Pinch Hit Partners Adds Hazzard Electrical to Client Roster

Hazzard Electrical, a family-owned commercial electrical contractor headquartered in Ashland, Virginia, has chosen Pinch Hit Partners to develop a strategic marketing plan that will support the company’s future growth goals. For over 40 years, Hazzard has served central Virginia with quality electrical services and we are looking forward to helping develop a marketing plan that will power (pun intended) their company in 2018 and beyond.

Pinch Hitter Matt Smith will be the lead consultant on this project. Smith recently teamed up with Pinch Hit Partners after serving as the Chief Marketing Officer for SweetFrog Enterprises and Director of Marketing for Farm Bureau Insurance.

Don’t start 2018 without a marketing plan for your business. Contact us today to discuss how Pinch Hit Partners can provide your company with big company marketing at a small company price.

About Pinch Hit Partners

Pinch Hit Partners is a Richmond, VA-based company that’s disrupting how marketing gets done for small and medium-sized companies by providing them with a cost-effective alternative to hiring their own marketing team or contracting with an expensive full-service creative agency. Learn more at Contact Mark Cipolletti at

Tell us about your marketing challenge.

Case Study: Virginia Council of CEOs Embraces Marketing Automation to Grow Beyond Richmond Base


Virginia Council of CEOs

The Situation:

The Virginia Council of CEOs has more than 200 members, mostly from the Richmond area. When the Council’s Board of Directors decided to expand its membership to the Charlottesville area, the organization’s Executive Director turned to Pinch Hit Partners.

The Challenge:

The Council’s brand awareness was limited to the Richmond area. They needed an efficient way to connect with busy executives in a new market. The Council’s Executive Director also doubles as their primary salesperson, so frequent travel to another city would be limited. The Council also relied on three separate programs to manage membership, sales and communications. These programs lacked new capabilities like marketing automation and demanded abundant staff time to manage.

“Pinch Hit Partners has transformed the way we market our organization.”   

                                 – Scot McRoberts, Executive Director, Virginia Council of CEOs

The Solution:

Pinch Hit Partners consultant Mark Cipolletti implemented a LinkedIn campaign targeted at Charlottesville CEOs and business owners. Sponsored posts would only be seen by the target audience in the target market – no waste, no extra cost. The campaign’s call-to-action was an invitation to a series of informational lunches and cocktail parties. These group sessions allowed the Executive Director to consolidate his time in the new market and to demonstrate the Council’s skill for hosting excellent programming.

Cipolletti also identified a single marketing technology, Hatchbuck, to replace the Council’s three legacy tools. Hatchbuck collects online leads and automates emails, campaigns and sales tasks that would have been done manually in the past. These efficiencies will become even more important as the organization expands to additional markets in the future.

Virginia Council of CEOs LinkedIn post

The Result:

As a result of Pinch Hit Partners’ work, the Virginia Council of CEOs has successfully gained about two-dozen new members from the Charlottesville area. The tools and processes that were developed for this market expansion are now being considered as the organization looks at additional Virginia cities for membership growth.

The Reaction:

“Pinch Hit Partners has transformed the way we market our organization. Now our sales, marketing and communications are nicely integrated and we have a single platform like Hatchbuck to manage everything. We’re so glad we followed Mark’s recommendations. It’s been a game-changer for the Virginia Council of CEOs.”   – Scot McRoberts, Executive Director, Virginia Council of CEOs


About Pinch Hit Partners

Pinch Hit Partners is a Richmond, VA-based company that’s disrupting how marketing gets done for small and medium-sized companies by providing them with a cost-effective alternative to hiring their own marketing team or contracting with an expensive full-service creative agency. Learn more at Contact Mark Cipolletti at

A conversation doesn’t cost you a thing. Contact us today to learn more about how Pinch Hit Partners can transform your marketing and sales.


We’re looking for Pinch Hitters in Richmond, VA

Pinch Hit Partners, the premier resource for fractional marketing consultants, is looking for new pinch hitters to join our team in Richmond, VA.

