Triple Threat Communications founder and leader Tim Frank has a colorful way of describing his primary daily responsibility. “My job is just to make sure the water doesn’t turn green,” he says. The analogy won’t make much sense to people who didn’t follow the snafus that plagued diving events during Brazil’s 2016 Summer Olympics, but he insists it translates to the agency world. “If you’re not careful with the mechanics, it can get toxic. And I’m not going to let that happen.”
So while Triple Threat employees tend to clients, Frank makes it a point to mind the culture — which, he says, is all about putting clients first. “That means constant communication with everybody at every level,” he stresses.
Frank believes the focus is paying off as 2018 revenue nudged upward to $12.8 million from $12 million, which he reports exceeded expectations. Beyond the agency’s longstanding relationships with AstraZeneca, Sobi and Innocoll Pharmaceuticals, Frank was encouraged over the last year by a glut of invitations to pitch.
“We tend to get interest from clients of all sizes who are looking for a better, more transparent agency-client relationship,” he says. “We are being sought out by an increased number of smaller pharma companies and startups that have heard about our approach.”
Frank adds the agency’s appeal has grown in recent months as clients look for more affordable ways to accomplish their marketing goals without sacrificing senior-level counsel. He founded the agency 15 years ago on that very premise: that there were “other people like me, senior-level people, tired of the big-agency BS and eager to get back to working on brands. That’s what we’ve built. Our people have a high level of contact with clients,” Frank explains.
While some Triple Threat staffers venture into the office on Mondays, the vast majority spend the rest of their time working from home or on site with clients. “Our biggest achievement is continuing to create a culture where people can thrive professionally and do their best work by putting the client at the forefront of everything we do,” Frank reiterates. He adds that the firm’s philosophy isn’t so much about offering people a better work-life balance as it is offering “the flexibility to manage their work-life balance better.”
This remains one of two primary challenges for Frank and his team. While the firm added five new account people and some creative firepower during the last year, Frank acknowledges finding talent continues to be a headache. He also points to the enduring difficulty of navigating among a host of marketing channels.
“Five or six years ago, we all had such hopes for social media, but it’s complex,” Frank explains. “There are plenty of channels to reach new moms or people with asthma. But older people with COPD or those with irritable bowel syndrome don’t want to talk about it on Facebook, so they require different solutions. How should we use Snap? Or YouTube?” He points to rep-focused podcasts as a particular area of promise.
Up next for Triple Threat: increased investment in its DTC capabilities. “We have many clients asking us to handle that work,” Frank reports.