Behind the List with Chuck Manners
president and CEO of Godfrey Advertising Inc.
Q: What would you say most sets you apart from other companies in your field, and what is your game plan for staying ahead in the future?
A: We focus only on the B2B market, so that sets us apart. The real difference is in how we embrace the challenge of helping our clients communicate their often complex B2B stories across a growing and increasingly complex array of media. We call it unified marketing. To stay ahead, we need to continue to develop our culture of applied learning and seeking deep insight into our clients' customers.
What advice would you give to similar companies getting started?
Find the right niche or segment of the market — something you can be really good at that no one else is serving particularly well.
Is Lancaster County/Central Pa. the ideal place for Godfrey? What are the pros and cons? What does Lancaster County mean to you?
Although we have some important accounts here in the region, our clients are national and international in scope, with very few actually based here. We use technology to help us communicate, and we are as mobile as we need to be. So I think a couple pros for this region are good communications infrastructure and easy access to major transportation hubs.
Another is a highly skilled workforce. Our staff is made up almost entirely of Central Pa. residents, and they are competing and winning on a global basis. I think most of them truly enjoy the lifestyle available here for the cost versus most major metropolitan areas, where talented advertising and marketing professionals otherwise tend to seek employment.
In addition, a large percentage of our trusted suppliers and other business partners are based in Central Pa. So overall, yes, it's a good place to do business.
According to Godfrey's website, the company was "born in 1947" and has been "focusing exclusively on business-to-business since 1977." What was Godfrey's initial focus, and how/why did B2B become the company's bread and butter?
Well, I wasn't born in 1947, but what we know is the company was founded by Thomas Godfrey, whose clients were mostly local companies but not necessarily local-only advertisers.
The company was purchased in 1977 by Dennis F. Cox, who instilled the B2B focus because of the enormous challenges of competing in the B2C market with larger, well-known agencies in New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere.
A partnership of six people purchased the company from Mr. Cox in 1999, and we have maintained the commitment to B2B.
How has the Internet changed the business in the last 20 years?
The short answer is it changed everything … and still is today. The most radical part of that change is that it placed the customer in control — in control of the information, the conversation, basically the entire marketing and sales process.
But that was yesterday's news. Now we're on to 1,001 ways to enhance the customer's experience, increase collaboration with them and anticipate their needs — needs which people now expect to be satisfied online instantaneously.
How was the transition into the new forum of social media? What effect have blogging and social media had on the company?
Social media provides us with quick access to a wide network of people who share our passion for B2B. Just like other marketing tools, it's important to understand who you are communicating with and how they like to communicate or receive information.
For us, social media (including our B2B Insights Blog) is one important tool that enables us to collaborate with B2B marketers, to share marketing tips with them and to gather real-time insight from B2B audiences.
Naturally, we also consider social media in the unified marketing programs we develop for our clients.
What are your immediate goals for the future, and where do you see Godfrey 10 years from now?
After a tremendous two-year rebound from the manufacturing recession of 2009, so far in 2012 we've seen a slightly slower pace for revenue. So an immediate goal, a 2013 goal, will be to resume a strong growth track.
Ten years out, I see Godfrey defining B2B in the global marketplace. I think the company will continue to find fresh inspiration from the very businesses B2B marketers serve and help raise the standard for B2B marketers worldwide.
About Chuck Manners
Chuck Manners worked as a reporter at The Derrick in Oil City, Venango County, and in public relations for Sperry New Holland before joining Godfrey Advertising in 1984 as director of public relations. He became vice president and partner in 1999, then president and CEO in January 2010.
Manners earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He lives in East Hempfield Township with Mary Beth, his wife of 35 years, and has two adult children, C.J. and Kate, who both live in Lancaster.