PLEASE USE THE LINKS BELOW TO BROWSE CLASS NOTES BY YEAR...
RISHAD TOBACCOWALA SHARES THE SECRETS OF HIS SUCCESS
The secret of our success is the ability to combine marketing,
technology, and creativity, explains Rishad Tobaccowala, 82,
president of the firm that is creating some of the slickest, smartest
web sites and digital solutions in cyberspace. We need to manage
relationships with large, established companies without losing
the entrepreneurial magic and the skill set necessary to run our
Giant Step is Leo Burnett Companys entry into the competitive
world of digital interactive marketing. Tobaccowala, who joined
Burnett after graduation, started exploring the interactive arena
for the ad agency in 1993. He soon came across Giant Step, a company
begun in Iowa in 1991 brothers Eric and Adam Heneghan. In 1994
Giant Step and Leo Burnett formed a nonequity relationship, and
by early 1996 , Leo Burnett decided that instead of developing
an in-house interactive business, it would buy an equity stake
in Giant Step, already an experienced player.
Tobaccowala runs the operation with its founders. Tobaccowala
provides marketing strategy and establishes and maintains client
relationships. Adam is the technology visionary, and Eric oversees
media, research, and new business.
Animated and articulate, Tobaccowala clearly loves this business.
The most rewarding thing is the ability to have a medium that
is so measurable that your clients can see its effectiveness,
he says. Clients know how many people visit their sites, how long
they stay, and can measure customer leads generated by the number
of people who request information. And firms realize a quantifiable
cost savings when customers visit a web site rather than call
a toll-free number.
Tracking these statistics helps Giant Step determine the effectiveness
of its strategy, and they often hit the mark. The great thing
is that we have actually done what we said we were going to do.
The company has actually delivered. In many cases we have clients
that are very satisfied.
With client testimonials, the Leo Burnett connection, and an impressive
portfolio of engaging sites and functional solutions, Giant Step
has had few problems attracting clients including Arthur Andersen,
ComEd, McDonalds, Kelloggs, Ralston Purina, Maytag, Jenn-Air,
and RCA. The trick, he says, is finding staff so the firm can
keep up with demand.
Our single biggest challenge is finding world-class talent so
that we can grow, says Tobaccowala. We could easily double our
business if we could find the talent. While skilled programmers
are the hardest to find, its also important to find staff that
work well together.
When you develop a digital solution, it requires design, technical,
and strategic elements. It is not an assembly line process. People
need to work together, and the ability to work in teams is very
important, he says. Giant Step has grown from 12 employees in
1996 to more than 50 today, and is using the solutions it specializes
in to meet the staffing challenge. It has mounted an advertising
and public relations blitz that includes promoting jobs on their
The digital marketplace is challenging all companies to rethink
the way they do business, and Tobaccowala is thrilled to be part
of the change. Companies are going to have to create new business
models, he predicts. What we are seeing today, with [online
bookseller] Amazon.com for example, is a lot of integration and
collapsing of separate functions. You used to have stages where
you made people aware of your product, established a relationship,
and distributed the product. Now sales, communications and other
channels are all combined. Yet how do you deal with a world of
new business models while the old ones are still prevalent and
paying the bills?
The second challenge, Tobaccowala says, is building customer and
consumer relationships. Clearly, like never before, consumers
have an amazing amount of data at their disposal. And once privacy
issues are dealt with, the marketer will have a lot of information
on the customer and will be able to create customized solutions
to meet their needs. The question is, how will this be done?
Whatever the challenge, the solution is simple: do it one step at a time.
E-Mail GSB Chicago - GSB Chicago Front Page - GSB Home