The Top 60: LyonHeart

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One year ago, when LLNS emerged from the Disruption process with a new name and a spunky attitude, CEO Anne Devereux boldly heralded LyonHeart as the cure for complacency. How is that working out?

“I think we've become that,” says Devereux. “We've exceeded our own expectations, borne out by great work done with current accounts, new business won, new employees attracted and new ventures being pursued.”

Devereux says LyonHeart posted double-digit growth in the past year, and cites Roche as a particularly pleasing new client.

“All of our new business came outside our existing portfolio, which is exactly what you want in this economy,” she says. “All of us are afraid to put too many eggs in one basket.”

Devereux says the highlight has been seeing all levels of the organization take a step up. “The whole agency has done that,” she says.

It hasn't all been plain sailing, however. President Susan Flinn departed, and although she won't be directly replaced, the appointment of a “seasoned” EVP, director of client services was imminent at press time.

So how did existing clients react to the repositioning?

“It's been terrific,” says Devereux. “We didn't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater; LLNS was known for superb client service and we haven't stepped back one inch. But we added a much more aggressive layer of strategy and proactive thinking.”

“This creative organization has completely taken the bull by the horns and is not accepting work that we think is the status quo,” she explains.

Devereux notes a shift toward interactive marketing and also a blurring between the silos, but says the biggest challenge that her agency faces is industry conservatism in light of regulatory scrutiny and increased financial pressures. “Nobody wants to make a wrong move,” she says. “Some clients stopped being marketers and started being risk managers, and that makes it harder to do aggressive work. Confident organizations use those challenges as an opportunity to do things differently. But less confident organizations allow it to become a roadblock.”

Unfortunately, confidence is in short supply in the industry and Devereux has seen plenty of evidence that the squeeze is on. “My most heated discussions have been about money, not messaging,” she sighs. “I haven't had a client that hasn't had procurement conversations in some form or other, and clearly that is the world now.”

And while Devereux feels this industry is somewhat lucky in that people will always need help managing their healthcare, she understands the pressure to become more efficient.

“Three years ago when we went to pitch, we would talk about how to surround a target with 360 degrees of our brand,” she recalls. “Now we're talking about what are the 10 or 20 degrees that are having the most influence, and cutting the rest out. Not necessarily spending less, but spending far smarter.”

“We're getting to the point where we have to make sure we don't sacrifice effectiveness for efficiency.”

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