Mark Gascoigne is the CEO of Trampoline Branding, a full-service marketing communications agency based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is highly experienced with over 30 years of work in professional marketing. Mark has a strong background in integrated marketing, communications, advertising, and marketing strategy. Before Trampoline Branding, he held various leadership positions at Twist & Bits, including Managing Director and Director of Strategic Services.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- [03:37] Mark Gascoigne talks about Trampoline Branding and what it does
- [04:53] Who are the ideal clients for Trampoline Branding?
- [09:24] The major milestones achieved growing Trampoline Branding
- [10:31] Mark shares the experience of building a company with a spouse
- [11:56] How to plan for a business succession and acquisition
- [19:32] The key hires Trampoline Branding made
- [24:12] Hiring a Director of Operations for agency growth
- [29:31] Mark’s insights on growing an agency through strategic client management
- [32:04] Tips for acquiring clients
- [36:11] Colon cancer awareness and fundraising campaigns
- [41:04] Lessons Mark learned from his father and other mentors
In this episode…
With so many businesses vying for attention in today’s marketplace, it can be challenging to stand out. Creating a brand that resonates with customers and accurately reflects the company’s mission and values is essential.
Experienced marketing professional Mark Gascoigne says that branding is crucial for any business — it is how a company presents itself to the world, and it can significantly impact its success. A strong brand can help a company differentiate itself from competitors, build customer trust, and create a loyal following. However, developing and maintaining a brand is not an easy task. He shares his journey of creating a branding agency to provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the branding process, helping businesses overcome challenges and achieve their branding goals.
On this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz sits down with Mark Gascoigne, CEO of Trampoline Branding, to discuss his journey of building a branding agency. Mark talks about Trampoline Branding’s services and ideal clients, the experience of building a company with a spouse, and shares insights on growing an agency through strategic client management.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Second Bite Podcast
- Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
- Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant
- Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant
- Lovemarks by Kevin Roberts
- the Canadian Agency Network (tCAN)
- “[Top Agency Series] Most Valuable Advice When Selling Your Agency With Todd Taskey of Potomac Business Capital” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “[Top Agency Series] Growth Through Acquisitions – What is Your KPI and Northstar? With Jason Swenk” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “Building a Great Team and More Helpful Insights with Jason Swenk Host of The Smart Agency Master Class Podcast” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
- “A lot of times, it’s just easier to try to please the person in front of you.”
- “Don’t be afraid of conflict and little friction.”
- “Client fit is very important.”
- “Before you’re 40, make sure you’re doing something you love to do.”
Sponsor for this episode
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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90x, Atari, Einstein Bagels, Mattel, Rx Bars, YPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk, and many more.
The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.
Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.
Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Insider Stories from Top Leaders & Entrepreneurs…
You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.
Jeremy Weisz 0:22
Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of inspiredinsider.com where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. Mark Gascoigne of Trampoline Branding. And Mark, I always like to point out other episodes, people should check out of the podcast, before I formally introduce you. And since this is part of the top agency series, some of the fan favorites, I did one with Todd Taskey, he has actually a podcast called the Second Bite Podcast, he pairs private equity with agencies and he helps sell agencies and he calls it a second bite because some of the founders that he works with, they make more on the second bite than they do on the first because the private equity sells again. And the owner rolls in equity into that. And it’s interesting, he talked about valuations selling agencies and everything like that. I also did one a fan favorite in the agency. One is Jason Swenk, he built his agency to over eight figures and sold it and then he’s been buying up agencies. And he also talks about kind of the valuations and what he’s seeing and, and his experience in the industry. So those are really interesting episodes, that and many more on inspiredinsider.com. And this episode is brought to you by Rise25. And at Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships. And how do we do that we actually help you run your podcast, we’re an easy button for a company to launch or on a podcast we do the strategy, the accountability and the full execution. Mark, we call ourselves kind of magic elves that are working in the background running around making it look easy for the hosts in the company. So they could just do the show and build relationships and run their business. So for me, the number one thing in my life is relationships, I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should if you have questions, go to rise25.com. And I’m excited to introduce Mark Gascoigne, he is CEO and founder of Trampoline Branding. There are over 24 people and he actually took his first agency job, Mark, I don’t want to age you, but as an account executive in Vancouver over 30 years ago, and I know like there was a certain point you’re like, you’re gonna get out before a certain age, but I guess you’re just loving it too much. And you’re still going, he describes himself, at least on his website. I love his description Mark is, he’s been an ad guy long enough to know get out but too long to make one himself. So we’ll go into the conversation of succession. But Mark, thanks for joining me.
