Connect with us

Productivity Stacks

Founder and Executive Director Danielle Reid on How Value-Driven Marketing and Hiring an HR Consultant Were Key to Successfully Scaling Her Marketing and Communications Agency

Founder and Executive Director Danielle Reid on How Value-Driven Marketing and Hiring an HR Consultant Were Key to Successfully Scaling Her Marketing and Communications Agency

Case Study

Founder and Executive Director Danielle Reid on How Value-Driven Marketing and Hiring an HR Consultant Were Key to Successfully Scaling Her Marketing and Communications Agency

Prior to starting her own business, Danielle Reid was an accomplished marketing professional at a big six advertising agency. She worked with Fortune 500 companies, creating and managing campaigns for huge global brands like Nissan, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola. But she reached a point where she felt she could do more outside the confines of a corporate environment.  

In late 2019, Reid launched her own marketing agency, DR and Associates, to focus on what she felt was an underserved niche of smaller businesses and nonprofits. Her business grew through the COVID pandemic, landed six-figure contracts, and scaled to a team of 14 full-time staff by 2023!

We sat down with Founder and Executive Director Danielle Reid to talk about her journey growing and scaling her agency and what systems, tools, and people were instrumental to their success. Don’t forget to check out the company’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference and Reid’s Reading List at the end of the article. 

Table of Contents


Challenge 1: Building self-belief and confidence that she could launch her own marketing agency

As Reid thought about venturing out on her own, she had a clear vision of who she wanted to serve. “I knew I wanted to help out non-profit organizations that couldn’t afford those $30,000 a month retainers and also those emerging entrepreneurs that have a great product but don’t know how to put their product or service out there. It was more about helping those that I knew the big agencies would look over because these people didn’t have a substantial budget.” 

She had the skills and over a decade of experience that made her uniquely qualified to serve this market. And smaller businesses and entrepreneurs were constantly reaching out to ask for her help with their marketing strategies as well. Yet imposter syndrome had her doubting herself, and it took her some time to build up the courage and confidence to launch her business.

Solution: Reid took action despite not being 100% confident. She quit her job and officially launched DR and Associates on October 1, 2019, with a simple Facebook post to advertise that she was going into business full-time. 

She posted something like, “Hey, I know you guys have been asking me in the past if I would ever do this full-time–it’s official. I’m now doing this full-time. Inbox me if you’d like to talk or discuss your marketing plan.” That same day, she signed two clients. That made her realize people were just waiting for her to take the step forward and believe she could make it on her own and help others too.

People: Reid

Systems: Social media announcement, taking a leap of faith

Tools: Facebook

Back to Table of Contents

Challenge 2: Delegation: “I’m going to run myself crazy!”

Reid’s understanding of what her target market needed and her connection with them even before starting the business full-time meant she quickly got busy with client work. She was working as a solopreneur, and on top of that, taking care of an infant and two younger kids! 

She recalls, “It was just a lot going on. I was getting three hours of sleep, thinking, ‘You’re a business owner, you don’t get to rest!’ And I found myself saying, ‘I’m going to run myself crazy.’”

Solution: By February 2020, five months after launching her business, she started hiring contractors. She tapped her network of other marketing professionals, hired generalists and specialists, and assigned them to their respective ‘zones of genius.’

DR and Associates is a full-service agency which means the business offers everything from marketing strategy and market research to branding, paid ads, social media, web design, live events, and community engagement. They even touch on services beyond the marketing umbrella, like business consulting, media relations, and PR.

The breadth of their offerings meant she needed a lot of help with service delivery. So building and maintaining the right team was an essential element in the company’s growth (more on this in Challenge # 6).

People: Reid, contractors

Systems: Hiring contractors to ease workload

Tools: Facebook, LinkedIn, job boards

Back to Table of Contents


Challenge 3: How to choose the best tools

Reid knew the importance of having systems and tools to streamline work and make things easier, especially as her agency got busy in such a short span of time. She recalls, “When you’re starting out, you look up project management tools and get like 30 different options. Some of them were overwhelming, some of them didn’t do everything I needed to do, so it’s more work for me to run it than just doing it myself.” 

How did she figure out the best tech stack for her business?

