James Kwon, Founder and CEO, Figmints Digital Creative Marketing (Providence, RI)
James Kwon is Founder and CEO of Figmints Digital Creative Marketing, a 20-person, full-service, multi-seven-figure digital marketing agency that specializes in accelerating leads to sales. The company utilizes SalesAmp, which James describes as “business development representative as a service.” SalesAmp came under the Figmint’s “umbrella” when James and April Williams, now Fitmints President, merged their two companies. (The way these two companies “came together” is described in a short video on Fitmints’ website’s About page.)
Eight years ago, when James discovered that his first chosen career in culinary arts did not provide him with sufficient creative opportunities, he started Figmints with a focus on providing UI/UX (User Interface and User Experience) web services, which he did for number of well-known companies back when few people were doing it.
In this interview, James discusses the sales process gap the often occurs because “sales and marketing typically don’t like each other” – the marketing department wants the sales team to take leads earlier, while the sales team wants marketing to push leads further along before the “hand off.”
In 2018, James was looking for a partner to better fulfill his vision for where he wanted his company to go. The synergy between Figmints HubSpot operations and North Star Marketing’s SalesAmp, a marketing process focused on building pipelines for individual salespeople, created a marketing powerhouse that far exceeded the expectations of the two merged companys’ leaders. Today, the now-expanded Figmints develops the right content for the exact right audience. As individuals respond (download information, attend webinars, engage with content, open email), the SalesAmp piece takes over with Figments’ internal sales team reaching out to prospects on behalf of clients. Over time, Figmints delivers a thought leadership, content marketing, and funnel program that nurtures customers through the client-journey until they are comfortable enough to talk with the client’s sales team.
Unlike most agencies where generated leads are handed off for follow-up to client sales/ boiler rooms (which may or may not get the message right), Figmints operates as an “educational ambassador,” running the inbound HubSpot process on behalf of its clients’ salespeople. Most of the Figmints’ clients have long, complex sales cycles. When the questions get too complicated, the client takes over.
In his HubSpot Inbound 2020 presentation, “My Cheat Sheet: How to Growth Hack Five New Companies or Offerings This Year” at HubSpot Inbound 2020, James promoted the idea that entrepreneurs should consider starting multiple companies at a time. He lists a number of reasons that this practice makes sense and lays claim to launching close to nine sub-brands, of which four or five are still active.
James is a big proponent of systems, optimization, and efficiency for everything from workflows to automated engagement to follow-up processes. He says he uses “several dozen pieces of software that combine together to make my workflow easier.” But, he admits, people are complicated. Early on, the agency experienced high employee turnover. “There is no way to love people efficiently,” he says. Today, employees stick around a lot longer because the agency invests in employee growth and meeting with them for frequent one-on-ones. He highly recommends utilizing Entrepreneurial Operating Systems (EOS), as described in Gino Wickman’s book Traction.