Clarity Quest founder connects great tech, sparkling marketing
Groton ― Christine Slocumb spent time early in her career at Motorola, where she started as an electrical engineer. It was a great company, most notably developing the first cellular phone technology, but it didn’t survive.
“I saw what poor marketing could do to a company,” Slocumb said. “You need a combination of great technology and great marketing.”
Intrigued by this thought, she went on to work at several startups on the West Coast before finally settling on marketing as a career path. She now works largely out of her home in Stonington as founder and president of Clarity Quest Marketing, but also maintains a small space at the BioCT Innovation Commons in Groton, at a former laboratory space carved out of the Pfizer Inc. campus.
Clarity Quest has developed a niche in marketing for health-related technology companies, and it merged in June with Dallas-based Supreme Optimization, a leader in life sciences digital marketing. Slocumb’s company is a team of about 20, while Supreme is about five times the size, adding significant capabilities. The deal included an equity interest in Supreme.
“It is a great marriage,” Slocumb said.
It’s a long way from Tempe, Ariz., where she toiled for Motorola in her early career, ever observant that she was one of only a few female engineers in a field where there seemed to be a glass ceiling. Then, while working with various startups, she had the experience of being part of an FBI raid, a jolt that made her rethink the fast and furious life where women again seemed to be constantly passed over for promotion.
She remembers thinking at the time, “This is ridiculous. ... I wanted to do it on my terms with who I wanted to work with instead of who I had to work with.”
So, when her husband, Ronald, decided to go back to school to become a doctor, Slocumb jumped at the chance to start over in 2001 and went into the marketing and public relations business, focusing on technology initially in the Ann Arbor, Mich., area. She specializes in such things as search engine optimization, biotechnology and the life sciences, mergers and acquisitions, helping with branding, leads, digital ads, marketing plans and messaging.
For the first 10 years, she figures she was probably undercharging clients, a tendency Slocumb said many women have. But she more recently has become savvy about fixed-bid billing.
“We’re not the cheapest folks on the block,” she said. “Generalist agencies are dying. Having a specific niche is where it’s at.”
As she started her company, Slocumb said she often was the only woman in the room during major business conversations. But lately she is starting to see more women getting involved in venture capital.
“We still have a long way to go,” she added.
As for her own business, things started really picking up during the COVID-19 pandemic as working remotely became a thing and trade-show marketing dried up. Suddenly, businesses had to figure out the world of digital marketing, and Slocumb was well positioned, tripling the size of her company.
Slocumb writes a regular blog on marketing, and is now doing a lot of business-to-business work as well as video marketing and placing Google ads.
“There’s a good return on investment if you know how to do it right,” she said.
Slocumb relocated to Connecticut 12 years ago when her husband joined a practice in Norwich, but thanks to such technologies as Zoom and Slack, she is able to oversee a team of experts, some with advanced degrees, from all around the country. She maintains the Groton office because it is affordable, offers free coffee and allows her once a week or so to mingle with like-minded entrepreneurs.
Clarity Quest was named Agency of the Year by Healthcare and IT Marketing Community in both 2019 and 2022, and this year it made the Chief Marketer 200 top marketing agencies list. Slocumb recently published a book titled “Stop Starvation Marketing” in which she expounds on her view that 80% to 90% of the selling job for a product is done before anyone talks to a sales specialist.
“I founded the agency with the No. 1 goal that this would be a place where people love to come to work and they really really could grow,” she said in a video interview on swaay.com published in May 2022. “We give people wings to fly here. I am not a babysitter, and everyone is an adult.”
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