During his career as a mover and shaker on Madison Avenue, and for the past 30 years as an advertising and marketing entrepreneur at the White Plains-based Weinrib & Connor Agency, Tom Connor has been at the forefront of helping businesses as the march of technology reshapes what they need to do to tell their stories, sell their products and compete with their competition.
In the weeks and months ahead, Connor will be sharing his expertise with Business Journal readers in a series of columns. He’ll explore various aspects of advertising, marketing and branding in the digital age. He plans to provide vital details of what businesses need to do and how to do it, including the use of mobile platforms to deliver advertising messages.
“If you want to do a social media campaign, you need to know the rules of the road,” Connor said. “People usually don’t watch the social post with the audio on; that’s rare.”
Connor said that some people creating social media materials today could learn a lot from the techniques used by the creators of silent movies that were able to capture attention and keep people focused on the screen. He also noted that businesspeople often need a better understanding of what goes into creating effective strategies for advertising, marketing and branding.
“Advertising is what one does to bring new parties to the franchise. You want to develop these prospects. You want to make it easier for the sales force to crack the code,” Connor said. “Marketing represents the relationships you can maintain through communication with your customer base, colleagues and universe with which you’re dealing.”
Connor referred to McDonald’s as providing a good example of branding.
“A lot of people would say that the branding for McDonald’s is the ‘golden arches.’ No it isn’t,” Connor said. “The branding is the consistency and cleanliness. Everybody can have the same product, but is the image of the product favorable? Product plus image equals brand. A lot of people dwell on logo changes and new websites and all this other stuff. That’s executional; that’s not strategic.”
Connor explained that when he and Arnold Weinrib, a friend and associate from Madison Avenue opened their own agency, Weinrib did most of the interfacing with accounts and he handled the creative side of the operations. They didn’t need a large number of employees and because of their contacts in the advertising world they could hire on a freelance basis some of the same talent that the big agencies used.
“When we opened we specialized in national accounts. At that time there was a great demand for direct marketing,” Connor told the Business Journals “I had expertise with that from my prior agency work. The blue-chip clients that we knew were willing to give us project work in direct marketing and we were happy with that because it usually led to our being put on retainer.”
Connor said that their early clients included Phillip Morris, Monsanto, Ryder Truck and Trump Casinos.
“We were paid three months up front,” Connor said of their work for Trump. “The Trump deal was based on what we were selling at the time, which was called ‘co-marketing.’ We were able to get partners to join forces in promotions with Trump Casinos as a way of bringing in consumers who had an interest in gaming as well as consumers who had an interest in other things like patronizing places that sold coffee and donuts.”
Connor expressed pride in the ability to bring together various businesses in promotional campaigns.
“I had the appetite as a creative person to handle the solicitation, the negotiation and the securitization of partners,” Connor said. “It’s not easy to get disparate parties together on the same page.”
After Weinrib’s death, Connor elected to keep the company’s name even as it became more of a Connor family operation, with his wife Mary assuming the title of president and their eldest son joining the business. The Connors have two sons and a daughter.
“I realized I could have the best of both worlds; I could raise a family and run an agency,” Connor said.
Some of Weinrib & Connor’s clients have included: ExxonMobil; New York Yankees; AT&T; Borough of the Bronx; Visa; Westchester Tourism; and Canada Dry. Among the dozens of capabilities and services offered by Weinrib & Connor are: video production; creating and organizing events; media buying; arranging partnerships and licensing; creating and managing social media; and creating animation and other artwork.