“Biz Buzz” with Kevin Elliott from Applied Research Associates

Kevin Elliott
Senior Marketing Specialist of Applied Research Associates
Website Address: ARA.com

About Applied Research Associates:

ARA is an international engineering and sciences firm. We work with government agencies doing high-end R&D, as well as strategic communication planning, marketing and market research, and media production to help those agencies reach the public.


What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome in your business?

Most of my work involves marketing for government agencies. Most of my clients are engineers and very technically minded. It is sometimes hard for them to understand why they need to market themselves. However, once they get the hang of it, they do great.


What makes your company unique?

ARA is the most technically diverse company I’ve ever seen. We are 30% PhDs and 70% advanced degrees. Our skills range from strategic communication planning for transportation agencies to nuclear blast physics to robotics.


What is a tip for success that you would provide someone in your same industry?

Read everything Al Ries and Jack Trout have written. Then read David Ogilvy. Another tip: Most campaigns don’t last long enough to be effective. Organizations quit too soon and then blame the marketers. Convince them to allow enough time for their marketing to work.


What percent of your advertising service offerings does traditional media buying make up?

0%


The Biggest change in marketing that I see coming in the next 3 years is?

Marketing is a foreign concept to many government agencies. Over the next three years, I think more and more agencies will see the vital need to communicate with citizens and amp up their outreach efforts.


How did you get started in the business?

I was an entrepreneur actually for 15 years, I owned businesses in a number of different industries and I got to point my life where I wanted to make another career change. I think entrepreneurs are restless by nature. I asked myself, I’ve been doing business for about 15 years what do I like about being in business? What it boiled down to is I like the communication side. I like talking to people. I like marketing ideas, I love selling myself, a lot of people don’t. I love it. I am now in marketing and communication for others business.

What makes Applied Research Associates unique?

It is primarily an engineering and sciences research and development firm. We do high-end engineering and science for government agencies primarily. Their problem is that they have all these grand things they want to get out to their constituents, to taxpayers and to other agencies and they don’t know how because they don’t know how to communicate. So they hire people like me as their PR and marketing wing to do that function for them. A lot of the communication I do is very niche.

What are your clients telling you is next, what’s around the corner?

Well it’s funny. Government agencies are finding the need to communicate directly to the traveling public is growing growing growing, whereas in past generations people didn’t even know the D.A. existed and didn’t really care as long as the roads worked and they got to where they were going. However things are rapidly changing, as we know in transportation. It’s undergoing a sea change. It’s almost like when the Internet came online. It is that big a deal because now you have electric cars, you have automated vehicles, you have pedestrians and what they call complete streets. All these different concerns now and more than ever people are interested in their transportation networks and they want to know who’s responsible for all of that.


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