Spartacus Marketing Consultants Offers Clients a Focused Message and a Penny-Pinching Approach


Meticulous MarketingSpartacus Marketing Consultants Offers Clients a Focused Message and a Penny-Pinching ApproachBy Bill Hirschman

Tammy Saylor-Ramey chose the name Spartacus Marketing Consultants for her Panama City firm partly because it’s a bold title that communicates strength “and cuts through the stratosphere.”

But she admits with an infectious laugh that it’s partly because she just loves the line in the movie: “I am Spartacus!”

That quirky affability, coupled with a checklist attention to detail and beyond-the-contract service, has built her a loyal following. When she left her television marketing job in Tallahassee four years ago, clients followed her. They knew she woke at 3 a.m. worrying about their account. She had advised some how to spend their entire ad budget, even if it was someplace other than her station. Her clientele is almost completely former clients and referrals.

“I haven’t had to put up a billboard for myself,” she says. “If I do them a good turn, it will come back to me. I’m not in it for the immediate dollars; I’m in it for the long haul.”

Saylor-Ramey’s current dozen clients include medical facilities and other traditional firms in Northwest Florida. But recently she has focused on judges, a state attorney and others running for political office.

“Marketing is marketing, whatever the product is, whatever the venue is,” she says. “The medical community or selling cars or RVs or tools or just services, there are always eyeballs and ears out there.”

At 44 years old, Saylor-Ramey runs a one-woman show that sources out some production work to a trusted cadre. Even then, she remains slavishly hands-on with every task, from custom tailoring the strategy to choosing a type font. But her touchstone is cost-efficient, laser-focused media buys.

“I love the blue light special, when I can get them a very good rate,” she says. “That means the budget will stay the same, but they get more bang for the buck.”

That was echoed by Gail Robbins, who hired her to market Florida State University’s Panama City Campus to out-of-state students and now has her doing all of the campus’s marketing.

“In these times of limited funds and budgeting cuts, that’s more important than ever,” Robbins says.

Saylor-Ramey benefits from an eclectic background in addition to television marketing. A California native, her family’s Panama City roots reach back generations. She worked as a fashion model in Italy, studied pre-med until switching to philosophy, raised a son by herself (“my one true bright light”) and is the kind of person who plots out her workday while doing laps in a pool.

Having reinvented herself, Saylor-Ramey counsels acquaintances starting their own business. Her first piece of advice is to balk at buying an existing business rather than starting your own. She acknowledges the advantage of buying a firm’s goodwill and client list, but she is especially wary of taking on someone’s debt and the hidden problems that pressure its owners to sell.

“Why take on debt when you can start fresh out of the gate?” she asks.

Another lesson: Marketing becomes even more important in hard times. She advises building marketing expenses into the annual budget, spread across the year, rather than just investing in it as spare money becomes available. The upside of a bad economy is that advertising media cut their rates.

“People need to know who you are, what you do and how to get in touch with you,” she says. “And if you are not coming with a megaphone, there’s not going to be anyone knocking on your door with that big check.”