Jordan Zimmerman is Founder, Chairman and architect of Zimmerman Advertising, one of the largest advertising agencies in the country. Jordan founded his company in 1984 working tirelessly, personifying an insane commitment to be the best. Jordan trademarked his own term, “Brandtailing®”- a maverick combination of long-term brand building and short-term sales boosting that delivers measurable results. Zimmerman Advertising, an Omnicom Group company, is the leading integrated, retail agency in the country. Zimmerman’s clients represent some of the most prominent retail brands in the country, including Nissan, McDonald’s, Tire Kingdom, Advance America, Hair Cuttery, Five Below, AutoNation, Chuck E. Cheese’s and Michaels. Headquartered in South Florida, the agency has retail service offices throughout the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta. For information on the agency, visit http://www.zadv.com.
Jordan believes strongly in philanthropy and giving back to the greater community. Through the Jordan Zimmerman Family Foundation, he generously supports the University of South Florida and its unrivaled Zimmerman Advertising Program (ZAP), a specialized program that he founded and continues to support. He also supports Florida Atlantic University, the National MS Society, Cleveland Clinic Florida, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Junior Achievement of South Florida, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, among many others.
How did you get into the industry?
I grew up in New Jersey and met a man on my paper route that was in the advertising business. He inspired me to what could be as a career. And not just a job, but something that I would love to do every single day. So, at the ripe old age of 12, I knew where I was going and I knew what I wanted to do.
Any emerging industry trends?
These are the two trends we see as game changers. 1) Social media is not about impressions but rather monetization, converting consumer engagement into sales. 2) Digital media is now about hypertargeting consumers to specific devices, and the exact audience that you want to reach, including location down to the block and house level.
The digital and social revolution is on. We have completely embraced technology in the form of ‘AI’ building the first ever Hyperlocal platform that can target our specific audiences with messages both static and video around every client’s location trade area on 5 different devices: the smartphone, the connected television, the laptop, the desktop and the tablet.
In social, we have learned how to monetize social conversations by querying key words that pinpoint the consumer’s wants we are looking for, so we can message them in real time. Example: If someone posts “I am tired,” then we can message them an offer with our ET energy product.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
Better people make better ideas, which creates better results. That’s why we cultivate all three. As such, the first domino, and our greatest asset, is always people. Because of our unique DNA and demand on business obsession, it is hard to find staff within an industry known to condition people for simply creativity. As a result, we tend to recruit from outside the industry, as we find it more effective to teach a business person advertising than to try and teach an advertising person business. Further, by creating our own school (Zimmerman Advertising Program) at the University of South Florida, we have built a curriculum to develop and seed the future leaders of our agency and the industry.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
I wanted to build the first business solutions firm that happened to do advertising. Analytically driven, and under the methodology of Brandtailing ®. Build a brand over time, build sales overnight. Meaning, give the consumer a better reason to buy than price, through incredible insights derived from research. In other words, focus on the outcome of the work, not the output.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
The one with the most data wins. I’ve been saying it long before the age of “big data” was upon us. Advertising needs to get smarter, not more creative. We use data as a weapon of mass construction at the agency. It helps us not just define where people are, but which of those people have the highest propensity to buy, what they are most likely to buy and what the most effective trigger would be to get them to purchase now. There is a future where there might not be media. There is a future where stores will look much different from how they do now. There is a future that there may be only one-to-one personal communication. With all that said, there is no future without more people buying more things in more ways. For Zimmerman, this next is now.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
The first thing a successful business needs to do is ground itself clearly on who they are, who they serve and what they are absolutely the “best at,” as this provides the focus and purpose that an organization needs. For Zimmerman it has never been about wanting to be an advertising agency. In fact, it’s the last thing I wanted us to be. Agencies have always been too intoxicated by themselves and the output of their work. On the other hand, we are always obsessed about the clients and what the outcome of our work produces for them. We focus on businesses with a retail and/or transactional responsibility and our purpose is to help them grow their business in a measurable and immediate way. This must translate to a growth in comp sales, growth in transactions, growth in margin, share and stock price. Everything else is a means to that end.
The next thing a successful business needs to do is always think of next now. We’ve never rested on our laurels and we work with a healthy dose of paranoia because the retail sector is always under siege. It conditions you for speed, agility and a demand that every dollar comes back as six or more. To keep ahead of pace, we always invest in what will be next before next comes. This includes hiring the next leaders not based just on talent, but also on sheer will, competitive spirit and love of business versus just brands. This includes developing the next tech solutions not based on coolness, but rather, on its ability to help our clients sell more things, in more effective ways to the people with the highest predictive triggers to purchase. This includes investing in relationships with clients that actually reward us for selling things, not just doing ads. Too many agencies talk about following this approach, but don’t have the courage to actually do it.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
In 1997, the loss of our biggest account. It was the worst and best thing that ever happened to us.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
We treat their business like it’s our business. We plan and spend their money like it’s our family’s last dollar. We review their numbers daily- comp sales, traffic, average basket, margin and market share. We are not the ad agency that tells the client what they want to hear, but rather, tells them what they need to hear. Our clients appreciate that.
How do you motivate others?
Leading by example. There is no job too small or too big that I still won’t do. I inspire all of our associates to think outside the box. To sit in the client’s seat, to challenge themselves every day and realize that when our client wins, we win. I preach our company mission every day to our team: Relentlessly pursue the client’s goal, but never rest in the glory.
Coaching and mutual respect for everyone is very important.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Dream big! Then dream bigger. Don’t listen to the no men. The people who tell you what you can’t do. Believe in yourself.