Solution: Reid actually started her marketing career in data science, so she was familiar with automation and knew the importance of spending time trying out different options for project management, file sharing, and storage. She tried Asana, Microsoft Teams, ClickUp, and But only ClickUp met her criteria for ease of use and completeness as a project management tool. She ended up coding her own in-house project management program as well. 

“I finally did find some systems that work perfectly for what we do, from initial client outreach to managing their projects, to where the entire team can see everything. We can see requests,  we can track how long it takes for us to do something, and we can see when [clients] open emails or when they respond. Those types of things allow us to work in our zone of genius even more.”

Even with their custom project management tool, Reid still uses ClickUp because it is easy to use for people who don’t like tech. For seamless storage, sharing, and tracking revisions and edits on different documents, she chose the Google Workspace suite of tools. 

People: Reid, contractors

Systems: Testing various tools to find the best fit, custom making own tool

Tools: In-house project management tool, ClickUp, Google Workspace (formerly GSuite)

Back to Table of Contents

Challenge 4: Navigating the pandemic with non-profits and emerging businesses as main clients

Barely six months after launching her agency, the COVID pandemic hit. The climate of economic uncertainty meant less business spending and reductions in marketing budgets. Her target market of non-profits and smaller businesses surely was more vulnerable and harder hit during that period– how did Reid continue getting clients and generating business?

Solution: Contrary to expectation, the pandemic opened up many opportunities for DR and Associates. Because her agency was a small operation with significantly lower overhead expenses, she could charge fees that fit within clients’ tighter budgets.

She recalls, “[Clients] were coming to me saying, ‘Look, this is what our current agency is charging us. We can’t afford this. What can we get for a reasonable price within this budget?’ And then I would talk with them through strategy and things like that. And you know, even for the six-figure contract that we did get from a non-profit [during that time], they paid seven figures for that before.”

As a full-service marketing agency, DR and Associates also took advantage of the demand for website builds, digital marketing services, and community engagement and outreach to help smaller enterprises stand out during those months of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. The COVID pandemic actually helped her business build a network aligned with her values of giving back to the community.

Even during this challenging period, Reid was faithful to her client-driven approach to business. DR and Associates is about providing ‘real results for real people’ and positive ROI on their client’s marketing spend. She explains, “People that say they do marketing, they usually don’t give long-term strategy. They’re looking at what are some quick techniques to get you these little fixes, but it doesn’t result in long-term growth and profits. Or they have to [extend timelines on] projects to expand their profits. For us, no, we’re [client]-driven first, knowing that our success relies on that of our [clients’].”

People: Reid, contractors, clients

Systems: Client and community-focused pricing and strategy, stepping into the unserved space for clients who cannot afford seven-figure marketing budgets while delivering the same or better value 

Tools: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, WordPress, in-house project management tool, ClickUp, Google Workspace

Back to Table of Contents

Challenge 5: Distribution: How do you keep up the momentum?

The agency grew rapidly from launch to hiring contractors within the first six months and generating new business through the pandemic. What was Reid’s marketing strategy and sales funnel to achieve this, and how do they maintain a healthy pipeline to keep growing?

Solution: Many of their clients are referrals which is a testament to the quality of service they provide. They also respond to requests for proposals (RFPs) and are active in diversity and minority marketing initiatives. But a lot of the company’s success stems from the brand itself, the client focus, and the community involvement that Reid has always personally practiced. 

She tells us, “Me and my team, we’re out a lot in the community, doing a lot of different volunteer work. [The leads] come from us getting out there and doing free seminars, educating people, participating in panels, things like that. We don’t really advertise. We’ll post something on social media to inform people and educate them, but it’s not really to get leads.”

Reid recommends this approach to her clients as well. “Look at how you can get out into the community and be genuine with it. And business will come to you from that. But you have to know how to do it correctly and not to where it’s gimmicky. [It’s about] figuring out where your business, where your brand can be involved in the community and have an impact on it that directly comes back to your profits.”

People: Reid, contractors, clients

Systems: Client and community-focused branding, engaging with the community, value-driven marketing

Tools: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, WordPress

Back to Table of Contents

Scaling & Success

Challenge 6: Transitioning from contractors to full-time hires

In 2021, Reid hired a few full-time employees but still worked mostly with contractors. By the end of the following year though, she realized this model wasn’t ideal for her business. It was not just because she spent a lot on contractors but still had to do a lot of work herself. She also needed more accountability and ownership in the work delivered. 

