The Central Role of Communication in a Family Business with Ryan Cote, Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine

Sep 9, 2020

Ryan Cote is the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a third-generation family-owned direct mail and digital marketing company based out of Fairfield, New Jersey. Ryan started working at Ballantine in 2003, which was started in 1966 by his great-uncle, and he now manages the growing digital marketing division.The company mission is to make their clients’ marketing initiatives more successful through expert guidance, flawless execution, and remarkable service. They help clients with a wide variety of marketing services including direct mail production, copy and design, SEO and PPC, content marketing, social media, and email campaigns.

Ballantine typically helps medium to large sized non-profits, retailers and travel & hospitality companies with their print campaigns from simple postcards to creative self-mailers to complex, multi-component packages and more. On the digital marketing side, the company focuses on small to medium sized contractors, dealerships and industrial manufacturers to generate more leads.

Ryan currently manages the growing digital marketing division, and is primarily responsible for sales and strategy. He loves talking about digital marketing, entrepreneurship, and personal development and is a regular speak and podcast guest on these topics!


What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The history of Ballantine; its beginnings, evolution, and current business model.
  • Ryan’s decision to enter into the family business and the factors that influenced it.
  • Ballantine’s typical customers and an overview of the service they offer.
  • Family dynamics at Ballantine and managing the difficulties that arise.
  • Company culture at Ballantine; the constant work in progress of improvement.
  • Challenges in a family-owned business and making sure things are fair and equitable.
  • A slow and steady approach to growth; why this suits Ryan and the company.
  • Ryan’s process with clients; budgeting, in-house work and outsourced areas.
  • Important ideas for to include in your online marketing strategy; visibility, ranking and more!
  • Ryan’s thoughts on running a successful, worthwhile blog.
  • The vision for the company going forward and the importance of defined roles. 
  • Camaraderie within the company and keeping things fun through difficult times.
  • Female family members and the possibility of their inclusion in the business in the future.
  • How communication can help resolve tricky dynamics and problems.
  • Transitional moments for Ballantine and the big change of starting a digital division.
  • Geographic focuses for the different parts of the business.
  • Ryan’s advice for managing the generational attitudes towards priorities.
  • Final advice around working in a family business — questions to ask entering into a venture.



“Our stuff is all monthly retainer work. We’re monthly billing.” — @ryancote [0:21:21]

“The more content you have on your site that’s good, in theory, the more organic traffic you’re going to get because every new blog post you add is a way for Google to find you.” — @ryancote [0:24:49]


Facebook Posts:

“We just try to cultivate a sense of closeness with everyone, where everyone gets along and likes working with each other because we’re with each other most of the day.” — Ryan Cote [0:14:15]

“Sometimes we’ll recommend stopping one thing and doing more of something else based on what’s working. We try not to coast because that’s when results can diminish.” — Ryan Cote [0:21:44]


Additional Resources:


Ballantine Landing Page:

Morning Upgrade:





Links Mentioned:


Walt Disney:


Google Search Console:


Sharon Spano: