Fast Growth: Focusing on addiction treatment niche pays off for marketing firm

Active Marketing STAFFOne of Traverse City’s largest marketing companies has no clients in the region, but its impact is felt across the country.

Active Marketing, located in the Airport Industrial Park, is the leading marketing firm for addiction treatment services throughout the United States and the only one catering to behavioral health.

The niche strategy has paid off with steady company growth, from a one-person operation in 2001 to 23 professional staff serving national accounts today.

“(Addiction treatment) is a rapidly-growing and highly competitive field,” said President Carly Wujcik, who’s been with the company since September 2014. “We are the only marketing agency that is (focused on) addiction treatment. With as long as we’ve been doing this, we’ve built a legacy … we’ve been able to hone our craft and show good success.”

Demand and need are driving growth, Wujcik said, noting that close to 23 million Americans over age 12 are battling addiction. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), just under 11 percent, or 2.5 million people, received care at an addiction treatment facility in 2012.

“Addiction treatment is a $35 billion industry,” she said. “Programs and facilities are being opened up by two categories of people: those who have been affected by addiction and want to give back, and those who recognize the financial potential that this market presents.”

Ninety-five percent of Active Marketing’s clients are in the addiction treatment industry, including all levels of care, eating disorders treatment and behavioral health business services. Many are headquartered in Florida and California – the states with the highest density of addiction treatment businesses in the field.

Active Marketing’s services include branding, web development, media, content marketing, SEO, social media strategy, print, media and related creative pieces, campaigns, messaging and lead generation.

Wujcik attributes its success to integrity, niche expertise and advice honed by research.

“We are a data-driven, creative agency,” she said, stressing the company’s highly analytical approach to planning, marketing and decision-making to help their clients build business. “We are managing big, intricate budgets for our clients. We need to provide speed, agility and business acumen to help them make the right decisions to build their business.”

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Active Marketing’s story dates back to 2001 when entrepreneur and Traverse City native and CEO Michael Myles returned to the region and founded Active Internet Marketing. The business allowed him to combine two career passions: computer programming and marketing. His business plan was formulated as his thesis while earning an MBA at Davenport University.

The company’s specialized niche grew from Myles’ early work for a client in the addiction treatment field. That experience led to his growing industry knowledge, conference speaking engagements and increasing referrals. Specializing early resulted in the company dominating market share.

“I immediately realized that there was a lack of marketing acumen in the industry,” Myles said during a recent interview with Mental Health News Radio and the Everything EHR Blog. “That was a void I knew we could fill …”

Active Marketing has grown steadily since 2001 but took a significant leap in 2015 when business grew by more than 50 percent over 2014. Wujcik credits the rise to adding 22 new clients as well as increasing client retention by 120 percent.

The company also implemented a major rebranding effort, shifting from Active Internet Marketing to simply Active Marketing to reflect its broader scope and services. Staff nearly doubled in the past year and the company moved to its current home in the Airport Industrial Park. This year, the company plans to broaden its scope even more.

“We hope to expand into a wider health care audience and to continue doing what we are known for: to deliver marketing that is on brand and designed to drive business,” Wujcik said, noting they also plan to continue growing their behavioral health work, as well. “Mike continues to build new relationships in the addiction treatment industry and will be speaking about marketing at several industry conferences in 2016.”

Wujcik also stressed growing and nurturing staff as a constant priority.

“We are an organization focused on our clients, but also on our people,” she said. “We really are a family … and need to stay laser-focused on our staff well-being. We are a small organization with a big dream.”