Executive Suite: Darrin Wilen, Farmingdale

Darrin Wilen, president of the marketing firm Wilen

Darrin Wilen, president of the marketing firm Wilen New York, of Farmingdale. (April 2, 2013) (Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan)

Marketing is about staying relevant to your customers, and Darrin Wilen, president of the marketing firm Wilen New York in Farmingdale, has watched the business evolve.

Forty years ago, when Darrin Wilen's father, Richard, founded the business, the company's first jobs were to print television guides for Cablevision, which was trying to introduce a new thing called "pay television." Cablevision now owns Newsday.

The company built a printing press in 1997, but as paper TV guides became less popular with the growth of the Internet, the company switched to direct-mail marketing for the cable industry's bundled services.

It has since invested in technology to "mass-personalize" direct-marketing pieces to reach 4 million homes a day, and expanded to serve the financial services, insurance and retail industries.

It recently changed its name to Wilen New York to attract national clients. Richard, 72, remains active with research and development in Florida; Darrin, 48, has been president in New York for the past 20 years.

How do you stay relevant?

We're bombarded by tens of thousands of messages a day, and you may only have one second to catch a person's attention. So unless you're using something that's relevant to them, you're going to lose that customer.

How can a marketer help a client stay relevant?

We look at our client's best customers and create a profile of those customers based on data; then we use it to find more customers that fit their profile.

How does your print technology allow you to send customized messages to a neighborhood?

It allows us to send specific information to each person in each home about their individual interests. We then sort through and measure their responses to optimize future campaigns.

How are you able to instantly deliver more information?

We're looking to make the process of learning and buying a whole lot more instantaneous. We're able to build mobile sites that accompany our marketing efforts to give people instant information by using those devices. For example, people can use a QR code, watch a movie trailer, order a movie.

What's surprising about the industry now?

In the past five years most companies have become scared to innovate and invest. But these are the best times ever in history to be able to borrow money. If you invest in new technology with the proper business strategy, you will have an edge.

What do you like about what you do?

I love to go to work where there is an environment that allows us to create and innovate. We reinvented ourselves at least four or five times in the last 40 years. If you wake up a little bit scared every day, and you have people that are always willing to go to the nth degree, you'll always have at least a fighting chance to stay at this.


CORPORATE SNAPSHOT

NAME: Darrin Wilen, president, Wilen New York in Farmingdale

WHAT IT DOES: Full-service digital marketing and advertising agency, providing creative services from website development to direct mail

EMPLOYEES: 225 in New York and Florida; 70 full time and 7 part time on Long Island

REVENUE: $50.5 million

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