The Unexpected Is This Founder's Calling Card and Sizzling Sales Tactic
Gallup says promoters speak boldly on behalf of their companies and communicate the company vision effectively.
Thomas McVey's sleeve is full of tricks for raising his company's profile and winning new business. Wear a pink bunny suit and hand out eggs. Buy an old Good Humor truck and dish out free ice cream. Turn up at a client's softball game with popcorn, Cracker Jack, and sodas. When in doubt, sing.
Ask McVey (pictured above, on the right) what percentage of sales comes from normally-dressed-person-walks-into-a-room-and-gives-a-presentation tactics, and he sounds bemused. "Zero percent," he responds.
McVey is co-founder and CEO of Re:think, a digital media agency in Ramsey, New Jersey. The company's "shenanigans," as McVey styles them, have helped win business from corporations such as Staples and Del Monte. "If we can show folks that we are enthusiastic and we have got high energy and that we bring the excitement with us, then they kind of want to be around us," says McVey. "We don't just have clients. We have clients that we have fun being their vendor."
McVey started his showmanship more than 20 years ago. At an earlier company he founded--an ad agency and manufacturer called The Parker Group--McVey or one of his staff members would attend clients' holiday parties dressed as Santa or a Hanukkah counterpart. "We were a hit," he says. "So we thought, What else can we do?" On Valentine's Day, the team drove around delivering chocolates to clients and prospects. On Easter, McVey donned the bunny getup and paid a visit to a prospect--Office Depot--that became The Parker Group's top client. "We became famous for being 'those guys,'" says McVey. "Those guys who get things done with original flair."
At Re:think, McVey won an account from Del Monte by showing up at its corporate headquarters with a six-piece mariachi band that performed the Meow Mix jingle. (Del Monte had recently acquired the cat food brand.) At a chamber of commerce meeting where he was expected to deliver a PowerPoint, McVey and his business partner instead burst into a gospel song. ("This website of mine, I'm going to let it shine.") Before inviting local businesses to come by for free ice cream, the Re:think team had never met the neighbors. "Now you walk outside our door and we have clients all around us," he says.
McVey tried to interest producers in making a reality show about Re:think, but the one that was interested wanted to go negative. McVey saved the footage it had shot--which was heavy on shenanigans--and now uses it to introduce job candidates to company culture.
"Our mantra around here is, An ounce of different is worth a pound of the same," says McVey.