What we do isn’t about following the rules. It’s not about playing it safe. It’s about who we are – and you don’t need auto-tune when you’ve got genuine, rock star talent (but without the attitude, infighting and bad fashion sense). Every person at The James Agency brings his or her own unique genius and personality to every project we do. When you put us all together, you have pure awesomeness.
Get to know TJA’s digital marketing specialist, Dallas McLaughlin!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up an hour south of Minneapolis/St. Paul in Rochester, Minnesota, the home of the original Mayo Clinic.
What got you interested in the marketing/advertising industry?
I began creating websites when I was 14, around 1999. When you have a website, you want to drive people to it, so SEO was a natural introduction to marketing for me. At the same time, my family owned a restaurant and managed a few local hotels which gave me a nice sandbox to play in. I created my first Google AdWords ad in 2001 pushing traffic to a coupon redemption landing page to drive foot traffic to our restaurant. I could see, even at a young age, that the power was shifting away from the rigidness and exclusivity of traditional marketing and centralizing in places like Google, and eventually social media. The inherit mindset of “work fast and break things” attracted me to digital marketing very early on.
What are some challenges you face in your role at TJA?
The biggest challenge I run into is still the “newness” of internet marketing, and trying to educate clients on its benefits. We’ve been doing print for hundreds of years, radio for 80, and TV for 50 – but digital marketing has only been widely adopted for the last 5-10 years. A lot of businesses still hold the mentality that it isn’t for them, or doesn’t make sense for their business model. Or, maybe they tried it years ago and didn’t have any success so they believe it just doesn’t work. The fact is, innovation and technology is progressing whether it’s convenient for a business or not. The businesses that invest in embracing technology will be the brands that see success as consumers continue to shift their eyeballs away from traditional marketing and into digital.
What success have you had in your role at TJA?
I feel that the biggest success I’ve had at TJA, outside of showing growth in metrics, is becoming a resource for internet marketing related questions for co-workers and clients. Again, we’re still early on in the evolution of internet marketing and being able to make sense out of all of the different apps, platforms, tools and channels, and how they can all work together to earn attention is where I’ve been focusing a lot of my time.
What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite part of being a digital marketing specialist is knowing that what we do is still so new and changing so fast that there is no blueprint for anything that we’re doing. We really are pioneers of the digital marketing age. Outsiders view what we do as very paint-by-numbers, formulaic and data driven. In reality, the digital marketers setting the pace are the ones relying on their creativity, intuition and guts. Being able to apply my creativity to a data set and make decisions based on my intuition of how a human will react to what they are seeing, is one of my favorite aspects of my position.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at the start of your career?
Digital marketing does not live in a silo. Your marketing strategy is your marketing strategy no matter what mediums you are using, it all needs to work in unison. What digital has done that traditional hasn’t, is given businesses the opportunity to be very granular about their messaging by building creative and copy exclusive to these sub-sets of audiences. But, traditional marketing still plays a role in how you approach digital, and digital affects what you can do in traditional. All of it is important and all of it needs to tie back into the overarching marketing strategy.
What’s trending now in your department? What do you see happening in the future?
Obviously, content marketing is the big one. I’m a firm believer in creating great content and distributing it across the correct channels in a way that a business’s target audience will engage with it. This is nothing new. Businesses have been doing content marketing for as long as marketing has been around, it’s only recently been given this buzzword title. No one used to see a commercial and come away saying, “That was great content!” or hear a radio ad and think, “That business is really on-point with their content marketing.” They aren’t reading your blog and thinking your brand is in the content marketing space, either.
But, the businesses that can identify the questions their audience is asking, and answer them better than anyone else in their industry can, or earn the attention of their target audience…with great “content”…will become the authority in their industry and naturally earn share of voice and revenue.
What kind of work were you doing prior to TJA?
I’ve had the unique experience of working full-time for a few different marketing agencies, being an independent contractor for several more, and working within the marketing department of a large company that outsourced many services to a marketing agency. Thanks to this, I’ve been able to see the marketing industry from many different points of view which has given me a unique outlook on the agency model.
Prior to #agencylife, I created an eCommerce clothing company and sold a portion of it, spent a year as the owner of a “fast casual” restaurant, and have had a role in owning or managing a few other businesses along the way.
What would you tell someone who wants to start a career as a digital marketing professional?
Pay far more attention to understanding the consumer and their habits than you pay to learning tools and understanding data. As the world goes more and more Jetson’s, the marketers that understand where the attention and needs of actual human beings is shifting are the marketers that will succeed. As a business, if you can understand the consumption habits of your consumers and anticipate their needs – and fulfill them – you won’t need data to tell you where to invest your dollars