Most agency-client relationships start the same way: with a promise that the team the client met with is the team the client will work with. Does this always prove true over the course of the relationship? No comment.

That said, even as Escondido, Calif.-based Motionstrand approaches its 20th birthday, it has done everything in its power to keep such promises, according to CEO Stefan Jensen. “We don’t have an A-team that pitches and lays everything out from a strategy perspective and gets everybody excited, and then a completely different team comes in to execute,” he says. “The folks who pitch the business are the folks who work on the accounts.”

That’s one of the reasons why, Jensen believes, Motionstrand’s average client tenure is between four and five years. “It’s usually a merger or acquisition that changes a relationship for us. We don’t have that typical 1.7-year client retention rate,” he adds.

The agency experienced strong growth in 2018. Revenue surged nearly 48% to $7.1 million from 2017’s $4.8 million. Motionstrand also saw its staff size grow from 24 to 31 full-timers, which necessitated the opening of a second outpost across the street from company HQ. Among the recent arrivals was agency president Matt Lee, who previously spent eight years at BusinessOnline.

While Motionstrand added only a few new assignments in 2018 — Rhythm Pharmaceutical for corporate work was among them — it captured plenty of new business from existing clients. It saw increased spend from Greenwich Biosciences for its line of cannabinoid-based drugs — an assignment that includes the much-touted Epidiolex, which is used for children with seizure disorders.

Motionstrand is reaping the benefits of a doctor sampling program it launched in 2018, Jensen adds. “The sampling process has typically been: The doctor needs to go to a website, literally print out a form, fill it out by hand, sign it and fax it in, then cross his or her fingers and hope that there’s paper in the fax machine on the other end — and then roughly three to four months later they receive their samples,” he explains. “But our research shows there’s only an 11% likelihood of someone actually caring about the brand at that point.”

In conjunction with Docusign, Hubspot and J. Knipper and Co., Motionstrand created a digital workflow that removes the huge delay from the process and gets samples into doctors’ hands within weeks, rather than months. Jensen says the best part is that the new workflow keeps pharmaceutical reps in the loop.

“It is now a three-step process, where before it was, like, a 14-step process,” he continues. “The request goes to the brand and the brand can look and say, ‘OK, this is a doctor we have not heard from, who is new to our brand and new to our product.’ And we can send reps out there and they can deliver the sample and provide other materials. Just by rebuilding that workflow, we’ve been seeing, on average, about a 1,200% increase in sample processing — and that is without putting any marketing behind it.”