BizTimes Bubbler Executive of the Week

Tim Dyer, co-founder and chief storyteller, and Dave Dyer, co-founder and chief strategist of Manifesto LLC

Company address: 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee
Web site:
Industry: Advertising/marketing
Family: Tim: Wife, Elisha and two sons, Emerson (3) and Sullivan (1).
Family: Dave: Wife, Allison and son, Grayson

What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?

Dave: “Turned down clients and projects that are not a good fit for us. By turning down some projects that we knew were already loss leaders it has really helped us specialize and identify our sweet spot (i.e. – not trying to provide a wide range of creative services but rather to specialize in one or two). This has helped our agency to focus and for our team to be in alignment about how we can systematically create a process to follow that helps us create better client deliverables through a more efficient workflow.”

What’s new at your company?

Tim: “New positioning. When you’re first getting started, you’ll take anything and everything to get business in the door. Over time, we’ve discovered that by specializing in brand launch strategy we leverage our strengths and turn away projects that are better suited for another agency’s skill sets.”

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

Dave: “We would like to invest in additional business development and account management resources, allowing Tim and I to focus on what we do best: ideation, strategy, and creativity.”

What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?

Tim: “Focus. Being idea guys also means you have the potential to chase down things that may or may not pan out. We started with a series of initiatives and over time, cut them one by one until we could create absolute focus on the ones that matter most. Secondly, stabilization. Though we’re the new kids on the block, as a project-based company, we provide immense value for quick-turn ideas, strategy and creative. More nimble, less expensive than the structure of a large agency, our future goal is to move to a retainer-based model that allows clients to have our undivided time and attention for deeper engagements.”

What’s the hottest trend in your industry?

Dave: “Social entrepreneurship – leveraging entrepreneurship and innovation in the service of cause that benefit people and the planet. We at Manifesto have coined a saying, ‘If your brand doesn’t care about the world, why should the world care about your brand?’ Research shows that up to 90 percent of Gen Y consumers care what the brands they purchase do with their money. In this new era of social responsibility, it’s more imperative than ever that brands understand and activate their influence to its highest levels. That being said, not all of our clients bring us projects that contain connections to socially responsible causes. We try to find and incorporate those connections whenever possible but also work with great brands on more traditional campaigns, everything from print to mobile tours, and events.”

Do you have a business mantra?

Tim: “If your brand doesn’t care about the world, why should the world care about your brand?”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to? (bold)

Dave: “I really admire people like Richard Branson. He has been such a pioneer for social entrepreneurship. It was our experience and engagement while attending Summit at Sea that really inspired Tim and I to start our agency. I have come to appreciate and admire Richard Branson’s tenacity and focus on disrupting industries by creating consumer experiences that surpass the status quo. Instead of resting on previous accomplishments and laurels, he is constantly seeking ways to reinvent his own brand and he has an undaunted commitment to philanthropic enterprise (something that I most admire)”

What was the best advice you ever received?

Tim: “You can’t control what people think of you, so don’t even try. Attach yourself to truth and show the world who you really are.”

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career? (bold)
Dave: “I’ve been stopped in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport by a woman who ranted for nearly three minutes, sharing some recent news about a former colleague that I supposedly knew well. After a few minutes of listening, I simply said, “You seem like a great person but I don’t think I know you.” She was immediately offended, hurt, and then surprised as she recounted that she was surprised that I didn’t know who she was since her office was right next to mine for three years! As it turns out, she sat next to Tim, my identical twin brother, who had been a creative director for another agency in Dallas. It made me realize how small a world it really is.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

Dave: “My wife, son, and I love to travel internationally and really enjoy spending time outdoors camping, hiking, and exploring.”

Tim: “Washington Island is home away from home. When we get the chance to head north of the stress line, there’s nothing I enjoy more than jamming out in a music circle with island legend, Julian Hagen, at Fiddler’s Green Pub, notably called an Adventurer’s Oasis.”

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