Following is part two of an interview with Cheryl Benton, owner of 747 Marketing. Their website says, "We've built a consulting business that helps our clients gain unfair competitive advantages by outwitting the other guys." Visit Cheryl Benton’s website simply by Googling 747 Marketing.

Q. In 2004, you launched a firm called 747 Marketing. Did you identify a market need that inspired you to start this firm?
A. Yes, the marketing need was my own. (Laughs.) I was at a point where I needed to have more flexibility. I needed a lot more time and a lot more control over when, where and how I wanted to work and the kinds of assignments that I would find challenging. It was really my own personal need to do that.

The decision to do this was more of a lifestyle issue. So, I have to always remind myself why I did that, so I'm not back into the 80 hour work thing again. Now, I look at projects -- at the scope of them, and how long term they are -- and I see how much of a commitment I'm willing to give before I'll say, "Yes, I'll do that."

How do you find projects that won't be so time consuming? It's tough. It's looking at the scope of the effort and asking, "What is this going to be," at the beginning of the project. You move on in life and you use your experience, your wisdom, and maybe your past connections, in order to make wise decisions. You don't want to be put on this 80 hour treadmill, which is the game that gets played when you're in your 20s.

When I get into a consulting project, I base the project on how much time is required and what is the timeframe. For example, if it's a three month assignment, I might say, "OK, I will devote two days a week of my time to this project." And, I set that up. I think a lot of it is setting up that expectation in advance. You have to do that, particularly when you're consulting. Otherwise, you end up making 50 cents an hour. It's not worth doing that. Setting it up right isn't perfect, but you have to go into it with that kind of discipline.

I've turned down projects because of the time commitments involved. They would have been very intense timeframe projects.

Also, when you're working as a consultant (and people are paying you as a consultant) and they do know you are on that clock, I find it's easier for them to become more disciplined because they realize there is a clock. But, we all want to help and I am flexible.

I do a lot of seminars with the ANA (Association of National Advertisers). One of the seminars I teach frequently across the country to clients is called, "The Client-Agency Relationship." I spend a lot of time talking about how to be a good client and how to manage expectations.

Q. Did your work experience cause you to structure 747 Marketing differently?
A. It's different in that it is truly consulting. I started an agency that was full service. And then of course for many years I managed in full service agencies, where you actually have products you produce: It's an ad, or it's a brochure.

My particular talent and the things I really liked doing, were on the strategic side of the business. I helped people to be better, smarter marketers. "Here is the issue. Let's come up with a solution." I realized that is the piece of the business, where I wanted to focus. When we get to the point where the client needs other services or other people, we help the client find those professionals.

Q. Tell us about a time where you had to move a client to a new way of thinking.
A. I was very fortunate in the 1990s. I was with an agency and it was probably the first agency that became involved with the Internet and interactive marketing in a big way. I was working with some very large clients who only had used traditional media. I was helping those big consumer companies figure out what the interactive world was going to be like for them. That was a huge leap in the late 1990s and, for a lot of companies, it's still a big leap.

Q. What types of challenges did it take to move people into electronic marketing?
A. In the consumer world during the 1990s, the 30 second TV commercial was still king. But, the Internet was starting to change it and cable was changing it. So, the smarter, consumer marketers realized they had to at least experiment in some different spaces to see where this whole new Internet thing was going. And, the ones who got in early are doing it really well and others are playing a catch-up game.

Some of the companies stepped into the waters pretty early. They were starting to go from a world where their consumers were mass consumers to beginning to understand that there were opportunities to build relationships with different kinds of intimate target audiences. And, it takes time to figure out how to do that and how to turn some of these big ships around.

Other companies finally said, "Oh gosh, we need to do this. We can jump into this tomorrow and we'll have this all figured out in a year." But, it doesn't work that way. So, yes, there were still people, who were fighting the new media, and not just on the client side. There were people who wanted to produce a 30 second, big budget TV commercial on the agency side.

Q. Why did people want to do that rather than create a web page?
A. I think it's fear of change. It's fear of the unknown. We're all comfortable with what we know and what we like and for some people and organizations, it's harder to identify and accept what you're going to bring to it.

Q. Why are you different from those people?
A. I'm an entrepreneur at heart. For some people, it's in your DNA so, you're less afraid. I've always been curious about new things and I've always loved technology. I spent 10 years initially in a technology company. Not that I'm an in-depth technology person, but I've always liked what technology can do for us. Curiosity is a lot of it.

Q. How do you convince a resistant person to change?
A. I think it's doing something in a small way. It's saying, "Don't give me your entire budget, but let's try something small here. Let's put a little bit of money into it, let's try it and we'll see what happens." That gives people a comfort zone. They don't feel like they're rolling the dice on one big bet.

Q. Does this require an investment on the agency side?
A. Sure, because there's a lot of education that has to go on, if you're trying to get people to do something. You're investing that this thing is going to work and there will be more money to follow.

Q. Is it difficult to get a commitment from the agency leadership?
A. It depends on the organization. If you don't have that kind of support upwards, I suggest to people not to do it because if you can't at least get the initial buy-in -- "OK, we're willing to experiment here" -- your chances aren't good later.

But, if you don't change in the world, you're going to become a dinosaur. There were agencies that didn't change at all and they went by the wayside.

Author's Bio: 

James O. Armstrong, who serves as Editor and President of,, which is The Resource for Job Transitions over 40, also wrote "Now What: Discovering Your New Life and Career after 50." In addition, he is the Cofounder with his wife of Armstrong Solutions Inc.,, which is a Counseling, Coaching and Career Management Practice with a reduced fee schedule to expand their services to a larger group of men and women with needs. Armstrong also serves as President of James Armstrong & Associates, Inc., which is a national and international media representation firm serving Central US and Canada out of his Suburban Chicago base.