We’re the first Bay Area marketing agency to apply growth marketing principles — including the process of systematic experimentation and measurement — to all core agency disciplines.
TOP = Test + Optimize + Perform
From the Millennium Park to the Magnificent Mile, we help Chicago companies market at scale
Chicago is home to some of the most forward-thinking, and storied companies in the world. With all of that talent walking around everywhere, we have a front row seat to the future of marketing, tech, and, PR that is second to none. This allows us to not only have our fingers on the pulse of all the latest trends, but to put our own stamp on them, staying at the crest of the wave of digital marketing and social media at all times.
We collaborate closely with your internal brand team to align on key messages from minute one in order to make sure we fully understand your business and your needs. This understanding allows our brand strategists to take a holistic view and uncover the “white space” that separates your from your competitors. We don’t simply broadcast our messages in to the ether and hope that our audiences are paying attention, we prioritize the end audience, their needs, and specific use cases to break through the noise and rise above the din.
Are you in need of in-depth marketing research to understand your competitive strengths and weaknesses in the marketplace? Our expert marketers are the best in using mass media analysis, social media listening, surveys, and focus groups to find the best angles to attack the competition and raise your brand above them.
Looking for world-class digital marketing that designed to integrate seamlessly with non-digital tactics? TOP’s team of keyword researchers work, landing page optimizers, and pay-per-click experts, work hand in hand with broadcast media buyers, out-of-home planners, and a full creative team of writers, makers, and strategists for a truly integrated 360-degree marketing experience.
This is all in the service of more conversions and greater revenue. We specialize in creating psychological triggers and leveraging the power of calendar-based marketing to make content ideas that are sticky, activating key emotions that cause consumers, customers, and key influencers to take action now.
We’ve also learned from the best performing startups from across the Chicagoland area. We implement principles from agile software development to allows us to work in a series of systematic “sprints” that are aligned perfectly to key drive periods. With this approach we achieve high productivity that is flexible enough to course correct with confidence at any given time.
The result is a Chicago marketing agency that has the soul of a fast-growing tech startup and the global reach of one of Chicago’s elite businesses. Let’s grab a coney and plot our next major marketing initiative.
We are full-service
We innovate across more than 35 disciplines organized into seven functional groups. We're talking everything from advertising, branding, commerce, and comms; to creative, digital and growth. One thing you will never find are silos at TOP. Our entire Chicago team works cross functionally and is integrated with a common set of processes and metrics.
We are data-driven
We believe in the power of data to reveal the answers if you look hard enough and ask the right questions. We A/B test everything — from PR pitches to brand messaging guidelines to digital landing pages. And we love sharing this data with our San Francisco and Silicon Valley clients. Better data means better insights. If you don’t measure, you can’t optimize.
We are growth-focused
We’re at the vanguard of marketing agencies applying growth marketing principles to all core agency disciplines. Through the process of systematic experimentation and measurement we not only help Chicago companies climb fast in a highly competitive city but identify the right walls that they should be climbing. This growth-focused approach is literally in our name: We’re TOP — and that means we Test, Optimize, and Perform at scale.
We have global reach
We've conducted integrated marketing campaigns in more than 25 countries on six continents and we can't wait to colonize Mars because we'd love to add 2 planets to that list. There isn't a major market in the world that we haven't had boots on the ground in and we're one of the few Chicagoland marketing agencies able to laser target a local focus and expand it to global scale in places like London, Hong Kong and, who knows, maybe Olympus Mons.
We work as one team
Since we have no silos, when you work with TOP, working across disciplines is a snap. We'll never compartmentalize your work and shuttle different aspects off to different teams who don't understand your business and your brand. From San Francisco to Sydney and back to Chicago, we work as one cohesive team — including our project management approach to our global execution to our quarterly P&L statements.
We love Chicagoland brands
Quick question: If a marketing agency never existed before, how would we invent it using the tools and technology of today?
