Originally written by Kacie Hughes at Flywheel
While I’m sure any of us with siblings love them to the moon and back, most of us couldn’t imagine going into business with them. This wasn’t the case for brothers Chuck and Rob Pearson, the CEO and CMO of Rareview, a digital design and marketing agency located in Newport Beach, California. These two view their relationship as advantageous, and that working together brings elements of family and familiarity to every client relationship. Merging a decade of corporate experience and agency success, Chuck and Rob’s unique style creates a truly one-of-a-kind agency.
After working with huge companies like Oracle, Bosch, and Epson, we thought we’d sit down with the Pearson brothers and learn the secrets about building an incredible agency together!
How did Rareview grow from a small operation to an award-winning, design-driven marketing agency?
We started Rareview in 2002 as a web design agency with just a few people. The intention was to build fun, engaging, and well-designed websites with cool people and exciting brands. We had a real passion for digital design, so this work was a natural fit. Over the first few years, Rareview specialized in design and web development and often would use Flash to enhance the experience. Before terms like UI and UX became popular, we were trying to create a better, more immersive experience for users with whatever tools were available at the time.
It took many years to build our agency, as growth is never as easy as it sounds. Each year, we’d grow little by little. Then, in 2006, we built our own project management app called Projecturf. We weren’t satisfied with any of the tools available at the time, so we built our own and used it internally to manage client projects. It was well received, so we released it to the public two years later. Shortly after that, a Senior VP at Oracle found Projecturf and got in touch with us. We worked with Oracle for years, and that helped spur additional growth.
Over the years, it became apparent that our clients wanted more than just a beautiful website or digital product, so in 2016 we launched our marketing and performance division, which is led by Rob Pearson. Once his team was up and running and working closely with our design division, we immediately saw results for our client partners in several major industries. Over the last few years, we’ve continued to grow by combining design and marketing in everything we do.
Essentially, our growth came from doing high-quality work, building our own products, and identifying lines of business that could extend our value through new channels.
Rareview is still run by the Pearson brothers and has a true results-culture. Our style, the brotherly banter, and being able to perform for our clients has become part of our DNA as an agency.
Does Rareview gravitate toward a specific industry or type of client?
We’ve made sure that over the years we take on projects in all the major industries so we can stay relevant and challenged. By doing this, we’ve been able to stay away from being pigeonholed into only certain niches. That said, lately we have worked a lot in these five industries: Fashion, Retail, Technology, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Pet Care.
Outside of industry work, we’ve found a nice sweetspot with the type of clients we work with. We think it’s important that an agency selects their clients, just the same way a client selects an agency. We look for a good fit on both sides because these relationships are like marriages. For us, a good client has some knowledge of design and marketing, has realistic budgets and expectations, is responsive, and values our work. Hopefully, they’re just plain cool to work with, too.“It’s important that an agency selects their clients, just the same way a client selects an agency. ”
How do you select new clients?
This is one of the most difficult things to do well on a consistent basis, which most agencies will probably tell you. In a sense, we’ve been fortunate because 90% of our business comes directly from referrals or repeat business. That’s why it’s very important to us and our business to do quality work. If you provide a high-quality service and can deliver time and again, that’s a recipe for good word-of-mouth marketing.
It’s tough to sit back and just wait for referrals though. So in addition to that, we source leads online, engage our networks, run our social and PR accounts, speak at events, and respond to the occasional request for proposal (RFP).
What happens after you bring a new client on?
That’s when all the fun starts! Almost always we kick things off with a team meeting of some sort, whether that’s in person or a video conference; it’s important that our team’s meet. Then, we start discovery. We never do any design or marketing work without a discovery period or business audit (for marketing). This gives our team the foundation for our work, aligns everyone, and ensures that the correct objectives are in place.
If it’s a design project, we go through our typical phases; from IA and wireframes, to visual design, and then development. For marketing projects, we dive into audiences, funnels, social, and performance marketing.
Reporting and communication are paramount to a successful process, in our opinion. Clients want to know what’s working and what isn’t, so reporting is an important part of being results-oriented. Communicating with our clients on a daily or weekly basis helps to alleviate any concerns or gaps. Communication is so critical to a smooth process that most projects have unaccounted hours, but it’s a cost we’re willing to absorb to guarantee we are all on the same page.
There are a lot of agencies out there. How do you set yourself apart from your competitors?
This is becoming increasingly more difficult with the explosion of talent in our industry and our global economy. That said, there are still too many agencies that promise more and deliver less.
We’re different in a few ways. First, we’re run by a designer and a marketer. We believe that exceptional results lie at the intersection of great design and conversion-based marketing, which is a delicate balance. We call this design-driven marketing. Our design team and marketing team work hand-in-hand to develop designs based on marketing principles and create marketing campaigns using strong UI/UX practices, aimed to increase conversions.
Second, we deliver. Last year we had a client tell us verbatim, “I’ve worked with a lot of agencies in the past and none of them have delivered each and every time like you guys have.” We value results, trust, transparency, and skill. To accomplish this, we only hire senior people, so projects are never handed off to a junior staff member. In that way, we’re bucking the larger agency model for a stronger, more intentional approach.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to a new agency or freelancer?
If you’re just starting out, it’s prudent to build your freelancing career with the stability of a day job. That’s how Rareview was started.
The other important thing is to build up a portfolio. Without work to show it’s going to be very difficult to get any jobs. That probably means you are going to have to do some work for free, or on the cheap, to build up a few solid case studies. But you need them to get new work.
Also, use your network regardless of how big or small it is. Tell your friends and family what you’re doing and ask for work. Don’t be bashful. You have to go get it and there’s no shame in asking for work. Do this over and over, kick ass and deliver, and you’ll start to build a name for yourself. Be smart with your growth and find really good people. Human capital is the key. You can’t build a solid business without good people.
How does Flywheel help you do your best work?
We partnered with Flywheel a few years ago and have been thrilled with the performance and toolset. As an agency, we only build on the WordPress and Shopify platforms. When it comes to WordPress, Flywheel is our favorite. Our development team uses Local by Flywheel in our workflow and we enjoy the UI. Flywheel has allowed us to manage websites with ease; we can enable CDN, SSL, and recover backups in seconds, which allows us to focus more on design and development and less on server configuration.