Celebrating a Decade of Dialsmith

Taking care of his team and doing great work for his clients has been a winning formula now for a decade: ten years of helping clients find out what works and what doesn’t, to make them and their work more successful.

For Dialsmith founder and CEO David Paull, the important thing is people.

“I want to have a solid, sustainable business that provides jobs for people to contribute to their lives,” says Paull. “And I want to provide a service to our clients that will make them and their work more effective and successful, and contribute to their lives as well.”

Dialsmith’s Perception Analyzer technology is a mainstay of market research, providing moment-to-moment, real-time feedback on everything from Super Bowl commercials to political ads; from presidential speeches and debates to TV pilots; from Broadway performances to VH1 and MTV talent competitions.

Not to mention sports scoring for things like skateboarding and freestyle motocross; plus focus groups, mock trials, and online content (surveys, streaming, and more).

Dialsmith’s dials and technicians have crossed the globe for a globe’s worth of industries, with clients in 45 countries.

“Our clients have taken us to every continent except Antarctica,” says Paull. “They’ve given us very fun, very interesting opportunities,” like TED talks, Fortune 50 corporations, Celebrity Apprentice voting, and more:

Ten years ago, Paull was running the tech and services division of a marketing company. He’d always figured he take the entrepreneurial path, someday. When the company decided to divest itself of his division, he felt that maybe someday was now.

“In a sense it was the perfect startup,” Paull recalls. “There was an existing product, a great team, even customers.” What would be new was not having the safety net of a larger corporation. “Now it would be completely on me to make payroll. I would have to be willing to be the first not to take a paycheck, if necessary.”

But it was pretty clear that this was what he was supposed to do next.

Ten years later:

“We’ve been profitable since day one,” says Paull. “We’ve never operated in the red.”

He’s enjoyed it from day one, too, even the challenges. “It can be hard work, and exhausting work, sure,” says Paull. “We’ve made mistakes, and we’ve missed opportunities. But we’ve learned a lot.”

“We still have our original team. Everyone on the original Dialsmith team in December 2009 is still with us today, plus four more. There’s real camaraderie and teamwork. We have each other’s backs.”

And their work?

“We are makers of dials and things with dials,” he explains. “We design, engineer, manufacture, and code our own product; no third-party hardware. And all the software is written in-house. For in-person dials, we’re really it.”

“I’ve seen TV shows modified because of testing we did on the pilot. The client takes advice from the data we collect, and the shows go on to have long runs,” Paull continues, “We’ve worked with CEOs that have altered the direction of keynotes they’re preparing to tell the world what their company is planning. For products in the research phase, we’ll uncover problems and the client makes adjustments before they go to market. We’ve seen a 10-15% lift in direct response sales because of our work.”

Paull explains that Dialsmith’s technology enables clients to see what people are thinking. “We’re great at finding what people like, and don’t like. But we weren’t involved in getting to the why. We wanted to close that loop and help clients maximize the value of the data we were giving them.”

That was the appeal of merging with Rich Thau’s Presentation Testing two years ago to form Engagious. “Rich has extensive experience learning what resonates with people, and why. This moves us beyond being just a data collector to more of a 360˚ involvement.”

“My dial is turned up to 100, as I am in complete agreement that Dialsmith’s tenth anniversary is an auspicious occasion!” Rich Thau, President, Engagious

While Dialsmith is growing, and growing older, certain things won’t be changing.

“Employees come first,” Paull emphasizes. “And helping our clients avoid mistakes and achieve their goals. Going outside our comfort zone and inventing new ways of doing what we do—we’ll do what we have to do to clear the high bar.”

Challenging, yes. Rewarding, definitely.

Paull’s big smile crinkles the corners of his eyes.

“It’s been a great 10 years,” he says. “I’m enjoying every minute of it. Here’s to the next 10!”