Notes From Inside the Agency

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Bryan VanDykeThursday the Marketing Academy welcomed Bryan VanDyke, COO of Autonomy Works and former Managing Director at RazorFish, one of the world’s largest digital agencies. Bryan has an MBA from the University of Iowa’s Henry B. Tippie School of Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Iowa.

As Managing Director of Razorfish’s Chicago office, Bryan ran Client Engagement and led programs incorporating all aspects of marketing, from creative services, technology and media to search management, website development, social media and mobile.

During his 11-year tenure at Razorfish, he helped lead the Chicago office through significant growth and improved profitability.  Bryan has worked with clients including Kellogg’s, Target, JCPenney, Procter & Gamble and US Foods.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. VanDyke over Mama’s deli sandwiches and discuss his experience working at an agency. He discussed his preference for ethnic graphic research over focus groups, what makes a great insight, and how to create a marketing experience.

Then we were invited to hear Mr. VanDyke’s presentation. He kept everyone involved in the presentation, splitting us into groups to pick companies and discuss ideas for the concepts he was talking about. He also shared his experience working on the Special K 2 Week Challenge campaign, and researching consumers’ behaviors for JCPenney’s.

Mr. VanDyke discussed how consumers’ buying habits are rapidly changing, and it is important to understand the people buying your product. He uses the example that if you come up with a great idea first, and then set out to prove it, you’ll usually end up proving your idea because of how you go about your research.

Some key takeaways I got from Mr. VanDyke’s visit were to become an expert in technology, create a marketing experience, not a marketing campaign, and if your boss or client says they want one million Twitter followers, don’t be afraid to ask “What’s the value in that?”

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