Marketing executives are known for their talk, but Ashley Steele prides herself on listening, particularly to small business leaders.
And she hopes to hear plenty from them after returning home to Little Rock and then starting her own digital marketing firm, Obtain Creative, last month.
After college at Colorado State University and nearly a decade of media and marketing work in Los Angeles and Denver, Steele landed back in Arkansas in 2018, and after stints at the Thoma Thoma and Stone Ward Agencies, she relaunched Obtain to offer small-business clients web and digital marketing services in special low-cost packages.
“I love to listen, and to be able to educate and help business owners,” the Little Rock Christian Academy graduate said in a telephone interview introducing her firm. “I found that taking time to really understand their businesses and ask them questions really pays off. Marketing can make a big difference in success, and I love for them to say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’d never thought of that.’ I love that moment of being able to help them, of being a resource.”
To that end, Obtain Creative is offering what Steele calls “launch plans” to help businesses plunge into the digital world. Starting at $800 a month, businesses get an audit of their online presence, a strategy session and fully customized website, search engine optimization and a monthly report, Steele said. The idea is to break the cost barrier to website and digital marketing, “essentially ‘financing’ the work over a year’s time” while also getting tailored SEO services at no additional charge.
“Small business owners are often so focused on all the other things they handle, like their product or maintaining their book, that they haven’t had time to invest in learning all the details that go into modern digital marketing, that's the website or social media, changing their algorithm this week, or search engine optimization,” Steele said. “How do I even perform keyword research? What is a persona? Those are the kinds of really common questions.”
After working in the magazine industry, she started offering WordPress website training in Denver, then built up “entire digital marketing teams” for businesses.
“When I came back to Little Rock, I was stunned to see how much growth was happening here, especially within the entrepreneur field,” she said. She worked at Thoma Thoma, a branding-focused agency in Little Rock, then helped the digital marketing team at Stone Ward, another established firm.
“But in my heart I knew there would always be small businesses that haven’t had professional marketing services at a price point within their reach,” Steele said. “I see a huge opportunity to serve Little Rock in particular with that. That’s what led me here.”
She does not have a physical office now, meeting clients at their offices or at designated COVID-safe environments, and using Zoom, her phone and other remote digital tools.
“You know, working with startups, it’s just the nature of the job to do many things and to juggle a lot,” she said. “It can be a grind, but it’s also part of what I love about what I do. It’s never boring, and there’s always something new to learn. I also like being creative, and digital marketing is a good fit for that.”
Granular detail on user habits has become the lifeblood of modern digital marketing, and mastering that can unleash sales potential, Steele said. “We can see which path they went through to get to the site, we can see how your social media is being interacted with and which posts perform higher versus others. You can even put unique links on your more traditional marketing materials and see if people actually visited that link. So yeah, you can track an unimaginable number of things.”
Obtain is a one-woman operation, but Steele has collaborators in Little Rock and Los Angeles to fill specific needs.
“Quality digital marketing shouldn’t be reserved for only the big companies who’ve already ‘made it,’” Steele said, adding that Obtain is offering a free audit of businesses’ online presence before charging for any further work. Her website is obtaincreative.com.