them in person, which is completely different for us.”
How have clients’ needs changed?
“What happened with the pandemic is there have been all these companies we’ve been talking to, who said, ‘Someday we’re going to really figure out Google Ads, or someday we’re going to figure out Facebook, or LinkedIn or Snapchat or how to get TikTok likes.’ And they now are forced to do it because they couldn’t do trade show marketing, or in-person office presentations – they legally weren’t allowed to do that. So, when someone is looking for the best digital marketing agency who is local to them … we’re the number one option in Wisconsin, and that’s not defined by us, that’s defined by Google.”
What distinguishes Granular from other marketing firms?
“Our business is really straightforward. We don’t have to be all things to all people. We’re going to build an expert team that understands digital advertising and the analytics around it, and that expert team is going to provide exceptional customer service. So, we hire really intelligent practitioners who have great client service skills and not have account managers, not have photographers, designers. That’s not really our thing. We’ve always been lean from the start.”
What’s your approach to building company culture?
“The most important part of culture in my experience is people have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, how is success defined in the job, what does their boss and their boss’s boss care about, and do they have the tools and resources they need to be successful? And do they have deep feedback from a manager so that way they’re not just thrown the keys and told to figure it out? Most people want that engagement, they want resources, they want feedback. Based on the structure of how we set up our team, it’s really facilitated that and that’s important for our culture.”