If you are a senior marketer interested in a flexible schedule, we can connect you with small and mid-sized companies looking for experts like you. As a fractional head of marketing, you’ll provide your clients with a cost-effective alternative to hiring their own staff or contracting with an expensive full-service agency.

Pinch Hitters typically work with CEOs and business owners to develop strategy and to assemble a team of remote specialists to execute on the plan (if an in-house team isn’t already in place). If you are interested, please send your resume to Mark Cipolletti at

Going on the road this week to the Virginia Council of CEOs retreat

Pinch Hit Partners is a proud sponsor of the Virginia Council of CEOs. This week, we’ll be attending the Council’s annual CEO Retreat at the Homestead Resort. We’re looking forward to connecting with CEOs from Richmond and Charlottesville as well as our friends on the Council’s staff. Over the last few months, we’ve been working with the staff to expand their marketing capabilities. Check out the video to learn more.

See you at the Homestead.

Breathe new life into your brand using these 4 market disruption techniques

Over the last decade, the internet has fueled the growth of disruptors in every market segment. For many years, I worked in the travel industry where travel agents, tour operators and hoteliers saw their businesses forever changed by brands like Expedia, Travelocity, Jetsetter and Airbnb. Hailing a taxi cab has been replaced with Uber, Lyft and Safr. And buying a car has been transformed by the likes of TrueCar, Carvana, Beepi and CarLotz. The list goes on.

Market disruption is a form of differentiation, a way for a brand to stand out amongst its competition. Disruptors understand that simply focusing on price or service just won’t cut it anymore. They use a multi-dimensional approach to differentiating their offerings to gain adoption from buyers and attention from the media and investors. Try taking a page from the disruptor’s playbook to breathe new life into your company’s brand.

Here are four techniques to consider:

Refresh Your Branding

Disruptors are master branders. They develop clearly articulated brand personalities and visual identities. Most disruptors do very little advertising, instead they are community builders that rely on their customers to share their brands through word-of-mouth. So, consider a brand refresh and look for ways to encourage sharing by your customers. Disruptors love one-word company names too. Some may sound a little silly but Uber certainly works better than ABC Cab Company.


Legacy providers have spent years, and lots of money, building systems and processes to support their businesses. Most were built to serve the business, not necessarily the customer. Disruptors exploit this weakness, building customer-centric companies. Look at your business through the eyes of your customer and simplify your processes whenever possible. And don’t forget to take advantage of smartphone capabilities when selling and servicing your customers. These devices will soon overtake desktop computers and laptops when it comes to how people access the internet (and your business).

Collaborate with Customers

Disruptors know their customers and their competitors very well. They dig deep into data to unearth what drives their buyers to action. Survey your customers, engage with them on social media and create feedback opportunities during every interaction. Invite your customers to contribute to product development, marketing and other aspects of your businesses. Consumers love brands that build relationships with them and collaborate with them to provide a customized product or service.

Experiment and Iterate

Disruptors don’t spend years building new services. They experiment and iterate. Their services are constantly evolving, keeping what works and getting rid of what doesn’t. Launch new services with a select group of customers and make modifications quickly. Once you feel confident about your offer, ramp up your marketing to gain market share.

In a world where consumers are overwhelmed with the amount of marketing messages they see and hear on a daily basis, having a strong differentiation strategy will help your businesses stand out. What works today may not work tomorrow so it’s important to not become complacent and look for new opportunities to differentiate.

You may also like:

5 Ways to Grow Your Business (with the Customers You Already Have)

Audi Selects Richmond as Backdrop for New A4 Promo Video

Great Customer Experience Can’t Overcome an Inferior Product

About the author

Mark Cipolletti is the president of Pinch Hit Partners, a Richmond, VA-based marketing company that’s disrupting how marketing gets done for small and medium-sized companies by providing them with a cost-effective alternative to hiring their own marketing team or contracting with an expensive full-service creative agency. Learn more at Contact Mark at or on LinkedIn.

