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Kristen DeGroot | CEO | The Campfire Circle

From Wanderlust to Marketing Maven: Kristen DeGroot Unleashing Innovation and Growth in the Agency Realm

A digital marketing landscape is where agency owners are immersed in delivering outstanding client work, crafting compelling campaigns, optimizing websites and strategizing social media blitzes. But what about their own agencies? They often find themselves short on time and energy to nurture their own business growth.

Amid this whirlwind, Kristen DeGroot emerges as a guiding light. With 12 years of experience in growing and scaling agencies, she recognized a gap in the market. The agency world needed a savior, an agency for agencies. And so, The Campfire Circle Agency was born.

The Campfire Circle isn’t your typical marketing services company. It’s a haven for agency owners seeking to expand without losing their focus on clients. Kristen’s brainchild provides the support, strategies and solutions they crave. She’s the CEO at the helm, driven by a mission to empower agency owners to thrive.

With Kristen’s expertise and The Campfire Circle’s tailored services, agency owners can finally direct their energies where they matter most—serving clients with excellence. Kristen and her agency are here to ensure that in the world of marketing, no agency owner is left in the cold, alone in the dark, but rather gathered around the warm glow of success.

Let’s delve into a journey towards unparalleled success in the world of marketing services!

The Marketing Maze

Thirteen years ago, Kristen held an English writing degree but felt a bit adrift. She embarked on a journey to India, teaching English to monks while chronicling her adventures in a blog that gained unexpected popularity.

Returning to the US, her India blog opened doors. Kristen found herself in the world of marketing at a startup software company, quickly rising to become the head of marketing. Yet, after five years, she craved flexibility and took the freelance route.

During her freelance years, Kristen collaborated with various agencies, initially as a client-facing partner. Over time, she transitioned into scaling and expanding agencies. A lifelong dream of starting her agency finally came to fruition six months ago with The Campfire Circle—an agency for agencies.

In her current role, Kristen has discovered a niche. She noticed that agency owners often get swamped with client work, leaving them little time for growth. As she puts it, “I’ve found that agency owners spend a ton of time doing awesome client work and often don’t have the time to spend on growing their agency so they work with me for my organic lead gen process.” Kristen’s expertise lies in organic lead generation and business optimization, providing much-needed assistance for agency owners.

Kristen’s journey from a traveler and blogger in India to the founder of an agency for agencies—showcases her adaptability and commitment to helping others in the ever-evolving world of marketing. With her flexibility and experience, she’s lighting the way for agencies to thrive.

The Wild Ride

Starting a new agency can be a real uphill climb. Kristen knows this struggle all too well. She understood the importance of having a track record to attract clients, but she faced a catch-22—how can you prove yourself without a client in the first place?

Kristen cracked this code by showcasing her previous work, especially her lead magnets, to other agencies. She let her skills and results speak for themselves, building that much-needed “social proof” step by step.

Support also played a crucial role in her journey. Kristen leaned on her parents, husband and in-laws for encouragement and assistance while she nurtured her agency into existence. Their unwavering belief in her dream kept her going.

Of course, every journey has its bumps. Kristen faced the slowdown of marketing activities during the summer, a common challenge in the industry. But instead of seeing it as a setback, she used this time wisely.

She ironed out any kinks in her approach, fine-tuned her strategies and laid the groundwork for success. Now that the summer has passed, Kristen finds herself with more clients than she ever imagined.

Unearthed Gems

In her own words, Kristen hopes to make a real difference in the lives of agency owners. She believes that they shouldn’t have to exhaust themselves juggling client work and agency growth.

Listening to the experiences of numerous agency owners, Kristen found a common thread. Cold outreach, once a go-to strategy, has lost its luster. What they crave now is a more organic approach to lead generation. Kristen’s secret sauce? Lead magnets. These become the heart of her campaigns for clients.

Why lead magnets? Well, it’s simple. When leads come knocking on an agency’s door, the game changes. When potential clients come to them, it elevates the agency’s credibility, making the sales cycle shorter and sweeter.

Kristen’s focus on this organic strategy is a game-changer for agency owners, offering a more effective and efficient way to build their businesses without the burnout.

The Puppet Master

Presently, Kristen operates as a one-woman shop, occasionally enlisting the help of freelancers. She had a revelation while observing agency owners—they seemed drained and stretched thin. Sensing an opportunity, she decided to specialize in this niche.

