Michael P. Smith is the founder and owner of The Rénard Group. “When I started the agency on April 4, 1977, it was literally a one man shop. Despite starting with only one account, I sensed there was plenty of opportunity to build a client base,” he confides. During his efforts to attract more clients to his agency, he made a critical decision; one he believes became a crucial reason for his success. “I made the decision that our agency would only handle a single client from any business sector in this market at a time. That meant we would only handle one car dealership in Tyler, one real estate agency, one apartment complex and so forth. I felt it was the best way to maintain a client’s confidentiality. By knowing more about their business, I was able to give them better advice, which translated to more effective advertising.” By the mid-80s, Michael Smith’s reputation was made. His agency was the largest in Tyler, and based on total capitalized billings, one of the largest in the state. Michael believes three key areas gave his agency its competitive advantage:
Branding – Creating memorable campaigns, many still in use today;
- Media Buying – Concentrating on getting the maximum return on investment out of every dollar spent; and
- Integrated Marketing – Considering advertising as just one part of the marketing mix. Public Relations, Sales, Building Personal Relationships, News Conferences, Philanthropic Activities were all activities playing a role in the overall success of the agency’s clients.
Michael witnessed many changes in this market over the past forty years. The change with the most impact since 1977 is the Internet. “Digital media is a definite game changer,” says Michael, “It has staying power the way radio did in the early part of the twentieth century. Today, consumers are using screens to access news, entertainment and information. But the screens are not just televisions in the living room anymore. Today, people are accessing entertainment from computers, laptops, iPads and Smartphones. Technology makes it possible for almost limitless message delivery choices. And it is growing every day.”
Michael and his wife Dominique are the parents of a daughter and son. They also recently became first-time grandparents with the birth of their granddaughter.