Top Agencies: Nelson Schmidt

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Location: Milwaukee URL: Key executive: Dan Nelson Jr., president-CEO Employees: 59 2012 revenue: $9.8 million 2012 b-to-b revenue: $8.0 million Key clients: Alliance Laundry Systems, Honeywell Environmental and Combustion Controls, McKesson, Polaris Industries, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Major 2012 campaigns: Alliance Laundry Systems, “Speed Queen,” print, online, direct mail; Polaris Industries, “Global Electric Motorcar,” online, direct; Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., “In Wisconsin,” print, online, out-of-home Comments: Grew revenue by 17%; added new clients including Polaris Commercial and Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; picked up two new business units within Honeywell Environmental and Combustion Controls; 82% of business is b-to-b Nelson Schmidt had a record year in 2012—growing its revenue by 17% to $9.8 million and adding new b-to-b clients in manufacturing, economic development and transportation. It was named agency of record for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) and for Polaris Commercial, a new b-to-b business unit of recreational vehicle manufacturer Polaris Industries. The agency also picked up two additional business units within existing client Honeywell Environmental and Combustion Controls: Alerton Building Automation Systems and Trend Controls. It will formulate strategy to redefine their brands and support product introductions. “We've been dedicated to serving a relatively small number of clients deeply, focusing exclusively on considered-purchase markets in which we believe we can beat all others,” said Dan Nelson Jr., president-CEO of Nelson Schmidt. “Some of the things that differentiate us in pitches are our global footprint and our expertise in channel marketing and qualifying sales leads through an inbound and outbound marketing center.” One of Nelson Schmidt's biggest wins last year was WEDC, a new entity created by the state of Wisconsin to promote economic development. The agency created an integrated campaign called “In Wisconsin” that featured such prominent businesses based in the state as Organic Valley, Rockwell Automation and Trek Bicycle Corp. The effort included print, online and out-of-home, with a primary target of C-suite executives at businesses in Wisconsin and around the world. The campaign was hugely successful in raising awareness of the state as a place that is good for business. A survey of Wisconsin CEOs found that 90% agreed the state was going in the right direction for business, compared with only 10% who had held that perception before the campaign. Nelson Schmidt debuted a campaign in the fourth quarter for Polaris Commercial, a new unit of Polaris Industries that produces commercial electric vehicles. (Polaris Industries, which manufactures snowmobiles and other recreational vehicles, acquired Chrysler's global commercial electric vehicle business in 2011.) The global campaign targeted buyers in the government, business and institutional sectors. “It started with a complete redefinition of the brand, platform, strategy and messaging, and was rolled out in a dealer-recruitment campaign, point-of-sale, collateral and redefined Web presence,” Nelson said. For existing client Alliance Laundry Systems, Nelson Schmidt created an integrated campaign for the Speed Queen line of commercial laundry equipment, with the goal of introducing laundromats to developing countries. The campaign, called “Why Invest,” featured print, online and events, including a series of seminars targeting entrepreneurs who might be interested in investing in laundromats. The agency also created an online video series called “Why Invest in Vended Laundry.” Nelson said the campaign helped Alliance Laundry exceed its regional sales goals. Last year, Nelson was elected president of the board of Magnet, the Marketing & Advertising Global Network of independent agencies, of which Nelson Schmidt is a member. Through the network, the agency is able to help its global clients expand into new markets and launch regional campaigns. “It is a somewhat novel, independent network solution as a competitive alternative to a holding company solution,” Nelson said. —K.M.
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