Mark Gascoigne 3:02
Yeah, Jeremy. Great, great to be here.
Jeremy Weisz 3:04
Talk about just Trampoline Branding for a second and what you do, and I’ll pull up the website here because I love the branding, even like your logo and the red. So obviously, this is what you do, but talk about what services you offer and what you do.
Mark Gascoigne 3:24
Sure. Yeah, just a couple of comments on your intro. It’s actually not over 30 years is exactly 30 years.
Jeremy Weisz 3:34
Well, someone may listen to this next year, so then it’ll be over 30 years.
Mark Gascoigne 3:37
And the other thing I would say is that advertising is something that’s very trendy. So when you think about trends, you think about things that are trendy, they tend to be created and promoted by youth. And so I think it is a young business. I recognize that early and what I think what you’re referring to is when I bought it, I wanted to be out of the business by the time I was 50. So I failed that one. But what I did know is that there’s people around here a lot more smarter people, younger people more in tune with what’s going on that are much better at creating the ads themselves. So we have teams of copywriters, and art directors and web developers and strategists that work on that stuff. But we also distinguish between advertising and branding. So if advertising is kind of the episodes that are happening on a frequent basis and are a bit more trendy, branding we feel as more permanent, so that’s the residue from the advertising and that’s what accumulates over time and creates the brand creates what a company what a brand stands for and so that’s kind of a little bit of a distinguishing between the advertising and branding.
Jeremy Weisz 4:06
What type of clients do you tend to work with?
Mark Gascoigne 4:53
We’re in a small market here. So we’ve chosen not to have a single specialty. Having said that, we do a lot of government work, we were the agency that worked on all of the COVID-related things that some of them you’re flicking through now. Education has been a long-standing area working with one of the local universities plus some of the university associations. Tourism is an area that we’ve worked with just about every DMO, a destination marketing organization, the provinces, the cities, the regions, and will continue to do so. And then, whatever, the other thing that we tend to pride ourselves on is recognizing who the good clients are in the region. And when I say clients, I use clients as the individuals. So people that do believe in full-service agencies and do believe that good creative can help their businesses grow. Those are the people that we follow when they go to new places, and they seem to tap us when they land there.
Jeremy Weisz 6:13
Yeah, I want to talk about some milestones. But first, I noticed right here on this tabletop is Ogilvy On Advertising. So I’d love to hear some of your influences. Whether it’s book or mentor in the industry.
Mark Gascoigne 6:32
Yeah. It’s a little bit staged that, and I’m glad you picked up on that. So it’s the notion that, if you look at all of our work, we’re very much a modern agency, and very digitally focused, and in the media, and then the creative that we create, but it’s that old adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same. And every young person that comes here, I say, listen, spend 20 minutes and flip to this book, because you’d be amazed with how things, it is timeless, for sure.
Jeremy Weisz 7:11
I mean, I geek out on direct response, copywriting and things like that. Are there any other books that you recommend people check out in this branding advertising, copywriting world.
Mark Gascoigne 7:24
Sure. Yeah. Adam Grants book from last year, I think it’s an unbelievable book.
Jeremy Weisz 7:35
I haven’t checked it out, I listened to Give and Take, but not his newest one.
Mark Gascoigne 7:41
His book from a couple of years ago is oh, shoot. It’s about change. It’s basically about how change changing your mind or something like that. That’s a great book. So I just think it’s a very good…
Jeremy Weisz 7:58
Think Again. Yeah, so he’s got, Give and Take and looks like originals. I didn’t even know he had this hidden potential book. I think that’s him. And then Think Again, is the newest one you’re talking about?
Mark Gascoigne 8:11
Yeah. That’s a great book. Besides Ogilvy On Advertising, The Lovemark a book from years ago, I tend to like the older books. Lovemark it’s a book by written by guy who used to run TBWA out of Paris. And it’s, again, back to my point about advertising being what you do in the moment, both campaigns, the trendiness, freshness. And then it is building brands, building love marks, trademarks. And so it’s a very good book for that kind of stuff.
