1984. Maybe ’85. Take a 26-year-old art director who loves her work. Put her in a big agency where she is surrounded by middle-aged white guys. Strangle the agency’s creative work with politics and bureaucratic overhead. Ask a simple question, “How long can this last?” Sue Kruskopf’s answer? When both the employer’s and her futures looked bleak, it was time for change.
In 1988, Sue and the copywriter she worked with started KC Truth, with a focus on truth, simplifying the complex, and serving clients by –
getting to that core truth about their businesses, stripping away all the B.S., and making the message as simple as possible for target audiences. Sue says, “Simplifying things is always a lot more difficult than complicating things.” Her ideal client website is one the communicates what the company does and why they are different from everyone else . . . and does that in the shortest (simplest) way possible, which is both an art and a science.
The large companies KC Truth works with have multiple siloed business units. Sue says the way to get to a company’s “truth,” align the organization and build a strong strategy is to get everybody in the same room and listen to what they all say. When all the various departments – marketing, sales, engineering, researchers – see their part in creating the truth, they become invested in the collective work that follows.
After that, Sue believes, “Great strategy requires great creative.” Maintaining the creative resources of a world-class agency is critical to KC Truth’s work with such big, complex clients as Cargill, 3M, and some Minneapolis-based global companies. That might be a challenge. However, KC Truth belongs to a strong network of independent agencies, AMIN, which means they “can collectively buy all the tools we need.”
Sue says that building strong relationships, hiring the best people, the smartest people (smarter than you are), and treating people as you would want them to treat you are a big part her agency’s success. She supports treating clients with respect, “not trying to shove ideas down a clients throat,” and “walking hand in hand down the same path together.”
Sue can be reached on her agency’s website at https://kctruth.com/.
ROB: Welcome to the Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast. I’m your host, Rob Kischuk, and I am joined today by Sue Kruskopf, CEO at KC Truth, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Welcome to the podcast, Sue.
SUE: Thank you. Good to be here, Rob.
ROB: It’s wonderful to have you on. I’m eager for all that you have to share. Why don’t you start off by telling us about KC Truth and where the firm excels?
SUE: Thank you. First of all, we excel in longevity. We’ve been around since 1988, which in advertising years is about a million years I think, pretty much, in this day and age. We’ve always believed at our core, our mission has always been to rid the world of B.S. and get at the core truth that companies stand for. As we all know, in this day and age, truth is more important than ever before. So, I’m glad that we have stuck to our guns and had this in the foundation of our business for over 35 years, since way back in the day.
ROB: Truth certainly has a habit of falling in and out of fashion, so the longevity there is certainly admirable. If we can drill down a level, if there is a typical type of client, type of engagement – obviously everyone’s a little bit different, but what does a median client, median scope of work look like for you all?
SUE: One of the things our clients tell us is we’ve always been really good at simplifying the complex. I think anybody in our business knows that feeling when a client comes in and you’ve looked at their website 10 times and can’t quite figure out what it is they do exactly, or the word “solutions” is in there too many times or whatever else. We’re really, really good at – Truth is all abou