Seems like interactive agency Outrider keeps growing and growing and growing. We called up Bill Hunt, Outrider's Executive VP of Global Marketing to find out what tactics Outrider's using to expand so quickly.
Q: How much are you growing and what's the fastest area aside of America?
Hunt: We added four new clients and 50 people in the past month. We're getting ready to hire two more in Chicago. So that's 10% growth in a month. We also just added Finland and Paris. We are at 250 staff globally with 18 offices in 13 countries.
Regarding demand, we're doing quite a bit in the UK right now and the next would be Italy or Sweden.
Q: As the dot-com world pulls back, where are you getting all these new clients from?
Hunt: They're mostly traditional companies. More and more are waking up to what we're doing. It's not having a company wake up and say, "Oh we have to do this Web thing" because most companies have something. Now they're perfecting it.
We're rebuilding their sites; helping them reach out with search engine optimization and online PR; and helping them effectively remarket to people who come to the site. For example, we'll create a sales trigger matrix. We look at how people interact with the company if we offer free shipping, versus 10% off, versus a free gift. Whichever one they click on tells us something about them. We put that in a database with typical CRM tools and it enables us to effectively remarket to people. Our claim to fame is that trigger matrix!
When you're talking to a prospective client, the days of just throwing money into the Web are gone. So, we present a package. It's more than just building or rebuilding a Web site. First they'll often try one piece out and then run down the whole range.
Q: Outrider launched its own marketing news service a couple of months ago, how's that going?
Hunt: It's going well. As far as new client business I don't know if we've gotten anything from it. I know some articles have been picked up by other press and people like it. It grows by about 20% opt-ins a month, so the marketing guys are happy about it. The CEO has tasked all functional and creative managers to write 3-4 articles a year. We have a specific schedule. We also try to make it timely. Everyone's talking about wireless so we're writing about wireless advertising.
Q: Some of your people also moderate email discussion lists for Audette Media. Has that made a difference in your growth?
Hunt: Yes, it helps immeasurably. Andy Weatherwax our VP Creative Services does I-Wireless and Detlev Johnson our Director of Search Engine Optimization does I-Search.
It positions us as experts. There's a lot of credibility given if we walk into an engagement -- Here's Detlev and 15,000 people read his I-Search. It does look great on our corporate resume that these people are on our staff.
The other side is that we get to ask a lot of questions. If Detlev has an idea he can send it publicly to the whole list and ask them what they think. It's also allowed Detlev to become one of the top speakers on optimization. It's the same with Andy.
Q: There are a zillion trade shows on Web marketing. How do you choose which ones to attend to schmooze potential clients?
Hunt: The ones from IQPC tend to work for us because they're smaller, tighter focused. You're not lost in the hype. I almost hate spending the money to go to most of the rest of them.
Nowadays shows are over commercialized. In '97-99 when I was doing a lot of speaking shows would put you up, so you'd tend to promote yourself a little less. Now conferences will put a little disclaimer out saying don't hawk your business, but they allow you to do it because you paid your own way to fly out. The DMA even requires you to pay to attend the rest of the show! So, I didn't even fill out a proposal to speak at New Orleans this year.
When we do speak at shows, we definitely try to give something back. The attendees are paying to be there. We give them materials to take home, they're able to communicate with us after the event, so they don't have to listen to us try to sell something there.
Q: Outrider is part of the much larger Tempus Group, which includes offline marketing agencies. Are you able to market to each other's clients or are you kept separate?
Hunt: The five Tempus companies meet once a quarter to talk about opportunities. Also we've bought Dan Hagen from our London office in to work full-time at our sister company CIA Media Network in New York. He acts as a liaison with their business development people to integrate online marketing into their offerings.
Q: What other marketing tactics are working for you?
Hunt: We're probably going to start more advertising. We also ask clients, hey if you like what we're doing is there anybody you could recommend us to?
It's amazing how people travel between companies now. We've had three-four pieces of business from the same person as they move from company to company!
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