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Digital Agency Summit Focuses on What It
Takes to Be Successful in this Space
November 11-12 to
attend the LMA/BIA-
Kelsey Digital Agency
Summit. On the top of
everyone's mind was
how to make this a
model. Many have
launched digital agen-
cies but have not been able to turn a profit.
Many have learned lessons the hard way
and now understand what it takes to make
it in this space.
“The road to profit-
ability in the agency
space looks dif-
ferent for every
attendee & presenter Mark Poss, CEO,
Big Fish Works. He commented that his
company’s digital agency, Big Fish Digital,
is on track but the summit helped under-
score a couple of refinements. “Whether
you go after SMBs or MLBs, large accounts
or small, two main themes emerged:
operational excellence in fulfillment is
critical to controlling
costs. And, dedi-
account execs are
a must for growing
revenue and customers.”
This conference featured a refresh-
ingly honest approach about the good, the
bad and the ugly when running a digital
agency. Senior level executives, includ-
ing many CEO's, were on hand to share
the lessons learned and advice for finding
Many common themes emerged:
1. Integrated sales
teams don’t work
when selling digital
(Note: not everyone
felt this way but most of the speakers that
developed profitable business models had
separate staffs and were quite adamant
about this model if you want to succeed in
this space. Many allow the traditional staff
to also sell these services but they don't rely
on them for most of their revenue.)
2. Fire clients that take up too much
of your time and don’t spend enough to
justify it. We heard this over
and over again from both
big and small companies.
Many are turning clients
away that don't meet their
3. Think beyond digital agency — sell
marketing, competitive media, promotions
& more. We heard this from a lot of speak-
ers as well. Full service agencies were one
approach that seemed to be successful.
4. Be realistic on your expectations
when it comes to profitability. For many
it takes two-three years. Think long-term!
This business needs to be managed
like a start up. It requires a
lot of upfront investment.
If there is pressure to be
profitable in the first year, it
will likely fail.
5. Charge for the creative work that you
do; don’t throw it in as ‘added-value’.
6. Programmatic is exploding and you
must allocate resources to this growing
opportunity. For the big guys like AdTaxi,
this represents a huge percentage of their
total revenue. Even small
companies need to as-
sign a manager to this
business. The ROI will
7. Hiring the right people to
run and sell digital agency services is
critical to your success. Hire people with
agency backgrounds. Hire people with
strong digital skills. In other words, don't
just promote someone from the print side.
8. Training is the next most important
thing after hiring. Allocate serious resourc-
es to ongoing training. Every week. It is that
Great Color gets attention.
COMMERCIAL PRINTING DIVISION
n Professional Customer
n Prepress Technical
n Competitive Pricing
Process color that
publication to life.
account execs are a must
for growing revenue and
The profitability picture in the era of digital agency 2.0 was a big part of the discussion at this event and the focus
of one session moderated by Stacey Sedbrook, VP Strategic Sales Consulting, BIA/Kelsey. She’s shown here with
panelists, from left, Greg Swanson , President, itzdigital, Peter Newton, CEO, Propel Marketing/GateHouse Ventures,
Mark Poss, CEO, Big Fish Works and Chris Edwards, Vice President – Sales & Marketing, The Gazette Company.
Google’s Jon Sofield, Head of Business Development-Premier Partnerships Channel Sales North America, discuss-
ing the Google partnership opportunity for local media companies that are selling Google AdWords. Sofield and
Google colleague Oliver Vidinovski were special guests of LMA President Nancy Lane and attended the Digital
Agency Summit specifically to join her in announcing this special partnership opportunity.
“It was action packed.”
“I liked a lot of the honest com-
mentary around selling digital
services and areas to focus on.”
CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS ARE AVAILABLE
There was also a post-summit webinar on November 18 which reviewed key
takeaways and the archived recording of it can be accessed on the
LMA website under the Webinars tab.
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