“Everybody has to be an employee because then you’re held more responsible for your actions. So that people understand that we’re a growing agency and if you don’t do your job, you can’t work here.”

This was a tough transition for Reid. Her tendency to be sympathetic made hiring and letting people go difficult – she always wanted to give opportunities even to those who were not the best fit or those who didn’t perform.

She recalls, “At one point, I gave some contractors more hours because I thought maybe they needed more time to accomplish what they need to do. And the total opposite happened – they were dropping the ball with clients! At that point, it was affecting our overall profit, and I knew it wasn’t going to work.”

Solution: Reid first had to come to terms with what her current team set-up was costing her. She recalls, “I had to have a sit-down and literally have a talk with myself on how much I was spending versus what was being brought back. I can’t hire based on ‘I’m feeling kind’ or ‘I want to provide [opportunities].’” 

Fortunately, she got in touch with a friend who was an expert HR Consultant. This friend helped her roll out an onboarding process for those who wanted to join DR and Associates full-time. As an HR consultant, her friend also vetted all candidates before sending them to Reid for interviews.

It allowed for a great restart for her team, as those who were not committed to the agency didn’t even finish their onboarding process and just let themselves out the door.  Reid shares, “I’m a firm believer in delegating if it’s not [your] realm. Evidently, I was too nice, trying to see the good in everyone. I’m not saying that it’s all been smooth because even now, it’s a challenge to find [candidates] for some of these specialty positions. But I’m feeling better about it than if I was out here just trying to recruit on my own and giving people chances.”

People: Reid, HR Consultant, contractors, and full-time hires

Systems: Delegating the hiring and onboarding process

Tools: In-house project management tool, ClickUp, Google Workspace, Google Calendar, Zoom

Back to Table of Contents

Challenge 7: Learning to set boundaries

Reid’s commitment to clients and goal-oriented work ethic are a big part of her professional success. She is no stranger to pulling all-nighters to finish a deliverable. She admits, “I’m that person. It doesn’t matter if I need to stay up til four in the morning. I’ll get it done.”

But working in her business made her realize how long hours were affecting the quality of her work. She began to catch little errors and realized she couldn’t keep pushing herself like that anymore. 

She shares, “A lot of people don’t realize that they aren’t getting enough sleep. When they are trying to constantly push themselves, they’re heading towards a road that they may not be able to come back from. There are so many entrepreneurs that have mental health issues. [I’ve seen so many] entrepreneurs die from heart issues because they are so stressed out. They have everything on them. I don’t want to end up like that.”

Solution: It was a learning process, but Reid learned to get help and set boundaries. She hired a housekeeper to help with the home life and delegated more work in the business. She learned to say no, stop checking emails on weekends, and turn off her work phone after business hours, apart from when they had work-related events on the weekends.

It wasn’t easy, as her desire to help people would sometimes get her overcommitted. She would give discounts on projects but still devote the same amount of effort as with a full-paying client. She had to become more mindful of these tendencies and set limits for herself to avoid burnout. 

People: Reid, her team, housekeeper

Systems: Setting boundaries around work hours and extent of work commitments, getting help for business and home life

Tools: Google Calendar, LinkedIn, job boards

Back to Table of Contents

Challenge 8: Time management strategies: Balancing client work and CEO work

Today, Reid continues to be hands-on with client work while running her agency. How does she divide her time between working in and on the business so she is productive and able to provide the leadership and direction her team needs?

Solution: Reid explained how her team’s schedule follows their clients’ busy seasons, which is typically June or July during the fiscal year-end, quarter end, New Year, or days leading up to Black Friday. They have a whiteboard where the team can see the upcoming projects, and they focus on the urgent tasks that need to be prioritized. Reid reserves Mondays and Fridays for internal meetings and planning, and rarely takes client meetings on these days. 

To get her tasks done, she uses time blocking and is very strict about getting rid of all distractions – from putting her phone away to closing all other windows on her laptop. She shares, “I try not to multitask because I tell people, ‘[If] you multitask, it’s going to take you longer to get it done.’” 

