Mobium Creative Group, a b-to-b agency based in Chicago, last week was honored by the Business Marketing Association as 2003 Agency of the Year.
During a challenging time for the marketing industry, what with budget cuts and increased scrutiny on ad campaigns, Mobium managed to double its client base and roll out award-winning work for clients. At the BMA Pro-Comm Awards last month, Mobium captured 13 awards, including a tie for Best of Show for its own brand communications program.
In an interview with BtoB, Mobium co-managing partners Guy Gangi and Gordon Hochhalter discussed the challenges facing the industry, the role of creative in the marketing mix and trends in successful b-to-b marketing.
BtoB: How are your clients allocating marketing dollars this year?
Hochhalter: Weâre seeing some interesting shifts. Last year, there was some movement away from more personal contact like trade shows, and now weâre beginning to see some movement back into that area. But a lot of trade show activity is being replaced by seminars and events. We havenât seen a great deal of dilution of branding dollars. Another thing that hasnât fallen is internal brand communications.
BtoB: What other trends are you seeing in b-to-b marketing?
Gangi: One emerging trend is that clients understand the value of their brands and assets, and the importance of connecting with the public along those brand initiatives.
BtoB: With all the pressure to prove ROI on ad campaigns, whatâs the role of creative in the overall marketing mix?
Gangi: Creative is ultimately what itâs all about. We have an organization here with client teams that are led by two peopleâan account lead and a creative lead. Together, they help develop the strategic stuff up front, and right from the beginning we have a creative exec who helps guide the research to get the right messages that align with the strategy. When we present that to the client, we get agreement on brand positioning and analytics, and the creative flows right out of that. Then we can do very targeted and message-driven creative that gets results.
BtoB: Your own communications program recently won Best of Show at the Pro-Comm Awards. What made this program successful?
Hochhalter: Weâve gone through the same process we take our clients through. We have developed a brand for Mobium, and we have to communicate that brand inside the organization and structure the organization to say what we say we are to the outside world.
BtoB: What results have you seen from the campaign?
Hochhalter: The combination of inquiries, RFPs, proposals and presentations increased 300% over the previous year, and we doubled our client base in the past year.
The program, which started with a Web site in January and was followed by ads and direct mail, has generated more than 2,000 inquiries and driven over 2,200 sessions a week to the Web site. The direct campaign has generated a 15% response rate, and the e-mail surveys get about a 25% response rate. Weâve also launched a series of events, the Mobium New Paradigm series, each of which usually has between 250 to 300 people.