Skinny IT was a provider of customized IT solutions to more than 150 enterprises worldwide, helping them to optimize operational efficiencies and increase the bottom line. The company’s founders approached Kevin to act as their CMO when they were themselves the only employees. By the time Kevin left, they had hundreds. Coincidence? We think not.
After owning and operating Farstar for fifteen years, Kevin was interested in something new. Something that didn’t involve the sphincter-tightening responsibility of meeting payroll every two weeks. And yet, still something almost as stressful since he wasn’t about to leave the marketing industry. HP was one of Farstar’s clients, and they had run a joint lead generation campaign with their partner Compucom. One of Compucom’s sales leaders that had called on the leads Farstar created had since founded his own company, Skinny IT. (Got that?) He and his co-founder reached out to Kevin about being their CMO at the same time Kevin was looking to sunset Farstar and the rest is history. Literal history, as Skinny IT ceased to be in 2019.
Why are we calling them a “client?” Because how Kevin acted for them is the same way Kevin acts for his current fCMO clients. (And having a category on this website called “Past Employer” would be even more confusing than this explanation.) That is, Kevin leveraged the exact same relationships with writers, designers, and developers that he leverages now with his Fractional CMO clients. And also, Kevin’s time as CMO was split between three different companies (Skinny IT and two offshoots), so he was literally a fractional CMO for each one of them. See how that works? Good. Because that’s pretty much exactly how it works today.
Enough background info, here’s the case study:
Skinny IT was a Frisco, Texas-based, value-added reseller of hardware, providing IT services that go along with the hardware they sell. They were known for “slimming down” your IT so that it isn’t quite as cumbersome, complex, bloated, and inefficient as it was before they got there. You got it, Skinny IT made your IT skinny.
When Kevin first arrived on the scene as their Fractional/Actual CMO, Skinny IT didn’t have any sales collateral for its salespeople to leave behind at sales calls. Which can be okay if you have a thorough and engaging website. Which they did not. So, the first task was to create various brochures for their primary product offerings. We knew that we would have to write all of these up for the website anyway, and it was going to be much faster for us to get the brochures done than the entire website we spec’d, designed, developed, tested, etc., so we ran with these first:
When Skinny IT was first getting off the ground, they had very little budget for a website, so they came to Kevin while he was still running Farstar to create a very simple website so at least they had some kind of online presence. This is what that one looked like at the time:
As mentioned above, this website was not particularly thorough as that was not its purpose. So, once the brochures were completed, we created version 2.0 of their website with a ton of new content (that came from the work we had done on the brochures), and then we matched the look and feel of the new brochures because that’s how good, consistent branding works:
Recreating the Branding & Identity
About a year or two after we got the website 2.0 up, we refreshed the logo and simplified their color palette.
Skinny IT already had an established logo they had been using for several years prior to Kevin’s entrance as the CMO. The original logo used a fairly dark green that was somewhat limiting (as far as what color palette we could build out around it), and it used a reflection effect on the mark & logotype that was a bit too 1996 from a design aesthetic. We kept the logo as close to the original as possible so we could slowly roll out the new logo without having to change absolutely everything. For example, we didn’t want all of the service techs to have to get an all new wardrobe all at one time, we didn’t want to change out all of the signage, we didn’t want to change out the letterhead right away, etc.
New Color Palette
We created a palette off of the new green and blue (while keeping a darker blue and darker green option to allow Skinny IT to continue using the assets that were still using the original blue and green), and then threw in some grays for balance and two accent colors to provide us with a way to highlight certain messages in our branding.
New Business Cards
The business cards Skinny IT had originally were translucent plastic (which was cool) that used a lot of the dark green (not so cool). We kept the plastic (now opaque) and round corners but made everything else feel much more modern.
New Service Vans
A service van without branding is just, well, a creepy white van. But instead of the usual super-busy graphic wrap you see on most such vehicles, we intentionally worked to create a design that was clean, sleek, and uncluttered. Of course, we needed to include their license number, web address and phone number. But we elected to put those on the back door in a more subtle way versus plastering it all over every side of the van.
Trade Show Booth
We recommended that Skinny IT start attending important trade shows within their industry, and in order to look the part, we designed and developed their own trade show booth. Everything was highly modular. All the panels could be swapped out for new content depending on the show/audience. And we even created a video loop for the TV that showed some of our services (more on that in the next section). It’s a bit of a step up from a card table with a tablecloth, don’t you think?
The booth’s background in the example above is what Skinny IT can do for a retail store (so, this was for a retail trade show). Note the new color usage:
Of course, the Skinny IT sales team needed something to give folks who dropped by the booth. Something that tied in to all the assets within said booth. Something they could, let’s see here, hand people before they left the booth. Something like a hand-out. Okay, exactly like a hand-out. So we also created hand-out versions of the background that people could take with them. Just one more example of consistent messaging and consistent branding across all mediums.
We needed a video to play on loop in the booth to draw people into the booth with compelling and relevant content. We created two videos: one showing a time-lapse video we shot of the techs mounting the racks of servers in time lapse and this one below, where we shot a time-lapse video of one of their installations of the digital menu system within a fast food restaurant.
