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DLA earns Bronze Award from Advertising Club of Richmond

Honored to share that our rebrand work for Shades of Light has earned us a bronze award in the Design category at this year’s Richmond Show! It’s humbling to stand among such creative giants in the Richmond community. Thank you Advertising Club of Richmond. Massive thanks to Shades of Light for trusting us with their vision, and to our team whose dedication brought it to life!

DLA 5X Winner HDMA

A big congratulations to the team and to our clients as DLA takes home a gold, a bronze, and three merit awards at the Healthcare Digital Marketing Awards. Thank you to all of the many people involved in making work that gets notices—work that works. 

Tech Partners Podcast: Interview with Lauren Sweeney

Our CEO and Founder Lauren Sweeney spoke about what she brings as “Something Extra” to this podcast from our friends at Technology Partners. Host Lisa Nichols – and Technology Partners CEO – interviews to share their stories and show us what it takes to influence, encourage, and be a true leader in our daily lives.

Listen here.

Optimize your marketing efforts and watch your ROI increase

Every successful company focuses on attracting new customers or deepening relationships with its existing customers. One critical way to do that is with effective marketing – of your product, your service or your people.

But are you spending enough time and energy analyzing your data? Your aim is to determine if you’re getting the best return on your marketing spend. We see it time and time again: Marketing teams think it’s easy to pluck that out of a sea of data, but they jump in without knowing what they truly need to look for.

Here’s why 83% of marketing leaders at top companies say it’s hard: The information you need to gauge marketing efficacy often requires culling a combination of data points and, perhaps, their interrelationships. For example, you might see overall stagnant sales, but a deeper dive might reveal an uptick with a new product or in a geographic region. You need to peel back another layer to understand what’s driving those gains and assess how you might apply learnings to replicate that performance in another product line or market.

A results-oriented business recognizes that marketing drives the company toward immediate and stretch goals. But your leaders need to look beyond why marketing is important to how it plays a part across your enterprise. From the initial business strategy to onboarding a new client, you find a marketing expectation – and opportunity.

marketing across the sales journey

Connected data points point you in the right direction

Integrating and understanding the impact of your marketing efforts across your organization creates levers that you can push and pull to make meaningful change. That’s because you now are analyzing the data to know precisely what’s working – and, even more importantly, what’s not, because that is wasting marketing dollars, which nearly 40% of companies today have reported experiencing.

With these new insights in hands:

1. Understand your consumer’s journey.

Our previous post spoke about the importance of a research-based consumer journey, which helps you set up different marketing tactics that support every stage of that buying experience. Research-based insights provide a solid foundation for future decision-making.

2. Create paths that drive sales.

You must dig into that data to ensure you’re capturing the right information that can point you to the right actions. Make sure you understand the impact of your marketing activity across earned, paid and owned across the various stages: awareness, interest, consideration and purchase.

3. Calculate ROI by mapping conversions.

You’re looking for the bottom line on your marketing efforts. Weigh how much you spend against the volume of business growth to determine how much each new customer costs you. The better you tell your company’s brand story and promote your product, the higher your return on your marketing investment. Of course, other factors come into play – the uniqueness and demand for your product and the caliber of your sales team, just to name a couple – but conducting these simple exercises on a set frequency will help you map trends over time.

When you break down your sales processes into what your prospect experiences at each moment, you can develop tailored marketing that serves up exactly what they need to take the next step forward. You also can then go back to your performance data to break down what tactics are working and where you can make your limited marketing dollars work more for you. 

Many of the clients we serve are growing in midmarket status, with burgeoning full-spectrum marketing programs in step with their organization’s growth. The more you grow, the more pressure they face to improve your ROI. With larger marketing budgets come large risks – and rewards, which is where we prefer to focus. With every new creative campaign, we return to the analytics, as we help businesses align your customer’s journey and marketing touchpoints to quickly close gaps and seize opportunities to maximize your spend. 

Image credit: Jamie Street 

How the right teams help you reach your marketing growth goals faster

By Lauren Sweeney

Emerging companies often focus on developing a silver-bullet marketing approach or a proprietary process or product to help sell – important elements in the scaling journey of a business. But many of those companies fail to invest energy or resources into where ideation starts.

