Last week, the Omaha chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) hosted its annual Exec Trek – wherein marketing professionals from all over the city spend an afternoon visiting local industry leaders to learn about what keeps their brands humming.
This year’s field trip was devoted to legacy brands: Renze Display, which has been in business for more than 122 years, Leo A Daly, which celebrated their centennial in 2015, and Boys Town, which hits triple digits this year. With their combined 324 years of experience, these brands have witnessed every era in the evolution of marketing – and through it all, they’ve stuck to a few core principles.
- Relationship is everything. It’s trendy for companies to splash out on new business development – but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best use of resources. Renze says they get most of their business through repeat clients and referrals. And Leo A Daly and Boys Town have been working together since the architecture firm designed the organization’s master plan in 1922. Today, Leo A Daly has worked on 90 percent of the buildings on the Boys Town campus, and is among the largest privately held architecture and design firms in the world – but they still credit that original relationship with helping to put them on the map.
- Educating clients is money well spent. Mike Compton, the executive vice president at Renze, said that one thing he never likes to hear from a customer is that they used another company for work that Renze could do, simply because they didn’t know Renze could do it. He made the point that it’s a business’s job to let their clients know all of their services. Today, we have more ways than ever to showcase our work – Renze has traditionally used email marketing, Boys Town employs a mix of everything to reach their multi-demographic audience, and Leo A Daly was an early adopter to using VR in their proposals – all we have to do is effectively get the message to our audience.
- Be good corporate citizens. You don’t get to be 100+ years old without gaining some wisdom but one of the key things all three of these organizations credit with their success is really just business 101: do things the right way. This means acting ethically, transparently and responsibly, of course, but also correcting mistakes, getting in front of issues before they become crises, and truly being a positive presence in the community.
- Evolve, but don’t change. All three of these organizations have kept the same DNA for a century, but they’re also always among the first to pioneer new ways of telling their stories. As Kaitlin Radmacher, marketing manager at Leo A Daly put it, “We always tell ourselves that we need to think like a startup that’s 100 years old.”