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July 30, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Co-Founder of Second Mile says impact on larger companies is a top goal

The Knoxville marketing firm was ranked #5 out of 40 businesses in the inaugural “Rocky Top Business Awards” that recognized the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s (UTK) fastest-growing, alumni-owned or alumni-led businesses.

“We never want to be really big, but we do want to have a bigger impact on larger companies,” says Hannah Lee, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Second Mile. “We want to grow alongside Knoxville.”

Known until recently as Second Mile Marketing, the company that she co-founded in 2016 with longtime friend Jess Vossler dropped the word marketing from its name to clearly reflect a subtle but substantive change in how it serves clients.

Hannah Lee

“Marketing should not be siloed, it is a system,” Lee says, explaining that marketing involves both the integration and alignment across a number of verticals in a business. “We are now much more focused on revenue . . . marketing and sales alignment.”

The other two words in the original and now current name – Second Mile – reflect the firm’s commitment to going the extra mile for its clients. That strategy has obviously worked well as Second Mile was ranked #5 out of 40 businesses in the inaugural “Rocky Top Business Awards” that recognized the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s (UTK) fastest-growing, alumni-owned or alumni-led businesses. PYA, the power behind, helped create the program and also tabulated the results.

“We’re on a mission to help companies improve the workweek and scale smarter by reinventing culture, integrating systems and aligning processes,” the firm explains on its website.

We covered some of Lee’s story in this mid-September 2022 article that summarized a presentation she made to one of the sessions during Fall Semester of the “Vol Court Speaker Series & Pitch Competition.”

During the presentation, she described how a career-ending injury to her hand while competing as a Division 1 lacrosse player caused Lee to transfer to UTK and major in Spanish. There, what started as a parody resulted in her becoming a significant social media influencer. Following graduation, Lee returned to her hometown of Memphis and worked for several agencies.

“They paid me to do something I really liked doing,” she said.

After working for several agencies, Lee became a freelancer for nearly four years, something that longtime friend Vossler was also doing. The latter’s skillset was more on the marketing side, while Lee was the social media guru.

They decided to join forces near the end of 2016, starting with working for Chick-fil-A franchisees of which her parents were one. “I was so scared,” she says of the decision to co-found Second Mile. Four years later, the firm acquired Maspect Digital, and Sam Crockett, its Founder, became Chief Technology Officer and a Partner in Second Mile. Vossler is Chief Solutions Officer.

Today, the firm has clients across the U.S. and in Canada. Its ideal client is a business-to-business company in the digital space, specifically transportation technologies, higher education, and managed service providers.

“We are heavily engaged with UTK, the UT System, and the UT Foundation,” Lee says. “We digitally track, manage, and nurture (client) relationships. We take a more holistic approach to the customer journey.”

The firm has nine full-time employees, one part-timer, and a number of contractors.

Second Mile is extremely proud of its commitment to the four-day work week, and it is something that Lee has learned to not only embrace but walk the talk.

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