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Businessexcellence May 07 60 Anthony Trimino, co-founder, creative director and CEO of marketing and advertising agency Traffi k, tells Martin Ashcroft how an exceptional commitment to quality shapes the way the company does business Creative A quick scan of any company website will usually reveal a statement about its commitment to quality. At Traffi k, a small advertising and marketing agency based in the artists’ district in downtown Los Angeles, California, quality is an ethos. So much so that the company is controlling its growth to avoid diluting its creative edge. A two-man start up design business seven years ago, Traffi k quickly grew to 24 employees, before deciding on a strategic downsize. Ten to twelve employees is now seen as the optimum headcount for its creative division. “The larger we grew the less intimate knowledge I had of all the accounts we were working on,” says Anthony Trimino, creative director and CEO. “We decided that we wanted to strive for quality rather than quantity. We felt that strategically limiting our growth to focus more on the advertising and the branding was more important in developing compelling work and making a difference in our industry.” It’s a refreshing attitude, and one that seems set to earn Traffi k a reputation that will secure edge

May 07 Businessexcellence 61 its future. “There are a lot of companies similar to ours that focus on revenue alone,” says Trimino. “Over time their creative edge, the basis for which their company started, gets diluted and their work suffers. So we decided that we wanted steady growth, and we have grown, year after year; we’ve been profi table since day one, but we knew that the work was more important than just the dollar.” If the work is good enough, the dollar will follow, is the core of the Traffi k approach and the reason behind its recordbreaking success in 2006. The company has a surprisingly diverse customer base, considering its modest size. It might deal with up to 40 clients in any one year, but at any given time it is likely to have only 20 live accounts. Those accounts, however, are spread around sectors ranging from healthcare to fashion, cosmetics, beauty, automotive and fi nancial, with clients based in the United States who have a global reach. Trimino believes that such diversity gives Traffi k a creative advantage. “The benefi t in working with so many different industries is that we have exposure to these markets on a global basis, so we can take what we have learned in fashion and cosmetics and apply it to healthcare or fi nancial, in a way that’s never been done before.” Companies that have been doing things the same way for years get into a creative rut, he says, so Traffi k is able to breathe new life into their creative direction by incorporating approaches it has taken in other industries. “The bottom line is that we come to the table with fresh new ideas because of our exposure to so many industries. We get to test a lot of different creative approaches.” Traffi k does have a specialty, however, and that’s healthcare, which has accounted for some 60 percent of its income in recent years, and given rise to the birth of a new Healthcare Division, Traffi k HD. The division is managed by experts with experience in healthcare markets, but shares creative staff with the rest of the business. Another distinguishing feature is Traffi k’s uncommon degree of vertical integration. “Over the last seven years I’ve seen a need to expand our service offering,” says Trimino, “so we own and operate our own print and fulfi llment warehouse in Orange County. Not only are we able to design but we are able to print and we are able to fulfi ll projects for our clients. We are an extension of their marketing suite so projects don’t have to leave our hands; from design, conception, production to distribution, we handle it all.” Market research plays an important role at the start of any project. “Clients approach us and say, ‘This is our brand and this is the audience we are looking to penetrate’,” says Trimino. “The fi rst thing we do is a market analysis of their target audience. We’ll put together detailed reports based on statistics and polls and focus groups. ‘Here is your market, this is what stimulates them to buying, and this is how we propose reaching them.’ We put together a market strategy fi rst. Once that gets approved we move on to creative, and recommend a type of campaign, whether it includes radio, outdoor advertising, print advertising, direct mail or whatever. Then we move on to the creative process, the actual design and interpretation of those concepts, then to production and fulfi llment.” There’s an ethical strength at Traffi k that underlies its commitment to excellence. “It’s a philosophy I’ve built this company on,” says Trimino. “We’re very passionate about our work. If we’re the determining factor in a person making a purchase, we want to make sure that it’s contributing to society, not taking away from it. That’s why we decided on an incremental growth strategy rather than being totally focused on revenue. Our approach ensures that we can control the work that comes in, we can monitor the quality of the work that goes out and we can do so without compromise.” Traffi k “Strategically limiting our growth to focus more on the advertising and the branding was more important in developing compelling work and making a difference in our industry”