DMNews chats with Will Spivey, managing partner, Trone Inc.
Q: How does Trone operate its brand, public relations and direct marketing services under one roof?
A: We have an executive who is responsible for the relationship with each client, whose job it is to work across that client organization to get the right strategy built and deployed and measured. We are measuring the bundle of services that we're providing to the client moving their business forward. If they make those evaluations about which parts of the mix are moving this forward, we work with them to develop a set of quantifiable objectives.
Q: Do your executives wear different hats depending on the client?
A: That is exactly the case. Every executive brings their own history and experiences. Our challenge is to ensure that we provide the tools, resources, structure and support to help those professionals understand all the tools that are available, and to deliver them in [such] a way that the executive is not penalized if they have to bring in a CRM expert or an analytics expert to help a client. We have one unified client profit and loss and so what that person really has to be focused on is how to achieve results for their client.
Q: Has the agency world reached a standard metric for measuring campaign success with these different channels working together?
A: You have to start with a realistic view of what can be measured, and then work to develop the best set of metrics for the specific situation. For instance, in PR, everyone talks about ad equivalency. But, you could go a lot further with that by, for example, classifying the nature of the coverage, assigning a score to where it appears or asssigning a score to the tone of the story. There are a lot of different things you could do. You can't measure everything or every component. We do things that are very direct response-oriented and we're still looking at things like cost per lead and cost per sale, but when you look at the more brand oriented work, we're trying to move our clients to measure signs that are more indicative of engagement, rather than simply awareness.
Q: What's changed in the blended agencies marketplace since your launch?
A: You have this continuing momentum of the blurring of the media — the roles of the different parts of the marketing mix. The second thing is that there has been a material change — I don't want to say weakening of the economy, but a material change of the consumer outlook in this country. All that is doing is amplifying the value proposition challenging our clients; as the economy gets tighter, the pressure on our client executives to deliver results increases.
Q: Do you have any advice for strict DM agencies and vendors?
A: Direct marketers have a skill set that is important across the marketing channel. I would encourage direct marketers to elevate their thinking beyond direct marketing programs, step back and think about the totality of the client's need. There will be growing opportunities to leverage those analysis skills and measurement skills on a much bigger playing field.