Butler/Till Health Group | 2018

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When word of mouth is your biggest source of new business, you tend to worry about satisfying your current client base. A lot.

“Knowing that others are putting their reputation on the line by recommending us — we take that very seriously,” explains Keith Betz, VP of client services at Butler/Till Health Group, which is headquartered in Rochester, New York.

That was the story of the agency's 2017: Growth from organizations and teams with which it already worked and new engagements with the ones referred its way. “We enjoyed considerable organic growth, building on success with existing clients,” Betz adds.

Butler/Till, which touts what Betz describes as a “media-first approach,” has plenty of work that might have spurred those recommendations. Longstanding clients include Bausch + Lomb, Celgene, Ferring, Hologic, Ironwood, and Salix. New additions during the past year or so include Rigel (for Tavalisse, a treatment for thrombocytopenia) and Welch Allyn (for its RetinaVue network for providers of retinal exams).

Continued growth with existing clients, as Betz notes, has boosted the bottom line.

For example, Butler/Till's work on Celgene's plaque psoriasis treatment Otezla — one of the agency's biggest clients — laid the groundwork for its next commercial launch, Celgene's multiple sclerosis drug ozanimod, which is awaiting FDA approval. The firm also went from handling three Ferring brands to eight.

“What our clients enjoy most is the idea of the human touch. Although we're growing fast, we're not willing to compromise how we got here,” says Betz.

That growth was felt in revenue, which rose 11.8% to $18.9 million. In addition, nine new employees were added to the firm's staff, including VP of talent management Lori Burghardt, who hails from Xerox. One of the agency's latest hires also signals a shift in strategy — and focus. Gabrielle Bedewi, previously with Ernst & Young, Nielsen, and Sigma Marketing, was tapped for the role of chief analytics officer.

“Analytics is a natural extension to our current work. We've moved beyond just looking at what already happened and are now in a position to be both predictive and prescriptive,” Betz explains. “Analytics helps understand why something happened, what might happen in the future, and determine which decision or action will produce the most effective result for our clients.”

To beef up its offices in San Francisco and New York — both of which opened their doors in 2017 — Butler/Till will continue to add personnel. Betz says both locations are “fertile ground to attract new talent.” The challenge, he notes, is making hires and growing in a way that doesn't deviate from the company's existing strategy.

That the firm is employee-owned is a definite motivator, he adds. “At a holding company, when you work hard someone in the corner office benefits. Our client success is our success.”
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