The answer is how we do it at TOP. Regardless of which marketing agency discipline we are working in, we believe in the power of great storytelling with rigorous testing. Not a day goes by that our Chicago marketing team isn’t conducting multivariate testing of key stories and messaging (A/B testing across multiple dimensions), analyzing the conversion rates, and then scaling up the “winning” story ideas and key messages to reach key KPIs and achieve higher ROI. And we’re never satisfied with one answer to that question. It’s always evolving. Our clients love the insights they get into their optimal product story from the results of our multivariate testing and data-driven approach.
To be successful in 21st century digital marketing you have to be channel and platform agnostic. We’re experts across the board and on any given day you’ll find us shooting crisp viral video for a scrappy wearables start-up, rebranding a global CPG brand, hashing out SEO strategy for a local brick-and-mortar B2B business, managing a hot new SaaS company’s LinkedIn presence, or organizing a world-changing CSR campaign.
Just because we work in Chicago, doesn’t mean we spend all day behind a screen. Our experiential marketing and events planning team has hosted everything from viral man-on-the-street style stunts in across the city to million dollar conferences at the McCormick Center — always keeping the customer or consumer experience top of mind.
What is your marketing agency’s approach to day-to-day client management for Chicago brands?
Our account management systems, procedures, and teams are designed around four fundamental principles: be proactive, responsive, flexible, and transparent.
When put together, these four principles give us the ability to have rapid feedback loops with our Chicago clients. That’s why our clients call us a rapid-strike agency. For example, When a famous cat brand gave us two weeks notice to create a global activation (because no other agency could work that fast) we reached out to existing sponsors with a great partnership plans, created a series of videos from conception through final production working on a 24/7 production schedule, responded quickly to client feedback, and provided transparency every step of the way. These four principles allowed us to do this.
How does your marketing agency collaborate with other Chicago agencies?
Let's just say we play very well with others. Whether we're the lead agency, part of a team of agencies, or being brought in to fill a gap in other's capabilities, our team oriented approach translates perfectly to working with other creatives and digital marketers. This has helped us build up trust across the Chicago area. We’ve earned a reputation as a flexible partner that can assume new and changing agency roles as circumstances change.
How do you staff your Chicago marketing teams?
Chicago is chock full of talent and we're great at picking out the best of the best, giving them the resources they need for success, and putting them against initiatives that will help them shine. Our resource allocation and management process is a four-step system: holistic brainstorming, task breakdown, resource alignment, and resource allocation.
Throughout our campaigns, our Chicago team works shoulder-to-shoulder to produce an end-to-end result that crosses disciplinary boundaries. Since we’re a unique hybrid of local agency with global scale, we combine vertical integration with the ability to make rapid course corrections that simply aren’t possible for more traditional agencies.
How do you respond to emerging news stories and cultural trends in Chicago and beyond?
Mass media and social media are consistently evolving, getting faster and more spontaneous by the day. Our in-house data analytics, creative, and social media teams constantly monitor real-time Google search data, Twitter hashtags, YouTube plays, and news headlines to identify trending conversations and map cross-channel insights. We use these insights to make course corrections to our original marketing plan, all while making sure it ladders back to our established goals and wireframe to ensure core brand messaging remains while creating innovative content fast.
It's critical for digital marketing companies to stay on-trend at all times. We know that to do that we have to be out in the world, experiencing life, and turning those personal experiences into brilliant ideas for our clients. So whether we're catching the Cubs at Wrigley, having a drink at The Library, or restaurant hopping during Restaurant Week, we're soaking up all the sights and smells of this vibrant city and applying it to our work. We even have a Slack channel where we share all the great new ideas we've come up with while living in this amazing town.
How do you onboard new Chicago marketing clients?
Most of our client work starts with a 21-day onboarding plan that is custom-tailored to the each client and unique to each discipline. We've systematized this approach over time to near perfection. But we also understand that each Chicago client has its own needs, and we are sensitive to that. We take stock of our client’s communication preferences and select the best tools from among our wide array of technologies to fit the client’s demands. We’ll establish meeting schedules, a reporting cadence, and key role assignments. Our goal is to be proactive and take the necessary action steps without you having to ask.