How Mash + Media Restructured for Greater Integration

Six measures Shawn Klerer has implemented to help put the marketing firm back on track

1. Focus on new markets

Phil Kotler, a veteran professor at the Kellogg School of Management, once said, “Marketing takes a day to learn. Unfortunately, it takes a lifetime to master.” It’s a trade in which one is never completely done learning—especially now, as new technologies and strategies come into play. There are so many ways you can market your company, and if you don’t do it properly, you could be throwing that money away,” says Shawn Klerer, CEO and CFO of Toronto’s Mash + Media. “Not to mention, marketing has evolved, and you need to consider these new media.”

Klerer and his team work to keep pace with the industry and stay sharp. “Part of our strategy is to really focus on the social and digital market and to offer a variety of services so our customers don’t need to shop around,” Klerer says. “We can do everything in one place.”

2. Clean out the cobwebs

Klerer’s background is in the world of corporate financing, but as he got more interested in entrepreneurial business, he came across an opportunity presented by Quorum, a private equity company that has Mash + Media in its portfolio. It was 2011, and according to Klerer, Quorum needed someone who could help Mash + Media become what it originally set out to be. “It was financially underperforming, and it was not reaching its full growth potential,” Klerer says.

Along with the dedicated staff already working at Mash + Media, Klerer set out to first redress the gaps that had opened in the company’s infrastructure. “We had to eliminate unnecessary costs that were hampering the organization,” he says. While not exactly glamourous, it was the sort of housekeeping the company was long overdue for. The sweep included downsizing office and warehouse spaces, implementing processes to ensure proper spending, and improving billing processes.

3. Rightsize physical space

By specifically correcting physical costs, including office and warehouse space, Klerer was able to improve other nonquantifiable assets. The slimmed-down, stand-alone office space proved to be vastly more conducive to employee collaboration and morale, for instance, and the new, smaller warehouse space was more proximal to Mash + Media’s biggest warehouse customer. “It was a big improvement because not only were we thrilling our customers and our shareholders, but the employees were happier, too,” Klerer says. “It was a win-win-win situation.”

4. Understand the narrative

Mash + Media’s history also plays a major role in the direction Klerer is helping to take the company in. Mash + Media has been in business in various shapes and sizes for a number of years. The current configuration was established in 2009, and the business has retained a world-class core of customers that it partners with on numerous and diverse offerings. At one time, Mash was a publicly traded entity, and it’s presently exploring returning to that status, but the key focus at the moment is growth and expanding its reach outside the Canadian borders.

5. Implement a strategy

After Klerer signed on, Mash + Media instituted a strategy to transform itself into a global growth company by focusing on social and digital services and launching a joint venture. Regarding the former, Klerer says, “What makes Mash + Media unique is that we’re fully integrated, especially from a digital angle. As an example, for Ford, one of our largest clients, we do print, warehouse storage, fulfillment, have an internal call centre, [and we’re] running their programs and managing their internal communications.”

The joint venture, formed in cooperation with New York’s Carrot Creative, complements the integrated digital strategy. The result is a company called CropUp, which offers an online platform for clients to monetize their social media presence. “We’re focusing on sports-and-entertainment properties with huge fan bases and are providing a way to incorporate unique offerings into social media platforms while creating an easy experience for the purchaser,” Klerer says.

6. Plan ahead

“This is my first time in the entrepreneurial sector, and it’s a much different world,” Klerer says. “There are different pressures and demand for quicker results.” Through his various reengineering initiatives, however, the change in Mash + Media’s bottom line, year over year, has significantly increased.

With a newfound focus on digital, social, and joint ventures, Klerer looks forward to Mash + Media opening a new creative studio in New York and expects both top- and bottom-line growth for 2013. “We’re heading in an exciting direction,” Klerer says, “and it’s not the kind of thing that would have been possible without a dedicated and growing team here at Mash + Media.”