Successfully Navigating Change in an Agency-Client Relationship: M/C/C and Harris CapRock

Client Agency Relationship When M/C/C began working with IWL (the predecessor to CapRock) in 1994, a gallon of gas cost $1.09, Tonya Harding’s attack on Nancy Kerrigan dominated the news and Netscape Navigator was the market leader for browsing the Web. It is 21 years later, and we’re still the Agency of Record for what is now known as Harris CapRock.  Our relationship with the brand has weathered reverse mergers, purchases, spin outs and more acquisitions. There’s never been a dull moment and it has been a fun ride.

In the beginning of our partnership, IWL’s business was focused on providing communications services to oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. They held a strong position in the market and caught the attention of CapRock Communications, a Dallas-based telecommunications company that completed a reverse merger with IWL in 1998 to take the company public. M/C/C’s role expanded quickly beyond marketing offshore services to marketing CapRock’s full suite of services to small businesses and other carriers throughout the Southwest United States. In 2001, CapRock was purchased by McLeod and M/C/C worked with them during the transition. In 2002, the “brand” CapRock was purchased by private investors and relaunched as a satellite communications provider in 2003. M/C/C was called on to lead the communications effort. The company expanded aggressively beyond oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico into commercial shipping, defense, cruise, mining and construction throughout the world. They grew to be the undisputed leader in the satellite communications industry and were purchased in 2010 by Harris Corporation, currently operating as a division of the company.

As to be expected, the ongoing state of change led to some significant marketing challenges. With each management change came a new set of objectives, priorities and expectations. Some placed a higher priority on the role of marketing than did others and the flux changed the way the brand was viewed in the market.

Change has been the only constant in our relationship with Harris CapRock – change in the company, its marketing priorities and leaders; change in our relationship and focus for the brand. Along with the internal changes at Harris CapRock, the marketing landscape was evolving quickly. At the outset of our relationship, we produced print ads, rudimentary websites and brochures with data sheets. Today, our advertising is exclusively digital. We’re producing interactive sales demos and optimizing everything in real time.

Our continued and successful relationship with Harris CapRock is one we’re proud of and it can be attributed to four critical factors.

Providing Value. Our focus with CapRock from the beginning was to not attach ourselves to executives or employees but focus on the business and its objectives. We’ve enjoyed great relationships with our contacts over the years (and still keep in contact with most of them), but we’ve maintained a drive to deliver real business results. That was true 21 years ago, and it’s still true today. Relationships without results don’t create value for the business.

Marketing Centered on the Buyer. Throughout the years, understanding customers and prospects has been key to marketing success for the brand. Using in-depth primary research, we’ve been able to build credibility with company executives by providing insights and ideas that are market-driven.

Living Our Own Brand. As part of our brand, we’re less about posturing and promoting ourselves and more about letting our actions speak for us. We’ve built a reputation with CapRock as a key partner that is reliable, smart, committed and hardworking. We work to earn that reputation day-in and day-out, and it has carried over through the evolution of the company.

The Ability to Adapt. We sometimes say that we’re the longest-tenured Harris CapRock employee.  While we’ve been a stable partner with a wealth of historical knowledge, we’re wide-open to change. This willingness to consider new approaches, tactics and focus have allowed us to adapt to the company over the years. The last thing we want to do is rest on our laurels and the ways we’ve always done things. We always want to be looking for new, innovative ways to approach business building for the company.

Change often turns things on their head and causes uncertainty, particularly in business relationships. We’ve had to manage through some significant evolution of the company, but our partnership with Harris CapRock is stronger than ever. Our collective team is looking for new ways to accomplish objectives more effectively, and we’re succeeding. We’ve enjoyed the journey, and we’re looking forward to the next 21 years.

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Jim supervises all MCC account managers and promotes the vitality of all client/agency partnerships. Jim's relationship-based approach to integrated communications is built around two principles. He's relentless in his understanding of our clients' businesses, and he builds personal collaboration between clients, agency employees and industry players. Jim came to MCC in 1998 as an account manager. Since then, he's moved up quickly, thanks to his drive to take charge and get results. A hardcore believer in strategic brand development, Jim has led integrated marketing programs for clients including CapRock Communications, Fujitsu, Alienware, Vari-Lite International and Raytheon. Before joining the agency, Jim worked at Temerlin McClain on the GTE account. Previously, he worked for McCann-Erickson and Fogarty, Klein & Partners. Jim graduated from Texas State University with a degree in Marketing. In his off-time, he enjoys live music, hanging with family and coaching his daughters' sports teams

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