An Interview by Anthony Brincat
Rob ended a very successful political career in 1994 and launched an entirely new career in the graphics industry in 1995. He worked with his father at their family-owned business, Colonial Colour and after 5 years became the CEO. He grew the business and its reputation - creating unique concepts for fashion, liquor, real estate, casino, retail and tobacco clients. With clients likes these, some might say he was a “high-roller”.
In 2011, Rob was hired as Executive VP of MAD Digital Print Solutions where he was instrumental in restructuring MAD to offer its clients personalized marketing on multiple levels. In 2012 the company was renamed MAD MultiMedia and Rob was named President. He now oversees all new business development and the sales staff. He is responsible for all concepts presented to existing and potential clients, and MAD now offers personalized marketing campaigns that cover the web, email, direct mail, social media and mobile applications.
In 2013 MAD added augmented reality to its marketing capabilities, which was right up Rob’s alley as he has natural talent for revamping existing programs and introducing new ideas and dimensions most customers wouldn’t think possible or available - that also resulted in reduced cost and increased visibility without sacrificing quality.
How does he balance all the various components of being so successful? I’ll tell you – Rob is a guy with a soft heart (I don’t know this first hand, but I’ll take his word for it). He is a member of the New England Basset Hound Rescue and responsible for home visits for all of the state of Connecticut. He is also a huge Red Sox fan (WHAT? Wait a minute – I’m a huge Red Sox fan – Hint! Hint!) and will make any excuse to visit a Boston client on game day. You gotta love this guy!
Anthony: My first question is obvious – how did you first become involved in Politics? Was it someone or something that influenced you? I have heard over and over that there was something very specific that sparked a person to get more involved in a way that was different to the average citizen. Rob?
Rob: Being a gay and Republican I get asked this question a lot. The biggest influence was/is my love of US history, the good and the bad. I’ve always admired Abraham Lincoln, Harry S. Truman and Lyndon Johnson. These three leaders not only made some of the most courageous decisions in our nation’s history, they knew what had to be done and didn’t care about the political consequences. My dad. He’s been involved in politics since I was a little kid. He always told me to look at the facts, listen to both sides before making a decision and try to understand and respect a person’s opinion. I still live by these words in business. I could easily become a Democrat as I never vote straight Republican but I feel change must come from within. While I don’t agree with all the GOP’s positions I also don’t agree with all the Democrats potions. I’ll get off my soapbox now!
Anthony: Other than being a top advisor on a presidential campaign, which clearly speaks for itself – what other work have you done on the local, state or national level that you are most proud of?
Rob: I had a great opportunity to work for the CT House Republican Office as a floor clerk. This was the best job I ever had next to working on a presidential campaign. To assist bills and amendments through debate and the legislative process was the most fulfilling. To witness politicians from both parties passionately discuss a bill behind closed doors was a big eye opener. I helped elect good friend Chris Burnham as CT State Treasurer.
Anthony: Do you think direct mail is still a cost effective way to advertise? Does it yield the same results and have the same impact it once did?
Rob: Until the early 1990’s there were only three main mediums to spend marketing dollars. TV, radio and print. Today you still have TV, radio and print but you also have email, the web, which includes every social media site, you can think of, text messaging and mobile applications. Did I leave anything out? What’s amazing in direct mail is actually its more effective today than it was prior to the early 90’s. Dollar for dollar it costs less to produce an effective direct mail campaign than any of the above. Direct mail is the only medium that guarantees the intended person will look at it. Granted it might only be 3 seconds from their hand to the recycle bin but they did look at it. Combine it with the web and social media and your ROI will sky rocket! There are two industries that rely heavily on combining direct mail and the web, casinos and theme parks. Both use this combination with great success. You don’t believe me? Go to Disney or Universal theme parks or a casino with a rewards program and watch your mailbox fill up.
