Meet Guildstreet’s feature small business — the ‘unagency’ — Alyssa Berry Communications.
Running a small business is no easy task. Limited time, budget and resources to get stuff done, let alone spend time on marketing and PR to grow your business.
Enter Alyssa Berry to the rescue.
With nearly 20 years of marketing, communications and public relations experience in a variety of fields — municipal government, recreation, culture, tourism — Alyssa knows her stuff. She knows how to get businesses noticed. In 2015, she decided to take her craft to the next level and launched her ‘unagency,’ Alyssa Berry Communications (ABC).
Alyssa set out to be a different sort of consultancy. One that connects and collaborates; where relationships form the foundation of success. Today, she helps small business owners and entrepreneurs create and implement marketing and PR strategies that help them truly grow.
Guildstreet sat down with Alyssa to chat about her story.
You talk about being the ‘unagency’ agency. What does that mean?
“I made a conscious decision to stay an independent consultant. An ‘unagency.’ Most industry professionals aim to grow into an agency,” she said, “and that has never been a goal for me.”
Her reasons are based on experience. She spent most of her career as an agency client and found it to be challenging. Often, the service was lacking, the process confusing and costs that tended to go sideways. Not a great mix for a startup entrepreneur or small business owner.
Agency vs. Consultant. What’s the difference?
There’s a lot of confusion on what’s best. Hire an independant consultant or an agency comes with all the bells and whistles? “I totally get it. Agencies can bring the fabulous. But I always caution…is that really what you need?”
When deciding on whether to hire an agency or consultant, there are some key criteria Alyssa recommends entrepreneurs and small business owners consider:
Big picture strategy vs. day-to-day tasks
Ask yourself how involved do you want to be? Traditionally, high-level strategy development and recommendations are provided by consultants while implementation of those recommendations is completed by agencies or contractors.
Agencies are also given “agency” to act on behalf of their client to make decisions. On the other hand, consultants will immerse themselves in the business and keep clients engaged in the process.
Subject matter expertise
Most consultants focus on specific sectors or subject matters. Agencies often work with various types and sizes of businesses across all sectors, services and geographic areas. Oftentimes, it can be overwhelming and frustrating for small businesses to get the best service from an Agency when larger clients with bigger budgets get the attention.
Billing and fees
Most agencies bill based on time, much like a law firm. This means that every email, phone call and all meetings are billable time. There are also fees included to cover some of the administrative overhead. While some consultants still have hourly rates, many have moved to a project-based fee structure. This allows the client to have a clear scope of the service being offered and no surprises on their invoice.
“As I mentioned, I spent most of my career as an agency client. Marketing agencies, digital agencies, PR agencies… I have worked with them all to varying levels of success,” said Alyssa. “Maybe it’s because I do this for a living, but I never found a full-service agency that could provide the service levels I expected.” Her reasoning? Probably not enough time and resources to give each client their due attention.
People over profit
I work mainly in tourism and culture, two sectors impacted by COVID. Since then, I have paused to think about how I can affect positive change and apply my skills to help those who need it.Alyssa Berry
Her focus will be to put people over profit. “I want to give my all to non-profit, social sector-based organizations that will be requiring extensive assistance after this crisis,” she said. In addition, she is looking to collaborate more with other entrepreneurs on larger projects — a way for consultants and contractors to work together, rather than competing. Finally, ABC will be introducing coaching-based services, to provide advice to businesses and organizations navigating the phased opening and beyond.
“It feels good to work for the greater good and to make those individuals and organizations shine.” Learn more about Alyssa Berry Communications online.