A Falmouth-based marketer broke ground last week on a $10 million project to expand his experiential marketing company and expects to hire 400 people and record annual sales of $200 million within four years.
Stephen Woods, the CEO and founder of TideSmart Global, says the company's recent investment to build a cluster of marketing companies by 2013 will position them for strong growth as the economy improves. Based on his research, Woods says as many as 20% to 30% of marketing departments at companies nationwide were cut to weather the recession. Once the recovery is in full swing, which Woods predicts will happen within a year or so, those companies will need specialized marketing services to prepare new campaigns.
"My interest is to build a campus where great people, great services and a great environment combine in a holistic way," he says of the Falmouth project. "I'm committed to Maine and to this area for the long haul."
According to company spokeswoman Pam Kendrick, the firm's campus on Route 1 will encompass 72,000 square feet and have three buildings ranging from 12,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet. Construction on the smallest building is already under way. Woods is financing most of the project himself, but is using Pine Tree Development Zone incentives as well.
Woods founded marketing firm emg3 in 2003 in Portland before moving the operation to Falmouth in February of this year. He says TideSmart Global will serve as the umbrella company for five specialized marketing firms, including emg3, which presently employs 42. The others are Promerica Health, which focuses on health and pharmaceutical industries; Ledgepoint Digital, which focuses on social media, video production and digital media; Sumerian Sports, which focuses on sports and entertainment; and Viridescence, which focuses on eco-friendly marketing. Each is based on experiential marketing, which creates a live, interactive, one-on-one experience with a product.
Emg3 creates mobile displays that allow consumers to interact with a product, says Woods. For example, Olympus North America, a company most people associate with cameras and video equipment, also manufactures medical devices. Emg3 helped Olympus boost recognition of those products by creating a $3 million mobile tractor trailer showroom to demonstrate the products at health care facilities and physicians' offices.
Raymond Pettit, senior vice president of research and standards at the Advertising Research Foundation in New York City, says Woods' projections for experiential marketing could be right. Companies will seek out innovative marketing so their products can rise above their competition, he says. The appeal of experiential marketing is how products are presented to targeted consumers outside the reach of competing television, radio and Internet media.
Pettit authored a study for his trade group in 2008 that concluded face-to-face experiential marketing reaches consumers in ways that other types of marketing do not. His study also cited a 2004 survey by Meeting Professionals International where more than 200 marketing executives at U.S. corporations indicated experiential marketing outperformed public relations, Internet advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing and print and broadcast advertising by creating greater enthusiasm and product recognition. Pettit notes, however, that while documenting the impact of experiential marketing is clear, it is not so clear whether it prompts a consumer to actually buy the product.
Woods says the company is growing, although he declined to reveal revenue figures. Some of emg3's clients include Wal-Mart, L.L.Bean, Levi Strauss, NASCAR and General Electric.
In addition to the five specialty marketing companies, Woods says two other affiliates will be formed: TideSmart Logistics to provide long-term storage, inventory climate control and shipping for marketing materials; and TideSmart Realty to help develop the 8-acre site in Falmouth into the company's new headquarters and campus. Woods says the realty company could possibly invest in other experiential development projects.