Jeremy Weisz 8:50
That’s great. I’ll check that out. not heard of that one. Let’s talk about milestones. I know we’re talking there’s, pre-COVID. It’s like, I don’t know why it’s marked by COVID at this point, but yeah, it’s pre-COVID During and then after, but what about a milestone when you first started, right now you get larger clients. What was a milestone when you first started of how you got one of your first key clients?
Mark Gascoigne 9:24
There’s been a few actually, my most visceral milestone, I would say is actually not getting a client. But it was after a few years and when you’re running an agency, especially, start a small agency and a mom paw type literally, we were because husband and wife and founded and ran it for so long. My partner Leslie. And so, we tended to touch everything when we were a dozen people. And I remember when we got to a size where the first time I saw what I would say an ad when we say in the wild, so, an ad out in the marketplace or a billboard or whatever it was. And I didn’t even know we were working on it. And it’s kind of that would be a pretty special moment, sort of that notion that, lots of things can happen without you. And in this case, it happened better, which was awesome.
Jeremy Weisz 10:27
Talk about starting the company with your wife.
Mark Gascoigne 10:31
So it wasn’t done on purpose. As you said before, we both basically started our careers in Vancouver. We’re from here, but we ended up in Vancouver right after university. And when we moved back here wasn’t our intention to work together. But we were just kind of brought together. I joined what became Trampoline, it was originally called Paige and Wood. And then Leslie was working already for another agency. And she quickly realized, yeah, I don’t want to work anywhere else. And we have a chance to make something that’s going to work for both of us. So she came over. And then the two of us became partners with the existing people. And then we’ve changed it to Trampoline, and that was in 2004. And then in 2007, we bought out the two partners who were kind of at the age we are now. So it made perfect sense. And now we’re in the process, you asked me before about sort of themes, things that are keeping me up at night. Succession is that and the few you reference COVID, the past three or four years have kind of put a little bit of a damper on that. But we’re back on that track.
Jeremy Weisz 11:45
Back in 2007, you went through this play, you went through this before the succession except you are on the other end of it. How did that process go?
Mark Gascoigne 11:56
Yeah, it was good. It was a perfect storm, they were ready to finish and we were ready to start. So it’s going to serve us well, I think going forward about what to look for in the succession. So, we’re not in a desperate hurry, we’re not looking for just a really quick exit, we’re looking for the right one. And we’re lucky enough to have a really good executive now, that can basically run the show. So it could be the form of employee buyout, or we could be shareholders for a little bit longer, or someone could come in and emerge. So we’re just open right now to various scenarios.
Jeremy Weisz 12:47
What when you look back in 2007, what would you do the same now going this time around for you? And what would you do differently?
Mark Gascoigne 12:53
What I would do differently, is they were done quickly. So we bought them, and then they basically left soon after, perhaps maybe too soon after. So in our case, were willing and able to stick around a little longer. So that would be the differently. The same would be to put it in the hands of some people that are really ready to run with it, not hang on to it. So even if we’re still around, still have influence, still have equity, whatever, definitely just give the steering wheel to somebody else. And you can’t have both your hands on it.
Jeremy Weisz 13:41
I mean, you’ve been through this before, let’s say someone’s listening market, they’re wondering, yeah, like, now that you mentioned it, I shouldn’t be thinking about it, but I haven’t even thinking a lot about it. What are the steps that someone should think about like in the first step, the first time in 2007, you first go and get an external evaluation? Like what are some of the steps you put in place so that you come to something agreeable between two parties, because I find, at least in some of the conversations I’ve had, some people value it in their mind more than maybe it’s valued in the market. And there’s a lot of, it’s someone’s baby, right? So there’s some emotion tied to that as well. So what are some of the steps you did when you actually did that transaction in 2007?
Mark Gascoigne 14:27
For sure, yeah, it’s like anything else, it’s usually the most value to the person that’s the closest to it. So as you move further away, it’s less and less valuable. So the first one is less CNI. So, we’re aligned on everything and with that regard, sort of timing and what that would look like, and then also the senior people that are here, so they’re totally aware of what’s going on and may or may not be part of that sort of equity transfer. So I mean, I think those are the two main things is the alignment piece to make sure that everyone that’s close to it is aware, and there’s no secrets. It’s not done behind closed doors and because that doesn’t serve anybody.
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