At 50, Little Rock marketing and advertising agency MHP/Team SI is staying nimble and quick, firm President Sharon Tallach Vogelpohl says.
Business longevity, she says, requires constant innovation and an ability to anticipate where your industry is headed.
“Back in 2009, we anticipated a shift in marketing and recognized the importance of leaning heavily into the digital space,” said Vogelpohl, who started at MHP as an intern and has never worked anywhere else. “We formed a strategic partnership with SI and later evolved into MHP/Team SI. … Today, as our clients’ priorities continue to evolve and new clients come on board, we’ve restructured our teams to align better with today’s business climate.”
The reshuffling eliminated a few jobs, but Vogelpohl said the firm’s head count is actually up by about 10 from last year, when it celebrated its 50th anniversary.
“We’ve brought on new team members with specialized skill sets like marketing technology automation, vertical video, influencer marketing and more,” Vogelpohl said.
Vertical video is a format intended for viewing in portrait mode, with images taller than they are wide. Cinema and television content is almost exclusively in landscape mode, far wider than tall.
Vertical video exploded with social media and the rise of smartphones, where the default orientation is up and down. Consider a typical short-form video on TikTok and you’ve got the idea. MHP/Team SI hired Little Rock social media influencer Chris Bell-Davis last year to lead its new Content Studio. It creates “quick-turn, authentic and demonstrably engaging content for social media platforms,” Vogelpohl said.
Bell-Davis said the studio was formed “out of a need to meet audiences where they consume content: online.” And vertical videos are an excellent fit for those audiences, Vogelpohl said.
In December, MHP/Team SI expanded its video team and launched Studio West in west Little Rock, with a sound stage, green screen and voice-on-demand and podcasting facilities. Full animation services are also available, Vogelpohl said.
The firm has also been expanding in northwest Arkansas, where it now has 11 employees and moved into a new space in April on the Bentonville town square. “It’s right next door to the Walmart Museum,” Vogelpohl said.
The firm is doing a growing amount of performance marketing for banks “with an ability to demonstrate clear ROI on generation of applications for high-value bank products” like mortgages, premium checking accounts, Small Business Administration loans and car loans, Vogelpohl said. Tim Whitley, Team SI’s founder and CEO and CIO of the MHP/Team SI family of companies, and VP of Strategy Whitney Burgess gave a talk on performance marketing recently at the Digital Marketing for Financial Services conference in San Francisco.
Business-to-business marketing has also been a growth area, Vogelpohl said. “Businesses that have uber-niche audiences that they previously thought unreachable — think C-level executives and influencers in vertical industries — are now able to tell their story to generate more qualified leads for their sales and marketing teams to close.”
A Woman for The Times
As Arkansas Business reported in Feburary, Arkansas Times editor-in-chief Lindsey Millar has left the post to become a woodworker, and Editorial Director Austin Bailey has succeeded him.
The Times announced last week that the succession had taken place, making Bailey the first woman to lead the monthly magazine in its half-century of publication.
Millar, who spent 12 years as editor, will continue as a contributing editor, the magazine said.
Bailey, who joined the magazine in 2021 after editing World Ark, Heifer International’s magazine, is a former reporter at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and at papers in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. She is a native of Ashville and graduated from the University of North Carolina.
Stephanie Smittle, the magazine’s managing editor, will fill Bailey’s shoes as editorial director and oversee the magazine while Bailey focuses on Max Brantley’s old job, keeping the news flowing at arktimes.com. Smittle is from Cave Springs and graduated from Hendrix College in Conway. Fellow Hendrix grad Benji Hardy will become managing editor. Previously he was an associate editor and award-winning reporter. He's a native of Ozark.