Gregory Banks, North American president, Javelin Direct
Three key clients: AT&T, Mitsubishi and Roche Diagnostics
Joined Javelin Direct: 2003
When you hear the term “direct marketing,” what do you think? How is the term changing today?
Direct marketing has been “below-the-line marketing.” Direct marketing is becoming “a lead marketing discipline.” Today, ROI is not optional; new measurement tools can prove and improve the effect of any type of marketing investment, even the “un-trackable” ones. At the same time, marketers must deal with several times more complexity.
What makes a true agency visionary?
A visionary agency has to have foresight. We have to be able to read trends and predict future scenarios. Business changes rapidly, and agencies swing even wider than their clients. An agency will get crushed just waiting for the next wide swing. You have to predict some trends and bet on them.
What drives change in your agency?
In a word: “growth.” We have to change constantly in order to grow. As an example, in the early days we would map out our organizational chart meticulously and make sure every box was funded — and then seek the exact right people to fit in the open boxes. That took way too long. Now, we realize there are certain values and skills that we require in our new employees. When we find the right person, we often hire them, even if there's not an open box for them. They'll be busy on one of our clients if not immediately, in a few short weeks anyway.
What was the big leap you've made in your agency to move your company toward the future?
The big leap came when we adjusted our self-image to catch up with our potential. When we went through the inevitable early life traumas as a young agency, we first thought we might get absorbed or top out or something. Then we became close to an executive in Omnicom, Ed McNally, who has a long history of mentoring high-potential agencies. Ed helped us believe in our dreams of becoming a leading international next-generation direct agency. We let go of the “small agency” mindset — and then zoom — we started growing like crazy.