What makes Kristen’s approach unique is her ability to dive deep into the intricacies of the agency world. She doesn’t merely scratch the surface by understanding an agency’s target audience—she delves even further. Kristen crafts campaign that resonate with her clients’ target audience’s target audience—yes, it’s a bit of a tongue-twister, but it’s where her expertise shines.

Here’s a practical example: Kristen worked with an agency specializing in-home services. Instead of churning out the usual industry report, she took a different route. Kristen surveyed the people who had recently used home services to understand why they chose a particular company and what marketing efforts appealed to them. This data was then transformed into an insightful report. The result? It was eye-opening and became her most successful lead magnet.

Kristen’s ability to connect the dots and unearth valuable insights has propelled her agency to new heights. She continues to create industry reports based on her client’s target audience’s target audience, offering a fresh perspective that sets her apart in the dynamic world of marketing.

Fueling Agency Agility

Kristen says, “Oh my goodness, I’m all about flexibility,” conveying Flexibility as her mantra. Her agency operates with freelancers and she believes in giving them the freedom to choose their work hours as long as they meet the agreed-upon deadlines.

Kristen’s own experience as a freelancer, working from various corners of the world, taught her the importance of this flexibility. She understands that quality work thrives when freelancers aren’t bogged down by tight schedules.

In her role as an agency partner, Kristen empathizes with the bustling nature of agencies. She knows just how hectic things can get. To strike the right balance, she adopts a gentle approach with her clients.

Kristen sends them friendly reminders when she needs something from them, ensuring that her requests are heard without coming across as pushy. It’s all about fostering a collaborative and stress-free working environment, where everyone can deliver their best work.

Behind the Pixels

Kristen is a keen observer of the modern work landscape and acknowledges the pivotal role of technology in our lives. She recognizes that technology is the backbone of many job opportunities today, underpinning our employment prospects.

For her agency, The Campfire Circle, Kristen deftly wields a digital arsenal. HubSpot serves as her go-to for CRM and marketing automation, while Pollfish aids in audience surveys, providing invaluable insights for her clients.

Social media platforms are her canvas for extensive promotional efforts and her website—hosted on SquareSpace—relies on their analytics tools. She’s also a fan of G-Suite for seamless content sharing and collaborative spreadsheet work.

Tech’s Toolbox

Looking to the horizon, Kristen predicts a game-changing shift in the agency industry—AI-driven content generation. While she sees the potential of tools like ChatGPT in enhancing writing efficiency and ensuring SEO optimization, she underscores the importance of the human touch.

In her view, content should never be 100% AI, as it tends to lack the human touch that readers can spot a mile away. Instead, she suggests using AI as a starting point to draft content and then having a skilled writer infuse it with personality and authenticity. She says, “Someone who can actually write should give it voice and make it sound humanized.”

Moreover, Kristen points out a limitation of AI like ChatGPT—it draws its data from 2021 or earlier, rendering it unsuitable for citing recent data, which is often crucial for content creators to bolster their arguments effectively. In her forward-thinking approach, Kristen adapts to the evolving landscape while keeping the human element at the core of her content creation strategy.

What Next?

Kristen’s current ambition centers on the expansion of her agency with a vision to bring full-time employees on board. At present, her agency thrives with a roster of exceptionally skilled contractors, but Kristen aspires to take it to the next level by building a dedicated team.

Another cherished goal that sparkles on Kristen’s horizon is to receive that one email, the kind that every professional dreams of—a notification from a publication that she has been selected as one of the “40 Professionals Under 40.”

For Kristen, this recognition would signify not only personal achievement but also evidence of the resonance of her agency’s vision and philosophy with a broader audience. It would serve as confirmation that her work is making an impact, that her ideas are striking a chord, and that her agency is on a path of significance.

With these aspirations guiding her, Kristen is set to chart an exciting course for her agency’s growth and personal achievement, driven by a passionate pursuit of her dreams and a commitment to making a difference in her field.

Keys to the Marketing Kingdom

Kristen shares a timeless piece of wisdom for aspiring business leaders, “My advice to anyone who aspires to be a business leader is kind of cliché but I advise being patient.” She recognizes the journey to success can be slow and steady.

Launching a new business, Kristen notes, requires time to gain traction. Those initial steps might feel like a climb, but once you secure your first customers, a transformative snowball effect begins. As Kristen puts it, “After you land your first customer or few customers, it becomes a snowball effect and business will start rolling in.

This momentum builds naturally, especially if you harness the power of social proof from those early customers. Demonstrating that your business effectively addresses pain points becomes the key to attracting a steady stream of clients.