Women entrepreneurs are pioneering digital marketing by bringing in the much-needed humane touch to the highly competitive industry. Their philosophy, “Treat their money as our money” sounds simple enough, but requires a lot of focus and tenacity. Amanda Tegtmeyer, President, Axle Eight, a boutique digital marketing firm providing end-to-end solutions customized to focus on results while maintaining relationships, knows it too well. Amanda has been at the forefront of the awe-inspiring journey where the company has grown at an astonishing rate. Axle Eight puts a lot of focus on Return on Investment (ROI), Amanda shares, “There are times when I’ve told clients not to advertise or to cut out an entire channel because I didn’t think it was going to be ROI positive.” One of Axle Eight’s greatest strengths lies in its ability to adapt to its client’s business ever-changing needs, and market dynamics, to deliver something exceptional every time. While the work culture at Axle Eight is relaxed with open spaces to allow the creative flow of ideas, the clientele is diverse with their niches in Real Estate & Construction, Tech companies, and FinTech. From Fortune 500 companies to startups, Axle Eight has built relationships with more than 65+ companies, all of whom are greeted by the in-house office cuddler Nellie a.k.a. Piggy, the super adorable Labrador Retriever.
Scottsdale-based Axle Eight was founded in 2019 by Kim Grennan, with a vision to bring accountability and result-oriented marketing strategies at the forefront, whilst delivering extraordinary results for their clients. Kim, initially started as a freelancer marketer with an unconventional approach, her excellent sales skills ensured a steady flow of clients, she soon realized that she would require a team to cope up with the amount of work. At this opportune moment, two women Kim and Amanda who had always challenged conventional thoughts met. Amanda knew of Kim’s amazing freelance work and wanted to grow her own work, so over a cup of coffee they met, talked, bounced off ideas of each other and their journey began. They hit it off from the word go, initially working as a freelancer, Amanda was soon offered the post of President, to run operations. Kim with her ability for sales could now focus on growing the business while, Amanda, with her experience in leadership, made the natural transition to Axle Eight and its amazing team of women who had by now bonded closely with her. Social media has played a crucial role in attracting female talent to Axle Eight. Amanda shares, “Our stories highlight our female leadership, show everyone goofing around the office in yoga pants, drinking wine together, and having a great time as a predominantly female team. It shows that this is a supportive and fun place to work where women can thrive. Social media can be a powerful recruiting tool!” Axle Eight employs talent from all over the country who primarily works remotely, thus they were prepared and quickly adapted to the changes wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic. Representation is so important to tackle the hurdles in these trying times, Amanda believes, “The world will continue to face tough challenges and we need a diverse set of perspectives to effectively solve these challenges.”
Overcoming obstacles by being vocal
As once said by legendary speechwriter and author, James Humes “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” Earlier in her career, Amanda used to under-communicate, and make assumptions, it soon became clear to her that transparency and candor are the critical ingredients for fair and transparent leadership, now she leads with clarity and is vocal about it. An effective leader must be able to call out the elephant in the room, ask the hard questions and give tough answers. Women leaders face their own unique challenges, in most cases the proverbial glass ceilings, blatant sexism, and other preconceived notions are what affect them. Amanda shares incidences how in tradeshows clients generally just assumed that a confident, charming, well-dressed lady could only be the wife of the CEO, never in their wildest dreams they could think that she was the Head of Marketing for a big Firm. When prospective clients or partners would just shake hands with the male co-founders and completely ignored her, it became clear to Amanda that she had to challenge conventional norms and carve out her own path, she shares, “I started proactively stepping forward before anyone else and putting my hand out first to set the stage.”
Despite the positive strides made by women around the world in so many areas, there still are many industries where women don’t even apply, and the root cause is the environment they are bought up in and what they think is achievable. Amanda exclaims, “We also need society to stop shaming men for helping in domestic areas. Making fun of Mr. Moms and men who help with cooking, chores, and caregiving needs to stop.” For positive changes to take place she asserts we need to start early, young girls should be nurtured and educated to empower them in making the correct choices in their career paths, to achieve the goal they set for themselves, and tell them the goals are achievable.
All women face challenges from being recognized at work, or self-confidence, or the balancing act between being a great mother and an inspiring leader. Being the mother of an incredible 8-month-old is a different kind of challenge than what Amanda is used to facing. Being a company leader and a new mother is a difficult balancing act and one which Amanda is learning on the go. Outside work as an outdoor person, “I go for a walk with my family every morning (except for the really scorching summer Arizona mornings that are 100+ degrees) and take the time to sip my cold brew coffee and get some sunshine in,” says Amanda. Riding the Peloton and going on these morning walks is the perfect way to start the day for Amanda, as she gleefully shares,” I’m still working on making meditation a morning habit since it really trains my brain to control my self-critic.” She also likes to constantly engage herself with new ways of thinking by being an avid reader. Her favorite reads are The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Radical Candor, and The Atomic Habit.
Nurturing future women leaders
Axle Eight’s tagline, “all the aptitude and none of the B.S.” is congruent with the counsel Amanda has, “I also would advise women to consider simply leaving where they are if the environment isn’t supportive and it isn’t your passion to break down the ceiling at that particular company. There are plenty of companies that would love to have you and help you accelerate your career at the pace you want.”
She believes hard work, being self-aware, and having tough conversations are a recipe for success, while also crediting the women before who were pioneers in pushing down sexist barriers and carving a smooth path for women to follow and create new benchmarks. She encourages new leaders to challenge the conventional and to instill confidence in young girls to know their strengths and weaknesses before deciding their career paths. This early boost and education would lay the foundation of strong-willed future women leaders.