“There is a lot of work to do in the digital new media space and B2B (business-to-business) arena. The companies who have built intelligence in data, content and social media have lots of work coming their way,” according to Susen Sawatzki, publisher of the 33-year-old adnews magazine, which she likes to think of as “the center of gravity of Utah’s creative industry.”
In line with Sawatzki’s insight, most local advertising agencies reported an increase in revenue from 2013 to 2014.
“We’ve increased our revenue over the previous year by 21.5 percent, [and] we’ve had double-digit revenue increases over the past seven years,” said Dave Ostler, the general sales manager at Epic Marketing.
The 10-year-old marketing agency, located at 12356 S. 900 E., Suite 105, Draper, has 20 employees, a number that has increased by three in the past year. “We have a niche market in the medical industry and the economy for years has not had a negative impact on these clinics like other industries,” said Ostler in explaining why Epic Marketing is doing so well.
Epic Marketing does most of its business outside Utah — 77 percent — according to Ostler. As for future plans, Ostler said the agency is planning on a 30 percent gain in 2015.
“Most business owners we talk with are frustrated with their marketing and advertising efforts, they tell us it’s a trial-and-error game and most often they make poor decisions and feel like they lose the game and waste money. They get confused because there are so many advertising options,” explained Ostler.
“This is the major difference between working with an agency and media company. We do a thorough needs analysis of the business and make sure our goals are perfectly aligned with the business owners’. We run hundreds of ads — TV, radio, newspaper, online, outdoor and print — across the country every month; we know what works and what doesn’t. That is invaluable experience for any business owner,” added Ostler. He added that businesses need a mobile-friendly website if they are going to do well. “Right now it’s estimated that 65 percent to 70 percent of business owners’ websites are not responsive or poorly designed for responsiveness,” said Ostler.
Kimberly Jones, CEO and founder of Vérité, located at 608 W. 9320 S., Sandy, said that “sales increased 15 percent in 2014.” Fifty percent of sales are local and the other half is national. She attributed this increase to “always being at the forefront of the digitally driven, online and mobile applications.”
The agency, with 25 employees, was founded in 1993. It is in a 12,000-square-foot building and “there is room to grow.” Vérité is also expanding with more web movies, according to Jones. “Technology changes are always occurring; to stay on the cutting edge we need to be proficient in design and development of mobile apps, responsive web and clever web video. We’ve also made recent process changes working in agile methodologies that have enhanced the experience,” said Jones.
Meanwhile, at Penna Powers, revenue increased from 2013 to 2014, said Stephanie Miller, the public relations director. “Fifty percent comes from local sales, 49 percent national and 1 percent worldwide.”
Penna Powers was founded by Chuck Penna in 1984 and is located at 1706 S. Major St., Salt Lake City. According to Miller, “After working at national firms, Chuck identified the opportunity to provide ‘big market’ innovative thinking at Salt Lake prices.”
The Utah office has 42 employees, while the Nevada office has six. The number of employees has stayed flat in the past year. “There are not any plans for another office expansion on the horizon, but we are constantly expanding services to get the right information to the right people through the right medium to influence perception, increase purchasing or change a behavior,” said Miller.
“We are an advertising/public relations/communications company, so people expect us to be an idea factory and problem solvers — and we are. But we also know that we are in the service business and so that is a top priority for us. We want to get involved to the point that we are a partner, that we are understanding the different aspects of our clients' business and so we can make some recommendations. And we want them to know that we are watching out for them,” said Miller and added, “There’s a lot on the line and their interest is our top priority.”
According to Chuck Penna, the owner of Penna Powers, “We grew up with push-brand advertising, but now it is a two-way conversation that never stops.” He is referring to the business-to-consumer relationship and how, through the Internet, consumers can largely influence how the brand is received by consumer comments, ratings, etc.
To stay on the cutting edge of these new phenomena, Penna Powers has put together a team called The Innovation Lab. “It is a technology company with new strategy or ideas,” according to Nick Giustino, the social media strategist. He gave some examples of what The Innovation Lab works on: Twitter feeds with a great brand that responds, 3-D videos and content that is relatable to the client.
