Approaching 33 years in business on April 1, Zaiss & Company has established itself with a unique “hybrid marketing research firm and advertising agency” niche. President and Chief Creative Officer Wendy Wiseman indicated that the Omaha-based firm is positioned to “grow exponentially” in the next five years by leveraging its legacy, and within fresh digs […]
Approaching 33 years in business on April 1, Zaiss & Company has established itself with a unique “hybrid marketing research firm and advertising agency” niche. President and Chief Creative Officer Wendy Wiseman indicated that the Omaha-based firm is positioned to “grow exponentially” in the next five years by leveraging its legacy, and within fresh digs at Blackstone Plaza (formerly Kiewit Plaza).
“The new space is breathing new life into our culture of trust and respect, and the joy we have when we’re together as a team and with our clients,” Wiseman said. “These true partnerships are gold, and together we will continue to do great things.”
An Innovative Approach
Founded in 1989 by Tracy Zaiss, the eponymous Zaiss & Company is self-described as a “full service customer-based marketing and communications firm.” Its team provides strategic planning, creative development, media services, web design, social media and production from its headquarters at 35th and Farnam streets.
When Zaiss launched the firm, Wiseman said there were few agencies run by women.
“Though women were rising in the agency management ranks locally and nationally then, there hasn’t been significant traction in more women achieving executive leadership positions,” she added.
Wiseman brought experience as a director of marketing or advertising at two global brands when she joined Zaiss & Company in 1997. And, while the veteran creative brand strategies leader remarked that she wished she could say there have been “great strides” with women in leadership in the last three decades: “ … statistics state otherwise.”
Citing data courtesy of the nonprofit policy institute, The Center for American Progress, Wiseman said it took 20 years – 1980 to 2000 – to go from zero women in top executive ranks of Fortune 100 companies to just 7% today.
“Only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women and women occupy just 10% of top management positions in S&P 1500 companies,” she said. “It’s illogical when you know that women comprise 50.8% of our population and have a higher rate of earning college degrees.”
With that being said, Wiseman emphasized that she never approached the notion of leading in her career with her “gender’s strengths in mind.”
“I’m not a big fan of sweeping generalizations of how a certain gender or other identifier behaves or possesses attributes more suited for one job title or another,” Wiseman said.
“It’s passion for what you’re doing, a depth of knowledge and respect for those around you that works.
“I gravitate toward those who demonstrate this and with whom we click as a service firm.”
In a similar vein, when asked about the firm’s staying power as it approaches yet another milestone, Wiseman noted how the key to its success can be summed up by their clients’ feedback and impressions.
“One,” she said, “they are impressed that we know their business as well as they do. And, two, they appreciate how responsive we are in meeting their challenges with ideas and solutions, and with timely implementation.”
It's Customer POV (Point of View) has played a role in Zaiss & Company’s sustained growth because it presents the firm’s “unique footing,” according to Wiseman, for their work with clients – its deep dive into their business and position in the market among their prospects.
“It keeps us mindful of the core messaging to relay across channels,” she added. “This is what makes the difference.”
Similarly, Wiseman said “there really isn’t another firm like ours.”
“We’re a hybrid marketing research firm/advertising agency with strategy at the forefront of all we do,” she explained. “We call it ‘smart marketing’ and all points lead to reaching our clients’ goals — period.”
The difference, she expanded, is the depth Zaiss & Company goes to understand the product, service, and/or task at hand, and how to tell the “brand story” in the most compelling manner to spur prospects to action.
“We’re the marketing partner clients count on to embrace their goals as our own — offering ideas, leveraging the latest channels and delivering results year after year,” Wiseman said. “That’s why clients stay for the long term. There have been instances where clients have left to ‘try something new.’ Most come back and tell us they just didn’t get the results they did when they were with us. It’s not easy, but it is fun.”
The Next 33 Years
In addition to “fun,” it’s also an exciting time for the company, courtesy of its new location, the genesis of which can be traced back roughly three years.
“Available space is more plentiful since COVID hit and all the work-from-home policies blossomed,” Wiseman said. “So, we ended up with the luxuries of time and selection in our favor.”
In fact, after working from home for “several intervals” in 2020 and 2021, Wiseman indicated the collective team’s thought was “it’s simply better to be in a space together to collaborate on our work for our clients.”
After all, two of Zaiss & Company’s core values are “better together” and “all in.”
“John Lund and the Lund Company brought Blackstone Plaza to our attention, got us into our prime, first-floor location, and together we embraced a vision for the future,” she explained.
Employees have free use of the wellness center, The Cloud Room on the top floor with panoramic views of the city, covered parking and close proximity to entertainment and dining venues.
“We do offer work-from-home days, but the new office is bright, open and inviting, and we find that it’s fun to be in this new space together,” she said.
Visitors to the space reportedly comment often on the firm’s new colorful, bright, open and energetic surroundings.
“Zaiss & Company has an impressive art collection and our new space frames the collection perfectly,” Wiseman said. “Our staff, clients and community partners love that we’re in the heart of everything, including the walkability to great restaurants, karaoke bar, mini bowling and Turner Park.”
Wiseman said a media rep summed this up with: “It’s where the cool kids are.”
As to employees’ most sought-after amenities within such sought-after surroundings, she said it’s a “toss-up” between the open, collaborative space and the walking distance to coffee, lunch, or happy hour after work.
“They feel part of something bigger and have a pride of place,” she said.
And employees “engaged” with the space even before walls were painted and floors were carpeted, according to Wiseman, who said they had a “reveal night” for staff.
“This was the day the streetcar was announced with its route running right by the building – more proof that we made a good decision,” Wiseman said.
Wiseman acknowledged how she sought to check her “old-school” beliefs about work and why staff needed to be in a space together 9 to 5, noting how COVID-19 protocols challenged her.
“We made it work and came out relatively unscathed,” she said. “Still, I polled our staff about their desires and they said they like to be together (or don’t like working from home so much). But, the overriding factor in making this investment is knowing — for our business — collaboration is key.
“Clients want ideas and they deserve the best effort comprised of many minds. All the Zooms in the world can’t generate the quality work and satisfaction that comes from being together, knowing each other and joining together to deliver work that works.”
In-person collaboration and work is complemented by a “generous” remote work policy, equating to nine days each month.
“Our culture is so strong that we simply don’t let each other down,” she said. “When work is due or we need each other, we make it happen for each other – regardless of where we are.”
With wind at its back, Zaiss & Company leadership is looking forward to exponential growth with a time-tested blend of “content is king,” new media and channels, and metrics.
“What we expect of everyone at Zaiss & Company, and what I always advise, is this: Know you stuff and do the work,” she said. “The knowledge, passion and drive you exhibit will be what is seen and what stands out to employers and clients.”
Critical business news, thoughtful analysis and valuable strategic insights for business leaders in the Greater Omaha, Lincoln and Council Bluffs area.