A lot has changed in the live-events industry during the prolonged economic downturn. One thing that has been lacking is new entrants in the ranks of event agencies. That’s one reason Mark Shearon believes now is the right time for his new venture, Proscenium Group, to arrive on the scene.
Shearon, managing partner and chief strategist, founded Proscenium with three other agency veterans—Chuck Santoro, Jim Cavanaugh, and Peter Pastor. Together their backgrounds include years with major agencies such as Jack Morton Worldwide, Imagination, and TBA Global. What the new group offers, Shearon says, is “big-agency expertise with a nimbleness and efficiency that no big agency can compete with.”
Proposals in the Cloud
“We saw this niche,” he says. “We offer a much-needed alternative to clients who are looking for high-quality creative, execution, and client care at the right price.”
Proscenium’s ability to offer the “right price” comes from its low overhead. “Now is a wonderful time to set up a business,” Shearon says. “Taking full advantage of the current New York City real-estate market, we were able to secure a great space at a great value.” As for technology, the business is “fully cloud-based.” That means major savings on software and hardware—savings that are passed along to clients. “We use a Microsoft 365 cloud, which is highly secure and easy to use. Clients get access to different parts of the cloud. It’s simple to share project documents, proposals, and budgets, and it is a great collaboration tool.”
With computing in the cloud, personnel will stay in a single building, says Shearon, who cites that one of his ambitions is not to open more offices. “We will travel to our clients, videoconference, or will put in a local dedicated team where appropriate to serve our clients in their local geographies,” he explains. “Our experience and reputation have allowed us to develop a roster of ‘A–level’ freelance resources with whom we will partner on a regular basis.”
The agency also aims to be transparent with clients and “will not run away from conversations with procurement,” Shearon says, because businesses understand each other and the need to make a profit. “They just want the best deal.”
Along with identifying a new market niche, Proscenium believes it has identified a new brand platform, centered around the idea of commitment. “No one else is talking about ‘commitment marketing and communications,’” says Shearon, who sees it as the evolution of experiential marketing and engagement marketing.
“Commitment means you are emotionally impelled to act. So our platform at Proscenium is all about obtaining commitment from all of a brand’s audiences, which in turn helps the brand to perform. Every brand should be striving for commitment from consumers to a product or service, from employees to a vision, or from business partners to a shared plan.”
Spurring people to act involves reaching them in both live and digital spaces, he says. “The live event is where you get real commitment, and is what our founders believe in and are committed to. However, the experience does not end there. Today’s technology allows platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare to augment and extend the conversation.”
Proscenium plans to be selective in developing its client roster. “We don’t need nor want hundreds of clients. We want to give each client the care they deserve,” Shearon says. “They won’t have the founders come in to do a presentation and then they never see us again. Each client will have a founder as the executive lead on that account.”
To execute programs, Proscenium will take advantage of its list of 250 freelancers around the country. “When you have a pool of staff to draw on, you can pick right person for the job,” he says. “It’s great to have people on staff but not always economically viable. We have our core team, which we will augment as necessary.”
The core team, by the way, owns the business, which is another differentiator, Shearon says. “Because we are employee-owned, that creates a deeply committed Proscenium team. Everyone has equity.”
Find more at the Proscenium Web site.