Marketing analytics firm pushes 'no layoffs' pledge
As industry layoffs mount, marketing analytics firm InfoTrust is pledging no layoffs through at least July 1 and enlisting others, primarily in marketing and technology, to follow suit.
So far InfoTrust has encouraged 58 other companies with close to 12,000 employees to adopt its #NoLayoffs pledge. They range from several small marketing and other companies nearby its headquarters in Blue Ash, Ohio, north of Cincinnati, to companies as far away as Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa. The biggest agency to make the pledge has been Good Apple, a New York digital media shop, with 79 employees, which has also extended its no-layoff commitment to Dec. 31. InfoTrust CEO Alex Yastrebenetsky wants to get pledges from companies with a total of 100,000 employees.
The pledge isn’t permanent, of course. And for InfoTrust, with 70 employees, it was easier after receiving a $1 million Payroll Protection Program loan in April. But it still wasn’t easy. After sales soared 70 percent last year and kept growing in January, they fell 10 percent for the first quarter, Yastrebenetsky says. Some clients put projects on hold, and some on retainer asked for “gap quarters.”
Yastrebenetsky chose July 1 on the belief that “we’ll be past the peak of the virus” by then. Even then, if a turnaround isn’t imminent, he’s hoping to avoid layoffs by asking employees for “needs-based pay reductions” in which they’ll volunteer for temporary pay cuts “on the promise that we will pay them back someday.”
Yastrebenetsky reversed his initial decision to freeze hiring, having added two more employees recently, in part because he doesn’t want InfoTrust understaffed if someone gets sick. The company has a distributed work force, with additional offices in Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Toronto; Barcelona and Dubai—plus employees in Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington. It also recently signed a lease to expand its headquarters to a second floor.
Even before COVID-19, Yastrebenetsky says InfoTrust’s advisors were preparing him for a downturn. “I used to tell my team in every meeting that winter is coming,” he says. “We had to structure operations so we can take a hit without losing people.”
It helps, Yastrebenetsky says, that InfoTrust has followed a “profit-first methodology” for years, structuring the business for the profitability it wants to maintain. While it has private equity backing, it has not been funded by venture capital.
InfoTrust has been one of Ad Age’s Best Places to Work the past two years, ranking fifth last year. “If we’re calling ourselves a Best Place to Work, how do you cut 10 to 15 percent of your staff?” Yastrebenetsky says. “Yes, we may need to go in the red for a couple of months. But we’re conscious of the fact that we’re in a business that’s really needed.”