People: Reid and her whole team

Systems: Adapting their calendar to follow client schedules and busy seasons, time blocking, theme days for internal vs. client-facing work, single-tasking

Tools: Google Calendar, Google Workspace, in-house project management tool, ClickUp, whiteboard, Zoom

Back to Table of Contents

Hindsight: What Reid would have done earlier

Looking back, Reid thinks she would have benefited from her own advice to other entrepreneurs, to find and surround themselves with the right people to help with their business. And it’s not just about having extra hands to help you get things done; the people you surround yourself with influence the way you feel about yourself.

“Even though my firm has had tremendous growth, especially for this year alone, I could have been in this position two years ago, if I had people around me who I could lean on for that true support. So I guess looking back, I most definitely would have been quicker to fire and slower to hire.”

Back to Table of Contents

Advice from Reid: You can be a mom and a CEO too

Reid accomplished so much in her career and her new business, all while raising four small kids. She told us her husband’s favorite story was of her finishing an accounting exam for her MBA while in labor with their third baby (she got a 98% on that exam, by the way). Her thinking has always been, “We’re just going to get it done. I just go with the flow.” She would nurse her baby while in virtual meetings and could still crank out a whole website after putting the baby to bed. 

She acknowledged that marketing is a male-dominated field, and when she was in a corporate setting, even having photos of her family in her office space was rather unusual. But that didn’t stop her from embracing her roles as a mother, a career woman, and now a businesswoman all at the same time. 

“I know some women who are discouraged from starting businesses because people tell them, ‘Oh, no, you have a child,’ or if they’re still working in a career, ‘Oh well, you’ll never be able to make it that far because you’re a mom.’ You can have the best of both worlds. You can be a mom and be a CEO too.”

Back to Table of Contents

Wrap Up

Reid seemed to have all the ingredients to succeed in her business, with her vast array of skills, extensive experience, network, and a unique combination of creativity and systems-orientedness. But it was staying true to her vision of helping smaller companies, demonstrating her concern for her community, plus getting the right people in her corner that helped her level up and achieve significant growth. 

Building the right team was crucial, and admitting that she struggled with managing contractors and implementing a high standard of work and accountability were important steps that led to her delegating the hiring and firing in her agency. 

Today, she is a role model for women in business and leadership, especially for all she has achieved in a male-dominated field, all while raising small children. She never let the expectations of her as a mother limit what she would strive for. At the same time, she is mindful of setting boundaries and shares an all-important reminder to care for our mental and physical health as entrepreneurs.

The way Reid does business is very value-driven, immersed in her local community, and anchored on her clients achieving success. This creates a cycle of more opportunities for her agency which they keep paying forward. DR and Associates is a great example of how doing good is good for business. 

Back to Table of Contents

Reid’s Reading List

Back to Table of Contents

Reid’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference



Scaling & Success

Back to Table of Contents

More About Danielle Reid

Danielle Reid is the Founder and Executive Director of DR and Associates, a creative firm that specializes in branding, event management, project management, marketing consulting, and organizational improvement with an established track record of success across businesses of all sizes and industries.

With more than 14 years of experience in marketing, digital analytics, business development, and communications, Danielle’s aim is a positive ROI for her clients. She delivers measurable results and ensures that brands are strategically aligned to meet their organizational objectives. She has succeeded where those before her have failed.

Danielle counts Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and non-profits among her clients, including Nissan, Subway, Coca-Cola, The United States Navy, and UnitedHealthcare. Her skills are in high demand as she has been tapped by senior-level executives and management for her extensive knowledge in leading national, international, and global marketing campaigns with proven results. Danielle has also cleared the path for other women to serve in leadership positions within the Marketing and Communications industry: being the first woman to serve as a Marketing and Advertising Advisor within the Department of Defense.

Not only has Danielle set herself apart as a force to be reckoned with in her field, but she also has experience turning struggling companies around through business process development and implementation, employee and leadership training, and employee retention and feedback activities.

Comfortable with being either in the spotlight or behind the scenes, Danielle has been honored and recognized by multiple organizations and industry publications as one of the top women in the country with her level of expertise. In 2019, she received the honor of being the only person in the Southern US recognized by Google as a rising star in the Marketing and Communications Industry. She also has won numerous awards for her work as an entrepreneur, as well as in the marketing industry. 

To learn more about Danielle and her agency DR and Associates, you can visit: 


Back to Table of Contents

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Case Study

Want Our Free Schedule Success Bundle?

To Top