Managing Partner/Chief Strategy Officer
The Value of Streamlining
“Steven Michaelson is one of the most creative, and Judy Capano, one of the most strategic people I worked with,” says Howard Hessel, former Sanofi Senior Manager. “Putting the two of them together offered me an agency partner that was invaluable.”
Their latest agency, Calcium, has been through a lot since they founded it in 2012, but through it all the two dynamos have made sure the Calcium brand would be synonymous with success.
In 2014, they sold Calcium and merged it with two other agencies (Star Life Sciences and Vox Medica), in order to strengthen their digital and scientific capabilities. While it was a sound strategy to add important capabilities to their startup, the execution of the merger was poorly managed by the new ownership. But instead of sitting back and watching their agency spiral down into nonexistence, Steven and Judy purchased Calcium back at the end of 2015. Unfortunately, along with purchasing back the asset, they also purchased a significant amount of debt incurred by the previous parent agency. It was at this critical stage that Steven and Judy set a new course.
In 2016, they laid out a laser-focused business strategy: Streamline clients, people, and operations. The number of Calcium clients went from 30 (in 2015) to 18 (in 2016) to 9 (in 2017). With this streamlining has come an important shift from smaller, project-based accounts to larger, AOR accounts. Steven and Judy always preach, “We don’t want to be the biggest agency—we just want to be the best.”
This strategy has paid off big time. The year 2016 represented the agency’s strongest to date. At year’s end, revenue was up 30% over the previous year. And as of February 2017, revenue was up 100% higher than the year before. This was the result of organic growth with existing clients as well as several key new business wins. So, after emerging from the ashes of a failed merger, Calcium is an independent agency that’s twice the size it was a year ago—yet it’s leaner, more nimble, stronger, and even more responsive to client needs.