A look at the people behind the numbers in area business:


Title: vice president, director of account management and digital

Age: 33

Dan Hoedeman is continuing to help brands express their purpose and connect that to business results with his recent promotion to vice president, director of account management and digital, at the Riley Hayes Advertising agency in Minneapolis.

The agency's emphasis on helping clients understand and express their purpose has helped it grow and win business, especially with challenger brands, said who joined the agency nearly two years ago. President and founder Tom Hayes launched the agency in 1991.

"We start with the purpose of the employees," Hoedeman said. "Why do they come to work every morning? What are they doing beyond making a widget that's motivating them? When you tap into that, now you've got an army of people who are driven by this purpose, who can evangelize. When you have that marketing layer, that storytelling is true."

One focus for Hoedeman is strategy and making sure to apply business insights into marketing issues.

"Advertising has had a lot of people called strategists and planners and they stood alone," Hoedeman said. "Where we've found opportunity is tying that more closely to the business. We make sure we're spot on strategically but we're doing it for the good of the business."

Hoedeman's experience includes working at the Modern Climate and Carmichael Lynch agencies. He is a board member of the Sanneh Foundation, which offers life skills programs to at-risk youths through playing soccer.

Q: How do you approach digital work?

A: I started at the right place and the right time, in being able to start in advertising at the beginning of digital but having that old-school way of looking at and talking to people. If you're not starting with that pre-digital [notion] that we're talking to humans, you can really lose it.

Q: How does the agency help clients identify their purpose?

A: We have a process to work with clients to help get them to rally around not the idea that they want to be but the idea that they are. We have intensive sessions that we facilitate to make sure we're able to land on that brand purpose, that higher meaning that everyone can rally around.

Q: Why should companies bring their business to Riley Hayes?

A: For brands, especially challenger brands that want to grow explosively in a crowded marketplace, we have a great point of view that helps them. We have proved success with that whole idea of purpose and overcommit with who you are. The second is the values we have, what I characterize as Minnesota values. We do what we say we're going to do.

Todd Nelson