Photo Credit: CarLotz

7 Indispensable Tools for Becoming a Successful Solopreneur

So, are you thinking about leaving your comfortable corporate or agency gig to go solo? There’s a lot to consider – will you need to obtain health insurance?, do you have a home office?, do you have money in the bank to supplement your earnings until you build up your business? Being a solopreneur can be a little scary but the rewards can be great too.

In 2016 there were 55 million Americans working independently according to Freelancers Union.

I made the leap about a year ago with no prior experience working “virtually”. In the beginning, I needed to figure out a ton of things that I used to take for granted – things like how I would create a contract or how I would track my mileage and business expenses. I am not alone. In fact, in 2016 there were 55 million Americans working independently according to Freelancers Union. That’s about 35% of the total workforce. With so many people joining “freelance nation” a host of companies have created tools to make their lives easier.

Here are a few of the tools that I have come to rely on to run Pinch Hit Partners, my virtual marketing agency. Most of them are free and all of them are easy to use (which is critical since you no longer have access to an on-call IT help desk). And these solutions aren’t just for solopreneurs. As your business grows, many of these technologies will easily scale up to accommodate more customers and employees.

Good luck!

G-Suite/Google for Business

[Starting at $5 per month]  Nobody will take you seriously if you use a free Yahoo address or an old AOL email. You want to look professional right? Use Google to set up an email using your business name. You’ll also get a ton of free cloud storage and free G-suite for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Sorry Microsoft Office.


[Free]  Turn every email you send into a small ad for your business by creating a custom signature from Wisestamp. Go beyond a sterile text-only signature and add your logo or one of the many “widgets” offered. My signature automatically includes a link to my newest blog post.

[Free]  Like it’s name suggests, is like having an assistant to help you set up meetings. This tool integrates saves you and your client from going back and forth through email trying to settle on a date and time. Just offer your attendee up to three meeting times in a single email. They choose one and adds it to their calendar and yours too. Bonus: it prevents double booking too.


[Free]  Having a lawyer create your contracts will eat into your profits very quickly. Built for freelancers, Bonsai helps you create your contracts by asking you a series of questions and then generating the final document that your clients can e-sign. But that’s not all. Bonsai will also send branded invoices and payment reminders to help you get paid on time. The service is free but processing fees will apply if you want to accept payments via credit cards or bank transfers.


[Free]  Tracking your mileage is a pain in the neck. Everlance is an app that automatically records all of your trips. All you have to do is “swipe” to mark each as business, personal or charity. Everlance also helps you record your business revenue and expenses. I love the ability to take photos of my receipts and my accountant appreciates receiving detailed CSV files for completing my taxes. Use code sunrise689 to receive a discount if you upgrade to the paid premium service.


[Free]  Small companies probably don’t have the luxury of employing project managers but, with Bitrix24, you can easily manage and collaborate on projects with employees, vendors and clients. I primarily use Bitrix24 for project management and client communications but there are other cool features like a built in intranet, CRM and even some basic marketing automation functionality. There’s even a mobile app for staying on task while on the go.


[Starting at $59 per month]  It’s time to put on your sales and marketing hat. Use Hatchbuck to add forms to your website and send emails to clients and prospects. Hatchbuck will automatically record their activities into an easy to use sales CRM. Marketing automation features allow you to set up drip marketing campaigns. Sure Hatchbuck doesn’t include some of the fancy features of big name marketing automation tools like Hubspot but it also only costs a fraction of what those companies charge. One of my clients recently consolidated three technologies (member management, email and CRM) into one by using Hatchbuck. They saved a few bucks but, more importantly, they’re now saving a ton of time by working in one system.

I’m always looking for ways to work smarter. If you have other tools that make working solo more efficient, I hope you’ll share.

