ABR 2009: Carlson Marketing

“The definition [of direct] isn’t what it was 20 years ago, that’s for sure. Clearly relationships are a main focus [for us]. Behind relationships, what drives a strong relationship is a value exchange. It’s in our DNA as people and as a company. It’s an opportunity to reward people for their involvement in your brand and to get information. Relationships are then deeper and data is richer and then you can make conversations even more relevant.”
— Andy Wright, president, brand loyalty/marketing services

Founded in 1938, Carlson is one of the oldest agencies in the space. It has deep roots in CRM, brand loyalty and engagement and continues to look forward in the digital space by increasing efforts in social media, interactive marketing and mobile. The company prides itself on its rich heritage in the direct marketing space and its focus on analytics and database services.

Year founded or merged: 1938

Headquarters: Minneapolis, MN

Offices: 29

Web site: www.carlsonmarketing.com

Major disciplines/capabilities: Brand loyalty, creative, interactive, mobile, incentive and event management, decision sciences, award services, technology services, strategy and planning.

Key accounts: Amtrak, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Ford, Wal-Mart

Recent agency highlights: Even though many companies are pulling back, Carlson is increasing its push into digital mobile. The agency hopes to increase mobile loyalty programs in the coming years.

Current agency challenges: “Many brands aren’t going to be doing as many new projects because of costs — but because Carlson is so focused on retention, the last thing brands will do is turn off the channel that keeps their customers loyal,” says Wright. While acquiring customers is always important, he adds 2009 will be the year to help clients optimize the ones they’ve already got.

Biggest 2009 industry trends: Carlson sees mobile being the next big growth area. The total brand to consumer experience will be the key to successful marketing — integrating at all points of contact and integrating database marketing with all other channels.

Top executives: Jeff Balagna, president and CEO; Fay Beauchine, president, engagement and events; Mike Kust, CMO; Doug Rozen, SVP, creative, interactive, media and mobile  

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