Philly Marketing Labs is a new brand dedicated to helping Mid-sized companies maximize their Web marketing and Social-Search footprint. Through the use of the Science of Conversion Optimization, Actionable Analytics and an embrace of the Human Element, we provide Visibility to Profitability(TM) for our clients. Founder Skip Shuda describes how it came to be and the numerous chefs who were involved in cooking up our new brand.
The ideas for a good company name have always come from my closest personal advisors. In 1993, my wife Lynne helped me brainstorm the name for the company we called Destiny. The name reflected our desire to be an “Engine for Change”. The company grew to 120 people with $17 million revenue building eCommerce and Reporting front-ends for Financial Institutions and their clients. But the most remarkable thing about that company was its culture. To this day, many of us who lived through it long for a people-centric, productive environment like Destiny. And yes, I did own the domain name www.destiny.com for a while… I am the man who sold Destiny.
“Post Destiny” was the rather uninspired name which I used to fill out a business card template on Vistaprint in early 2003. After two years of running as Post Destiny, I asked my trusted advisors to review my web site. My close friend and advisor Raef Lee said, “You don’t need a new Web site. You need a new name.” So, I looked at the focus of our business. We were working with Technology Entrepreneurs to help them realize their dream. As anyone who tried to start a company can tell you, the early days can be lonely. We often provided the team for these fledgling startups. And hence, Team and a Dream was born.
Fast forward to March, 2010. Our work had begun to shift. We were excited to be working with some bigger companies on their Internet Marketing initiatives. There were a lot of differences between working with established businesses vs. working with startups. In particular, when a company already has a stream of sales, it is easy to see if your marketing efforts are having an impact or not. We were having an impact with measurable ROI.
I had been working with ClickEquations while I was also growing Team and a Dream. I sat down with CEO Lucinda Holt, a long-time friend and advisor, to talk about Team and a Dream. Lucinda is a master business strategist. She understands the ebb and flow of markets with an uncanny ability to quickly grasp what will work and what won’t work. She encouraged me in our current direction. At ClickEquations, she had come to understand the incredible power and competitive advantage that could be taken from an analytics and best practices based approach to Internet Marketing. She made some very practical suggestions… build a great team, streamline your methodology and change your brand. “Team and a Dream was great for entrepreneurs, but now you are serving up and running companies. Companies with revenue want to focus on results that are derived from your attention to the intersection of Social and Search. Analytics are critical to that success. You need a brand that communicates your new value proposition.”
The name didn’t come for many months later. In a strategic brainstorming session in August, 2010 five of us gathered to discuss the future for our company, which we had started calling NewCo.
We looked inside ourselves. We were a technical bunch. I have a BS and MS in Computer Science. Jason Lomberg is an HTML programmer as well as a deep-dive, numbers-driven SEO. Bechara Jaoudeh is always showing me the latest tools, tweaking analytics and tracking results for clients. And so it went.
Somehow, the analytics focus wasn’t enough. We were helping companies understand human behavior in their Web site’s Conversion Architecture. Our newest team member, Steve Levine, spends a lot of time building market research efforts to understand customer behavior relative to a company’s value proposition. We knew that the human element was an important part of our future.
When we looked closely at our new focus, we were able to boil it down to three things:
1) Conversion Architecture. There are specific things that are proven to work in Internet Marketing. The science of Landing Page Optimization is grounded in an understanding of how different types of people approach a Web site or interact with a brand online. Over the years, we’ve embraced the work around Persuasion Architecture, Integral Theory’s Quadrants and Landing Page Optimization from the team at Marketing Experiments.
2) Actionable Analytics. Knowing how to segment data effectively and measure the right things is central to good Web Analytics. My work with ClickEquations (and especially world class analyst Adam Figueira) has opened my eyes to the power of making the analytics actionable. Developing recommendations from deep insights in the analytics is a hallmark of our work today. A big nod to Google Analytics Guru Avinash Kaisuik is in order as well. We’ve reviewed some of his seminal work on Web Analytics 2.0 in this blog.
3) The Human Element. This is where the magic really happens. The intersection of psychology, anthropology, sociology and network theory is a pretty cool place to work. The cerebral cortex of the collective human race is forming right before our eyes! Social channels are mixing with the already knowledge-rich Internet to create conversations that no-one could have anticipated a decade ago. We follow the work or Psychology and Social Media Scientists like Robert Cialdini and his book on Influence, Michael Wu and Dan Zarrella on this front.
The Human Element keeps us guessing. And so there is an experimental component to all real Internet and Social-Search marketing efforts that push the boundary. You have to integrate thoughtful experimentation, insightful analysis and an understanding of human nature to be successful in this world. Marketing Labs seemed to fit the bill.
At the end of the day, we are people too… which leads us to the last element of our new brand. What common theme seemed to capture who we are as a group? Philadelphia – or Philly – is a great city and our (adopted in some cases) hometown. Steeped in the experimental and scientific work of Ben Franklin, the revolutionary spirit of the USA’s founders and the workingman’s competitive ethic that allowed Rocky Balboa to stand up to the world’s Goliaths, we felt that Philly captures many of the values our team holds dear.
In an embrace of our hometown of Philadelphia, we are now Philly Marketing Labs.
The story continues…
Jackie Russo-Casey, our logo designer, did a fantastic job of coming up with some creative angles for Philly Marketing Labs. Whether you see our logo as a magnet pulling the signal from the noise, a conductor of an orchestra or a magician tossing a fire into the air, it seems to conjure up images for most individuals that are consistent with the direction and value of Philly Marketing Labs.
BTW – our newest team member, Gloria Bell, is very much focused on the human element and the importance of striking up a conversation with our friends. Gloria suggested this post as a next step in our re-branding efforts.
As you can see, it takes village to create a new brand. I’m grateful to be part of the emerging village we’ll call Philly Marketing Labs. Please leave us your reactions to our new brand. I’d also love to hear your story of how your company brand came to be.
– Skip Shuda