By Katie Mills Giorgio
Advertising should really be common sense.
At least it should be according to business partners Dirk Keller, Glen Gardner, and Molly Altorfer, who together form the Common Sense Collective, a relatively young advertising agency in the Corridor with decades of marketing expertise.
Fifteen years ago Dirk Keller started an advertising agency on his own, after having worked for several decades before that in the industry.
“My idea was to create a non-bricks-and-mortar-type of business so I could provide more value to my marketing customers,” Keller said. “If I didn’t have the overhead, it would allow us to put more of their marketing dollars to work. It was common sense. It was just that simple.”
In 2015, two more partners — Glen Gardner and Molly Altorfer — joined the group.
“When I hit 60, I moved back to Cedar Rapids and planned to cruise into retirement. But then Dirk started talking about what he was doing and this collective he was putting together sounded exciting,” said Gardner, a radio personality and media consultant. “I mean, we are old hippies, so the idea of a collective was attractive to all of us.”
“And we really are about common sense,” said Altorfer, who joined the team after working in several different marketing roles with not-for-profit organizations and in higher education. “We have conversations with our clients. We ask how we can make their dollars more effective … .
“Typically each client has one of us as a point person. And we are all in constant communication with each other.”
She noted that their team, all of whom work from separate home offices throughout the Corridor, spends a lot of time on video conference calls to connect.
While all partners have a media background, each fills a niche for the business and works with a distinct set of clients. Altorfer handles some of the writing and much of the public relations, Keller specializes in media buying and negotiations and are experts on demographics, and Gardner brings expertise in interpreting data and analytics.
“We like to say we are platform agnostic,” Altorfer said. “We are comfortable in the digital world, but firmly believe that is not always the answer.”
Keller agreed: “We aren’t going to say you have to be on TV, or do radio, or be all over social media. It’s about the message first.”