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Updated: October 2, 2023 Shop Talk

Q&A: Shirley marketing firm seeks to delight clients

A photo of Laurie Busby Photo | Courtesy of JXM Laurie Busby, managing partner at JXM in Shirley

JXM seems like a company you’d find in a hip city rather than the quiet North Central Massachusetts town of Shirley. But the full-service ad agency with an edgy vibe has a better chance of becoming office-less than moving closer to Boston. To be clear, neither scenario is on the table, as Managing Partner Laurie Busby made clear. Busby said the headquarters in a Shaker Road mill conversion building anchor a company that has long supported flexible work arrangements and takes to the open road to meet with clients near and far.

A bio box about Laurie Busby
A bio box about Laurie Busby

Busby grew up in advertising, starting out at a Worcester agency before working for larger companies, but she settled back into an agency job when the formerly named firm James & Matthew hired her a decade ago. In 2019, partners Jim Pond, Matt Maguy, and John Cain brought Busby onto the executive team, where she happily enjoys an amorphous role with client happiness at its heart. With a bit of a niche serving the financial services sector, JXM is the de facto marketing team for a variety of clients in New England and beyond. In 2023, the company rebranded to JXM, with the X representing Busby and others who make up the fabric of the firm, according to Maguy.

How did you land in the advertising field?

I went to college for communications. I worked at a Worcester ad agency and then at a few much larger companies for a lot of years. I was kind of beckoned back into the agency world in 2013, after I had my first daughter. What I loved about what was then James & Matthew team members was they had such innovative ideas. They had a very cool vibe about them. They were laid back but very passionate about what they did.

My title has changed several times in the last 10 years. Today, I work primarily in account service; but I also head up media strategy for most of our clients, and I oversee all of our reporting. I’m really a liaison between clients and the teams executing on whatever is needed.

What has kept you at JXM?

I just love our vibe. We are extremely proud of our clients. Acting as their marketing department, it just gives us really well-rounded relationships with our clients. I’m a little biased, but I just think we are able to get the results while maintaining really great relationships.

We’re all adults, we all manage ourselves, and we all get along great. A few years back, Jim, Matt, and John made me managing partner. It came as a little bit of a surprise. Especially as a woman in the industry, it really meant quite a bit to be honored in that way. They really valued my input.

The advertising business was once the ultimate man’s world. How about today?

Women are making a splash. We’re getting more visibility as prominent leaders in marketing and other very visible roles in bigger organizations.

JXM is a little off the beaten path in Shirley. What makes North Central the right location for your headquarters?

It was a byproduct of where our owners lived. We were in Leominster for a while and then we found this cool space called Phoenix Park in Shirley. It's a converted mill building. We really liked the aesthetic, and we needed a bigger office. It’s close to the city but not so close you deal with all the commuting chaos. It just kind of fell into place. We don’t need to be in the rat race.

We work remotely a lot of the time. We toyed with the idea of doing away with the office, but we still use it to collaborate and work on creative projects.

What drove the decision to rebrand at the beginning of the year?

The owner Matt Maguy was the thought leader on the rebrand. He wanted to be more encompassing, especially after bringing me on as a partner in 2021. It wasn't just Jiim and Matt; it was about the team. We put together the new website and developed a ton of content. We now have a podcast with Jim and Matt and video assets we put together.

What’s the new frontier for JXM?

We have moved toward more of a model where we engage with folks to reinforce brand awareness and eventual conversion, and then we continue to engage them to increase wallet share. There’s really so much we can take from one problem, and it really explodes into a lot of opportunities.

We’ve been transitioning from a marketing funnel approach to a marketing flywheel approach. The flywheel is meant to continually attract, engage, and delight folks who are already in a client’s ecosystem. It sounds kind of crazy, but it makes sense when you dive into the benefits and drawbacks of a traditional funnel, which kind of neglects customers once they’re engaged.

The founders have written web posts about driving to see clients, rather than flying. Why do they prefer the car?

I prefer to fly, but they love it! They like to have that time to think: They get on the phone and talk with each other for hours and hours. Our clients are primarily in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and Midwest. It’s not just New England, which is kind of nice. When we do travel, it gets us out of these six states.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ Correspondent Emily Micucci.

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