Founder’s Chronicle: Andrew Schrage, Founder of Money Crashers

Tarah Benner
Tarah Benner

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money-crashersWhat is Money Crashers, and how did you get started in the field?

Money Crashers is a personal finance website dedicated to helping its readers make better decisions on how to spend and save money. It offers articles and resources on a wide variety of personal finance topics such as personal budgeting, investing for retirement, generating extra income and more.

I studied finance in college and have always had a passion for it. My goal is to help people through these tough economic times and ultimately learn how to flourish financially.

Why should individuals in the marketing/advertising industry (i.e. agencies, CMOs) read Money Crashers?

In addition to personal finance posts, we also feature articles on ways businesses can fully utilize social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to better market their brand.

What is your view of where Money Crashers currently stands in the marketplace today? How do you see the site growing in the next three years? What problem are you solving?

About a year ago, we created a Top Personal Finance Blogs list, which ranks the most popular personal finance sites in terms of social media followers, Google Page Rank and other metrics. We have certainly moved up the list — which we feel has been a reflection of our quality content — but we want to continue to grow our community and readership both on the site and the social media side of things.

The problem we are solving is the level of personal debt most Americans currently carry. By reading our articles and putting our ideas into practice, people can pay off their debts, increase their savings and position themselves for a financially sound future.

As an entrepreneur, what impact has branding had on your venture's success so far? How do you approach marketing? With whom do you collaborate to get your message out to your target audience?

Effective branding has played a huge role in our success to date. We strive to create innovative, creative and factual content that our readers can use and trust. To market our business, we are fully enveloped in social media. We have multiple team members dedicated to maintaining and monitoring our accounts on Facebook and Twitter. We also conduct a weekly TweetChat to engage our followers and give them a voice on the site.

What entrepreneurial ideas and start-up lessons can advertising professionals apply to creating breakthrough work?

One principle that served me well (especially as a start-up) that could be applied to advertising professionals is to never be satisfied with the status quo. Competition is high in just about any industry, just as it is in advertising, and individuals who are constantly reaching for more are the ones who are most successful.

Also, you're unlikely to have sufficient time to complete all necessary tasks if your days aren't organized. By planning out what you want to accomplish each and every day and minimizing interruptions as much as possible, you'll have the free time you need to come up with a breakthrough campaign.

And finally, there are always new technologies and tricks of the trade emerging, whether it's in small business ownership or advertising. Therefore, ad professionals should always be looking for ways to further educate themselves in their field.

Many advertising professionals find themselves interested in entrepreneurship. What advice would you give to someone with marketing skills interested in starting a new venture?

Advertising professionals interested in entrepreneurship should consider starting a small business while maintaining a day job. This makes it much easier to keep their personal finances in order while developing their venture. It involves a great deal of hard work, but it's an ideal strategy because it provides a financial safety net in case the venture falters. Regardless of available capital, both a business plan and a budget are necessities. A business plan is needed to create goals, and a budget is necessary to effectively manage expenses and revenues. Also, keeping expenses to a bare minimum, especially when starting up, is crucial. This can lead to becoming profitable more quickly.

Thought leaders in marketing regularly reinforce the idea that agencies (and other marketing-oriented organizations, too) should collaborate with startups. Do you agree? Why? How would you like agencies to collaborate with your organization?

I absolutely agree that ad agencies should collaborate with startups. Startups and small businesses in general can be viewed as the lifeblood of this country, and any agency would be selling itself short by not capitalizing on this opportunity.

While I believe we have a solid marketing strategy in place at my company, I've never had an in-depth analysis performed by a professional agency to assess its effectiveness. I think a great way for agencies to get their foot in the door with startups is to offer a marketing strategy analysis of the company in the hopes of proposing new and more effective ways the business can market their brand. I would certainly take advantage of this if it were ever offered to me.

Money Crashers is a personal finance website that focuses on helping its readers discover better ways to spend, save and earn money. It offers tips and strategies for virtually every facet of personal finance, including how to plan for retirement, investment advice and tips to escape credit card debt. The site also delves into a variety of important small business topics, including the importance of taking advantage of the key social media marketing sites.

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