About The Family Knife


what exactly
do we do?

We help businesses upgrade their marketing by doing more in-house. We help them plan better, work smarter (and happier), hit their targets, and achieve both their marketing and business goals.

When you work with us, you’re part of the family, and we take your priorities, challenges, and dreams to heart—we share in your struggles and successes.

We work alongside our clients—marketing and business leaders much like you—to improve bottom lines with revenue growth, and reduce costs by in-sourcing, in a sustainable way. We work to build capacity and capabilities within teams, so those who know and love your organization can grow and thrive long-term.

Our philosophy is one of empowerment.

Rather than building the work remotely, siloed from your organization, we work with you, facilitating those initial, critical meetings of the minds and developing a plan collaboratively that will work within your organization’s structure.

When we take this approach, we can unlock the best ways forward, find the most creative approaches, and design marketing strategies that are truly and honestly you. Because at every step, your voice is influential and informative.

We are The Family Knife, and we’d love to get to know you better and welcome you into the extended family.

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The Name

There is an old paradox about The Ship of Theseus. Revered as a hero, Theseus had a magnificent ship that sailed the Aegean Sea. To commemorate his adventures and achievements, his city preserved his ship in port. Over the years, they replaced the sails, the mast, the planks—all to manage upkeep and preserve the history for future generations. But with all those changes, is it really the same ship?

This paradox has sparked philosophical debates for centuries. And the idea has evolved with the ages: Abe Lincoln’s axe is handed down through the family, but as it is maintained, it is altered. Is it still his axe? The modern iteration is The Family Knife.

When you are planning for the long-game, you have to adapt, evolve and change. You can grow and change—bring on new people, develop new products, explore new platforms—and still hold onto the core values and spirit of your organization, maintain that rich institutional knowledge and power.

The key to success is building a strong plan, a clear vision, and a savvy team to carry that forward through the ages.


Joel Kelly
Leadership team—

Joel leads strategic counsel and planning, and coaching for The Family Knife’s clients.

He aspires to be a living marketing history book, with a rich understanding of our industry’s evolution, and the important lessons learned along the way. He has an uncanny ability to find the right reference, anecdote or illustration for every advertising situation.

His background in marketing, copywriting, and leadership helps our clients create marketing that works and teams that succeed.

Joel's experience in senior management, having built teams with dozens of direct reports, helps our clients upgrade their teams' skills and abilities and make daily improvements and achieve long term results.

Joel Kelly on LinkedIn

Leah Sanford
Leadership team—implementation

Leah leads implementation planning and tactical roll-out for our clients.

It’s her indomitable spirit to get things done that brings energy to her and the people around her.

She is the tireless coach and champion for teams who are working through new processes and plans, and she finds a way to keep everyone engaged and enthused throughout the process.

Leah has extensive experience executing complex plans and events, in large organizations with thousands of employees and small companies with limited resources. This helps our clients confidently put plans into action and implement tactics that succeed and get the right kind of attention and sustained traction.

Leah Sanford on LinkedIn