50 Fastest Growing Companies of the Year 2018

Atlanta-based Black Bear Design Group, Inc, a digital marketing agency, Grows by Leaps and Bounds

thesiliconreview-randee-black-Joel-black-co-founders-managing-partners-black-bear-design-group-inc-2018We can handle all aspects of marketing for companies, including graphic, print, and web design, plus digital services including pay-per-click marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, social media management and more: Randee Black

With all the demands of running a business, time is a vital commodity. You have a wealth of knowledge about your industry, customers, and how your business runs. But this isn’t all that is required to succeed. The reality is there are so many other business needs that can take time away from what you do best. Developing and executing a successful Digital Marketing Strategy can top the time drain list.

Marketing your business isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. You can have the best business in your industry but if no one knows about it, it will fail. Your marketing strategy can vary in type and degree but the fact remains, you need one. But where do you start? There’s web design, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media, content marketing, paid advertising, and the list goes on and on.

Black Bear Design Group, Inc is a digital marketing agency specializing in web design and development, internet marketing and graphic design. From web strategies and user experience to development and marketing, the company creates value in everything it does. It delivers digital solutions through website design and marketing that include mobile, social, SEO, and paid search campaigns.

Black Bear Design Group was established in 2004 and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

Interview Excerpt: Joel Black, Co-founder/Managing Partner & Randee Black, Co-founder/Managing Partner

Why was the company set up? How did you select the vertical and decide to be a part of the global platform, Mr. Black?

We built Black Bear Design on the idea that companies of all sizes should have access to a marketing department, just like larger organizations. We are able to become the marketing arm of a business and provide all of the services they need, compared to needing to hire multiple employees in-house that can offer what we do.

How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.

Our first client started with us the day we opened our doors. It began with graphic design and print marketing (pre-digital marketing era). That partnership with a national bank was the foundation for what makes us successful today. We scaled our business quickly, hired several employees, and became very well known in the Atlanta market. Since 2004, Black Bear Design has repeatedly been recognized as one of the leading mortgage and real estate design agencies around the Southeast.

What were the grounds on which you have expanded your company and its offerings over the years, Mrs. Black? 

As the digital marketing landscape changes so quickly, we have to continuously adapt and learn to stay ahead of the curve. Five years ago we were talking about how websites needed to be responsive and perform on all mobile devices. Currently, it’s estimated that 50 percent of traffic is mobile, however, we see some clients with greater than 90 percent mobile traffic. Now the conversation is well past mobile devices and into artificial intelligence and chat bots that can have conversations with website users.

What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?

The early years were tough. Growing so quickly, we discovered software needs for business management, accounting, marketing etc. And we needed to develop our processes and all of the things that go into business administration and automation. But when you are deep in servicing accounts and production work, there is no one to put those systems into place. When we were just starting out, cost was a barrier. Finding the right software systems and processes is also a challenge. There are many out there, but you don’t want to build your processes around a system; you want a system that is built around your processes. 

What kind of responses have you received from your consumers over the years? How have they motivated you to shape your offerings/grow the company, Mr. Black? 

We are held accountable to our clients. We develop measurable goals with them and discuss them on a monthly and semi-annual basis. We get to know their business like it’s our own and that requires learning industry-specific strategies and utilizing tactics can be implemented across industry lines.

If you have to list five factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why? 

Our people are our biggest assets to our organization. Building the right team to run the day-to-day projects is the key. Having our people understand our mission and goals and delivering the best service is what we strive for each day.

Systems are very important as well; the right systems will keep things moving and efficient. Processes is a strong third, as documented processes will keep everyone working in sync, on schedule and in the right direction. The advantages of having solid processes in place allow us to evaluate problems that may arise with scope creep, in which case we can audit that process and determine if it’s an issue with the process.

Training programs is another important asset. As a small business, dedicated and organized training programs was never an issue, until it became one. As we hit a growth pattern, started hiring and found out there was no solid training program in place, things started to get a bit out of hand. We built a series of video courses that new employees would navigate through on their own and learn all about our processes and systems. 

All of these factors start to build a company culture and brand. Both cannot happen without great people.

How do you and your company contribute to the global IT platform and society at large, Mrs. Black?

Black Bear Design is committed to networking with others in the global IT world and keeping our team trained in the latest technology and platforms. By keeping on the cutting edge, we support our colleagues who are out there developing these new and amazing tools. It’s also an important part of our company culture to contribute to and volunteer in our local community.

Do you have any new products ready to be/getting ready to be rolled out into the market?

As a full-service marketing agency, we are always evolving and creating new services to meet the needs of our clients. Right now we are developing our video department to be able to meet the demands of the tremendous growth happening in video marketing.

Where do you see your company a couple of years from now, Mr. Black?

We hope to expand our footprint in other markets around the United States and continue to see the steady growth we have had for the last 15 years.

The Brains Behind The Operation: A Brief Background

Randee Black, Co-founder/Managing Partner: Randee is highly driven, passionate and results-oriented leader with over 20 years of experience in marketing, branding, print marketing, internet marketing, social media strategy, graphic design, communications, strategic sales, event planning and direct marketing. She also has experience in project and client relationship management.

Mrs. Black earned degrees in Science and Business Management from the University of Florida.

Joel Black, Co-founder/Managing Partner: Joel has experience across industries and business functions ranging from IT, Finance, Management, Operations and Marketing. His strengths lie in team management, marketing strategy, business administration, project management and technical direction.

Mr. Black earned a degree in Business Administration from Oglethorpe University, Georgia.

“We are a curious, rambunctious bunch of designers, digital marketers, social media pros, and SEO specialists”: Joel Black

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