Since Kelli Maxwell was little, she knew that she wanted to be her own boss, but she wasn’t sure how. “Defiant” is what the adults that raised Kelli would describe her as. She comes from a Montana ranch family with a strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit. She worked for a financial firm for ten years and in that time, she worked her way into the position of marketing director. She also discovered that she had a talent and love for marketing, but insurance is boring and old-school advertising methods like newspaper and local tv were on their way out. Kelli didn’t feel fulfilled. It was during this time that she created her first company, Ever After Events, A Princess Party company, where Kelli and her team would dress up as popular princess characters and perform at birthday parties and events. This is where Kelli’s gift for working with people and creating authentic content blossomed. She started taking on several freelance clients and decided to quit her full-time job and make the leap to starting her agency.
So, Kelli founded Ember Marketing Group, which specializes in Authentic Brand Amplification. Creating videos and content tailored to each client, the agency handles all aspects of digital marketing from content creation to ads, copy, and PR. In the last year, Kelli founded another brand of her business, Ember Marketing the Group. This organization is designed for start-ups and small businesses with no marketing budget. A subscription-based private group, it provides knowledge, tips, and action items to market start-ups as well as one on one monthly strategy sessions with each member.
Helping Clients to Grow
According to Kelli, Ember Marketing Group works with clients from every industry. From custom epoxy floors to home builders to realtors to gyms to pharmacies and coffee companies and more. Kelli takes pride in working with PEOPLE. She sees first-hand that so many agencies just offer cookie-cutter marketing packages and create generic industry-related content, without even getting to know their clients. Ember Marketing Group focuses on spending so much time with its clients that Kelli and her team can authentically market them and their company through videos, photos, captions, and copy that is perfectly on brand for them. All of the marketing group’s packages are customized to each client’s specific needs and brand. The agency has continued to grow and expand along with services and platforms such as TikTok. Ember Marketing Group doesn’t believe in locking people into contracts; Kelli prefers to let her work speak for itself as proven by her track record. Once a client signs on with the company, they don’t leave, in fact most of her client base has been with her since the agency’s inception. The agency does an exceptional job going above and beyond for each client and positioning them as THE expert of what they do, through the content it produces for them.
Personally, Kelli’s biggest challenge was learning how to delegate and manage her time to ensure that it is spent doing what she is best at, which includes meeting with people, strategizing, and filming with her clients. She had to fill in the holes on the backend for bookkeeping, social media management, processes, and systems to grow. She currently has two independent contractors on her team and one full-time employee. As an agency, she found her biggest challenge was the huge disconnect between the established businesses that can afford the video production and social media management they need and the start-ups who desperately need it but can’t afford it. Multiple times a week she has conversations with small businesses who have been taken advantage of by a salesman claiming to be a marketer or a cookie-cutter agency who overcharged and under-delivered. Kelli’s solution for serving these people at a price they can afford is Ember Marketing the Group. Along with her business partner Chareese Jorgensen, Kelli teaches members of the group basic content creation and marketing principals. She and her team assists them with creating their content, encouraging them through the process and strategizing with them, identifying the best methods to grow their business per their industry, at a small price point that they can afford.
When Going Gets Tough
Shortly after Kelli resigned from her previous job and started her agency, she went through a divorce. With suddenly no security net and no backup plan, Kelli burned through her savings and had to sell her house and move in with her best friend to survive. That friend along with her supportive community at the gym were instrumental in getting Kelli through that first year. She refused to give up and look for a job so it was do or die for Kelli. She gave that first year and a half everything she had to make it on her own and she is happy to report that in just three years she has purchased her first investment property, has plans to build a house this year, and has built a six-figure marketing agency that continues to grow. This came from a willingness to celebrate doing the hardest things in life and business and continuing to push forward despite the hardships.
Kelli’s company continues to grow rapidly. She is most excited about continuing to expand her client base and team, growing Ember Marketing Group’s subscription group to help start-ups, and continuing to grow her brand as one of the best marketers of her generation. Kelli is also working on her first book and she can’t wait to debut that in the coming year.
Suggestions for Young Entrepreneurs
Kelli says, “The hardest part of working with start-ups is when reality sets in. Everyone has brilliant dreams and ideas and when they finally take the leap and launch, they quickly find out it is a steep and gruelling climb just to break even. Make sure your personal relationships are strong, your time management is stronger and you have the fortitude to overcome the discouragement, dips, and hits that come with any start-up. Do your research and make sure your idea is viable for your audience and you have a strong chance of building a brand or company that can survive and generate revenue.”