BGC Prods Rose Group to Connect Marketers to Results

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Promotional products companies used to be all about products, but trends in the industry have pushed many firms toward a client services model.

Michael Rose, who founded his Southlake, Texas company in 1997 under the name Logos Professional Embroidery and Digitizing. Rose Group Marketing, as they are now called, knows firsthand what a “big jump” this can be.

“On one hand, you still have product peddlers’ heavy on price,” he said, “while other companies are all about service. They might call themselves marketing firms, but few deliver real marketing.”

Not wanting to abandon his firm’s roots in the name of new opportunities, Rose sought a middle ground by “selling clients what they needed, not just what [the company] wanted to sell.”

Over time, the once product-heavy firm made an organic transition into marketing services. But what was the (opportunity) cost of going organic?

Michael Rose came to promotional products by way of a research scientist, Mike holds degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry and attended first year law school before starting his business in 1997. The catalyst? Embroidery. “I’m not exactly sure how it happened,” he acknowledged with a laugh, “except to say that I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.”

The son of a small business owner Rose had bought and sold a fitness facility even before he was old enough to vote, but he then followed a more traditional path as a pre-med major in college. After foregoing medical school, he was hired as a biochemist with an ophthalmic pharmaceutical company and developed an interest in patent law. One year of law school convinced him to go back to the lab, where he was working full-time when, on a “whim,” he started an embroidery business.

“I am probably more extroverted than the average research scientist or patent attorney,” he said, “and I fell in love with owning my own business.”

Cupid’s arrow was tipped in gold; sales hit six-figures in only five months. Specializing initially in embroidery and screen printing, the company was about more than products right from the start. Rose’s goal to build “a strong level of trust with clients” laid a foundation that allowed him and his growing staff to expand their repertoire of services over the course of several years. The first five years of business had its extreme ups and downs. However, eventually the business grew so successful that Rose stepped back from managing clients in order to focus on strategic concerns such as organizing the infrastructure and building a brand.

He had something of a breakthrough in January of 2007 when he heard Andy Birol speak at a Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) show in Las Vegas.

“Andy’s concept of Best and Highest Use (BHU) really grabbed me,” said Rose, who quickly saw how “putting people in places so they will be passionate about coming to work every day” could benefit the business as a whole.

Upon his return to Texas, he examined his staff through the lens of BHU and made some changes based on skill sets and individual passions; the shift, he said, was essentially from an individually-focused approach to one driven by teamwork. His next step was to bring in someone who could look objectively at the changes he’d made and help him design and build a “marketing engine” to churn out high-quality leads for his sales staff. And who better than the man who’d already made such an impact on the business … without ever setting foot inside the door?

Andy spent three days in Texas, and about halfway through the visit the two men reached what Rose described as a sticking point.

“Andy saw the company going in a direction that was outside my comfort zone,” he admitted. No more steady, organic growth; Andy wanted to force the company into full flower.

With its loyal client base, talented pool of employees and contractors, and unique team approach, Andy believed the firm should brand itself as a new kind of marketing company, one that leverages a client’s knowledge and delivers results through something called the Marketing Delivery ChainTM. A concept derived from the laboratory days of drug delivery methods, now applied to marketing. Somewhere down deep, Rose knew Andy was right.

“We fought our way through a dinner meeting,” he recalled with a laugh, “and the next morning I called my staff in early, told them [Andy’s] ideas, and asked for their input. By the time the business day started, everyone was passionate, excited, and on board. There was an amazing level of energy.”

All that energy led to big changes, including a new strategic plan, a new tag line, and a new name—Rose Group Marketing, —in a short period of time. The strategic plan, which will be updated with new action steps every twelve months, contains five keys to success, “at least two of which” Rose attributes to Andy.

“They are not things anyone here would have come up with,” Rose said. “They are a direct result of Andy going out and interviewing our clients. He asked pointed questions, followed up, and found out exactly what our clients want.”

What those clients want is results.

“Andy helped us identify who our target market is, their behavior, the tools with which we can drive our Best and Highest Use, and the infrastructure we use to deliver,” said Rose. “We are not a traditional marketing firm because we specialize in implementation. We execute for our clients.”

The new tagline—Connecting marketers to results TM—reflects the firm’s approach, which is so innovative Rose has applied for several trademarks.

While their work is ongoing, Rose reports that “the fallout from hiring Andy has been tremendous. We are getting confirmation from the client base that they love what we are doing,” he said.

Perhaps most importantly, Rose Group Marketing has been infused with a renewed sense of purpose and vitality.

“A few days ago, someone on staff said, ‘I feel like the fog has lifted,’” said Rose, “and I think it’s that way for all of us. Andy has had a huge impact on our business.”

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