An effective marketing formula draws in both art and science. Creating engaging ideas that grab attention or educate customers about your offer begins with expertise before you even start thinking about those concepts. Many different disciplines come together to create this magic formula.

When you partner with an agency, you’re not partnering with a business: You’re partnering with talent who possesses refined, specific skills. This talent, when built for the right team and challenge at hand, is poised to deliver great creativity, which, in turn, generates results. And the best agencies hire top talent, which is a core ingredient of their success.

Dotted Line takes this one step further because we’re in invested in your growth to drive our growth. Our model starts by having the right A-level talent engaged in a business problem up front to develop work that makes a measurable impact on your business.

But talent is only part of the equation. We also bring together the right “fit” of team members, who demonstrate positive energy and shared values. Then we give them the freedom to do what they’re great at: shine for our clients.

How effective are your marketing teams?

We believe you should start with your people and how they work together, peeling back the layers to understand what energy is going into your marketing efforts.  After all, consumers ultimately buy into stories and momentum above all else. Forming and nurturing high-performing teams with design, branding, and content experts – who care as much about the business impact as the creative output – is the first step.

But you need to keep digging, by asking yourself questions to analyze your marketing team’s performance:

  • Does your team understand the global picture of what you are working to accomplish? In simplest terms, do they get it?
  • Does your team buy into and work under the same shared values?
  • Do you see healthy working dynamics, such as collaboration and communication?
  • Is the development of your marketing pieces flowing seamlessly across the team? Or do things always seem to be coming off the rails at the handoffs?
  • Do your weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports show forward progress?

Partnering to hit shared goals

Our niche at Dotted Line is working with emerging companies, many of whom likely have growing in-house marketing teams. We come in as a partner to augment those internal capabilities, as we work together to reach your business goals more quickly.

To us, having high-performing teams both within our client and agency is the secret sauce that positions your brand to lead your business in growth.

How purposeful creative solutions turn attention into measurable growth

By Lauren Sweeney

My daughter just celebrated her 4th birthday. As a parent, I’m enjoying this time because many of the small moments we often look past as adults come as a big deal to her. Her latest fascination is staring at the night sky and counting stars. She points out the moon and draws lines in the sky with her finger. Amid the vast, dark evening sky, she loves to figure out what shapes she can create.

Her experience parallels DLA’s own story, as we looked at today’s complex and, frankly, messy media landscape and thought there had to be a better way. And there is. We step in with our clients to plot and unpack opportunities across a strategic path that delivers measurable growth for their business.

Everything starts with understanding your customer. If you’re not reaching them where they are and telling them what they need – not want – to hear, then you’re wasting what might look like great creativity and setting it loose in uncharted skies. Not convinced? Research shows that 26% of marketing spending fails to hit the mark.

No matter the state of the economy, companies say they have limited dollars to invest, but marketing is critical to building awareness and engaging with current and future customers. As they mature, their marketing needs evolve in lockstep. At DLA, we always start with strategy and wrap it with storytelling at every touchpoint in the customer journey.

Taking your marketing to that next level begins with asking yourself some critical questions.

1. How well do you understand your target consumer and their buying preferences and journey with your brand?

You’ve long heard the customer’s always right. When it comes to marketing, that’s never been truer. Understanding your customer’s expectations, objectives and interactions is essential to crafting a marketing strategy that hits those goals. DLA’s research team focuses on your business, of course, but we learn just as much by studying your key competitors.

We use those insights across the full buying experience because no single customer action occurs in a vacuum. Effective marketing transitions seamlessly with the customer through that journey. By defining your target persona, we help you step into that person’s shoes to consider their experience. 

2. Is your message telling a story?

Effective brand storytelling weaves together facts and emotions. For DLA, this is when we begin revving our creative juices. Armed with strategy and customer insights, we weigh how different messages and channels will best meet and connect with your audience. We believe in leading with emotion rather than a cut-and-dry sales pitch. The more you engage with your target, the deeper you build the relationship and the closer you advance to creating an advocate – not just another customer.

Tie in the story behind your brand. Help customers buy into why you’re here and why it matters.

3. Do you have clear key performance indicators for your marketing mix at each stage of the buying journey?

We recommend setting at least one key performance indicator at each stage. Align that to the message your customer needs to understand and takeaway from their interaction with your brand. If you aren’t tracking progress, you don’t know if you’re advancing or retreating from your goal.

