Sunday, September 11, 2005

WMC Interviews: Albert Maruggi

This week, I had the chance to sit down with Albert Maruggi, principal of St. Paul-based marketing agency Provident Partners (and huge baseball fan). His agency assists companies in a variety of industries in all areas of marketing, with particular expertise in PR, events management, integrated marketing and podcasting.

WebMarketCentral (WMC): What did you do before founding Provident Partners?

Albert Maruggi (AM): Worked in radio for a number of years. I was a television reporter and anchor. I also shot and edited video for news stations. I was a political reporter who made the jump to being a press secretary for a Member of Congress. From there I became Press Secretary for the Republican National Committee and then held public affairs management positions in the Bush '41 Administration.

WMC: How, when and why did Provident Partners get started?

AM: When I could not get my flight from LA to MN on September 11, 2001 I drove back home. I did a lot of thinking on that trip and I made two promises, 1) take my family on vacation to southern Utah, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. 2) Start a marketing firm that was a full service outsourcing asset to midsize companies, those between $20 and $150 million in annual revenues.

LA to Denver 13 hours, Denver to St. Paul 12 hours – One speeding ticket in Golden, Colorado. Speed 100, empathic officer priceless. I got off with a considerably reduced fine as opposed to being hauled into the pokey.

The reasons for starting the company were simple: as a VP of marketing for a $70 million company I knew I had two internal customers. The VP of Sales who would say “Where are my leads?” and the CEO who would say “Do more with less.”

I believe that a VP of marketing can outsource the experts he or she needs to get specific objectives met and then not carry that overhead. I see disturbing trends in marketing technology such as web development, Flash etc, that should make every marketer quake in their boots. An internal marketing lead has a difficult time juggling company objectives, politics, travel let alone new technologies, channel marketing, and PR.

Our profession is in transition and you must demonstrate value every day.

WMC: Who is your ideal or typical client?

AM: We are best suited for companies that have a limited marketing staff or a VP of Sales and Marketing. This situation best utilizes the four core expertise areas of Provident Partners; those being, creative ideas, public relations, lead generation, and multi-media production. We think creatively about the big picture and execute flawlessly over the details.

Our typical client has marketing or single project budget of between $50,000 to $100,000. For that they must expand brand ID, generate leads, secure media coverage, and have a better than average appreciation for public relations.

WMC: What are your key differentiators? What sets you apart from your competition?

AM: We have a unique mix of national talent and industry knowledge in technology, manufacturing, and professional services. We have, bar none, the best service record of any firm in our space. Our clients are all referenceable. I tested as an ENTP on Myers-Briggs. That means I hate letting anyone down. Our clients use this trait to their advantage.

WMC: How do you market/promote your business?

AM: Podcasting, advertising, email newsletters, media coverage, direct mail, webcasts, and calling. Or yes, there’s the secret weapon that we use too, but if I include it in this question I’d have to kill you. You understand right?

WMC: Absolutely, we'll just move on. What's the biggest or most important marketing lesson you've learned since starting Provident Partners?

AM: Never assume people know you or have heard about you. Always talk about your clients and never you. You mean nothing, your clients and their success means everything to your prospect.

WMC: Anything else you'd like to add?

AM: Two eggs, a stick of butter, two cups of brownie mix, stir, pour in pan, lick spoon, repeat.


Terms: Provident Partners, marketing agency, ad agency, podcasting

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