Interview With Our Founder: Brooke Chhina

For National Bosses Day this year, we want to take a few moments with our founder, Brooke Chhina, and talk with her about what drives her, what are marketing agency red flags, and “when is the right time to start my business?” 

Lemon: You’ve said that your agency name is inspired by the Remy Ma song “Conceited”, what exactly about that song really struck at your core and how does it inform the vision you have for Conceited? 

Brooke: That is my “personal” side of the business name. I used to listen to Remy Ma on my way to my vo-tech. I was studying Cosmetology, in high school along with my other college prep courses. The “’nuttin’ that you used to” cord stayed with me when building my business. I wanted a business with core values around setting realistic expectations with our clients and rewarding every step of growth, where the “results that make you clap for your damn self” came into play. Business owners and CEOs get consumed with the next 5 decisions that need to be made to continue to grow their business. We want to remind them, growth can be messy and uncomfortable. It’s okay to take a step back, be a little conceited with the growth they’re experiencing, and clap for their damn selves.

Brooke Chhina stands smiling with her arms crossed

Lemon: I love that! And I love how important it is, as women, to tell ourselves we can be conceited about our growth! So for your prospective clients, what would you say your agency style is?

Brooke: I would say it depends on the client and what their business really needs. For some of our clients, it’s restructuring their business environment to build a better overall online digital presence or getting them established on a new platform. In the beginning, there’s not an immediate return on investment, but the input from our team creates a greater ROI in the long run. We also have very hands-on clients where we sit on weekly meetings with their team and collaborate as a partner, even when we only have a small piece of their business. The piece of the business we do have is impacted by what other efforts the client is putting in other channels. As their marketing partner, we prefer to have insight into that when making strategic decisions for them on their scope of work with us. As far as being a good fit for Conceited or an ideal client for us is a brand who needs the help, wants the help, and is willing to work with us and learn. There’s a big difference between when you work with a brand versus work for a brand. We want those who want to work with us. It sets your partnership up for success from the beginning.

Lemon: “Work with you” has so much value–like learning how to build a house with a master builder rather than watching someone else do it. Let me ask, who are you trying to reach and where are they at in their business?

Brooke: eCommerce brands and service-based businesses who are looking for a more sophisticated approach to their online presence and a single-source of truth for their marketing, sales, and customer support.

Lemon: You’ve worked for some big name players in the marketing field, tell us about why you decided to strike out on your own? 

Brooke: I always wanted to be a business owner. I concentrated in entrepreneurship in college and already had a business plan put together; funny enough for a salon and spa named Conceited. After college, I worked full-time in retail and moved into a sales position in the digital marketing industry. From there my digital marketing career took off. I’m a firm believer in it’s what you do with the time you’re given versus how many years you put in. After being in the industry for a several years, I developed core values and best practices. Eventually, the need to service clients with these values became my sole focus. When the pandemic hit, I spent time a good bit of time reflecting and asking myself what I really wanted to do for the rest of my career. I decided it was time to take action on my business plan. 

Lemon: I think that step of going out on your own can be so overwhelming to prospective entrepreneurs. Do you have any advice for starting a business in the middle of a pandemic? (lol) Or anytime where it might feel like it’s not “the right time” 

Brooke: Yes, there’s never going to be a right time and everyone has a different “why”. For me, my “whys” (plural) weighed so heavily on me. My insurance broker kept repeating, “You know you’re starting a business in the middle of the pandemic.” And I used to reply, “And I did all of the necessary foundational work on my business to know that I’m going to be a success whether we’re in a pandemic or not.” So the advice would be – do your research and build a solid business foundation or as I like to call them “good bones”. That will set you up for success. If you’re pulling all the right strings, (leveraging all of your resources you have in front you), success follows.

Lemon: Especially since the pandemic, it’s feels like a crowded market for everything these days, how can businesses set themselves apart? 

Brooke: You’re “why” sets you apart. Ask yourself why you’re in business. Then ask yourself if that “why” is enough. If you start from the inside-out, that’s what your differentiator will be. If you work from the outside-in, there’s nothing for those “what’s” and “how’s” to rest on and create value.

Brooke Chhina sits at her desk looking up from multiple screens with a smile

Lemon: What do you think is the biggest problem facing e-commerce brands and what do you think they should be doing now about it? 

Brooke: For most it’s a shift in sales still due to the pandemic and a shift in the reasons why customers are buying their product(s) or service(s). This creates a need for a single-source-of-truth where they can have full visibility into what their current customers are doing, along with potential new customers to help make the correct strategic decisions for their business. Many eCommerce brands continue to invest in more apps, platforms, plug-ins, etc, which creates isolation of channels, data, performance, and overlap in capabilities. They’re more than likely spending more money than if they were to consolidate to a Customer Relationship Management platform.  

Lemon: Speaking of that, what is the most indispensable tool an e-commerce brand should have in it’s toolbox for effective marketing? 

Brooke: A customer relationship management tool where you have control and visibility over who is being marketed to, prioritize outreach to prospects, and fully manage customer support easily.

Lemon: For businesses thinking about exploring a customer relationship management tool like HubSpot, can you explain a little more about what it means for your agency to be a HubSpot Solutions Partner?

Brooke: For Conceited, it means helping businesses of all sizes to get access to a single-source-of-truth with enterprise functionality, affordably. It’s one platform to learn that accounts for all the marketing, sales, and customer support aspects of their business.

Lemon: Oo, switching gears for a moment. We often ask what we should be looking for in an agency, but what are some red flags for an agency that’s not the right fit? 

Brooke: There are multiple factors when evaluating marketing agencies to partner with. Defining your expectations first is important. Then, understanding to what degree you’d like your marketing partner involved in your business. My personal opinion of red flags is anyone selling a “secret sauce”, “secret ingredient”, or a magic bullet. On the flip side, it’s also the “we’re just going to throw a bunch of marketing material out there and see what works.” The old “throw the spaghetti at the wall and hope it sticks.” There is no secret sauce or magic bullet when it comes to marketing. There are best practice foundations that need to be built, similar to layering brick. Once the foundation is built, then you can test, test, test. Don’t buy into someone who is going to have you running before you can even walk.

Lemon: You’ve grown a lot in the last year, your staff expanding as well as your client list. Where do you see Conceited in the future?

Brooke: I see Conceited being able to provide more remote jobs for those in the industry, a place to foster learning, passion, and excitement for the clients we serve, having a larger team with functioning arms of the business, and, of course, more happy clients.