About the author

Mark Cipolletti is the president of Pinch Hit Partners, a Richmond, VA-based marketing agency. Pinch Hit Partners provides small and mid-size companies with a virtual in house marketing team, led by a senior level marketing executive. And unlike so-called full service creative agencies, our low/no overhead model is efficient and affordable while still providing access to the highest quality talent and technologies needed to grow your business. Contact Mark at or on LinkedIn.
Interested in a free, one-hour marketing consultation? Fill out the form below and tell us more about your marketing challenge:

5 Ways to Grow Your Business (with the Customers You Already Have)

It’s very difficult to get a new customer. And of course difficult translates to expensive. Research on this topic provides a wide range of figures on the costs associated with acquiring vs. retaining a customer, but most agree that it’s at least five times more costly to convince a new customer to buy than it is to get an existing customer to buy again.

So, why do so many businesses quickly forget about the customers they already have – the ones they’ve paid so dearly to acquire? Do they think that just because someone bought from them once that they will automatically buy again? I hope not. Other brands are constantly selling to our customers so we must continue to engage with them too. Maybe it’s because most agencies that support our companies are focused on customer acquisition. When was the last time you heard an agency tout their latest award for an email they created for existing customers? Uh…never.

Differentiate Your Brand Like a Market Disruptor 2 (2)Regardless of the reasons, the sad truth is that we often forget that most of our revenue comes from a small, but loyal, segment of our existing customers. Every marketing plan should include strategies for identifying our best customers and selling them more stuff.

Here are some customer retention strategies to grow your business with the customers you already have:

A thoughtful customer experience is the key to your customer’s heart

I’m not a big fan of traditional loyalty programs that reward repeat purchases with points and discounts. That’s just bribery. You can do better than that. Loyal customers are usually willing to pay more for your product or service – so, let them. Make your customers feel special, like they’re a part of the family or an exclusive club. Make it easy for them to do business with you. Simplify your processes and remove customer satisfaction barriers like cumbersome return policies or the need to carry a loyalty card. Customer experience is especially important for B2B focused companies. Creating a relationship with your client will make them less price sensitive and less willing to entertain pitches from competitors.

Anticipate your customer’s needs

I recently purchased a gift certificate from a day spa to give to my wife for Mother’s Day. It’s her favorite spa so this is probably the third or fourth time that I’ve made this annual pilgrimage. The lady behind the counter expressed her surprise at how many men had been coming in to buy gift certificates for their wives and mothers. Hello. It’s Mother’s Day! They should have anticipated this need and emailed me the month before. I certainly would have appreciated the reminder. Get creative. Customers love it when they think you know them better than they know themselves.

Create brand ambassadors

Your best customers may be the ones that spend the most money with you but they also have a huge impact on influencing others to do business with your company. Find ways to encourage your best customers to become brand ambassadors. Try a “get one, give one” offer so they can share your product or service with others. Celebrate your customer’s loyalty with a “surprise and delight” gift. They will almost certainly share these experiences with their online and offline social network.

Loyalty is created after the sale

I’ve already mentioned removing cumbersome return policies to improve your post-sale customer interactions. How a company treats its customers after they’ve gotten their money demonstrates just how much they value their past and future business. Keep the conversation going with emails, newsletters, special events and previews of new product offerings. Send birthday cards or mark other special occasions.

Reconnect with lost customers

Don’t be shy about reconnecting with customers you’ve lost touch with. Everyone likes to hear that they’ve been missed. Invite these folks back, remind them about what attracted them to your business in the first place and let them know what’s new since you last did business together. By rekindling your lost customer relationship you may be able to find out what mistake you made. Chances are it was as simple as you stopped communicating with them.

Before you kick off a big customer retention effort, be sure to benchmark your churn rate and understand what is causing your customers to leave. You may find that in addition to a customer retention problem, you may also be acquiring the wrong customers in the first place. That sounds like a topic for another day…

About the author

Mark Cipolletti is the president of Pinch Hit Partners, a Richmond, VA-based marketing company that’s replacing the traditional in-house marketing department. Using a fractional executive model, Pinch Hitters bring c-suite marketing expertise and their vast network of functional experts to lead transformative marketing programs that drive growth for small and mid-sized companies. Learn more at Contact Mark at or on LinkedIn.

Interested in a free, one-hour marketing consultation? Fill out the form below and tell us more about your marketing challenge: