treetree Finding Niche as Agency of Special Projects

Photo via treetree Facebook page.

Most marketing and communications agencies covet that agency of record title, but treetree is after something different. The six-year-old agency has carved out their niche as an agency of special projects.

treetree started at a time when you wouldn’t expect many businesses to take off. It was March 2009 in the middle of the recession. It was a time when marketing and communications teams were the first to be cut and finding a job at an agency was not an easy task.

Figuring that there wasn’t much on the horizon for jobs anywhere else, Co-Founders Becca Apfelstadt and Tiffany Wise decided they would give their own thing a go for six months. After a year they were still at it, and it was time to get a door. They went from Apfelstadt’s loft to the Berry Boltworks Building, outgrowing that space in 2014 and finding a new home in the Battleship Building in the Arena District. Metropreneur_5

It’s just been a really steady growth, a really aggressive growth I would say in the last couple of years, and I think that’s primarily due to positioning that we introduced in early 2012, and that is to be the agency of special projects,” Apfelstadt says. 

treetree is able to stand out from the agency crowd by having something different to say and filling a need in the marketplace. It’s exactly the advice they offer to clients, too.

We did for ourselves what we do for our clients,” Apfelstadt says. 

Instead of being the agency of record, treetree offers themselves as a supplement to other agencies or internal resources.

We’re able to be a partner with clients in a way that we’re are a true extension of their team,” Apfelstadt says. 

Their special projects management services are gaining a lot of traction with clients.

We will staff our team inside the client’s walls,” Apfelstadt says. “That person immerses themselves a certain number of hours a week inside the client’s office.” 

Metropreneur_4Special projects cover all manners of situations and lengths of time. While boots on the ground is an option, some projects just involve absorbing a client’s additional workload. Sometimes it’s for three months, other times it’s 24. treetree can work with client teams that just have more work than they can handle at a given moment, or take on a regular stream of special projects.

When several members of the marketing team at a department of OhioHealth went on maternity leave back-to-back, treetree was able to offer a knowledgeable staffer with the support of an agency behind them for a seamless continuation of work.

While it’s what makes them unique, special projects are just a branch of treetree. The agency has the capacity to do traditional advertising campaigns. They’ll work on rebranding and carrying the new look and feel across sales materials to the website to a client’s suite of collateral.

treetree also works with business to business clients on presentation materials, from the presentation itself down to the staging of the board room.

“How do you make it more of an experience that a PowerPoint,” Apfelstadt explains. “How do you take that same data and information that you might give in a typical presentation but make it a more interactive format?”

The strategic branch of the agency focuses on discovery service. treetree helps clients develop a strategy and plan for tackling business challenges.

treetree’s special project model tends to work best with businesses with larger marketing departments. The client has internal resources or partner agencies that they use for primary messaging and campaign work and treetree wants to work with those groups, not replace them. Apfelstadt says they still want to and enjoy working with smaller organizations, but those tend to be the clients that come to them for more marketing and rebranding services.

No matter the size, “We’re very focused on Columbus,” she says. “We like our own beds. We like our team to be with their family at night.”

It’s an important part of their culture – something they have worked hard to develop, and keep, throughout their growth.

“We have a very rigorous hiring process on purpose,” Apfelstadt says. 

She wants to build a great place to work, and it’s part of why she’s in business for herself.

Culture, their strategic positioning and loyal clients are the success factors Apfelstadt says have landed the agency on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the U.S. for the past two years.

We carved out a focus and we decided what we are and are not going to do and strategy is about eliminating things as much as it is picking something,” she says. treetree3

Apfelstadt expects they will naturally continue to grow over the next few years, but as an agency they are focused on getting better.

I think by focusing on getting better, we will get bigger,” she says. 

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