Barb Martino, Active International

Barb Martino

Editors' Note

As Executive Vice President in Client Development, Barb Martino is focused on supporting client initiatives through the use of corporate trade. She has more than 25 years of experience in marketing and advertising and was President and CEO of Grey Global Group’s G-Whiz, a full-service advertising agency specializing in youth, entertainment, and lifestyle brands prior to joining Active.

Company Brief

Pearl River, New York-based Active International (www.activeinternational.com) is recognized as the global leader in corporate trade, providing financial benefits to Fortune 500 companies in virtually every industry. Founded 27 years ago, the company acquires excess assets – including surplus inventory, real estate, and capital equipment – at up to full wholesale value in exchange for cash and/or a trade credit, which is used to offset future operating expenses. Active has led the industry in the development of new standards of excellence for the acquisition of assets, the effective remarketing of those assets, and the provision of an efficient means for its clients to use their trade credits. With offices in 16 countries, Active has created more than $1.5 billion in cash savings for its extensive client base since 1984.

Active is known for their long-term relationships. How do you lead in client interaction?

In the role of client service, it’s the experience our clients have with us on a daily basis that drives our success and future engagement.

We’re not in business to do deals that are more like one-time events with a beginning, middle, and end and then we’re out; we’re looking to form more strategic partnerships where corporate trade can best benefit them and solve some of their corporate challenges.

Is the value Active can bring well understood and how high up do you need to have the relationship so that value is clear?

It’s not completely understood. Although we pride ourselves on delivering results and we do repeat business with a lot of major brands – some we’ve had in our portfolio for 10 to 15 years – there are times when we are challenged by a client who has had a bad experience in corporate trade.

Changing the perception that surrounds the industry is also a challenge we are focused on. Earning trust and creating a positive experience is paramount to forging that change.

Our relationships have multiple touch points on the client side – it might be the sales department, the finance department, the marketing group, or up to the C-Suite. Our job is to walk them through the process and make it as easy as possible to realize the value our model provides.

Have you been able to put metrics in place to evaluate results?

Absolutely. We buy our client’s media based on the specs from their agency. So when our clients purchase media through us, we have to post on the buys the same way an agency would.

We also calculate an internal rate of return as well as P&Ls on our deals to make sure they’re beneficial to both Active and our clients.

Are some of the more traditional media companies moving into this area?

Since I’ve been at Active, I’ve seen a few independent trading companies crop up as well as some of the larger media agencies coming on board. As they look to offer more diversified services and to create more revenue streams for themselves, they’re recognizing that corporate trade can be a way to replace some lost income.

As far as we’re concerned, our success and our client portfolio speaks for itself. Although these new companies continue to legitimize the industry, it will take time before these newcomers can build the trading relationships and asset remarketing capabilities, and deliver on the value clients have come to expect.

How does Active work with a client and their agency to ensure they get the most value?

Each client has a dedicated client development team member assigned to their business. They are responsible for understanding the client’s goals and at the same time integrating into the processes already in place with their agency. Our team is comprised of professionals from within and outside of the industry so we are comfortable working with just about any executive in any category. Once we understand our client’s objectives, communication and measurement are critical, so our approach incorporates multiple touch points throughout the relationship.•