So you want to be my ad guy, uh?

So you want to be my ad guy uh?

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The dream of Rick Doran (Dad as we move forward) originally was to be a music teacher. He will let you know about how he was in the all state Ohio band, was a field commander for the marching band and how he made smooth melodies out of the sax. That dream got rerouted when it seems he could hear a tune but couldn’t carry one which is needed in the pre digital age in music education.

However, even within that dream, marketing and promotion was always at the center of his music voyages. His father, Richard Doran, was a traveling sales person for Libby foods and would bring his young son along on road trips where the merchandise and point of purchase would need to be displayed to maximize product lift. His mother, Jean Doran, was a librarian and would put on puppet shows at the library created perfectly crafted flyers to ensure maximum turnout. Then there was young Ricky in high school who organized band fundraisers, created flyers for concerts and found a way to ensure that the process of getting people into the stands was done in the most efficient way possible.

So, with that in mind, Dad pivoted and ended up going to get his bachelors degree in marketing from Ohio State. The three things you will hear if you ever get deep into the story is:

  1. He was in a marketing class with Archie Griffin.
  2. He learned many great marketing things from Roger Blackwell (before he could learn bad things from).
  3. He had long hair and a mustache (this to prove to his children that he did have hair).

You would think with this pivot, he would go straight into marketing. Nope that was not the path dealt to him. Dad would go onto become the youngest regional manager in Sears history (1970’s Sears), wound up realizing he couldn’t get to be the marketing guy that way and ventured back to Columbus, Ohio to become a VP of Marketing for a regional appliance distributor Tracy Wells building campaigns that could be implemented. This job did scratch an itch and besides giving him the gift of his wife, Janine (Mom), still didn’t fulfill him fully. He hadn’t found his muse to replace his first dream being in music.

Through his many interactions with vendors, Dad met many vendors. One in particular that he began to get close with was Ken Roberts. Ken at his core was a print broker and loved the thrill of the deadline. He had started Ken Roberts Advertising Corp in 1984 and the primary core of his business was to help produce weekly newspapers for local Columbus communities (view the Ken Roberts original masthead here) and he needed help filling in the print gaps. Enter Dad in doing weekly inserts for his local businesses at Tracy Wells. Through this relationship development, and Dads concerns that appliances were about to be disrupted, Ken convinced Dad to bolt ship in 1987 and partner up to create Roberts & Associates with a keener focus on advertising agency development.

Early Ken Roberts Advertising Days
Pre 1984-1987 Ken Roberts Advertising
Roberts & Associates
1987-1989 Roberts & Associates

Dad had finally arrived into his dream of doing marketing his way…in a partnership with man who loved the thrill of the deadline and doing weekly newspapers. Trying to make the best of both worlds, Dad operationalized Roberts & Associates, began gaining some traction but couldn’t make all the decisions to at he needed. So, in a 1989 shift Mom and Dad bought Ken out, developed R&A Marketing and Dad proceeded to let all of the weekly newspapers know that we are moving out of this business. In what was a risky move as they were 80% of the revenue and there was no big fish waiting to be conquered.

However, Dad finally had the freedom that he wanted and could build the structure of a company that scratched the itch of his marketing prowess, sprinkled with retail experience all while being the conductor of his own band. He just needed the phone to ring and that first break to give him the new R&A client that would change the future.

That phone did ring and the business owner was in need of someone to do everything in advertising for him as he had just gotten his family business in an uncomfortable exchange with the previous generation. This prospect liked the service offering Dad was pitching. The pitch, I imagine or as it has been told to me over the years with some embellishment, was this:

“We want to do everything for you. Wether it will be promotional planning, media buying, placement or graphics, we will help bring your store to life and give you the scale of a full service ad agency without needing the on staff support to get marketing done. How does that sound?”

I can only imagine the pause waiting for the answer. The answer can back in a concise manner and in a matter of a fact “That sounds good to me. I am a little bit concerned that I may have to do the heavy lifting as you don’t know everything about what my company does. You want to be my ad guy? THE ad guy? I need you to come to High Point, NC and understand what my industry does. You do that and we can make this work”.

Well, the rest is history. Dad did attend High Point and fell in love with the industry.

Over the next 6 weeks we will be sharing 6 key moments that lead to the R&A you see today. In their moments of time, they all seemed like trivial occurrences that are just “what you do” to get to the next move in business. However upon reflection, those moments helped lead to the 2nd generation marketing company you see today.

Part 1 – So you want to be my ad guy uh?

Part 2 – If you can’t see the fashion it ain’t worth it!

Part 3 – He’s the cheapest and most passionate option you got

Part 4 – Yea he can play with his little social toys – June 1st

Part 5 – You get my customer. Can you make it work online? – June 8th

Part 6 – How bad do you want this boys? – June 15th

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To sum up our thoughts each and every week, our CEO Kyle Doran, has decided to drop a #SumItUpSaturday that helps paint a picture on where we are heading in this year.

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