Marketing: Utilizing Internal Talent to Build Our Brand

By Destiny Giordano

Summus Group is a management consulting firm whose mission statement is to “relentlessly pursue the happiness of our associates, the satisfaction of our clients, and the improvement of our communities with integrity and passion”. But just how does Summus Group fulfill its mission statement when it comes to communicating with its associates, clients, potential employees and the communities it serves?

As a fast and growing company that is still arguably in its nascent stage, only having been founded in 2012, Summus Group’s approach to internal initiatives such as philanthropy, marketing and associate satisfaction is to turn to the ones who are the most invested in the day-to-day of the company itself: its associates. Summus Group associates are given the opportunity to be involved from the ground up. For the Marketing Committee that means they have a direct line to showcase the Summus Group brand, voice, culture and community involvement to help drive engagement, attract potential candidates and build a following.

Growing from four original team members at its inception to 17 today, the Marketing Committee is growing not only in member count, but also in results. Although it was only launched in 2018, the statistics speak for themselves. In the last year, the firm’s newly updated website garnered over 4,800 user visits, its social media accounts made 435 posts with original content and its LinkedIn profile saw a 68% follower increase.

The narrative behind why this is all so special lies in the fact that, besides the normal social media and marketing involvement a millennial may have, none of the members of the committee have any formal background in this space. It is a testament to the loyalty and passion Summus Group evokes in each of its associates by empowering them to invest their time and talents in these committees to help drive results.

In this month’s edition of Sit Down with Summus, we sit down with the Marketing Committee’s Chair, Juan Patiño, to do a deep dive on the committee, including its recent revamp in 2019.

How did you become involved in Summus Group’s Marketing Committee?

This goes back to the beginning of my career with Summus Group. I was getting ready to onboard onto my new engagement and I was approached by some of our leadership asking if I was interested in helping stand up the Social Media Committee. Being a millennial and having used social media for many years, I jumped right in. A small group of us went out for coffee and talked about what social media meant to us, what we’d want to achieve, and who would lead us. We needed someone who would help streamline our process and drive things forward. We took a vote and I was nominated as the committee lead. It was very honoring, and I was more than enthusiastic to lead the team.

We also internally determined our Summus Group website needed a refresh. As we were growing as a firm and being exposed to larger audiences in our market, we needed something more elevated that could go head-to-head with some of our peer competitors in the market; something more attractive overall. We also noticed an increased demand in distributing promotional merchandise incorporating the Summus Group logo. After recognizing these needs and adding them to our plate, it made sense that instead of just being the Social Media Committee, we should be the Marketing Committee for Summus Group. Our leaders saw there was a group of associates willing and able to market our brand and culture and they allowed us to run with it.

What all is the Marketing Committee responsible for today?

Today, we are responsible for showcasing our brand, our culture and our core values. Additionally, we like to show what our associates care about and what is important to the firm through marketing campaigns which focus on our current associates, potential candidates, clients, business partners and our communities.

Our marketing initiatives include the management of our online presence through maintaining our website up-to-date with latest information about our company, key team members, current job openings and core competencies as a firm; becoming publicized by well-known journalism outlets in our markets in Charlotte, Austin and Atlanta and providing original content by our Summus Group associates, and upkeep of SEO to become more accessible to our candidates and clients. In addition to this, we are also responsible for managing our social media presence and profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. There is a lot that goes into maintaining these profiles and engaging with our audiences. Lastly, we are responsible for the production and distribution of our promotional merchandise, or swag, as we call it. We are organized in teams that we call “sub-committees” that lead each of these main activities: online presence & publications, social media, and swag.

What prompted a revamp of the Marketing Committee in 2019?

In 2019, Summus Group experienced major growth with the influx of new associates which led to more people expressing interest in joining the committee. Each person that came in added value immediately in many different areas. However, at the start of 2019, the Marketing Committee’s organizational structure was not robust enough to handle the number of members in a fluid manner. As the Marketing Committee, we were taking on many different initiatives all at once, determining who would be the best fit to help with each specific effort as they came up. With our rapid growth and considering that all of our members also had client responsibilities, capacity became a factor that affected how quickly efforts were moving. At the time, I was assigned to a demanding engagement and as a billable resource, I prioritized my client work and therefore, was having a difficult time moving the puck forward with our Marketing Committee team and keeping everyone engaged. I knew I owed them more time and I needed help.

How did the Marketing Committee go about conducting its own revamp?

When I knew we needed to do something, I wanted to hear how our Marketing Committee members felt and after finding agreement across the board, I tapped on three of our newest members to help. It was the perfect time to let them take this as an opportunity to plug into the Marketing Committee, and Summus Group in general, in a really impactful way. When I reached out to them to express my concerns, along with a few ideas on how I thought we could improve, they were excited and immediately ran with it.

The team got to work. We decided that a foundational effort should be to update our charter document to become our ultimate guidebook and reference for the committee going forward. We needed it to clearly outline who we are as a Committee, what we aim to do, who our members are, roles and responsibilities, our cadences, policies, everything, really, so that if any new associate were interested in our group or if any current member needed something to reference, our charter would serve its purpose.

As time went by, our revamp leads sought constant feedback through checkpoint cadences they had stood up with me initially and as we defined our plan of attack. Then we engaged our broader team to generate ideas and get all of their input. We involved everyone. We were all mindfully and willingly accountable to improve our Marketing Committee and we were aware that by putting in the effort, we would become one of Summus Group’s most robust, organized teams, and one that had done it all by itself.

As we brought our plan to the finish line, we reviewed what had changed, talked about what the next steps were and agreed on how we would be governed. We went from being a nebulous free-for-all Marketing Committee where I was the sole leader, to dividing ourselves into three strong sub-committees under the overarching committee, each led by amazing leaders who are passionate in their respective areas.

The final step was engaging leadership team to socialize our changes and how we moved to align with the overall Summus Group strategy. We knew we had our leadership’s trust and support every step of the way, which was extremely encouraging, motivating and relieving. We have a leadership team that completely and devotedly trusts every single one of us to run away with initiatives like these to help Summus Group grow and improve.

Specific to the Marketing Committee, what are you most excited for in 2020?

I am thrilled about the team we currently have and the ideas we have been discussing. Specifically, there are some really cool and unique initiatives being worked on by our social media team that I am really excited about. They have generated awesome new concepts that will elevate the way we engage in our social media profiles. We can’t wait for our audiences to experience these.

What I am most excited for, is having a team that is passionate, motivated and eager to take on the Marketing Committee’s mission to showcase our Summus Group brand through the campaigns I’ve touched on previously. I’m also looking forward to taking our Committee to the next level by continuing to think outside of the box and allowing every single member to make an impact in a tangible way. In general, I can’t wait to see how our Summus Group brand and culture continue to be marketed across our industry and communities by this exceptional and inspirational team that I am grateful to be a part of.