With Our Powers Combined, We are RapJab
Marketing Strategists Richard Alexander Pomes and James Braendel talk about starting a marketing firm with a human touch.
For co-owners Richard Alexander Pomes and James Braendel, the choice to start a business came from a desire to combine their talents and ideas and take their work to the next level.
With a background in theatre, which has a natural sidekick relationship to marketing, Pomes brought a lot of creativity to the table, while Braendel brought strategy, management and business savvy coming from his background earning an MBA from UNO.
“James and I had both recently left another agency we worked at here in New Orleans,” says Richard Alexander Pomes, co-owner of RapJab. “We were both doing freelance work; he was doing web design and I was doing social media, PR, and event planning (a lot of it for the NOLA Project.) We figured we should combine our powers to sell clients a more comprehensive marketing solution. Once we got together, we realized we shared a vision for much more than websites and social media. Specifically, we wanted to create brands, marketing strategy, and experiences with an emphasis on storytelling and human relationships.”
The two formed RapJab (their combined monograms) and began to create a more human approach to marketing.
“One of our founding principals is that people connect to people, not companies,” Pomes says. “With this in mind, we create brands that reflect the core values and beliefs of the people in the organization, as well as the target audience.”
The two partners pride themselves on being able to read a client by using context clues carried within the client’s personality. They create the mission statement, logo and surrounding elements of the brand, by using insight and intellect in addition to gathering information about the client and their business. In short, they create a brand the client may not even be aware that they want.
“Clients can expect an incredibly hands-on, personal process,” says Pomes. “We’re the kind of agency that treats the client like a part of the team - with lots of questions, approval on work, focus groups, round tables, etc. We’ve been told that our project kickoff meetings are like therapy sessions because we ask a lot of probing questions about the history of our client’s organization, why they got into their industry or field, and where their values or beliefs come from.”
As for what makes business a challenge for them, Braendel says that bringing new team members into a close-knit circle can be difficult.
“Hiring is one of the toughest parts of business,” Braendel says. “When you are a bootstrapped company like ours, it’s hard to answer the question: ‘When can we hire the next team member?’
You have to take a leap of faith that the money will be there and continue to be there. Once you’ve decided to hire, you have to find the best person for the team. When you’re as small as we are, the person has to fit in so many categories: does he/she fit our culture? How does his/her skill set fit into our strategic vision? Are they well versed in all the nuances of a creative agency? Will we be able to reach full utilization, etc. Hiring alone wouldn’t be so hard, but when everything else is flying at you it seems it becomes a lower priority than it should. We’re building the plane in mid-flight.”
RapJab has noticed a commonality within their client list - tenacity and an eagerness to learn and grow.
“The clients we favor (and work best with) are the ones that are hungry and ambitious,” says Pomes. “They’re often organizations that are going through a rebrand or a new product launch of some kind, or better yet, are looking to disrupt their industry. We tend to stay away from organizations that send out inquires to multiple agencies or who just need an agency to produce whatever status quo work they’ve been putting out for years.”
As the company continues to grow, the owners are optimistic and excited, and are enjoying the steady stream of referrals.
“We haven’t had to do much marketing and seeking out new clients,” says Pomes. “Most of our new business comes in via referrals or existing clients. The only thing we invest a lot of time and energy into is building our brand and company culture through social media. Our visibility on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has helped more than anything else. And that content is less about our work and more about how much fun we’re having or where we’re traveling to this month. Even if the people following us aren’t decision makers at their business, they often have a say with the person who is and they’ll put in a good word for us once their company is on the lookout for an agency.”
To see what RapJab is all about, visit their website. They’re also on the look out for a print designer and experienced account managers.