July 29, 2022

Adding more fuel to our firepower

treetree
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Why treetree acquired a B2B digital marketing agency and expanded its capabilities

In early 2021, as companies were re-emerging from what was probably the most unpredictable and tumultuous year of operation, treetree was in a very unique position. After months of uncertainty, our future trajectory had started to become clear. We had recently made the decision to sharpen our focus almost exclusively on B2B giants. We pivoted our messaging, relaunched our website and buckled up for new conversations and new heights.

It felt like we were sitting on a rocket ship about to blast off. We had come out of the pandemic a stronger company than when it started. Of course, that’s largely due to an all-in team who got scrappy when we needed to, stayed strong when it really mattered and stuck together through some unprecedented challenges.

Flash forward: We’re now a team of 33 with plans to have about 40 trees strategically placed throughout Ohio, Florida, New Jersey and Germany within the next few months. Because when the rocket ship was preparing for takeoff, our Co-Founder & CEO, Becca Apfelstadt, knew that to really reach the growth she envisioned, we needed to pour a little gasoline on our creative firepower.

We bought a B2B digital marketing agency

We bought a B2B digital marketing agency in March 2022. With that came new faces, a new way of working and new capabilities that opened up new opportunities for our existing and future clients.

The treetree of today isn’t the same agency we were a couple of years ago. And we’ve never been better.

We’re excited to share the who and why of this important move. So we sat down with Becca and former CEO of Weiter Marketing, Justin Wagg, to talk about their kismet connection and the power move that accelerated the growth they were both seeking.

Q: Tell us about how the merger started and why now.

Justin:
It’s all my fault.

Becca:
laughs

Well, as the dust settled on the whirlwind growth treetree experienced during COVID, I had that familiar little tingle. What’s next? What more can we do and be? Where can we strengthen our services to give our clients MORE firepower to really drive their sales and marketing success?

I knew that deepening our B2B digital marketing expertise was key. As an agency that has always evolved according to our industry and the needs of our clients, treetree already had digital offerings. We designed for digital. We had strategic partnerships in place with developers and media buyers and other partners to fill our digital gaps. But it was time to bring complex digital expertise in-house. So you could say I was in the market for a B2B digital marketing agency that could complement our services and help our clients better reach their goals.

Justin:
It’s truly all about timing. After three successful years since starting Weiter Marketing, I was also looking to bolster our services. We were specializing in digital and execution, and when creative opportunities came up, we just shied away. We didn’t have the chops to play confidently there. So we were also kind of actively looking for a partner like treetree. And it just so happened that Becca was kind of looking for the same thing from a digital standpoint. Things just aligned very well.

Q: What additional services does treetree offer now that it didn’t before this acquisition?

Becca:
We’re so much stronger. With Justin and his team on board, our creative has more firepower than was ever possible before.

Justin:
Lead and demand gen are two areas where we can really drive results for our clients. Through split testing, landing page development and campaign management, we can be nimble, iterative and really creative with how we fill our clients’ funnels and optimize conversion rates.

treetree is also now a certified HubSpot partner. We know that marketing automation is a real game changer for B2B organizations. These offerings plus cookied and cookieless setup, marketing analytics and reporting, SEO strategy and management, paid social and pay-per-click are all areas in which we offer strategic guidance, planning and execution.

And our clients really love our staff augmentation offering, so we can supplement their teams with digital experts that a lot of B2B marketing teams either don’t have or need more of.

Q. Why should treetree clients care about these enhanced offerings?

Justin:
When you’re looking at business mergers, you’re looking for one plus one equals three. And I think that’s exactly what we found with this partnership—the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. What we’re finding is the value it brings to the clients.

Becca:
One thing that I was always extremely interested in when speaking with Justin and everything that he had built was the additional focus on B2B marketing his team brings.

I remember going down to visit the team in Tampa and sharing that we deliver creative firepower for B2B giants—yet we’ve been searching for extra jet fuel to boost our power. This digital team brings the firepower. We’ve got the creative, strategy, concepting and the big ideas for days. But getting those messages into the market and making sure they’re performing and then measuring and holding that campaign to a standard that makes it worth the dollars that are being spent on it—that’s critical.

Being able to go back to the marketing and sales teams of those organizations and say, here’s what happened as a result, and here’s what we recommend you do moving forward is a better way to do business—and that far exceeds any other reason.

Q: Since we touched on company culture, say more about that. How much did company culture factor into the decision to merge?

