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Today’s ever-changing digital world has posed many opportunities and challenges to the advertising and marketing industry. Area experts discuss how they are revamping their methods to keep their work relevant and impactful to a diverse audience.
We’d like to thank the discussion’s moderator, Paul Dishman, Ph.D., who serves as the chair of Utah Valley University’s Woodbury School of Business.
Lance Black, Eli Kirk
Dave Robinson, Mozy
H. Matthew Horlacher, Holland & Hart
Leslie Snavely, CHG Healthcare
Chris Thomas, Intrepid
John Youngren, Love Communications
Brad Parkin, Utah’s Hogle Zoo
Andrew Melchior, Avalaunch Media
Cathie DeNaughel, R&R Partners
Paul Dishman, Utah Valley University
Pauline Ploquin, Struck
Chuck Penna, PPBH
Scott Kempema, MRM//McCann
Kristi Knight, Vivint
Kim Jones, Vérité
Advertising and marketing is sometimes a key indicator of the economy. In light of that, do you think the economy is improving for Utah businesses?
BLACK: In our office, we often say, “What recession?” More than ever, our clients are willing to spend. Our ad spends are a little bit down and a little more cautious, but companies’ willingness to spend money on marketing and advertising is at an all-time high. We’ve been doing this since 2001 and I think this is way different than the recession of ‘01, ‘02, where people kind of stopped spending all together. This time, they really haven’t stopped. So if this is any indication of the Utah economy, we have no concerns.
PENNA: This is our 29th year in business, and last year was our best year. So that was a good indicator for us.
YOUNGREN: I would echo what others have said in the room—our clients by and large have come through the last couple of years feeling pretty good. We represent a lot of retail accounts in this market and the budgets remain at least steady.
ROBINSON: At Mozy, four years ago was the dark time for us, so to speak. We went through one minor round of layoffs. For me, a barometer of the economy is the competition for talent. And I’d say it is as competitive as it ever has been trying to find and keep good people. In our space, in technology, some really exciting companies have popped up here in Utah, and they are aggressively hiring. Based on that, it does seem to be improving. Not drastically, but it is.
PLOQUIN: Like many of you, last year and 2011 were the best years that STRUCK has experienced. I think it’s because of the diversity of our services and our digital forwardness. It’s been great because a lot of the budgets are moving toward digital.
That said, we now have clients who are recovering from the recession. We just secured a relationship with a home builder, for instance. But the word on the street is we’re going to continue to do more for less. Because they feel like they’re not completely out of the woods yet. And they’ve also adapted—they’ve done very well with less, so they’re continuing to be very cautious in the way they’re spending their marketing budget.
SNAVELY: At CHG Healthcare, we are seeing pretty aggressive growth in our marketing spend, in the range of 20 to 40 percent a year.
What did 2008/2009 do to us? We got a lot smarter. We are working to stretch our dollars—if we’re spending 20 percent more, we’re getting 50 percent more. And that’s not just the marketing spend, it’s how we’re approaching every element of our operation. That shift has been a really good one for the health of our company because it’s aligned us all to grow our EBITDA at much faster rates than we’re growing our volume.
DeNAUGHEL: I absolutely agree we’re doing more for less. That’s in terms of both the clients’ dollars and internally—we’re much more efficient, much more streamlined. More than ever, there’s extreme pressure, and rightfully so, from clients to make sure that we are extremely good stewards of their budgets and showing the return on investment and measurable results.
KNIGHT: Vivint is certainly spending a lot more on advertising than we ever have. Part of that is because we never have spent a lot of money on advertising, so it’s really easy to grow from that perspective.
In making the case for advertising dollars at the board level and the executive level, as long as I can show the return on investment, I can spend money all day long. Advertising and marketing has been considered discretionary in the past because it was really hard to measure. When the economy gets challenging, then you cut down on discretionary spending. So as long as you can show the benefit to the business, that’s where the economy has actually helped us get smarter because you have to be able to prove the ROI in metrics.