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90% of the sales is done by a dedicated team within the DMN led by our CRO,
Lindsay Jacaman. They team up with the core reps to leverage their relation-
ships. The rest comes from our parent agency, Slingshot and increasingly
The newsroom has nothing to do with the sales efforts. We work with the news-
room as a client for some of their branded social channels and collaborate on Native
Advertising (we produce / they approve). Thus far we've not used any active DMN
reporters to write for our client newsroom, instead relying on our internal team and
freelancer network in order to maintain their independence.
Digital commerce has definitely changed the way the brick & mortar guys do
business and content marketing, social media and promotions are now big
tools for SMB’s on the digital playing field. Can you give us some examples of
successful campaigns that you’ve crafted and executed for clients?
We've had to get more and more innovative on this front, as the tools and mar-
ket expectations have become more complex. We've had great success with
brick-and-mortar retailers and driving traffic with check-in specials, events
and contests. We have one team we call the "butts in seats" crew that we've seen
double and triple a social audience for a venue or attraction and then measurably use
that audience to grow year-over-year sales.
We've also really diversified in terms of what we do with social promotions, some-
times going sophisticated and sometimes simple and guerilla.
How do you monitor and gauge success?
Manage client expectations?
That varies by client, but we learned early on that managing expectations is the
hardest part of this business. The analogy I use (adapted from our friends at
Copyblogger) is that we're farming versus hunting. It's a surer harvest over the
course of a year, but it's not going to ring the phones the first week. Some clients nod
in agreement with that, then want to cancel when there's no measurable results the
Because of this, we now align all of our deliverables and expectations in a strate-
gic roadmap document that we ask the client to sign. And when it's clear we aren't
aligned, we tend to let that client go.
In terms of metrics, for us the heirarchy is: sale; a non-sale conversion (like a visit
or an email subscription); engagement; and least of all, likes and follows. We are
much more concerned with bringing the right audience than sheer volume, and that
puts some clients off at the onset.
Increasingly, by teaming with DMN's programmatic ad trading desk, we're able to
measure actual sales as a result of our promotions. Last month we had a client spend
$35k to promote a sweepstakes we managed and we were able to attribute more than
$200k in sales, even without a sales call to action. That's an outlier, but shows the po-
tential of running a promotion after you've gathered the right audience.
You and your team definitely have a hip, fun and entrepreneurial vibe and that
has a lot to do with being smart and confident by staying ahead of the curve.
What do you guys see down the road when it comes to further developing cli-
ent services and Speakeasy offerings?
That's very kind of you to notice — we're definitely a "tribe," more so than any
group I've ever had the privilege to lead. It was really critical up front that we
office separately from both parents and develop our own culture.
Now that we're somewhat sustainable, we're looking at refining our systems and syn-
thesizing them into something we could potentially scale by working with other media
companies in other markets. And we're always adding to the base offerings: We just
became one of a handful of YouTube Certified agencies in the US and are also about
to roll out what I think is a pretty unique system for leveraging employees and brand
advocates to increase organic reach.
Finally, any tips for local media companies who are new (or perhaps just en-
tering) the digital marketing services business? Hindsight wisdom from your
experience so far? Any tips to accelerate a successful launch phase and long
I'd never attempt what we've done without a media partner with a sales force
with deep relationships in the market. And I think the smartest thing the DMN
did at the start was to acknowledge that what we're doing was outside their
core competencies and bring in an agency partner to run the business.
Beyond that, after early exuberance around bringing in as many clients as possible,
we've learned the value of being selective. More than the client vertical, we've learned
that the greatest indicator of success is what the client is like to work with: Are their ex-
pectations aligned? Will they be transparent with data that helps us evaluate our suc-
cess? Are they willing to trust us to take calculated risks while respecting the brand?
Finally, I'd urge staying focused. Early on we set strategy, content, social and promo-
tions as our core offering. There's been pressure along the way to get into technical
SEO, web development, traditional PR and other disciplines. We've resisted that, send-
ing that work to trusted partners (who are increasingly sister companies withing the
DMN / Slingshot ecosystem), allowing us to do what we do best.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 2
But the heart of the whole offering is content. We have
our own newsroom with experienced editors and huge
network of freelancers. We're producing more than 1,000
articles a month, which provide the launching pad for much
of our social content as well.
Mike Orren presenting at the LMA/BIA
Kelsey 2014 Native Advertising Summit.
LMA members can access his presentation
at LMA’s website, www.localmedia.org under
the Events tab.
LMA/BIA-Kelsey Local Media
Digital Agency Summit
November 11-12 - Chicago
Learn the ‘ins & outs’
of the Digital Agency
business at next
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