Justin:
Oftentimes, you meet so many people in business who are just not friendly people. And that was an important piece to me when looking to find a home. Knowing this was going to be a big shift for all our existing team members, I wanted to make sure that they felt like they were landing somewhere that they didn’t feel like their jobs were threatened or they weren’t going to align with the culture.

Becca:
It was incredibly important to me to know—and for them to know—that we were inheriting and enveloping a group of people who were going to be like-minded and fit well into our core values. If we ended up with a group that didn’t, it was going to be evident really quickly. It was going to create pain and tension throughout the rest of the organization. And that would be stress that would erode projects and morale, so it was really important that we got that right.

So if we don’t have a group of people across the table who want to be in a place like ours, it’s not going to work, and there’s no point in going forward. Our culture is core to who we are and how we operate.

My first interaction with Justin was an hourlong Zoom call with good vibes, good energy and we genuinely enjoyed hearing each other’s stories and reasons we were ready to make a partnership happen.

Just a few days later, he came to Columbus along with his counterpart Ellen, met the leadership team and toured our space in the Short North. We went through the rest of the process pretty speedily because it did just feel like such a great fit.

I remember telling you throughout our negotiations and conversations, because you had other offers and other potential leads and letters of intent written to you, that “I don’t know what their cultures are like, but I can tell you what ours is like, and I promise you, I’m going to take care of your people.”

Justin:
Yeah, and to know and hear that was meaningful and sincere. I was really pleased with Becca’s offer to take care of our people.

Q: How would you say the partnership is impacting clients so far? What have you been hearing?

Becca:
It’s going well, and clients on both sides are excited and enthusiastic to hear about the agency’s full capabilities now that we have everything under one roof. There are a few clients in particular that are very relieved that this is now a one-stop-shop solution for everything, and they’re seeing the benefit of neither one of us having to rely on external partners.

I’m personally getting a lot of “atta girls” from clients. They’re impressed, and they’re excited to see this kind of growth from us. They’re happy to see us leaning in and doubling down on our core target with this B2B focus.

Justin:
And we’ve got a couple of clients that are eager to get their hands on some of the creative talent, and I’ve started to make some introductions and show some new faces. They’re intrigued, and I think they can’t wait to see what we can do now that they didn’t expect from us before.

Q: What are some challenges or concerns treetree has had to overcome during this integration?

Becca:
My concern, in the beginning, was that it was going to be a hurdle sharing that we have deepened our B2B digital marketing knowledge, but I’ve been so pleasantly surprised at how easily we’ve overcome that. As soon as Justin gets in front of somebody and opens his mouth, they’re like, “yeah, we get it.” And this is because we brought a team to the table that is a really great fit for the types of clients we’re serving.

We have all these case studies with experience and background that line up so nicely with the same industries that are in need of strong technology support. We know our clients are using HubSpot and Marketo and all the different systems and software that we have expertise in now, so we’re speaking the same language as our clients.

We’ve got enough of a niche built up that we’re in the rooms with the right people who need our services. They seem to be really impressed and excited and are having kind of these “aha moments” as we’re talking.

Justin:
Yeah, definitely. I was a little nervous about our area of specialty in startups and scale-ups just based on the clients we’ve worked with previously.

And as it turns out, it is actually one of the questions these B2B giants are asking because it seems that from a digital perspective, a lot of these B2B organizations are running special project teams basically like startups. And we see we’re just this breath of fresh air when they realize that we’re accustomed to moving quickly, staying nimble and understanding their operations.

Q: Justin, when did you know treetree was the right partner?

Justin:
When I got a very comfortable, treetree-branded pink T-shirt. laughs

Becca:
It’s red!

Justin:
I think probably by the end of April, five or six weeks into weekly leadership meetings. Becca was out at the time, having just adopted her baby, and I started realizing these faces that I’m seeing every day and interacting with are actually genuinely very nice people. They just want to do good work, and it felt like the right spot to be in.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Justin:
Well, I’d like to offer an opportunity for a sense of comfort. We know this is a time of economic uncertainty for a lot of organizations. And it’s important for marketing leaders to know they’re getting every ounce of performance out of their spend. Fine-tuning your analytics is a smart way to sleep a little better at night, and that’s something treetree can help provide.

Becca:
And I’d like to invite existing clients and B2B organizations that maybe thought of treetree in a different category to come visit the treehouse and learn what we can do for you now that wasn’t really on the table before. We’ve got a lot to offer, and Justin loves to leave sunny Florida to come to Ohio.

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