Ad and marketing creatives

Take the Marketing Out of It

Coudal Partners is a small, super-creative design, ad and interactive studio based in Chicago. A few years ago the firm had, well, a creative idea for its website: Take the marketing out of it. So instead of featuring portfolios, client lists, press releases and awards online, they started publishing an eclectic, interactive magazine about visual design, marketing, advertising and much more. The site buzzes with new thinking, guest editors, contests, even a "museum of online museums." It certainly made an impact: Some 40,000 people now visit each day. Should you consider this take-the-marketing-out-of-it approach for your site, too? Listen to what Coudal's Steve Delahoyde has to say.

VT: Tell us about the thinking behind Coudal's website.

Steve: The studio's founder Jim Coudal likes to point out that if you meet a woman at a bar, you don't immediately start talking about all the other women you've dated. You talk about the things that make you interesting. Same concept with our website. We don't have our old client work out there -- you really have to dig around to find it. What you get on our site are a lot of fresh ideas. I think that's why people like our site, and also like the work we do.

VT: Has this approach helped your business?

Steve: It has definitely helped. It has also allowed us to move from just client work and do more projects for ourselves. We have a big base of readers who are just like us so we've been developing products for them. For example, we came out with Jewelboxing, which produces cool and functional DVD and CD cases, and we also do something called The Show -- live concert recordings. We've done really well with these.

VT: How do you come up with content?

Steve: Each of us here at Coudal has a logon to the site so we can put up whatever makes us curious. It's not narrow focused. We have no day to day plan, we just throw up stuff we like on the site and see what happens -- and learn from it.

VT: Any surprises?

Steve: We once ran a contest with a small puzzle and got many thousands of entries. That was huge.

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