WEDNESDAY 14 APR 2021 4:31 PM


Communicate spoke to Don Scales, global CEO of Investis Digital and Kristen Kalupski, vice president of marketing, about consolidation in the digital comms space, service expansion and its recent acquisition by Investcorp.

Global provider and manager of alternative investment products, Investcorp, acquired Investis at the end of last month. Investis occupies a unique position in the digital comms space with expertise in performance marketing technology and experience across sectors globally.

In the past three years Investis has acquired Zog Digital, Vertical Measures and Microserve. The company has gone from strength to strength, particularly with global moves towards digital comms in response to Covid-19. Investcorp has a history partnering with technology service companies and the acquisition will facilitate expansive growth for both parties involved.

Communicate magazine spoke to Don Scales and Kristen Kalupski about the growth consolidation, opportunities ahead and the future of Investis with Investcorp.

What do you think is fueling consolidation in the digital comms market?

The digital comms space is changing because there are a lot more requirements around what is needed from the CCO, and from the constituencies they are talking to.. I think it’s going down a path similar to marketing communications. Look at Adobe and the marketing cloud. We’d love to think of ourselves as the centre of the digital communications cloud.

Investis has a very robust M&A pipeline and a long list of companies that we've looked and have interest in. We shared all this with Investcorp and prioritised these companies so they are very enthusiastic about supporting that list. From day one we were ready to go and we are very ambitious as far as wanting to grow the company.

How is Investis positioned in the digital comms space and what does the competition look like?

One of the reasons that we got into performance marketing is that it provided us a differential position in the marketplace. I would challenge you to look at our competition and find somebody that has the exact same skill sets and capabilities that we do. Investcorp wanted to come in because we had a uniqueness about what we were offering. Nobody does exactly what we do, with the combination of digital communications and performance marketing techniques.

Investis has made three acquisitions so far, one during lockdown. How did Covid-19 impact this growth?

Hindsight is always 20/20 and I think we will look back and say Covid-19 was probably more positive than negative for us. Clearly there were some disruptions and a period of chaos early on, but this brought digital to the forefront of communications. Clients decided that they were going to continue to communicate with their clients and they were going to have to accelerate digitally. As a result, clients had things on their roadmap that would probably have taken

them two, three or four years, now looking at doing it in nine months. We had very little disruption in the end and we came out of very strong.

Has this opened up new markets for Investis?

Geographically, we are getting requests from all over, but that’s all part of having a very large client base with international operations. In terms of the kind of solutions that we're providing and what our clients are requesting from us, it's much broader. The types of solutions that we’re providing now are different, and I think that's going to continue to change. We’ve extended beyond the investor relations market because it is somewhat narrow. We look at it from the standpoint of digital communications, and we are at the forefront of where IR meets major digital communications and performance marketing.

We sit in this unique intersection and the size of that market is huge. It’s not just communicating with shareholders - it's any form of communication. Anything from internal comms to online recruiting is an issue we can help our clients address.

What comms solutions have increased in demand this past year?

It’s been a very exciting time. One example is our very robust practice in life sciences. The amount of money spent by pharmaceutical companies when recruiting patients for clinical trials is huge. The process they go through is very old school and it can take a long time. We came up with a solution that we've now sold to several different clients. We worked with them to help define the technical content needed and help bring that to a specific website. Then we used our performance marketing techniques to draw the specific desired audiences to those websites and push them into a recruiting process. By doing that online we cut the process in half, saving clients millions of dollars in recruiting. That's a brand new area that we wouldn't have been able to do two or three years ago.

We've always had pretty robust video services and we saw a huge uptake in that area too, with testimonials and remote working. We saw a big uptake in video trying to drive engagement in that area. Investis also launched a new virtual events product and platform. We've always done webcasting, but we launched a virtual events platform in the fall and hosted a ton of virtual events.

What is in store for digital comms in the next few years and how is Investis settling in with Investcorp?

I think you’re going to see a convergence with the CCO and IR, even with CMOs but the requirements are going to continue to evolve. That’s where our sweet spot is, our ability to support those activities through a wide range of solutions.

Investcorp have been very supportive. They did all their work upfront, so when they came in there wasn't a whole lot of education that had to take place. They know the business and that makes it a lot easier when you have somebody from day one that you can talk to about the business. We have some very ambitious growth plans and they've been on board with those from day one. I must say ECI were great partners, I'm going to miss them. I really enjoyed working with Sean Whelan and Richard Chapman, but I think Investcorp is going to be great.