Oct 27, 2009 at 05:15 PM
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So, Who is Third Street Anyway?

IEG's recent post entitled "Is A Sponsorship Sales Agency Working Entirely On Commission A Good Idea?" addressed the strategies 5-month old firm, Third Street, may have used to beat out some industry heavyweights for agency of record on Indianapolis' municipal partnerships initiative. If you are a regular reader here, you know our follow-up post elicited some strong opinions, as well. We figured we would check in with Third Street co-founder David Jones to learn more about who Third Street is, how the RFP process went down and what's new with their partnership efforts. Here's a transcript of our short interview.

Q/Kris: Given you were only a 5 month old firm at the time, what unique approach did you bring to the pitch that allowed you to beat out more experienced firms? Do you think the fee structure, commission-only, was a big factor?

A/David: A fair question, and I hope you'll understand that we hesitate to speak on behalf of the City...but if interested, we would certainly be happy to connect you with them and see if that was something on which they would like to elaborate. For what it's worth, feedback from other Third Street clients has led us to believe that there is an appreciation for our being "new," yet battle-tested. Third Street's principals stepped out of the corporate shadow with about 50 years of new media, event, sponsorship, advertising, finance, marketing, and revenue-driving experience. Yet we always look to bring fresh ideas and an openness to performance-based compensation. Thus far it has been well received.

Q/Kris: In the current spending climate, isn't that a big risk to take?

A/David: OK, just come out and say it - you think we're nuts. And our spouses agree. But ironically, we are finding that there is a voracious appetite out there for ideas that work. Ones that truly help private and public entitites acheive their goals. In fact, perhaps now moreso than ever. So that is the opportunity within the challenge; there is enough pain to motivate action.

Q/Kris: Did you view having a local connection as being critical to your success?

A/David: We again defer to the City as it relates to the pitch, but the decision to headquarter our firm and move our families to the Indianapolis area simply made good business sense. The market is strong, stable, and open to progressive thought. To be a part of the future of the community in which we live is something we are genuinely passionate about, and we are optimistic that it will help us create value for partners.

Q/Kris: Will your team be focused on "low hanging fruit" (sales rights, pouring rights, etc.) or larger naming deals and such?

A/David: We have begun the process by inviting citizens' ideas at , and establishing a Public Policy with the help of a newly-created Neighborhood Association Committee. Our primary focus will then be vetting the ideas received, and ensuring that these are high-quality partnerships, be they large, small, or somewhere in between. Does it help the community and the City's image? Does it generate revenue for the City? Does it help the partner achieve its goals? If the answer is yes to all three, then it's on our radar screen.

Q/Kris: What types of companies/categories are you targeting?

A/David: The types that understand that only by bringing value to the community in which they operate will all parties achieve success. This isn't about writing a check and slapping logos all over town. This is about gaining recognition as making Indianapolis a better place to live. So we are focusing our efforts on building programs that make that a reality.

Q/Kris: Moving forward, will Third Street have a greater focus on municipal deals like Indy?

A/David: Can we get back to you on that? In all sincerity, we have made the conscious decision to focus our full energy on getting it right in Indy. If an idea that a citizen brings forward here catches on and becomes replicatable elsewhere, that would obviously be something in which everyone could take great pride.

David: Also, it should be mentioned how impressive SponsorPitch is. It looks to be an excellent resource, bringing together some great events and entities with some top notch brands on a national scale. Well done.

Lastly, as your previous post was in response to Jim Andrew's post that mentioned us on the IEG site, it should be noted that Third Street has great respect and admiration for IEG and the work they do on a National and Global level.

Kris: Thanks for your time and good luck, David.