Agora, Inc., founded in 1981, was the first consulting company devoted to the development and implementation of integrated marketing and communication programs for all types of business organizations. Founded by Professor Don E. Schultz, Northwestern University, Agora, Inc. has been developing the theory and practice of IMC since 1989. Schultz, who is Professor Emeritus-in-Service of Integrated Marketing Communications at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois, with his colleagues, developed the basic concepts of integrated marketing and communication and conducted the first research studies in the area. Most of the theories and methodologies currently in use in the IMC process were developed by Schultz and his associates. The Agora, Inc. view of integration is to provide the organization with better methods of allocating finite marketing and communication resources using current and cutting-edge technology to build not just marketing programs but entire business strategies.
Agora, Inc. provides the commercial applications, teaching and training of IMC concepts to organizations globally. In the Agora, Inc. approach, which consists of a proprietary five step process, integration is developed with both internal and external customers and audiences. As part of the process, Agora, Inc. helps organizations integrate and meld all the research, customer service, consumer and customer data which exist in various parts of the organization into a useful and usable repository of information. This is then used to drive the firm’s marketing and communication efforts. Agora, Inc. consultants help organizations move from a product to a customer-focus. An integral part of the integrated process is the determination of the marketing and communication spend, identification of target audiences and the resulting measurement or estimation of return-on-marketing-and communication investments processes and approaches. Agora, Inc. is the recognized leader in the re-thinking and development of new financial approaches to fund marketing and communications activities.
As part of the development of integrated marketing and communication programs, Agora, Inc. has been on the forefront of analytical developments that make estimations and calculations of returns possible. Starting initially with analytical models to measure short-term returns on advertising and sales promotion, the work of Agora, Inc. has progressed to more sophisticated approaches that provide a suite of approaches ranging from marketplace tracking to brand valuation models. One of the key capabilities of Agora, Inc. is the development and maintenance of a number of measurement metrics many of which focus on more sophisticated versions of Marketing Mix Modeling which Agora, Inc. builds and trains clients to use.
In the mid-1990s, Agora, Inc. moved into the marketing and communication measurement and metrics area. This was a direct outgrowth of the IMC process work that is based on a closed-loop financial investment and return approach. Focusing on the financial value of marketing and communication, the current suite of Agora, Inc. services range from the measurement of short-term communication and promotional activities through to the estimation and calculation of corporate and product brand equity and brand valuation measures. Directly derived from the 1997 text Dr. Schultz, with co-author Jeffrey Walters, wrote for the Association of National Advertisers titled “Measuring Brand Communication ROI”, Agora, Inc. has assisted a large number of global marketing organizations with a broad range of brand-related consulting services. A new book “Brand Babble: Sense and Nonsense about Brands and Branding” co-authored by Don and Heidi Schultz was published in 2004 by Thompson.
In addition to the traditional consulting services, Agora, Inc. has joined with other global organizations to provide a complete suite of consulting services. Currently, there are Agora, Inc. partners or affiliated groups in the United Kingdom, Australia, Finland, Mexico, Chile, China and Malaysia. These partners provide a broad array of services ranging from basic consumer and customer research through organizational development and design to brand and financial valuations.
The Agora, Inc. team conducts basic and applied research in integrated marketing and communication which is published in journals and trade publications such as Marketing News, Journal of Business Strategy, Journal of Direct Marketing, Marketing Management, Journal of Marketing Communications, Journal of Database Marketing, Marketing Research and others. The text, Integrated MarketingCommunications: Putting It Together and Making It Work, which Schultz co-authored, is still the premier text in the field. The latest version of IMC thinking titled “IMC: The Next Generation” was released by McGraw-Hill in 2004.