Explaining a new IT product to people – even IT people – isn’t easy. But that’s what we had to do for Skinny IT’s Services as Merchandising SKUs (SAMS) product. First, we had to wrap our own heads around what the product did, and then we had to figure out how the product most benefited the customer. We took it through our normal process and workshops, and created a creative brief for the team that explained it all. Then we started writing the script, creating storyboards for each panel, recording a scratch voiceover track, animating the video, taking it through revisions, selecting the music, editing the music, recording the final voiceover and putting it all together.
If you’d like more details on the creation of this video, go here to view the detailed case study.
Oh, and that’s Kevin doing the voiceover, by the way. Because value.
Here is the video we created in its final form:
Strategic Partnerships, Public Relations, Advertising and Events
As part of an overall strategy of building relationships with our audience, we suggested that Skinny IT secure a relationship with a local PR firm with whom Lofgren has a long-term strategic relationship. As the Fractional CMO, Kevin was Skinny IT’s leader for the PR efforts, which included multiple customer and prospect private events that were a smashing success. While we held four private events a year, we also held one public event that was for anyone and everyone. We also formed strategic partnerships that were forged with the express intent to increase our visibility within the marketplace. Here are a few examples:
Kevin negotiated a sponsorship deal for Skinny IT with the Frisco RoughRiders minor league baseball team. What struck him as an opportunity was that the team – who played in a relatively new, modern facility – didn’t provide WiFi for their fans. They had it for their offices on-site, but the fans had no access. So we entered a five-year sponsorship deal that included Skinny IT and Fireracker (a sister company) that offered the companies a very visible, very strong presence throughout the ballpark in exchange for us creating a WiFi network for them that was robust, secure and broad. We also leveraged a third-party partner to provide the RoughRiders with thorough marketing insights on each person that logged into their network, which provided immense value in terms of revenue generated. As Frisco is a hotspot for Dallas-area tech startups, the RoughRiders audience is always full of technology professionals. Just the people we wanted to see Skinny IT in the outfield, in the game program, in the breezeways, on the scoreboard, announced over the public address system between innings, on videos played throughout the ballpark, etc. This sponsorship gave Skinny IT an enormous amount of credibility and visibility, just as we had intended it to do.
Conference USA Sponsorship
One of the key market opportunities we identified for Skinny IT was smaller colleges – schools that wouldn’t necessarily have a robust IT department, yet were likely to have more advanced IT needs of the sort Skinny IT could fill. We suggested a partnership with a local Division I conference as a good way to investigate this method of introduction into the higher education market segment. Enter Conference USA, which is an intercollegiate athletic conference whose current member institutions are located within the Southern United States. The conference participates in the NCAA’s Division I in all sports. C-USA’s offices are located in Dallas, Texas. The press release at the time said, “C-USA’s member institutions, administration, alumni and fans will get to experience Skinny IT’s solutions first-hand as the service provider will be the official Wi-Fi partner of the football and basketball championships for the next three years. Skinny IT will leverage the stadiums’ existing Wi-Fi networks to provide C-USA with detailed analytics on fan behaviors and preferences for future marketing initiatives.” And of course, in exchange, we negotiated that Skinny IT would have exclusive advertising opportunities at championship games and related events, as well as direct access to its member schools for relationship-building.
Holly Jolly Toy Drive
Great companies are always involved in the community. So we created the Skinny IT Holly Jolly Toy Drive, benefitting the children of the Ronald McDonald House in Dallas. We had the nation’s #1 sports radio station, KTCK 1310 The Ticket, come and broadcast and promote the event, and brought in three of the most popular food trucks from the D/FW metroplex. For a first-time event, it was a smashing success. In fact, the Ronald McDonald House didn’t have enough room in their trucks for all of the presents we collected. We had to load up some of our own trucks to take the rest to them the next day. We were proud of not only helping get Skinny IT’s name out in front of its key demographic (many of their current customers listened to The Ticket on the regular, which is how we determined that decision) while also helping families going through tough times. Win-win.
No CMO, fractional or otherwise, would ever pass up the chance to summarize a successful project in a case study. Especially so if said case study is of the video variety. Given the extent and success of our partnership with the RoughRiders, a nicely produced case study film seemed in order. And you don’t have to tell Kevin twice that he can use drone footage if he wants to. To read more about the creation of this piece, visit its very own case study (how very meta) here.
Skinny IT made an acquisition of a company called IST around the same time we were recommending a website refresh. Naturally, we wanted to include the added benefits that the IST acquisition afforded Skinny IT’s customers, while extending the use of still-fairly-recent rebrand. So the team created a user experience that would engage, entertain and educate. Since we are an IT company ourselves, we knew out to create immersive video elements (vignettes and video rollovers) while ensuring short load times with full accessibility and responsiveness across all devices and platforms.
Kevin was the (fractional) CMO for Skinny IT for a little over three years. At that point, he hired a full-time VP of Marketing who was more than capable of running the marketing for them on her own once the foundation had been established.
During his time there, Skinny IT grew from a three-person company to an organization with hundreds of employees (and grew its gross revenue twenty times within the three years lofgren was overseeing the marketing), due in no small part to the marketing that fueled the revenue by getting the word out and enabling the sales force with a high-end, professional brand identity and multiple strategic marketing initiatives.