Published August 18, 1998
Volume 6, Number 8

Ursula Huber-Rae Fuses the Analytical with the Creative as She Helps Her Clients Communicate and Sell

Ursula Huber-Rae
Ursula Huber-Rae was credited in a recent San Jose
Business Times article as being one of the people
responsible for the birth and subsequent growth of
the advertising community in Silicon Valley.
She founded her first agency, Opperman & Harrington, in 1977.

The marketing of high technology products requires a special combination of sound technical knowledge and the bright flash of creativity. Selling on appearance alone leaves potential customers wanting for data, and emphasizing benchmarks and test figures too much can put them too sleep. 

It's a tough tightrope to walk, but Ursula Huber-Rae, CEO and agency principal of the Huber Marketing Group, has taken her abilities to new heights doing just that. With experience with clients like Apple, Fujitsu, IBM, Intel, ITT, and Livingston Enterprises (now Lucent), her firm's client list reads like a Who's Who of Silicon Valley. 

Both Sides of the Brain
Huber recognized her unusual aptitude at an early age, while growing up in Stuttgart, Germany. 

"My parents had me tested when I was quite young, and at that time it was identified that I was equally talented in the creative field and in the business field, so I could choose either," she says. "So, to me, this business is both! It's a wonderful opportunity for people who are both right and left brained ambidextrous, so to speak." 

Deep Creativity
Through her company, Huber offers a long list of services that span the full breadth of marketing communications. Unlike some agencies which focus solely on the creation of copy, graphics, and other materialsknown collectively as "creative" in the industryHuber additionally offers strategic planning and marketing consulting services as well as project planning, budgets, and rollouts. 

"Our expertise is not only marketing strategy and insight into what pieces will fit, but also how to communicate to that market and what to deliver as a tangible," she says. "There has to be depth. If we don't understand the business and the market, wonderful 'creative' is not enough." 

Collaborative Methodology
Despite the gloss and glamour sometimes associated with advertising, Huber defines her company's role very simply. 

"I feel we're really collaborating with the client to help them express their ideas better than they could themselves, and that's the only reason they have us," she says. 

"Sometimes when I work with people who come from agencies that focus on consumer products, they don't understand the collaborative methodology that we employ with engineering or biotech or medical clients," she continues. "It's not like selling a soft drink; it's a much more complex sale. It requires a deeper level of thinking, of understanding, on everybody's part." 

That said, she's not a stranger to consumer marketing, either. She's done work for the Stanford Shopping Center, Men's Wearhouse, and helped the Gap go international by providing all the marketing and advertising materials for a pilot store in Germany. 

This flexibility, to go from the technical to the creative and from technology to consumer goods, is exercised with every account, no matter the product. 

"We pride ourselves on providing a unique look and feel for each client rather than imposing a look upon them," Huber says. "We work with a large number of highly talented, focused, outside individuals which allows us to bring in new ideas for all our clients."

Hacienda Connection
Huber played an important role in the success of Hacienda's Livingston Enterprises, prior to their purchase by Lucent. 

"We worked with them for over a year and helped them with direct (marketing) and advertising, which they'd never done before," she says. The company reached their sales goals earlier than expected, and made 25 percent higher revenues than projected.

Huber's part in the company's success was recognized when Lucent's acquisition was announced. "They invited us to their signing party and were very grateful for all our work," she says. 

She hopes that working with local companies is a trend that will continue. "Our goal is to have 50 percent of our clients from Alameda and Contra Costa counties." 


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