Anthony: You said this year MAD added augmented reality to its marketing capabilities. For those of you who may not be familiar with augmented reality – it is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are supplemented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or data. Can you give our readers an example of how you used AR to enhance a client’s marketing capability?
Rob: Since we just began to offer this capability to our clients in June we’ve had amazing success. AR as it is commonly called offers customers a unique experience by engaging the brand in a crowded mobile environment. One example is Major League Baseball. We’ve been presenting AR to all 30 teams to increase ticket sales, corporate sponsorship revenue and capture anonymous fan data. Imagine capturing the user data of 10,000 people every game for 82 home games. That’s 820,000 users to market additional offers and keep engaged with corporate sponsors. Remember my answer to your previous question about direct mail? AR isn’t going away. It will only become more a part of our everyday lives. Once Google glasses comes out it will be as big a game changer at the telephone. 3D will go the way of the VHS tape. It will be on TV, radio and the movie theater. Major businesses know this and that’s why we are offering it.
Anthony: Can you explain how you assist companies in selecting an identifier for their marketing campaigns?
Rob: This is a great question and the part of my job I truly enjoy. In the past I have always worked with clients I would do business with personally, hence the fashion, liquor, casino and tobacco (disclaimer: cigars only). This way I feel I have an advantage of what the business offers and how it operates. With any company I work with it’s critical stakeholders to know as much about them as possible to offer solutions that will increase their ROI. We look at areas where we think they can get better consumer tracking and what areas they would like to increase their numbers.
Anthony: Do you see a trend or a preferred method of advertising that your clients want to jump on, so to speak?
Rob: Another great question. You’re on a roll! It depends on the client.
A client with wide national exposure will look to spread their marketing spend with mostly TV, radio. The rest would be spread out among social media, SMS, email and the web.
Financial institutions would prefer direct mail and the web. Pharmaceuticals are leaning to mobile and even AR. Businesses that rely heavily on consumer purchases are trending to mobile and social media as they are able to track and gather data.
Anthony: Can you please provide an example where you presented and ultimately implemented a new idea for a client that resulted in increased visibility and reduced cost?
Rob: As I would like the opportunity to present a case study, due to contractual agreements I can’t use names. We offered a business an idea of a personalized marketing campaign with email and web access. They always did just a large blanket direct mail piece with a return of 4% respondents. By making the direct mail piece personalized followed up with personalized email and a personalized web page, the return was 24% respondents. The cost for the program was 20% less than the blanket direct mail piece. They were ecstatic at the result but they weren’t prepared for what came next; the increase in revenue. The company saw a 30% increase in revenue from the personalized marketing program.
Anthony: With all the US central service centers opening in other countries, what is your view on off-shoring jobs to places like Chennai or Belfast?
Rob: So you want me to get back on my soapbox huh? Although we live in a global economy I feel US corporations could do a better job in this area. I understand they have shareholders to answer to but Washington could offer incentives to bring these jobs back home but you know how things get done in Washington. Jobs are slowly coming back to the US just not fast enough. I’m not a fan of it but I understand why it’s in place.
Anthony: And, finally Del Frisco’s or Le Bernardin or ??? and why?
Rob: Ha. I had to look up both of these places ugh! I’m not a foodie at all.
I’m a meat and potato’s guy. I love BBQ. I travel all over the US and the first thing I look for is a BBQ restaurant. I also do quite a bit of BBQ’ing at home. Pulled pork and St. Louis ribs are my favorites. There’s nothing like getting up at 6AM on a Saturday to slow roast a rack of ribs for lunch!
Written by Anthony Brincat, NGLCCNY Member & Volunteer Correspondent, Media Communications Committee. Anthony is a Senior HR Manager at Allen & Overy LLP, a multi-national law firm.
Photography Credit: Vaughn Stewart, NGLCCNY Member & Volunteer Photographer, Media Communications Committee. Vaughn is Principal and Chief Photographer at Vaughn Stewart Photography.