Field Reports1 Jan, 2005 By: Eric Obeck, Response Contributor Response
Jay Rhodus, 10th DegreeJay Rhodus is partner and co-founder of 10th Degree, a full-service direct and interactive marketing agency in Irvine, Calif. Rhodus oversees the company's interactive and direct response marketing initiatives and ensures that creative concepts and analytical methods are brand-focused and on strategy. Rhodus' background in analysis includes a stint at Experian, as well as serving clients like Nissan, Mitsubishi Motors and DirecTV. Recently, Response sat down with Rhodus to discuss 10th Degree.
Jay Rhodus, 10th Degree
Response: How did you get started in the direct response world?
Jay Rhodus, 10th Degree: Working with Nissan in the early 1990s, I became responsible for customer communication. I moved on to Mitsubishi in the same role. From there, I jumped to the agency side and bounced around, working on direct marketing projects and customer relationships for clients like Honda, the Los Angeles Times and Earthlink. I also worked for Experian in their automotive information services group. My background became more and more focused on analytics in marketing. My partner at 10th Degree and I had met back when we were both with Nissan. We'd continued to work together on a client-customer basis — one way or the other — for about 10 years.
Response: Why did you jump out on your own by forming 10th Degree?
Rhodus: We wanted to deliver more services to clients than what we were seeing in the business. When we started in March 2001, the idea was to create an agency that had both a direct and interactive focus, because we believe both of these things bleed into promotions. If we can wrap a response driven campaign around an event or promotion, it creates greater urgency. We offer ongoing programs or fixed campaigns, which creates an "event" environment around the advertising. It gives consumers a reason to respond now. We also seek to create the Web as a destination for our clients. From the Web, we can get more information on consumers and it comes in faster and cleaner.
Response: What does 10th Degree offer its customers that other agencies of this sort may not?
Rhodus: We are metrics driven. Our technical prowess and analytical capability are things we pride ourselves on. Some clients don't like the term "agency." They think it means "expensive." We like "stewardship." A steward manages things for an owner at all times. In DR, people are familiar with being accountable. But when a client tells us, "You control all the dials," we don't know any different. We are accountable for every part of our clients' campaigns. For instance, search engine optimization is not dissimilar to traditional DR. We've developed a stringent test matrix that fits in the DR world, on the Web and in Web development. We believe a Web site should be a destination for our clients' customers. But what the Web can bring is like an iceberg — the site itself is the top of the iceberg, but what's going on below the surface is so much bigger. There's so much information from customers that can create an even more directed campaign.
Response: What successful clients have you served in this space?
Rhodus: Mitsubishi Motors is our biggest account. We started with a poor Web site, and wanted to build it from a competitive necessity for them to a competitive advantage. It's become an E-lead generating machine. It sends trackable leads to dealers, and can drill down to an in-store event and then back up to a feature on the Yahoo! Autos page. We're also working with Mitsubishi Electric now, building their brand on the Web, and have brought some traditional direct marketers, like smaller insurance companies, into a Web DR environment.
Response: What are 10th Degree's plans for the future?