Matt Gavenda is the driving force behind the innovative Indiana-based digital marketing power brand, Ambit design. He and his team serve a diversity of enterprises with cutting-edge assistance, curated for the digital age—from branding t0 search engine marketing to digital media plans, e-commerce, and everything in between.
Ever-ready with a fascinating insight or ten for businesses aiming to up their virtual game, Matt often shares tips here for others to leverage. However, the time has come to turn the tables as Matt answers some of our burning need-to-know questions, providing a peek behind the curtain of why Ambit operates the way it does, and why your brand couldn’t be in safer hands.
Hi Matt! It’s great to get the chance to speak with you today. As the mastermind behind Ambit Design, you’re obviously doing great things for the various businesses and startups that you serve. However, I thought it might be fun today to give your audience a little more of a glimpse into what makes the personality driving the Ambit brand tick! Let’s dive right into it.
Q: I’ll start by saying that I love how you place such a high emphasis on starting with a firm foundation for each client, whether it’s developing phenomenal branding or nailing down the secret sauce of their SEO. I think it was Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams who said “If you build it, they will come”, which is pretty poignant in your field! Why do you think it’s so important to take this approach in the digital business age?
Without a solid foundation, the reality is that every business will struggle. In fact, many fail simply because they don’t understand who they are or who their customers are. You need to build on more than just a great idea.
That’s why we ask a lot of questions—to get the measure of who our clients are as a launch-point so that we can start to understand their market and then work with them to figure out who they should be trying to sell to.
It’s also key to know that this does not happen overnight. We love to work with companies ready to tackle hard truths about their business so that we can help them grow from the ground up!
Q: I’ve heard that your team-members are analytics whizzes when it comes to doing market research and helping businesses pivot into a wider niche. For those who have never considered using data to boost their brand, can you give us a quick-fire explanation of why this kind of information is such a powerful resource in a digital world?
At the end of the day, every business is different and should be different. Even for companies that are doing something similar within the same market, there is a need to find what makes their offering unique. Getting a home run with your “Why you should hire/buy from us” proposition is important.
Crucially, data helps differentiate your company from competitors. As humans, we tend to assume a lot of things about our business, about our competitors, about our employees, and about our marketplace. The problem is that assumptions are often flawed—most of the time, they don’t account for the most vital variables.
Many clients hesitate to deep dive into the data because it can be eye-opening in a way that feels really challenging. But at Ambit, we love to jump right into that data to discover if a shift is needed in another direction; especially if the client is spread too thin. In general, we want to help our clients pinpoint what is working and what isn’t so that the proper adjustments can be made.
Q: SEO (search engine optimization) has become a buzzword these days that most entrepreneurs have on their radar, but fewer know what SEM (search engine marketing) is and how to leverage it to grow their businesses. Can you give us a layman’s term definition? Plus, how important is it, do you think, to use both?
The way I like to explain it is that SEO is the ‘tactics’… The essential tools/activities that allow you to achieve your target marketing strategy. With this term, we are describing a wide variety of activities that involve on-page or off-page work we can do to get a website more favorable ratings on the end-customer’s Google search results. This includes things like keyword research, blog posts, website pages, titling of articles, content, picture tagging, backlinks, URL structure, etc.
In contrast, SEM is the ‘strategy’… It covers how you use the tools at your disposal. In terms of things like Ambit’s search engine marketing, digital media plans, and other offerings, it’s where we define the strategic mix that will work best for each client by considering the current climate, the industry, as well as the client’s goals—not just what tools are out there and what those cost.
Whatever stage of growth a business is in, our clients need custom-architected solutions to ensure they prosper. They never have to become someone else or use another company’s marketing plan. A cookie-cutter approach just doesn’t work! We find that the client IS their own answer to uniqueness and that holds the genesis of their success.
Q: These days, many business owners find digital media buying a pretty intimidating prospect—they know they should be advertising, but don’t know where or how to take a leap. When unfamiliar with the landscape, choosing a savvy route through RTB (real-time bidding) vs. Google Ads vs. Traditional advertising vs. Social media advertising can feel like a bit of a minefield! What would you say to put their minds at ease?
Advertising is important for every business because it’s the best way to connect with an audience. But, unless you have a plan, it’s similar to SEO and marketing in general: throwing money at it blindly won’t get you the results that you HOPE it will! This ties pretty neatly into the other topics we’ve talked about, too. Let’s break down how the Ambit team approaches strategizing digital media plans.
- We start with research and data, so we can understand your company and your competitors and ultimately set some goals for you to aim at as a company.
- We prefer to work on the brand for your company, so we can use that data and research to help us determine the look/feel/vibe/colors of your company.
- All of that groundwork leads into the digital applications, steering every aspect of your website, social, marketing, print, apps, and so on, for a cohesive and targeted brand persona that stays in people’s minds.
To start with developing a marketing strategy after research and data is to line up who you want to advertise to and why. This means that digital media plans can be laser-sharp and worth the investment—and honestly, most companies start small with very specific targets. To show you what I mean, let’s look at a social media marketing example:
Imagine a shoe company focused on catering to people aged 50 and up, designing shoes for them specifically that prioritize comfort and durability. Would it make sense for them to aim their advertising at Snapchat and TikTok exclusively to bring in new customers? No, because those apps’ audiences are typically aged in the 15-30 range! But, advertising on Facebook, where the 50+ crowd spends the most time online is a much smarter move and would be an ideal complement to TV ads and other old-school methods of advertising.
Q: I notice that you not only blog about what you do at Ambit Design, but also about personal development and digital-era wellbeing. How much is that part of what you do, and how does that translate for your team and your clients?
I aim to foster a work environment that is trusting and collaborative. What this looks like can morph daily—in that things shift in a workspace as much as humans do, which is a lot! But, I do my best to lead by action and attitude, and together we offer our clients a team that is ready to listen and support whenever needed. One of my company’s rules is that a healthy work/life balance is important. As Ambit evolves, I hope that we can keep this mentality at the heart of what we do while still growing as a company!
For my part, I feel encouraged, believed in, and very privileged to work with such a dynamic team. They allow me to self-manage my schedule and be heard on any subject or topic. Stand-ups are a great connecting point to springboard the working day from and increase involvement in the company overall. I think it’s fair to say that Ambit is an appreciative environment all around, and that radiates out in all of our client interactions.
Q: You talk a fair bit about sustainability in digital marketing. I get the impression that you’re not alluding to eco-friendly screen time—although, of course, there’s a place for that too—but rather organic visibility for your clients. Can you tell us a little bit about why businesses should be making this a priority?
A lot of our clients tell us that they just don’t have time to stay on top of their website updates, post to their social media accounts, or create blog articles that are relevant—not to mention successfully surfing the ever-changing waves of search and social algorithms!
This inspired us to create what we call our ‘VIP’ client service, where we lift these tasks from our clients’ shoulders so that they can focus on their core business; all while still maintaining a robust and vibrant online presence. So, in that sense… it really is a ‘sustainable’ solution—and the title reflects clients feeling catered to, rather than the price tag! Crucially, things won’t fall out-of-date and your business won’t slide out of relevance with our ‘sustainable’ plan onboard, which is the best way to keep your brand moving forwards at full speed.
So, there you have it! Without a doubt, we all know Matt a little better now, and hopefully, his answers have shed some light on the secret sauce of what the Ambit team does and why.