Finding the Sweet Spot

From an early age, Curious Plot President and CEO Laurie Fleck knew she was made for a career in marketing. At just 6 years old, she orchestrated a neighborhood carnival that generated enough buzz it raised $125 to help find a cure for multiple sclerosis.

Her secret? She personally invited local television sensation Wizzo the Wizard from Bozo’s Circus to make an appearance. And he did.

That bold gesture earned her a spot on the television show and sparked the passion for purposeful communications that’s fueled her career. Now, after guiding FLM Harvest through an audacious rebrand, she explains how seeing things differently, tackling tough topics and a culture of accountability inspired the evolution of Curious Plot, a marketing, communications and consulting agency that’s found a sweet spot serving the ag and food industries.

Q. We say we see things differently. What does that mean to you?

A. While I was working in a junior account role at an agency, a client and the CEO for a Fortune 100 company asked if we could have a conversation in his office about a campaign strategy we were working on. When we got there, he invited me to sit in his chair and told me that perspective is everything. He encouraged me to consider my work through the lens of multiple stakeholders including CEOs like him and to think about the impact a particular message would have on these stakeholders out in the marketplace. I never forgot this lesson because it taught me about audience empathy and considering other points of view.

To this day, when I’m thinking hard about a particular problem or challenge, I find myself switching seats or surroundings to try to gain new insights. Likewise, I love that our team really brings different views to the table and looks at all angles to bring insights to our clients.

Q. How is Curious Plot unique among the agencies you’ve worked with in the ag and food space?

A. First, we were founded as a hybrid agency, offering consulting and market research as part of our services. It’s not something we purchased or bolted on as an afterthought. Getting grounded in truth through research, strategic planning and understanding the market has always been a part of who we are and how we begin our client relationships.

Second, we aren’t afraid to tackle topics that may seem difficult to explain. We geek out on breaking down the relevant messages: here is what we know, here’s what’s new and here is why you should care. It doesn’t matter if it’s innovative technologies like CRISPR or if it’s about why foodservice should consider incorporating mushrooms into their recipes and menu selections.

We enjoy working with companies whose products and services are at the core of the field-to-fork process that other agencies may find too granular. We also look for opportunities to understand and then influence important issues facing the industries we serve such as water preservation, supply chain disruptions and ways to sustainably and profitably grow our food supply.

Third, we’ve cultivated a board of industry experts to help advise our leadership and clients on how to navigate new and difficult market challenges. We seek out and attract subject matter experts who help us thread the stories along the entire food supply chain, including crop and animal production, milling, distribution, grocery, nutrition and international marketing.

Q. How does our company culture help us create a special connection with clients?

A. I’m incredibly proud of our culture of accountability. We approach client relationships as strategic partnerships and truly see ourselves as extensions of their business. That makes us accountable to the work we produce, our clients and each other. This was especially rewarding to see during the pandemic when our teams really went above and beyond in incredible ways.

Q. What excites you most about the future of Curious Plot?

A. The momentum around our new brand is contagious. It almost matches the energy and excitement in the industries we serve. We’re also proud to be continuously learning and offering new services such as marketing automation to help clients step into the future of marketing.

No matter what lies ahead for agriculture, food and marketing, you can count on us to find the sweet spot.