As an agency designed for emerging brands, we have built our business in helping our customers generate sustainable growth. We help our partners refine their internal brand and self-understanding, gather unprecedented levels of insights on their customers and markets, and pursue the appropriate-to-them marketing mix that aligns with corporate goals. We believe in rolling up our sleeves, digging into research, and then arming our creatives with a strategic plan that gets them thinking in the right way to deliver for our clients.

Stayed tuned for our next post, which will look at how we assemble A-level players to deliver creative that sizzles and delivers growth.

Mind Over Mountain: Five Lessons I’m Taking into 2023

By Lauren Sweeney

In late August, I stood at the base of a mountain in Utah.

Over the next 36 hours, I hiked it 13 times up and down, struggling each time to gather the energy to repeat my ascent. By late afternoon on the second day, I had hiked 29,029 vertical feet — roughly the equivalent to the height of Mount Everest.

This was Everesting. It was my misogi challenge for 2022: one in which I set an impossible goal designed to uncover what I’m capable of. I’ve learned a lot from this form of goal setting over the last four years, with an eye on applying these lessons to push Dotted Line forward.

My experience on that Utah mountain gave me much more than anticipated. Here are the lessons I learned that I’m carrying into 2023 and beyond.

1. Tackle your goal with grit and perseverance.

Any challenge comes with unforeseen problems, so we shouldn’t be surprised when these issues surface. Working through problems and adversity often separates those who will achieve their goal and those who won’t.

The difficulty of the challenge is what makes your success that much sweeter. That conviction when reaching the goal fuels a mindset of greater confidence and mental fortitude.

2. Attitude means everything.

As a mentor has shared with me about agency ownership, “Your attitude determines your altitude.” That’s because our thinking and beliefs drive our behaviors.

In our eight years, Dotted Line has ridden that coaster of highs and lows, ups and downs. If we believe we can tackle a pitch, we can. If we believe we can answer creatively to the toughest client test, we can. Positivity makes everything come together in magical ways.

3. Break it into bite-sized pieces.

Scaling a team, a product, or a company is an uphill challenge. Breaking the effort into individual steps focuses you on smaller pieces to complete and then move on to the next.

You control the pace of that progress, including if you need to break down one step into micro-steps. The important thing is that you don’t stop but simply keep moving forward with progress.

4. We are the stories we tell ourselves.

In agency ownership, there are seasons when we have momentum, and every move feels like a win. Then there are years when we don’t achieve our goals. This happens in business.

You can’t succeed if you don’t try. I’ve learned the hard lessons of remaining optimistic, learning from our misses, and keeping focused on my purpose and ultimate desired outcome.

5. The journey is the ultimate success.

Part of the mantra at Everesting is, “The journey isn’t about winning or losing; it’s about winning and learning.”

This past year at Dotted Line, we saw success with notable new clients, award-winning creative work, and business expansion. We learned about our shifting culture and people priorities to align with where we’re headed next. We learned about operating in our sweet spots and how to focus our talents.

No matter the season – whether it be a year of peaks or valleys – there is support, growth and much to appreciate in life.

This article has been edited for length. Visit Little Black Book to read the full version.

Jonathan Goldberg Joins Dotted Line as First ECD

Dotted Line has named Jonathan Goldberg the agency’s first executive creative director. He is tasked with elevating the creative output Dotted Line produces for brands including Worksite Labs, Bon Secours Mercy Health and Shades of Light. A 25-year advertising veteran, Jonathan has served as a senior creative at Ogilvy DC, Mono Minneapolis and Arts & Letters (to name a few), helping to promote such major brands as AT&T, FedEx and General Mills.

Continue to AdAge, Little Black Book, Campaign US and MediaPost to learn more about Jonathan and his role at the agency.

Dotted Line makes 2022 Inc. 5000 List

For the first time, Dotted Line has been named to Inc. 5000, a list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States. After reporting revenue growth of 294%, the agency is thrilled to debut at No. 2,039 – more than halfway up the magazine’s list. This makes it the highest ranked advertising and marketing firm in Richmond and the fourth highest Richmond company overall, out of 17 total. Here’s to climbing the list in the years to come!

Continue to Inc. to learn more about Dotted Line’s placement.

We also received coverage in the Axios Richmond, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Richmond BizSense.