BOARDMAN, Ohio – For Prodigal and so many other businesses, 2020 was about surviving the pandemic. But, 2021 was the 27-year-old marketing agency’s year of adapting to thrive in the new, ever-shifting normal in which all businesses now compete.
“We had two focuses in 2021 that drove our business growth and profitability,” says Jeff Hedrich, owner of the Boardman-based firm. “First, continue to evolve our superior methodology of branding clients so that they outperform their competitors in the marketplace. Second, provide our clients with higher digital marketing ROI, in part by only partnering with best-of-class digital platforms, like HubSpot, Simpli.fi and Pathmonk.”
Because of enhancements made to Prodigal’s proprietary branding process in 2021, the agency launched BrandScanProcess.com last month.
“Our Brand Scan Process will now be marketed to and used by companies across the U.S.,” says Hedrich. “It’s a data-driven methodology that creates market leaders and we anticipate it will be our growth engine moving forward.”
The Brand Scan Process will be headed by the firm’s newly named vice president of strategy, Stephen Jakubowski.
“More than ever, business leaders appreciate that strong brands command higher profit margins, even in tough financial times,” says Jakubowski, a behavioral economist. “We are confident these leaders want their brands driven by data, not just guesswork and gut instincts.”
Organizational leadership for Prodigal moving forward will also be provided by Brooks Thomas, the newly named vice president of account services.
“I witnessed how quickly clients such as Humtown, the National Association of Manufacturers 2020 Manufacturer of the Year, and Taylor-Winfield, a leader in automated production systems, came to trust and rely upon Brooks as their account executive,” says Hedrich. “He is a born leader and the kind of home-grown talent our Valley needs to retain.”
Hedrich says his firm believes in “deploying the best digital technologies on behalf of our clients. But, it’s also true that nobody ever invented anything better than a human being. Our clients are best served by talented and sincere people. And that’s who we try to recruit and retain.”
In 2021, Courteney Lukac, was promoted to lead web designer. “Courteney has a sophisticated aesthetic that clients associate with East or West Coast metropolitan areas. But they also love her Midwest sincerity,” says Hedrich. In 2021, Lukac contributed to the successful launch of sites for companies such as ARS Recycling Systems, Briarfield Health Centers, Enertech Solutions and Tippecanoe Country Club.
Further filling out the team in response to the agency’s growth in 2021, Prodigal also recently hired Jordan Greier as copywriter and Chris Adams as graphic designer.
In the public sector realm, Prodigal’s visual branding for Eastern Gateway Community College’s TV and digital marketing campaign was developed by senior designer Jeremy Scott and contributed to the college’s record-breaking enrollment in 2021 of more than 40,000 students.
Prodigal also developed a digital communications initiative for the Brecksville-based Regional Income Tax Agency in 2021. Geofencing the addresses of nearly two million municipal taxpayers across more than 350 Ohio cities and villages, this digital campaign informed taxpayers of the pandemic-delayed filing date and alternative means of filing.
“Research shows that the average marketing agency-client relationship only lasts about 18 months,” says Hedrich, “So, I feel honored that Prodigal’s first two clients, Farmers National Bank and Sheely’s Furniture & Appliance, remain our clients almost 27 years later – and under the guidance of my first-ever hire, Jill Jenkins. Both of these pillars of Mahoning Valley businesses continue to grow and thrive, with Farmers being identified as the top-performing community bank in Ohio in 2021, and Sheely’s breaking its all-time sales record.”