As Minneapolis-based marketing firm Broadhead continues its rapid growth, the agency has introduced three sister companies to increase business by offering specialized services to clients.

Clutch+ Business Advisors provides business training and consulting, Rabbit analyzes industry and consumer insights and Granite Growth works to find new partnerships and business ventures for clients. Together with Broadhead, the businesses now form the B+Co Group.

With its “Focus. Be best.” approach, Broadhead credits its current success to targeting core categories, primarily the agriculture industry. Dean Broadhead, CEO of B+Co and Broadhead founder, said the expansion provided growth opportunities without compromising the model.

“We have a strong focus in terms of food and agriculture and connecting urban and rural. Business has been very good for us,” Broadhead said. “We wanted to say, ‘Where are there some other places that we can be focused and have specialty?’ ”

While the new companies can work with existing Broadhead agency clients, the entities exist independently and can pursue their own customers.

The diversification already has had results, officials said. Last month, Clutch landed a deal with Minnesota Soybean to help with leadership development. Rabbit recently won a major contract with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to help redesign its strategy for communicating with the public during a reconstruction project for Interstate 94.

“We feel that we can grow and really kind of go down this technology and marketing path on one side, the left brain side of that business, and down a qualitative and insights-driven [path] on the other side of the business, and they really come together in the projects that we do,” said Troy Schroeder, president of business group and ventures for B+Co with oversight of the new companies.

Revenue at the 14-year-old Broadhead agency has risen 20 to 25 percent annually for the past five years, with 35 percent growth projected for this year. The firm has about 90 full-time employees, with 37 having been hired this year.

Broadhead’s agricultural niche has landed the agency work with companies such as fertilizer supplier Mosaic Co. Broadhead recently crafted for Mosaic a campaign called “The Great Yield Mystery,” which communicated to farmers through a 10-part audio drama the importance of soil fertility in producing a better yield.

The agency had to find a way to reach farmers when they were spending most of their time in the cabs of their trucks and tractors, said Beth Burgy, president of Broadhead and president of communications for the B+Co Group.

“Farmers are so busy at harvest,” she said. “You are in the fields 12, 16 hours a day so you’re not reading your mail, so traditional print advertising, traditional direct mail doesn’t really fit this time of year.”

Dean Broadhead, who grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, said his firm works to narrow the gap between farmers and consumers, whose relationship has changed in the digital age.

“Consumers care a lot more about food origins — everything, where it’s from — than they ever have before, and our clients recognize that,” he said. “The distance between what you would say gate to plate is much skinnier than it used to be.”

Farmers have begun to realize that they need to participate in those conversations with consumers, he said.

In the wake of consumer concerns about the conditions of sows kept in gestation crates and other questions about food production, the Minnesota Pork Board turned to Broadhead to help start a dialogue with “influencers,” Burgy said.

As part of its Pig 3D campaign, the agency hosted a “Pig and Pint” event in July and brought together foodies and pork producers over drinks, food and trivia.

“It’s been a really successful program for them, and it’s very simple in terms of getting the right people in the room and talking about it and leveraging the relationships that everyone has,” Burgy said. “ ‘Let’s be open. Let’s be honest. Let’s talk about the issues.’ ”

The new companies, which are housed right now in Broadhead’s Warehouse District offices, will relocate to a new leased space soon. The companies will use a full floor of the former Nate’s Clothing building at 401 1st Av. N. Half of the space will be for offices for the new companies, with the other half for training and workshops and possibly events.

Renovations of the 8,000-square-foot space are expected to be completed in February.

 

Twitter: @nicolenorfleet