Ironpaper: A Data Driven Mindset to Marketing

B. Randall Willis, President & Co-partner, Jonathan Franchell, Founder & CEO When Jonathan Franchell founded his Ironpaper in 2003, it was in response to the gaps and challenges that marketing agencies wrestled with while striving to adapt to the emerging digital era. He realized his agency could blend science and art by focusing on the intersection of design, development, and marketing, fusing together data-driven decision making with the creative process. “Ironpaper” became the representation of this unique alchemy—strategy and design correlated to research, planning, execution, and analysis.

Franchell saw that many clients of Ironpaper were frustrated with their prior digital agencies because the results depended on the client designing the strategy—something the clients felt the agencies were hired to do. Ironpaper partners with such clients by bringing many options to the table and driving the solution with the best ROI for their budget. “We develop a methodology to constantly validate results based on data. We don’t just focus on creating marketing strategy, but on the effectiveness of the strategy that we create,” says B. Randall Willis, President and Co-partner of Ironpaper.

Today, Franchell and Willis emphasizes on a creative process that strives to remove as much risks of failure as possible. Using an agile approach, they begin with data analysis followed by a series of small pilot experiments to test the marketing campaign. The feedback from the experiments provides success and interaction rates and Ironpaper adjusts the next iteration in response. The company focuses on developing and testing the strategy first; once the most effective campaign is discovered, they execute to fully maximize conversion. Ultimately, Ironpaper produces results that improve the sales pipeline for a company—whether they are building premium content, a website, applications or helping with marketing automation.

A key differentiator for Ironpaper has been their early recognition of the impact of an inbound-centric growth strategy on sales and marketing. Inbound sales is very important for their clients and Ironpaper began asking questions such as how are the traditional sales departments within an enterprise are changing, and as sales changes, how are sales “people” changing their methods.
In the past, sales controlled the sales journey for a buyer. Prospects had to reach out to the salesperson to learn more about a product and gain more information and sales people controlled the flow of information. More importantly, sales people also knew where to find prospects—in trade shows, conventions, through their network. Today, because of the wealth of information available digitally, the buyer controls the sales journey forcing sales people and sales departments to change and the relationship between sales and marketing to evolve.

Our work is inherently creative. Yet our mission as an agency is to drive measurable business goals in a very clear and measurable way

“In today’s world,” says Willis, “the prospective customer decides where and how they will gather their information by choosing what kind of searches they are going to do, what kind of resources or trade publications they are going to read, and who they are going to ask in their social environments. We all do our due diligence long before we reach out to a brand.” Today, salespeople and marketers must be much more consultative in nature because the digital medium has multiple touchpoints and asset types, and is non-linear. “The lack of control is at the core of the big marketing challenge, as well as how you communicate in this medium,” Willis adds. Storytelling is being reinvented with the goal of enhancing the prospect’s experience to motivate them to share that experience throughout their digital and social circles creating new digital touchpoints for future prospects. Having the agility to track, nurture, and convert leads into customers is vitally important for a brand and that’s where Ironpaper excels.

The paradigm shift for sales and marketing impacts other functions within the enterprise as well; in fact, any function that has an element of marketing within it. And Ironpaper is building relationships in these divisions too.
For instance, recruiting in human resources and customer service in supply chain. Both of these functions need to promote the brand of the enterprise and increase bonding, loyalty and retention. These are marketing results and tactics that can be applied in the same way they are applied to sales. HR recruiting focuses on candidates (leads), applicants (prospects), and employees (customers). The goal is to gain access to more candidates through word of mouth and referrals, and have a positive image in the marketplace that attracts high performers. Customer Service uses marketing tactics such as re-engagement, cross selling, and relationship management to re-enforce the bond and loyalty of the customer with the brand. The result is increased mentions in social media, word of mouth to friends and colleagues, and recommendations. Essentially, with the power that buyers have today, marketing must create and maintain interaction with an individual. The individual buyer of the “story” communicated through marketing controls the power of outreach instead of the company. “Marketing and sales need to be buyer-centric. We must embrace the buyer’s frame of reference and speak on their terms,” notes Franchell. The shift of the buying power affects many functions of the enterprise as they change to align with the digital age. And because the digital age is all about information, marketing is bleeding into the other areas. Ironpaper is at the forefront of this mindset. “We believe that the best solutions and results occur when disciplines intersect. Ironpaper embraces the intersection of marketing, design, technology, and content for this reason.”

Without the data, the Internet is a murky field with ultimate possibilities; the data shines a light on the touchpoints where collateral “stickiness” occurs. Ironpaper understands the new relationship users have with information and how they are interacting with it in increasingly new ways. Soon, marketing will be reaching an audience through the Internet of Things. Ironpaper already has clients in artificial intelligence and sees the potential to integrate with Amazon-like services and Google Homes. According to Willis, “Closing the gap of the sales journey of a prospect by linking marketing and sales together, having systems to re-nurture prospects that fit the profile but may not be ready to buy today, connecting clients that may retain one service but are now being exposed to other services from other departments, that’s a consistent phenomenon that we both see and address.”


New York, NY

B. Randall Willis, President & Co-partner, Jonathan Franchell, Founder & CEO

Ironpaper links the marketing and sales journey together to continuously re-nurture and connect prospects and clients with the brand