Rick Sannem, founding partner of DiD, reports that his agency continued to grow at an impressive clip in 2015, with revenue climbing at a “high-double-digit” clip. But it grew a bit differently than it had in years past. “It was a great year,” he notes, “with a lot of new clients, categories, and learnings for us.”
Based in the burbs of Philly, DiD reported significant revenue and headcount increases in each of the past few years. In 2015 it welcomed 20 new employees, blasting past the 100-staffer milestone and reaching 113 full-timers. To accommodate that staff growth, the agency announced plans to open what Sannem has termed an “expansion office” in downtown Philadelphia.
Managing that growth, however, continues to be Sannem's top concern. “It's been hard,” he admits, noting the difficulty of fostering a family-like atmosphere while adding new members on a regular basis. “We're a company that prides itself on a certain degree of intimacy and organizational connection,” he explains.
In response, Sannem reports, DiD has recalibrated its onboarding process. “We're putting a lot more emphasis on individual, team, and department training. It's on us to make sure we're all on the same page,” he says.
The new 90-day onboarding regimen puts the onus on the agency to help new hires integrate and includes a renewed emphasis on “understanding how to work with individual personalities,” Sannem says, while helping staff grasp the healthcare-provider landscape.
He adds that understanding the landscape is more important than ever as the agency's client mix continues to diversify. Over the past few years, DiD shifted from mostly professional work to an almost-equal mix of consumer and provider communications.
“Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable and patients more informed, so there's more messaging going to them. We want to provide a higher level of content to that person who is seeking more than general product features and benefits. You have to use insights to make the story more compelling.”
Sannem declined to identify clients added to DiD's roster in 2015 but noted that the agency is doing more work with device makers and specialty drugmakers than ever before. The agency's brand base has also expanded to include more OTC products, supplements, and consumer goods.
To keep pace with that shift in clientele, DiD hired Michael Golub as medical science imagineer, a post in which he will bolster the agency's medical and scientific know-how. Beyond that single appointment, however, DiD's top-rank leadership has remained the same for four years. “We see maturity and connectivity among the leadership team. The sum of the parts demonstrates its value here,” he says.
Traces of that maturity can be noted in the agency's vision for what's left of 2016. “Our goal is to have a more measured and modest year in terms of growth until we feel that everyone is in the right spot,” Sannem says.