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E184: Grit & Graphics: Ballistic Arts’ Tale of Growth

Join Brian Mattocks as he unravels the inspiring journey of Ted Lau, the mastermind behind Ballistic Arts. From videotapes to lead gen, discover how passion and adaptability propelled a small garage startup into a thriving B2B marketing agency. Tune in for Ted’s candid storytelling packed with actionable insights and a dash of entrepreneurial spirit. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Hard to Market Podcast.
  • Garage beginnings to B2B leads
  • Creativity in business growth
  • Importance of adapting skills
  • Balancing art with business
  • Team building and leadership
Connect with Ted Lau:
Connect with our host, Brian Mattocks:
  • 10:47 – And it’s really fun, that leadership part of it, you can be very creative doing fun things for your team. Like we did for our 20th anniversary at Ballistic Arts, we hired a top chef winner, you know, the show Top Chef. So that we hired the, I think he was like the 2017 or 2018 winner. And he took us out in the middle of nowhere. I live in Vancouver, Canada, as I said, in the middle of nowhere in British Columbia where there’s a bunch of forest fires the year before. And we went out to like all these burnt trees for stuff to pick morel mushrooms. We did a team building thing picking morel mushrooms. And then he parked us along a creek in the middle of nowhere and he cooked us a seven-course meal along a creek, right? It was, and that is something that you can still be creative. You can find really cool things that like people will remember for the rest of their lives. Like, oh, my work took us here with a chef and all that kind of stuff. So that kind of stuff, you can be creative. Now, in terms of the business, like ballistic arts, are we creative?
  • 18:45 – Another thing that one of my video directors would tell his creative team is that, look, at the end of the day, if you wanna be an artist, you can do that on the side. But we’re here for a job to get paid and so we have a mission, we’re going to go do that. And yeah, like a lot of ’em do creative stuff on as side hustles, but they know that at the end of the day, they still have to pay their bills. And everything that we do is also results driven. We promise to our clients we’re gonna hit a particular metric for them. It’s usually a lead target metric, like how many qualified leads they need a month. And then so long as we hit it, I mean we, we pay a decent salary for all of our team members. However, every single one of ’em have a bonus attached.A very generous bonus incentive that if they hit client goals, then they’re gonna hit that their, that incentive. And as much as you might be a creative and artist and all that kind of stuff, cost of living is not inexpensive these days.
  • 11:37 – It’s like all advertising, right? The, we just had the Super Bowl, right? And I mean, I love the Dunkin Donuts. I don’t know if you watched that one, the Dunkin Donuts commercial with Ben Affleck and Tom Brady and all that. It was hilarious. And is the creativity aspect, but it did drive attention and eyeballs and brand awareness for Dunkin Donuts, right? And that’s the same thing. You have to have that balance. But I think a lot of marketers make a ton of mistakes on focusing on the creative.
  • 03:30 – Because okay, you don’t need a video, and then they’d be like, well, we noticed that your, your brochure’s pretty nice. Can you design me a brochure for my business? And I’m thinking in my head, like, I’m a video production company, but after like six months of getting no’s, we don’t want to do a video. And then having someone going, can you design a, I’m like, I’m hungry. And I’m like, yeah, yeah, we can do that. Oh, how much would it be? And I had to, I remember quoting people on the spot, like really quickly in my head, how much do I wanna get paid per hour? How many hours do I think it’s gonna do.
  • 04:09 – And it always kind of, at least at first was like a $1,000, right? And, and, yeah, yeah, I did not know that at the time. That was actually a very, very cost effective thing. And so people were like, oh, a thousand bucks. Yeah, yeah, well, we’ll hire you. And so, you know, I’d come back to the office, which was again, the room above my parents’ garage. I had a business partner at the time. I’d be like, I didn’t sell a video today, but I sold the brochure. We need to, we need to design a brochure now. And so we had learn how to do that, right? And we had to learn, so we knew how to design things, but you know, we had to learn how to do crop marks. What bleed is CMYK to RGB, like all this kind, or for RRG, B2C MYK, all this kind of stuff. Colors and color correction, all that kind of stuff. And, but we learned, and we did it on time and on budget, which was the most important thing that I realized. Another lesson is that doesn’t matter how great your creative is, how great of an artist you might be, but you are marketing to businesses. At the end of the day, businesses have deadlines that they have to meet. They need this brochure for a particular event. So you gotta actually be able to hit it and don’t go over budget because that, that will basically burn a lot of bridges. So we are always on time and on budget. And then, oh hey, now that we’re trusted, oh, this web thing, this thing called the interweb, is it doesn’t seem to be going away.

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