Adam Kleinberg: Giving Traction to marketing

2001 was a year most businesses in the Bay Area would like to forget. The dot-com bust had just finished decimating the economy in Silicon Valley, and companies with even the loosest of working relationships with the technology world were feeling the cruel aftereffects.

One Bay Area business, however, managed to defy the logic of that disastrous year. Traction, a San Francisco-based marketing and advertising agency, was born at a time when so many other companies met their untimely end.

“We really had no intention of starting an agency in 2001,” said Adam Kleinberg, the chief executive officer of Traction. “There were just four of us and we figured we would freelance and help each other get some work. We managed to provide very flexible service for our clients, and somehow, before long, we were busy enough to go out and get office space and have a legitimate company.”

Six years later, Traction has expanded to a firm of 25 employees representing clients such as Sun Microsystems and Microsoft. The agency recently secured new projects with CaesarStone, a kitchen countertop company, and Livescribe, a paper-based computing business.

According to Kleinberg, Traction has grown based on the philosophy of using advertising and marketing as a “holistic” endeavor, with integration of all media outlets into their projects.

“The campaigns we produce for our clients have to be as interactive as possible,” Kleinberg said. “We look to use all available forms of media, whether it’s through traditional methods, or new and emerging outlets like social-networking campaigns. The most important factor is that we always let the product dictate the medium, and not the other way around.”

The diverse avenues of marketing methods implemented by Traction calls for the agency to seek out employees capable of performing a wide variety of tasks.

“We have people working on image marketing, e-commerce, Web development,” Kleinberg said. “We sit our creative people right next to the engineers. Everyone works together and everyone fills a number of different roles for us.”

With an ever-increasing demand for its services, Kleinberg expects the company to grow to 40 employees by next year.

“Not in the wildest of possibilities did I think we would be where we are right now,” Kleinberg said. “It’s a testament to our ability to adapt to the changes of the industry.”

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