Dianne Wilkins, CEO, Critical Mass

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Dianne Wilkins
Dianne Wilkins

Three key clients: Mercedes-Benz USA, Rolex, Global Hyatt
Joined Critical Mass: 1998

What do you think when you hear the term “direct marketing” and how has it changed?

Honestly, the first thing that pops into my mind is junk mail and bad fonts…but that's an old stereotype.  Technology has clearly changed the nature of direct marketing – conversations between customer and brand are rapidly becoming the norm.  It's a powerful conversation and it's taking place all over our neck of the woods – online.  Direct marketing just isn't about the mail anymore.

What makes a true agency visionary?

Focus.  There are lots of opportunities to try to be too many things at once. I don't mean you can't add service offerings or launch new offices, but plotting a course and sticking to it rather than keeping all of your options open is actually a tough decision.  

What drives change in your agency?

Determination and vision.  There are times when we ponder change, and times when we drive change.  My experience is that it's worth the time to debate and get comfortable with change before getting started, but once the process starts it's critical to drive it relentlessly. Any time we've rushed the initial decision or eased up during implementation we've made it harder for ourselves.

What is the biggest challenge your company faces today?

Finding and keeping the best talent and the right people.  We're not located in the most obvious agency area geographically, but we've got a strong culture, which has made us special but demands real perseverance to grow and maintain the quality of staff we've been able to develop.

What does the agency of the future look like?

The agency of the future is focused on marketing and embraces technology as part of the way they live and work.  Ours is an increasingly digital world, which doesn't mean marketing principles should be thrown out, it means they should be embraced and enabled by technology.  Whether it's a widget that serves up relevant content or an application that helps people connect with friends or plan a trip, technology has the power to drive meaningful connections.  Agencies who understand that will thrive.

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