The internet was only five years old in 1999, but advertising executive Mark Rockett could see this would be much more than a new marketing channel. The web was a game-changer.
Working for the legendary Martin Agency in Richmond, Virginia in the late 1990s, Mark was involved with digital campaigns, getting to grips with banner ads, ad serving, and search engine advertising on Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL.
By 2003, with advertisers facing plummeting click-through rates, spam clogging marketing emails, and an increasingly media-savvy customer base, Mark decided he was ready to start something new on his own. He left the agency, borrowed $1600 for a laptop, and set up Rockett Interactive from the spare bedroom of the family home he shared with wife Genevieve and children Madi, George, and Kyle in Cary, North Carolina.
“I started more on the outbound marketing side, providing search engine optimization, ad-tracking, and traffic analysis, working as agency support rather than directly with clients,” he recalls. “Getting the business off the ground was slow, but I needed to put food on the table.”
Genevieve worked full-time as a physiotherapist during Rockett Interactive’s early years, but Mark – already working 80 hours a week – soon realized he couldn’t do it all by himself.
Mark adds, “With a university background in accounting and marketing, Genevieve is very talented at organizing, setting and achieving goals, building teams, and helping me focus on the business. We hired our first employee in 2005, and within a year we had three employees and the two of us working out of the top floor of our house. That’s when we decided to move into an office.”
Rockett takes off
Between 2007 and 2010, Rockett transitioned from taking on third-party work via agencies to winning clients directly, such as BB&T, Hanes Brands and Johnston & Murphy footwear, and was listed among the 500 fastest growing private U.S. businesses.