Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Notes from 3/26/2010 OCA Meeting

Three new members joined us as we had another big meeting.
- Melissa Baldwin, who was at WaMu in their Experiential Marketing group for 12 years, most recently finished a project with Starbucks and is also a volunteer marketing manager with Taproot.
- Caylee Betts, who recently completed her BA in Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Phoenix, is currently an Art Director intern at
Square Tomato.
- Michele Powell, who was most recently with AMEC Earth & Environmental, has 15 years of marketing experience, primarily in the industrial and technology sectors.

Fantastic speakers last week as OCA welcomed Kristina Muller-Eberhard and Thomas Lamprecht of Plume21. The two of them have recently started a new creative agency and visited us to talk about launching a business in today's economy and to share their thoughts regarding work, clients, and the future.

Their background. The two of them each have more than 20 years of ad agency experience, having worked with some of the top brands in the world (Oracle, T-Mobile, Sun, Adobe, Wells Fargo, Nestle) while at some of the top creative shops (Grey, Publicis, DraftFCB/Hacker). Thomas started Grey San Francisco and built the office into the agency's fastest growing division, starting with 1 employee (himself) and eventually managing more than 200 people before moving to Seattle.

Why start a business in today's economy? This is a question they've heard, many times, before. Easy answer: "It's better to start at the bottom, than it is at the top. There's nowhere to go but up." Competitive rates in a down economy mean everyone is looking for a deal. Because they are small, and therefore more nimble and more efficient, Plume21 can approach companies that are "fed up with large agencies."

Who are they targeting? What industries? Kristina and Thomas are looking at growth areas, as well as ones in which they have experience, such as technology, services (intellectual properties), hospitality, health care, communications, and foundations. As one would imagine, they would love to add a couple Fortune 100 companies to their client roster, but are currently focused on small businesses which have potential for growth. "We believe small businesses are the future of this economy."

How are they prospecting potential clients? "We're plugging into our network as we socialize the idea of the business." As with searching for jobs, Plume21 knows the importance of networking. Before they were even able to hang an OPEN sign in the window, they were starting to receive referrals. They are also tapping into the venture capital market, as there is a mutual need that can be satisfied. They need clients, and start-ups need help developing their brands.

Their philosophy. "We approach things from the point of sales. As much as advertising would like to think it's about Art & Poetry, it's not. It's about sales."

Today's audience. According to Thomas, in 1998, people were exposed to 1,800 messages a day. Today, that number has climbed to 6,000, and it's extremely easy to filter out what we don't want to hear. "We scan, we go to what we need. Relevance Rules."

Their approach. Thomas used the analogy of designing and building a house when describing their approach to architecting a brand. "Too often a brand is developed in a vacuum. The brand has to be constructed to function in all spaces." He and Kristina think about all aspects of a client's marketing when developing a brand platform. "We build houses that are pre-wired, with all the plumbing installed. You'll get outlets where you (will) need outlets."

Project specific. Talking about a current project with a company based in Portland, you can hear the excitement in their voices as they describe selling a logo as part of developing the company's overarching brand. "We would normally show 3 or 4 designs, but we gave them more options - because it forced the client to focus on the idea behind the work."

Finally... What's the meaning behind the name? Another question they've answered before. Project Lamprecht und Muller-Eberhard, 2 people, 1 company. (The "und" - which means "and" in German - is a nod to the pair's European background).

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