Top 100 Agencies: Intouch Solutions

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Intouch has done work for the PAH App
Intouch has done work for the PAH App

Intouch Solutions CEO Faruk Capan is having better than a good day – he is having an excellent year, so much so that his company has actually started to outgrow the new space that it moved into around eight months ago on Chicago's Michigan Avenue. This is the second time the company has swapped locations on this street but despite growing 34% between 2011 and 2012, Capan says that he isn't looking for major new digs. “We are very conservative with space,” he says, and to make sure clients don't think he's playing fast and loose with the company cash, he is careful to point out that the new, almost-full space is decorated with “all Ikea-type stuff.”

Capan, whose default mode is enthusiastic, heads up a firm of over 400 that pushed 2012's revenues past the $50 million mark, representing a 31% jump from  2011's numbers. That growth spurt meant bringing on 100 people in 2012 and an additional 50 since January. Part of the push was in mobile, an area that EVP Wendy Blackburn says “exploded for us in a good way. It was a year the client stopped cutting from our budget and said ‘we really need to start paying attention to this.'”

Capan says the independent company is investing heavily in responsive design, which will enable it to give clients a critical tool that can be used to facilitate better communicate with their audiences—patients, professionals—by making sure that the right content is placed in the right context. The goal is to set up a situation in which clients, when they think of their strategy, are learning to “think like a patient, think like a doctor.”

Filling the open spots at the agency has been a challenge. Capan and Blackburn say they are recruiting talent outside of the pharmaceutical space to keep its New York, Chicago, and Kansas offices humming. Blackburn says losing talent isn't an issue, and its 10% attrition rate is one aspect that helps the company stand out in a field that's pretty much known for being a revolving door. Last year's staff changes included bringing on co-founder of NYC Health Business Leaders Bunny Ellerin as well as promoting David Windhausen, who leads Intouch's operations and technology teams, and Angela Tenuta, who heads up accounts, to EVPs.

Recent wins include 31 new accounts in 2012, including Genzyme, Gilead and Shire, and the doubling of its AOR designations to six.

The agency continues to head up Sanofi's iBGStar project as well as updating the Go Meals app. It has also managed to score new work—both by pulling in additional business from existing clients and by going after RFPs as a way of helping new companies to get acquanited with them.

One of the forces that is bringing clients through the agency's doors is Big Data and the need to both understand and strategically deploy it. Capan acknowledges that while target marketing used to be a hard sell for pharma clients, those clients now know that data is their ally.

Intouch is already set to walk them through their strategic options, as well as share its digital expertise through tools like the Allora content and analytics platform used by around 4,000 sales reps and its pharma-centric URL shortening tool SSShare.it. Blackburn says this depth has landed not just new work, but has put Intouch in charge of coordinating and pooling the work of other client agencies. She says she expects the overall pace to continue, and says 2013's trajectory “is shaping up to be as, if not more, successful” than 2012.
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