Utilities and Media & Marketing

Marketing firm nabs big East Coast client: MillerWhite uses unusual approach to beat Massachusetts incumbent

November 21, 2005

MillerWhite LLC, a 21-person advertising and marketing agency with offices in Indianapolis and Terre Haute, is the new agency of record for Boston-based Ameresco Inc.

Ameresco, which helps clients in almost 40 U.S. and Canadian markets reduce energy costs by modernizing infrastructure and managing power supply, is listed on Inc. magazine's fastestgrowing private firms list. The company, which generates annual revenue of almost $250 million, is poised for explosive growth, industry observers believe.

Though financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, MillerWhite officials said Ameresco is now their biggest account and they plan to hire staff to help service it. MillerWhite, which was founded in 1980, had capitalized billings in 2004 of $14.1 million and is projecting doubledigit percentage growth in 2005 and 2006.

"Any time an Indianapolis firm can go out and compete for a big East Coast account, we're pretty proud of that," said MillerWhite partner William White. "We had to compete against the incumbent agency and a number of others."

MillerWhite landed the multiyear deal by pitching its Fusion integrated marketing technique.

White and the firm's other partner, Brian Miller, developed Fusion over the last 10-plus years.

White said lots of clients or potential clients seek a new logo, slogan or creative material. Some also seek ad placement advice and other traditional marketing and advertising work.

HPS Office Systems sought such services in 2004. Instead, White advised HPS officials to take a look at their company's culture, the way employees interact not only with clients, but with one another.

"Their approach made us step back and take a look at ourselves," said HPS Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Plourde. "It set a new benchmark for us, and it changed what we expected from an advertising and marketing firm."

After interviewing numerous firms-including several from out of state, HPS chose MillerWhite, Plourde said, largely due to the Fusion process.

"It has fused us together from a management standpoint, and internally on the front line," he said.

MillerWhite's Fusion process has also helped the firm sign deals with Clabber Girl, Indianapolis City Market, Indiana State University, Pfizer, Herff Jones and others.

Ray Begovich, a Franklin College journalism professor who teaches advertising and sales, said integrated marketing techniques have gained emphasis in the industry over the last decade. But the term has broad meaning, he added.

"If you want a good example of integrated marketing, look at Starbucks," Begovich said. "It's integrating all of a business's messages with all the customers' experiences with that business."

"Everybody talks about integration," White said. "But people don't know how to manage it or budget for it, or-more importantly-how to measure it. That's what Fusion brings together."

As locally based corporations continue to move and be acquired by out-of-state companies, it's increasingly important for local agencies to look outside the region for work, said Randy Kron, president of Kron & Associates and immediate past president of the Indianapolis AdClub.

"My congratulations go to Miller-White; that's outstanding," Kron said. "I think this shows the type of talent we have in this market and is a tribute to our industry doing better looking beyond I- 465. This is what agencies in this market have to do to survive and grow."

MillerWhite got in on the Ameresco bidding after the firm's director of business development, Chris Jefferson, made a cold call. Jefferson, who has marketing experience in the energy and utilities sectors and often researches the market, called on Ameresco just as it was preparing to rebid its marketing and advertising account, said Ameresco Marketing Coordinator Lindsay Holland Heineke.

"We were very impressed from the getgo," Heineke said.
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