Strategy. Brand Building. Technology. To Peter Mosley, those are the three pillars of helping clients achieve success in the digital economy....

Strategy. Brand Building. Technology. To Peter Mosley, those are the three pillars of helping clients achieve success in the digital economy.

‘We are the first in our industry to deliver the full promise of the Internet, by seamlessly integrating strategy, brand building and technology solutions – exactly what a corporate leader needs to run a business today,’ says Peter Mosley, Creative Director at the Toronto office of marchFIRST.

‘Our name refers to our beginning and moves forward from there,’ he explains.

Mosley says a corporate name is the first expression of any brand. By word of mouth, news coverage or billboard, a name is typically the first thing that people hear about a company. What does marchFIRST mean to the firm?

‘marchFIRST was derived from the date of our founding, March 1, 2000, when our partner organizations merged,’ says Mosley. ‘But the most enduring meaning of our name will come from what it says to the world’s business leaders. Tell someone ‘march first’, and you are issuing them a directive. An opportunity. And a plan.’

In this way, he notes, marchFIRST proclaims a business imperative. If you intend to lead your industry, be first to strategy, first to market, and first to stakeholder value, marchFIRST’s resources are your essentials – the stuff you’ll need to help you move minds and transform business, both inside and outside your organizations.

‘Our client collaborations become organization-wide movements that take our clients to unprecedented positions of leadership,’ says Mosley.

The company approaches the interactive world quite differently from, say, an offshoot of an ad agency. That’s because marchFIRST has an entirely different pedigree. In fact, marchFIRST is a global professional services firm, one that creates winners in the digital economy by helping companies build visionary brands, business models, systems and processes.

Headquartered in Chicago, marchFIRST has approximately 10,000 employees in 14 countries. It had revenues of $1.13 billion (US) in 1999, with clients such as Audi, eHome, FAO Schwarz, Lufthansa, Williams-Sonoma, and 3Com. This year, marchFIRST ranked first on Advertising Age magazine’s roster of interactive marketing companies.

Mosley says too many interactive shops start from the wrong point with clients: for example, they may only ask about their ‘Internet strategy’.

‘That makes the Internet seem like an add-on,’ he says. ‘You can’t just plunk things online.’

Instead, what companies really need is a multidisciplinary approach to the Internet, with strategy, brand building, and technology.

‘The Internet has to be factored into everything – your internal systems, your sales and services. We look at how companies can change over the long term, from their customer service to their billing, to working in multiple languages and with multiple currencies. If you take a narrow scope, you’ll get narrow results. Our clients are looking for deep counsel.’

In Canada, marchFIRST is located for now in an unassuming building, tucked right around the corner from the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. There are offices in Montreal and Vancouver. The firm will start moving to much larger digs a few blocks away, on Adelaide Street, in a few months.

What kind of organizations does marchFIRST work with in Canada? Mosley says what clients share isn’t necessarily size or market segment, but an attitude – a desire to win, a sense of urgency, and a commitment to invest in a vision.

The vision is this: in the new economy, says Mosley, sustaining industry leadership and competitive advantage requires a radically different level of business interdependence, imagination, human interaction, processes, brand experience, market creation and business prosperity. And the Internet is an accelerator of change.

It’s speeding the pace of innovation and the globalization of supply and demand, and it’s altering supply chains. To marchFIRST, the traditional business paradigm is a barrier to imagination and execution. You simply can’t treat your business model, brand, systems and processes as independent entities, with little need for interaction. marchFIRST helps clients make those connections.

‘We harness the power of our core disciplines to create new ways of doing business, reaching customers and streamlining operations,’ says Mosley. ‘We help our clients decide the business they should be in, understand how to win in that business, and then design, build and operate the solutions that will lead to success.’

Where can marchFIRST make the most difference? The firm serves three categories of clients: Big brands that want to leverage their brand strength to create new markets, mid-sized companies that want to transform their market and become the category leader, emerging fast growing companies that are changing the face of business.

Robert Bernard, marchFIRST Chairman and CEO, says: ‘CEOs must run their businesses in an era with more choices and less predictability than ever before. The possibilities are startling, but at the same time, the pressures are still changing. Public markets are changing the measures of performance.’

‘At marchFIRST, we blend imagination, know-how, rigor, experience and passion in the work we do. We are the strategic weapon of the boardrooms of the global marketplace. We make the winners of the digital economy.’

At the core of marchFIRST is a multidisciplinary focus, with experts in strategy, brand building and technology. Within these disciplines are practices with subject matter experts. To mention a few; business strategist, brand strategist, CRM experts, media planners, web developers/designers, infrastructure architects, and many more.

marchFIRST has about 170 staff in Canada right now (140 of those in Toronto), up from about 90 just five months ago. A year from now, the firm expects to have 225 people in Canada.

Though the staff have diverse backgrounds – Mosley himself brings 25 years of wide-ranging experience in marketing and communications management – he says the firm is looking for one quality above all.

‘We want people who get it, who understand the space we work in. Some companies have wonderful, visionary senior managers, but when you go down the levels, things fall off. At marchFIRST, everyone understands the digital economy, and the need to take a highly strategic approach and see the big picture – to lead business transformation from the inside to the outside, from business strategy and operations to customers’ brand experience.’

Also in this sponsored supplement:

- Overview p.E1

- Armantus p.E2

- BAM Solutions p.E3

- Modem Media p.E5

- Vickers & Benson Direct + Interactive p.E5

- MacLaren McCann Interactive p.E6

- Digital@JWT p.E9

- p.E10

- Devlin Applied Design p.E12