The most successful agencies were on hand to share their experiences at the Digital Agency Summit, produced by BIA/Kelsey and the Local Media Association. Here's a round-up of "take aways" attendees noted at the end of the two days.
1. Differentiation is key. There are so many agencies in most markets that media agencies need to think through how they will differentiate themselves. Legacy media audiences across platforms is an obvious and important differentiator, but "go to market" tactics that differentiate sellers will be key.
2. Sellers love Buzzboard. The field-advantage of using BuzzBoard was a big takeaway for many attendees. This dashboard summarizes customers' and customer competitors' digital presence and creates proposals on the spot, plus numerous other go-to-market wonders. The key difference is being able to "take something to show the merchant about their business" rather than asking the same 20 questions that everyone else does.
(If you are a LocalMediaInsider subscriber, you knew this a month ago, when we reviewed results from use by the Chicago Tribune's digital agency and Five best practices for using Buzzbaord in the field. Note that Buzzboard is expensive, but worth it. Partnering with a third party such as Dream Local Digital or Local Edge that already has a reseller agreement can actually lower the costs).
3. B2B is an exciting new category. The B2B market is an important, often overlooked category that local media can now approach, because digital agencies level the playing field. Digital agencies are now prospecting in industrial parks for B2B companies who need better search and LinkeIn strategies.
4. Sell recruitment marketing using social media sites. The fragmented recruitment marketplace creates an opportunity for upselling social media strategies using LInkedIn, incentivization programs where top employees share job opportunities on Facebook, and upsells to RealMatch which aggregates employment sites and targets ads.
5. Get into video. Video useage as a marketing vehicle will grow by 35% per year through 2017, and is largely overlooked by most print companies - some of whom were in the room and especially impressed by SendToNews, which provides exclusive sports video and a share of national revenues. Speaker SendToNews, CEO, Greg Bobolo, argued against pre-roll ads, "who wants to watch an ad when they are trying to get to the clip" in favor of mid-roll inserts, and logos stamped on the top right or left of the video.
6. Expect lower margins on SMB sales. Chris Lee, of Deseret Digital, struck a chord with a slide that showed a dirty little secret of digital marketing: The margins on the smaller digital service bundles are so small (30% of a few hundred dollars a month) that their company strategy is to lead with digital and convert to legacy media.
7. In small, mid, large packages, the middle tier has the least retention. In pricing digital services packages, there are generally three tiers: <$5000, $5000 to 10,000, >$10,000. Counter-intuitively, the smaller and larger packages have been the most effective according to one speaker. This is because the small packages solve basic digital presence issues such as creating a mobile site and findability in search, and the larger packages include enough of a spend to move the dial on measurable results - whether fans, email, cals, etc. We've heard this before and it's an important concept when strategizing to prevent churn.
8. Bundle channels to produce better results. Similar to the previous take-away, many experience agency marketers vouched that customized solutions across multiple platforms deliver a whole greater than the sum of the parts.
9. Many different kinds of agency structures. AdTaxi's two tiered agency structure described by Ryan Moffat, Director of Sales, made sense to several audience members: Small packages are sold via AdTaxi Express via its partnership with OwnLocal, AdTaxi's regular sales start at $2000 a month. Find a case study on use of AdTaxi as partner here. Propel Marketing, the GateHouse initiative, has started with smaller bundles and plans to move up. This astonishing company caused a buzz when speaker, president of Gathouse Ventures, Peter Newton casually mentioned that the company which filed Chapter 11 with $1.2 billion in debt, had gotten approval from the judge to wipe out that debt and would emerge debt free and profitable in December. Then he produced a slide that shows Propel Marketing, which was founded in 2012, topping $9 million in sales this year with a $30 million target.
10. Lots of partnership opportunities. We noticed the head of a large full service agency that partners with media was making a list of competitors in the room: He counted eight. It's confusing. To gain clarity, all but one (Integrated Digital Strategies) of these agency partners has a write up and/or review by a media partner in our sister site MediaExecsTech, under the category "Reseller Opportunities." Here are the specific links: Guarantee Digital, Local Edge, Dream Local Digital, Growth Weaver, Affinity, AdTaxi, and PropelMarketing. Click on the review source to contact them for a referral.