Allison Taylor never planned to launch Los Altos-based Thought Marketing LLC nine years ago – she just knew she needed a career change from running communications for a security software company.
But as she talked to business contacts, everyone kept saying, “Let me know what you end up doing because I’d love to work with you,” she said.
“Everyone kept ending on that comment, and so after a certain point I was, like, ‘Well, I guess I could just set up a company and I could do the work I was doing before but just do it from the other side,’” Taylor added.
Taylor, Thought Marketing’s CEO and a Mountain View resident, described the company as a “boutique consultancy.” Its work, primarily for tech companies, includes creating awareness campaigns, designing leadership platforms to increase credibility and developing sales strategies.
She likened leaving a secure job with stock options to start Thought Marketing to “walking into the vast unknown” – but since then, the company’s clients have included Honeywell, Dell EMC and General Electric. She said the company’s ability to remain a “really healthy business” throughout different economic conditions serves as a “testament to the people we work with and the people who work for us.”
“If there’s one thing I would share with people, it’s (to) never let fear drive your decisions – make sure that your decisions are either out of love or excitement – but not out of fear,” Taylor said.
In June, the company received three Stevie Awards from the American Business Awards organization for its work with a Fortune 100 client’s cybersecurity business. It won two gold awards for marketing and communications campaigns of the year and a silver award for best research report, according to a Thought Marketing press release. Taylor said she was “thrilled” both about the awards and for her clients, some of whom worked all night to send something over to her company because of differing time zones.
“Having everybody go through the night to pull those things off, that was really cool, so I was happy for them – in fact, even today a lot of them were discussing it and just kind of reminiscing on what it took to pull that off,” Taylor said in late June. “Getting that recognition in public is really exciting.”
Caroline Drakeley, a consultant and head of marketing for Thought Marketing, helps the company with awards submissions.
“Winning awards really brings out the credibility of what you can do for your customers, and that’s one of our goals,” Drakeley said. “You always strive to help our customers be successful. … It’s not for us to win the awards, it’s for our customers.”
Set up for success
Taylor started working as a journalist at a business publication before transitioning to public relations. At 24, she launched a creative services agency in Israel, copywriting and designing advertisements for people.
“I kept just taking a slice of a profession and just trying to learn it and master it,” she said. “It turns out that’s what set me up perfectly for consulting, because I can go into a situation and pretty much whatever we’re going to encounter, I’ve seen some piece of it before.”
As CEO, Taylor’s personal philosophy is to work with people she “completely respects” on projects that are “absolutely leading to something useful.” She said her philosophy is hard for some businesspeople to stick with because it differs from classic business approaches taught in school, but combining those approaches with her intuition “finds things that other people won’t find.”
“It’s important to remember why you’re doing something internally – this is going to sound corny but it’s totally true – going from the soul outwards and not going from the marketplace inwards,” Taylor said.
She advises young women who look up to her to learn to say “no,” adding that she makes sure not to take on too much.
“You need to be super careful with your time, and I think for some women, sometimes it’s difficult to say ‘no’ until they realize that by saying ‘no,’ they’re actually helping everyone,” Taylor said. “If you just say ‘yes’ to everything and you’re burned out and you’re cranky, that’s not really helpful.”
Drakeley met Taylor seven years ago when Taylor hired her to work with Campbell-based engineering consultant OSI Engineering. She joined Thought Marketing two years later, noting that the two work “almost exponentially better” together.
“It’s just wonderful to work with her because you learn so much and it’s very rewarding,” Drakeley said of Taylor. “It’s just always been that way.”
For more information on Thought Marketing, visit thoughtmarketing.com.