Paul Holmes 04 Jul 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
A 151 percent growth in revenue. A 70 percent increase in staff size. Winning major new clients including Microsoft Network, Johnson & Johnson (Tylenol and Motrin), RCA, Midas and Shutterfly… to name a few. Welcoming top talent from top-tier agencies. These are the signs of a PR firm supported by a vigorous self-marketing program and an aggressive approach to new business, right?
Well, not exactly.
Maloney & Fox took a very different approach to marketing itself. While we see value in placing agency advertisements, disseminating news releases, sponsoring breakfasts and joining industry groups as part of promoting the best of what a firm has to offer, we did none of this. We eschewed traditional marketing and started our campaign on the back of a t-shirt. No, really.
The media we used to get our message out? A limited series of M&F Branded Booty (chopsticks, bracelets, t-shirts, boxer shorts, water bottles), our ongoing series of collectible coasters, and a website that informs and entertains rather than boasts and ballyhoos.
And our “un-marketing” approach seems to be working.
M&F Booty has been distributed worldwide, and more requests come in through our website daily. We couldn’t be more pleased, especially in light of the challenge we faced communicating amidst the competition of messages from the roughly 37 zillion PR agencies within a 2-block radius of our Union Square, NYC shop. As a four-year-old firm, our challenge was (and is) to stand out among all the others as an agency that gets the way people actually think and speak and respond to messages.
We took the un-marketing approach to self-promotion because we believe it’s better to be an originator than a duplicator. While plenty of other firms certainly do plenty of good work, we wanted an approach that reflected a unique confidence in our ability to succeed by doing things in our own way.
Do we view ourselves as the most original thinkers in the history of Earth? Not really (we hear there’s an outfit in Vanuatu that could sell ice to Eskimos). Nor are we going for a “Hey, we’re just a bunch of goofy mixed nuts!” identity. We simply think there are a lot of outfits out there, all tussling to do the same thing better than the rest of ‘em. Rather than jump into that pool, we’d prefer to be the only ones doing what we do, the way we enjoy doing it… because then we can’t help but be special.
As for implementation: our un-marketing campaign exemplified the highly attractive quality of being reasonably painless to execute. The bulk of the brainwork focused on developing a catalog of items to brand, cooking up catchy coaster phrases, stuffing a fair amount of envelopes and developing a website people want to visit and revisit. We let our contacts and clients evangelize for us, spreading the word about our work and, as a reward, brandishing our Branded Booty in settings both near and far.
In terms of results, we couldn’t have asked for better. In the past year, our client portfolio doubled, including first-time accounts with Microsoft, RadioShack, Shutterfly, Midas and Johnson & Johnson, joining existing accounts in our portfolio, like RCA, Alibris.com, White Rain and AutoNation. Our staff also doubled… and doubled again. And our revenue increased to $2.5 million.
It may be an understatement to say that these feathers in our nest have been nice. But to be honest, it’s moments like seeing your company t-shirt on the back of a stranger on Cape Cod that really make you glad you decided to bust through the wall to the adjoining office, double your rent expenditure and undertake an office-wide renovation (not to mention opting for the Murphy-McPherson Series 37-A Track Lighting, rather than the Series 22-A, which is far less costly but that’s because it’s really sub-par, which anyone who has remodeled can tell you).