Coffee Break with Grant Johnson, ambassador of fun/chief measurable marketing strategist/founder of Johnson Direct LLC

Grant A. Johnson


Ambassador of fun/chief measurable marketing strategist/founder

Johnson Direct LLC

250 N. Sunny Slope Road, Suite 203, Brookfield, WI 53005 and

Industry: Measurable advertising/marketing/communication

Number of employees: 17

Family: Wife, Maria (married 20 years), children: Morgan, 19; Mason, 17; Madison, 15; and Emma, 12.


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

“We added the right team members and folded more interactive and social media services into our traditional advertising/marketing service offerings, allowing us to expand and take on bigger campaign assignments and more agency of record accounts.”

What’s new at your company?

“We’ve added key team members on the creative, interactive, account services and marketing side that has allowed us to test and refine our Direct Branding process to help us deliver better results than previously achieved.”

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

“Yes. As the economy picks up we look to expand through both hiring and possible acquisitions. In this business, you are always adding hardware, software and talented team members. It’s imperative to keep up to date with technology.”

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

“Convincing clients to test is harder than it seems, but in less than ideal economic conditions, it is even more difficult. Showing our clients – old and new – that the best way to grow dramatically is to fail intelligently, minimizing huge failures, but taking risks nonetheless. It leads to smarter marketing, fatter profits and ongoing discovery of what’s working and what is not working.”

What’s the hottest trend in your industry?

“Marketing measurement and accountability. Increasingly advertising is becoming more measurable. New ad trends (interactive & digital, social, E-PR) are all measurable. As such, data makes the world go ‘round. Those who understand the data are in the position of both power and responsibility. If you’re in advertising and plan to stay in it, make sure you understand data and can use your findings to make your campaigns even more bottom-line producing.”

Do you have a business mantra?

“Never be too old to think like a kid. In the end, the simplest solutions to marketing challenges are usually the ones that work the best, and when done correctly and tested, your advertising/marketing is a powerful competitive advantage.”

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

“I admire Abraham Lincoln. If I am having a bad day, I think of all he had to deal with, the tough decisions he had to make and how he had persistence to prevail and become great. People fascinate me. I make it a goal to learn something new from as many people I meet as possible. I think we can all learn something useful and interesting from each daily interaction.”


What was the best advice you ever received?

“Measure twice, cut once. Also, be honest and love what you do and be passionate about continual learning. The success will follow.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I really enjoy spending my time with my family and watching them all play sports. I love music and go to as many live concerts as time permits. I like to read, enjoy great single barrel bourbon and microbrews combined with intellectually stimulating conversation with true friends.”


What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?

“I had a big client pitch and had arrived at the office quite early to prepare. The pitch went extremely well, but after the presentation one of the attendees asked me why I had two different shoes on? I looked down, and sure enough, one was black, one was brown. I stammered about the need for smart differentiation and the client’s need to have someone who not only talked about being different and standing out from the crowd, but the importance of hiring an agency that actually lived by those principles. We won the account.”

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