Q&A: Conduit Brands’ Poli discusses the company’s collaborative approach
Conduit Brands might be a new name in the industry, but its team possesses a wealth of experience to the industry and a collaborative approach executives believe sets it apart.
The company’s president and founding partner, Matt Poli, knows the industry well, with a resume that includes time at Johnson & Johnson within the McNeil Consumer Healthcare division where he held various sales and marketing leadership positions. He also spent eight years at The Emerson Group building its marketing client service business.
Poli’s team includes COO and founding partner Debbie Hoffman, who also worked in J&J’s McNeil division, who also ran Aetna’s digital marketing before joining The Emerson Group to launch its e-commerce Division. Another J&J veteran, Doug Yeakle, leads Conduit Brands’ sales initiatives, bringing valuable global & domestic retailer relationships from his Sarah Lee & Jacob Douwe Egberts experience. Poli also recruited creative director/copywriter Jamie Blattstein, a Madison Avenue pro, to take on the role of the firm’s chief creative officer, bringing experience from Ogilvy & Mather, Grey Global Group and in-house roles at Disney and ESPN.
Drug Store News spoke to Poli about Conduit Brands’ model, its goals and how its collaborative approach looks to grow clients’ brands.
Drug Store News: What type of company is Conduit Brands’ ideal client?
Matt Poli: Our ideal clients share a few commonalities…. First, they have a great product that offers consumers terrific benefits. Secondly, great people. We’ve built relationships with some of the most genuine and smartest operators in the industry, all of whom are focused on serving their consumers and customers. The obstacle these firms face is no different than the challenges most companies face, how to plan, allocate and invest in resources while scaling their business.
During our journey we’ve captured the insight most commonly uncovered with the leaders we work with: You’re losing sleep rather than gaining traction. We work predominantly with emerging privately held companies and founders, and they experience a ton of sleepless nights trying to execute their vision while getting caught up in the day-to-day needs of the business.
Inherent to that worry is that they may not be in a position where adding resources to the company's arsenal is realistic. This is the beauty of Conduit Brands. We've created a model that positions our team as a resource extension to a client’s commercial team. We’re not a marketing consultant, sales broker, media company, or ad agency — we’re a “Conduit.” we have all the commercial side cross-functional capabilities to execute seamlessly as an extension of the team, so leaders can focus on the direction of the company while we execute the day-to-day profitably. We collaborate with clients to solve the challenges they define.
The Conduit Brands model is anchored by internal capabilities that reside squarely in product development, marketing, e-commerce, and sales management and we maintain partnerships that go much broader. With our internal expertise, supported by our curated network, we can embrace a concept on paper and carry it through all the way to the consumer’s household, seamlessly.
DSN: How would you describe how Conduit Brands works with clients?
MP: At the outset, we assess the state of a client’s current resources with respect to their needs. We then identify resource gaps that the client isn’t ready to fill or doesn’t have time to address and we step in.
From there, we uncover the specific needs – from the smallest tasks to the major initiatives. We analyze the brand, the marketplace, and the competitors. Armed with this information, and complemented by our client’s insights, we identify the range of needs, build the strategy & executional plan, operating as an extension of their team.
To illustrate in a bit more detail, our research and development team has a wealth of experience in OTC and beauty R&D, and more importantly as formulators and technical operators who know how to scale up, practically, a product idea. We have contract manufacturing capabilities and supply chain solutions through our partner network. And we can operate the brand P&L, through brand strategy, creative development, marketing, e-commerce and media planning. Performing these functions with the knowledge and expertise of our team provides high-quality outcomes with extremely low overhead, delivering high ROI for our clients. Our model is the antithesis of a cookie-cutter approach; it’s all about listening and internalizing what the client tells us they want and what they need. We’re not here to sell a client on what we do – we’re here to help identify and solve their needs.
Clients have goals, and we execute work that aligns with our capabilities and manage resources efficiently and effectively. Our goal is to partner with clients where it fits best for them. This affords clients the freedom to focus on the longer term or higher-level company objectives without worrying about who is taking care of the day-to-day needs of the business.
Our model is exemplified by our tagline: “Profit from our doing.” This is meant to have a double meaning, first, our clients profit by having Conduit Brands execute the work and secondly, we don’t earn our profit margin unless the client’s stated goals are met.
DSN: What would you say are some of the biggest challenges for CPG brands and how has that changed during your time in the industry?
MP: I think, overall, determining how to approach the dramatic shift in the marketplace is a huge challenge for all of us. E-commerce was already tipping and as we all know COVID-19 has accelerated consumer behavior. Many brand owners have anxiety when looking at how they are playing “catch up” and adding the resources needed in meeting the consumer’s need while the channel hasn’t scaled for their business yet. Then add on the complexity of needing to apply a functional skill set that is new to their culture.
It’s about managing their time to plan the long-term vision in the face of the day-to-day operations. There are so many aspects to sustaining a brand, internally and externally. Leaders need to make critical decisions in a very competitive market that enables short term success while laying the foundation for long-term sustainable growth.
Resource decisions are critical, whether these resources are employees, technology or hiring a capability. Filling these gaps at the right time with the right resources can be stressful.
This is where Conduit Brands is a valuable partner — as a broad-based organization we provide solutions across pivotal organizational functions, seamlessly working with our clients, and providing them the time and flexibility to plan & execute flawlessly.
Our purpose is working with people in enabling success that is greater than they could ever expect. We do this by leveraging our commercial experience, tireless dedication to the client’s goal achievement and by listening to their needs rather than imposing what we think they need.
I am excited about the team we have assembled, the current work we are doing and what the future holds for Conduit Brands, the people we will meet and the results we will celebrate jointly with our clients.
DSN: Where can people learn more about Conduit Brands?
MP:We’d love to hear from the folks out there who read this Q/A. They can go to www.conduitbrands.com to learn more about us, follow us on LinkedIn (conduit-brands-llc) to see our work, or feel free to set up a conversation with me by emailing me, [email protected]