“From 2013 to 2014 we increased or probably were just about even,” said David Blaine, president of Saxton Horne, located at 9350 S. 150 E., Suite 950, Sandy. “Now, if you went from 2012 to 2013,” he said, “ there was a much bigger climb for us. So much of our business is tied to the automotive business.”
Blaine attributes good business to “the diversity of our client base. We have clients in seven western states and we run a lean and mean business. We are not fat, if you will. We run pretty lean.” The agency has been around since 1995 and has 65 employees. Blaine said this number increased in the social media department by about eight people this past year. “Our fastest-growing group was social media,” he said. “Social media and data and analytics will continue to grow.”
Furthermore, Blaine ex-plained, “You cannot sit on the sidelines in this market. You have to be actively engaged. You have to invest in learning and training opportunities.”
“Revenue is definitely up,” said Thomas Love, president of Love Communications, located at 546 S. 200 W., Salt Lake City. Love Communications derives 80 percent of its clientele from Utah and 20 percent nationally.
Love attributed increased revenue to the “economy doing very well, increased construction and businesses booming.” He said, “There is enormous confidence in the market right now.”
The agency that was founded in 1999 has 42 employees and has added two or three in the past year. As for future growth, Love talked about adding another digital media programmer. As he said, “Ad agencies have dramatically changed in the last 10 years. It is all computer-based skills.”
Jeff Olsen, the executive director at ThomasARTS, said, “Revenue has increased 8 percent from 2013 to 2014.” He said 75 percent of ThomasARTS’ clients are national and 25 percent are local. Olsen attributed the growth to the economy being "OK" and also the Affordable Care Act. ThomasARTS is involved in “a lot of healthcare markets” so they’ve taken on a lot of work involving “business-to-consumer branding,” according to Olsen.
The agency, located at 240 S. 200 W., Farmington, was founded in 2003 by Dave Thomas and his three sons: Troy, Matt and Bret. There are six offices nationwide — 150 employees total — with the majority of them — 120 — in the Utah office.
Olsen believes the agency won’t be expanding offices anytime in the near future, but it is always looking to hire new talent. In fact, he hired three Utah employees in the past month. These employees are digitally inclined. Recently, ThomasARTS “upped its game in analytics and brought in a new well-reputed talent, Tyler Lee, in the digital arena,” said Olsen.
“Over the last five to 10 years, marketing has had to take accountability for campaigns showing the ROI (return on investment). “This is where we can win,” he said.
“Riester’s revenue increased by 4.9 percent in 2014,” according to owner Tim Riester. “Riester continued its steady growth during 2014 due to client demand for the firm’s expertise in digital and social media.” Reister said 35 percent of the company’s revenue is local and 65 percent is national.
Tim Riester founded Riester 26 years ago in 1989, with its connection to the oldest advertising agency in the state, Harris and Love, which Riester acquired in 2001. For the past 14 years, Riester has had an office in Park City, located at 1441 W. Ute Blvd., Suite 360. He also has two other offices in Arizona and California and employs over 120 full-time workers.
“During 2014, Riester saw an 8 percent growth in the number of employees, as well as a 10 percent growth in salaries and related expenses as the company continued to attract and retain talented employees to help service the complex marketing mix offered to clients,” according to Riester.
Riester has recently won a handful of new clients between all of its offices and became the agency of record for the Park City Chamber of Commerce/Convention & Visitors Bureau last December. “ We look forward to launching the summer campaign in early May,” Riester said.
“As for brick-and-mortar growth, we will be relocating our Phoenix office next year to a larger building to better accommodate our staff and growing needs,” Reister said
While advertising agencies are gearing up on technology and digital intelligence, according to Riester, “The future of advertising is not so much about the newest and latest digital gadget, tool or platform — as digital will become redundant — but about the most relevant idea. It is superior content that will determine the winners and losers in the battle for the hearts and minds of consumers.”