When bold-faced names are in search of cutting-edge tactics to gain that competitive advantage, there are few agencies willing to reinvent the wheel with bespoke marketing solutions. Enter Grey Smoke Media. Founded by Toronto-based writer and serial entrepreneur turned hit podcaster, Jordan Power (born Jordan Whelan), the agency has been in business for nearly a decade. Its website boasts over a billion dollars in revenue generated for diverse clients ranging from e-commerce giants to award-winning law firms and real estate developers.
The highly discreet marketing firm keeps its client roster confidential, though a source has revealed that it has worked with Toronto Mayor John Tory, Brookfield, and Intact Insurance. Grey Smoke Media has also been credited as the agency of record behind the meteoric rise of Personal Injury Powerhouse, Diamond & Diamond Lawyers.
“Last year we did a stealth campaign for a publicly traded pharmaceutical company that was highly effective yet still under the radar,” said Power. “We like to be left alone and we pride ourselves on marketing protocols that are unrivalled and secretive. Much of my passion in this sphere is derived from the process of developing tactics that cannot be replicated. It gives us a unique lane and eliminates any direct competitors.”
The backbone of Grey Smoke Media’s work is a game plan of strategies that combine the might of both paid and earned media. This includes enterprise SEO, top-tier media hits and “black magic” psychological targeting on social channels, which Power calls “digital discourse marketing”. A consultation can run upwards of $700 an hour alongside an ironclad non-disclosure agreement. The website doesn’t include an address or a phone number, and clients are obtained largely through strong word of mouth.
“When you engage with our agency you are paying for a knowledge base formed from thousands of hours of research into marketing psychology,” explained Power. “Social proof and soft, seamless funnels are what drive our comprehensive campaigns. This is especially paramount when it comes to the younger generations. They grew up inundated with online advertising and have been conditioned to avoid them.” Power opines that the best marketing is when people believe it was their own idea. It’s this reason that the brand’s slogan is “From perception to reality.”
Power said many companies get it wrong when it comes to attracting interest in their brand.
“Their No. 1 delusion? Thinking that people should and will care about them. Really though, why should someone care about your brand? You may consider yourself a disruptor in your space because you eat and sleep your business, but why are you special? What feelings do you evoke? Are you ephemeral or will you evolve with the coming years ahead?”
Grey Smoke Media’s impressive track record has been cultivated by the firm’s resolve to continually evolve with the times. Power believes the company’s success lies in their refusal to follow the typical and traditional formulaic way of marketing that yields inferior results.
“Our protocols have taken multiple companies from early infancy stage to valuations in the eight figures, within two to three years. We’re a one-stop shop, Swiss army knife type of agency and with that comes a natural symbiosis,” said Power. “Look, if you hire multiple agencies, they likely will have differing communication styles and you will constantly have to deal with each jockeying for position. It’s too much to juggle. We’re entrepreneurs but also marketers, meaning the protocols we utilize are ones that we use to propel our own side businesses. Think outsourced CMO.”
It’s this approach that distinguishes Grey Smoke Media from the pack and enables them to stand out in a marketing space that is overflowing with agencies and consultants all promising strong results.
“SEO and content still reign king. Content that educates and connects creates a seamless funnel and establishes you as a source of authority. What has remained the same is the sclerotic tactics of most agencies, things like leaderboard digital ads, stale media buys and subpar messaging. There will always be space for the unorthodox. Be willing to do what others won’t. If others haven’t tried something before, possibly due to risk aversion, consider that an opportunity. It has been my experience that rule followers almost always get left behind.”
Also at risk of getting left behind? Today’s marketing firms that have become too heavily reliant on using — and over-using — influencers to hock a product.
“Influencer marketing on Instagram is becoming played out and I think the reason is that deep down, we know that many of these people lack credibility. If you’re an influencer and your feed is lined with disparate products that you have no business promoting, your audience will eventually lose trust in you. Thus, companies that promote in this manner should expect diminishing returns and adjust accordingly. Many of these TikTok and Instagram influencers venture out into entrepreneurship, and it often doesn’t translate to strong sales or substantial culture traction.”
Power said they’ve found a “sweet spot” with seed-funded tech start-ups, major e-commerce companies, and high-end professionals such as large law firms that are looking to get to that final echelon. “If a prospect has revenues under a million, they can’t afford us, and if they’re too big, then we’ll likely have to deal with some sort of suffocating bureaucracy.”
For clients looking to be successful with an agency, Power advises his clients to secure a basic understanding of marketing and learn when to be deferential.
“If you feel in your gut that there isn’t sufficient trust there, move on. Secondly, I would encourage anyone to develop a base level of knowledge to understand what your agency is executing, while leaving the granular decisions (like how to structure backlink outreach and content) to the agency. Moreover, many tend to see their marketing spend as a fixed cost, whereas what matters is ROI. Dig into the numbers and try to deduce what sort of return you’re getting on a spend, through careful analysis.”