Drake Cooper

Channeling The Creative Potential of Middle Market Companies

Drake Cooper is an employee-owned advertising & marketing agency who focuses on working with middle market brands. The 45-year old agency found that mid-market companies have a higher than average propensity to seek and use creativity to grow their brands. Specifically focusing on this sector of the U.S. economy has allowed Drake Cooper to build out the advertising and marketing services that middle-market brands truly need and avoid pouring resources into unnecessary, “trendy” areas. It has also allowed Drake Cooper to find and hire employees who want to work on mid-sized brands. Drake Cooper is one of the only agencies in the country that focuses on middle market brands and is a middle market company itself.

Middle Market Companies Are Ambitious

The mantra of Drake Cooper is: “We build brands for the ambitious,” which is exactly what sets middle market companies apart. Being ambitious is something that many companies cease to be once they cross $1B in annual sales—layers of executive approvals and fear can set in, neither of which lead to great creative ideas. Seeing this first-hand, Drake Cooper exists to welcome the challenges that middle market brands have in their goals to grow. Among those are that their ad budgets are often smaller than larger competitors, and they have smaller teams made up of people who need to cover multiple areas within the company. Yet beyond these challenges, middle market companies possess an unmatched pride about their brand and a deep understanding of what their brand means to customers. Drake Cooper places an enormous amount of effort to understand their clients’ brands and become part of the organization’s culture, largely through a long-standing proprietary strategic process called Campaign Planning™.

This deeper approach is working for the agency who has an average client tenure of 12.5 years—a rate that is three times higher than the average U.S. ad agency according to the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

The Six Advertising Services Middle Market Companies Need

There are many facets of advertising and marketing today, but Drake Cooper has focused their services around six core areas that the company has seen middle market brands need the most. These include:

- Planning & Strategy
- Creative (ads, film and video production)
- UX & Technology (website creation and digital marketing programs)
- Media Planning & Buying (with a focus on Paid Search, Paid Social and Streaming Video)
- Analytics (tracking performance)
- MarTech (watching customer privacy and data platforms)

Drake Cooper has found that these six services cover the majority of what middle market companies need from an outside creative partner to propel their advertising and marketing programs.

Pairing Creativity and Collaboration

Middle market employees excel at collaboration. Observing this, Drake Cooper has placed being collaborative at the heart of its processes. The company always presents creative ideas in rough “tissue” form so companies can see that all ideas are in-process and open for input. Drake Cooper employees talk with their clients using a “yes and…” approach to openly welcome all ideas, regardless of where they’re from within the company. And because so many middle market companies still are able to involve top C-level executives in marketing decisions, Drake Cooper always bases its creative ideas in proven marketing principles that achieve market share growth, new customer acquisition, and beyond.

A common philosophy at Drake Cooper is “making it pretty is easy, making it correct is hard,” which is basically to say that any ad agency can make things look nice, but in order to achieve the business results that middle market companies require, all creative ideas need to be tied to a business objective. So Drake Cooper puts tremendous effort to become as knowledgeable about a client’s business and brand as their internal employees are.

Being Employee-Owned Keeps Drake Cooper Focused

In 2020, the agency converted itself to be 100% employee-owned so that all profits are returned to employees, each of whom have shares in the agency. Less than three percent of advertising agencies are employee-owned, so making this choice was not the well-traveled path. However, the agency has benefited from this because it keeps them focused. Drake Cooper does not answer to any outside ownership interests, so all decisions are made in the best interest of their collective employee-owners and our clients. This ensures that Drake Cooper only adds services that middle market companies need, not because they’re told to do so by outside ownership. It also allows the company to be run according to three self-imposed values (Be Kind, Break Trail, Bring Diversity) that guide all daily employee interactions so the company runs as one unified team at every touchpoint.

Advice For Fellow Middle Market Companies

Creativity is one of the best drivers of brand growth, but large organizations develop barriers and challenges that can block creative thought, particularly when it comes to marketing and advertising. Middle market companies are more agile, more willing to take risks in an effort to grow, and more able to do advertising and brand work that consumers will respond to because it connects with them on a deeper level. The middle market companies who recognize this will gain market share over their larger competitors at a quicker pace.