Promo 100 Stars Talk Agency Survival Strategies

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Promo asked four leaders from among the Top 25 agencies on the 2010 Promo 100 to share the most important strategies they implemented within the last year to help push through the difficult economic climate.

These insightful ideas can be applied to both large and small agencies alike.

Josh McCall, chairman and chief executive officer, Jack Morton Worldwide

For us the key was to focus completely on what Jack Morton, as a brand experience agency, does best: launch new products, engage target audiences, align internal employees and build experience brands—but to do that in conjunction with aggressive vendor management. Since the majority of what our clients spend with us is third party costs, we leveraged our strong negotiating power as a large global agency to be able to offer access to the world’s best resources at the best prices. That’s a great thing in any climate, but especially last year. This twofold approach of focusing on our core and delivering on costs and expectations allowed us to maneuver through the downturn and put us in a position to capitalize on the upswing.

Bill Hahn, president and chief executive officer, Alcone Marketing Group

We understood that our clients had tight budgets and needed to get results. Results defined as consumers taking action around their products. Not “thinking about,” “feeling better about,” or “intending to purchase,” but instead buying more, buying more often, buying instead of, trying, and switching TODAY. At the same time we recognized that our clients needed to explore all the new consumer connectivity possibilities that exist in digital, social, gaming, geo locating etc. We used our knowledge of new technology to communicate our clients’ offers more cost effectively and target better, across both “new” and “traditional” media, using our decades of promotional experience and knowing the triggers that consumer respond to, to structure and deliver offers and promotions that would help sell more of our clients products and services.
Editor’s Note: Alcone Marketing was named Promo 2010 Agency of the Year.

John Paulson, CEO, G2 USA

While it wasn’t in direct response to the tough economic climate, the biggest change that we made at G2 just happened to coincide with the “great recession” of the past year.

Up until the end of 2008, G2 ran as four separate and distinct operating units. However, we recognized that the marketplace was changing; specifically, we saw an increasing and natural overlap of the traditionally defined and historically “siloed” marketing disciplines that we work in—interactive, direct, promotion and design. What we did in response to the changing marketplace was to re-align ourselves to be more relevant and more valued to our clients’ businesses. We eliminated the individual operating units and brought the disciplines under one roof, with one P&L, one vision, and one management structure.

Consequently, we were able to better serve our clients across our multiple discipline offerings at a time when “value” and integration of services was getting more attention due to the economic pressures on our clients’ businesses.

To further align our strategic vision with our physical presence, we also relocated all practice groups (literally) under one roof in a fantastic new LEED-certified building—200 Fifth Avenue—located in New York’s Flatiron District.

Coming together as One G2 has changed the way that we interact with each other as an integrated marketing services company, and by extension, has transformed the way that we can better orchestrate our service offering to our clients.

Jeff Shrifin, president, Octagon

We were lucky (or good!!!). Despite the economic downturn, we had the best year in our 27-year history and we made the decision to invest in our business while most other agencies were struggling. We significantly upgraded our overall talent as well as within our digital and strategic research areas. We added capabilities in our content and music divisions, which was driven by the surge and integration of social media. The upgraded talent and incremental capabilities allowed us to retain and grow our long-standing relationships as well as attract new clients who want an agency with solid traditional capabilities, coupled with technological thought leadership.


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