- Posted by V Digital Services
- On October 2, 2018
Scott Tobias is the chief executive officer of one of America’s fastest-growing digital marketing agencies, V Digital Services. Holding a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from the Monfort College of Business at the University of Northern Colorado, Mr. Tobias began his sales and marketing career in 1993 as a sales associate at the iconic alternative weekly newspaper Westword. He quickly rose through the ranks of that publication’s parent company, becoming group publisher and chief operating officer before ultimately leading a 2012 management buyout that created today’s Voice Media Group.
As the CEO of VMG, Mr. Tobias was instrumental in the creation of V Digital Services, and has led the agency since its launch in 2013. On a daily basis he oversees the agency’s many moving parts, taking a hands-on approach that has allowed V Digital Services to post robust profits while competing aggressively in a constantly evolving sector. Mr. Tobias is someone to watch in the digital marketing world as the agency he runs continues to rise above the rest.
For our first piece in The Agency Interview series, we had the opportunity to sit with Mr. Tobias and discuss his thoughts on digital marketing and the challenges of running a national agency.
1. What Are Your Top Concerns as the CEO of a National Digital Marketing Agency?
On a daily basis, I’m focused on making sure the team at V Digital Services provides top-tier service to our customers with a results-based approach. Our focus is not just on fulfilling the marketing needs of our clients. We want to take the process one step further by doing so with top industry experts in the services we provide. Identifying and hiring top talent is a special skill and it’s hard work. So we’re constantly monitoring the industry to see who’s shining in their field of expertise. Another area of focus is making sure we stay ahead of the curve with technology and the ever-changing digital environment in which we operate. Mobile-first is where the industry is going, and we are leading the way for our clients by presenting them with solid strategies of how to get there.
2. Can You Describe How You Grew VDS into a National Agency?
Back in 2013, we saw an opportunity to introduce Local SEO as a marketing solution to all of the legacy print and web advertisers we’d been serving through our publication group. As that Local SEO business took off, we realized we had lightning in a bottle, so we pivoted to add a full range of digital marketing services our clients needed for success. Our customers trusted us, and they wanted more from us in the space. They wanted a one-stop solution. Our next step for growth was to bring in well-qualified people as the digital fulfillment team and staff. In five years we have grown from zero to roughly 2,000 Local SEO accounts, and into one of the leading national digital agencies.
3. What Are the Top Skills a Successful CEO Needs to Achieve Longevity?
I think a CEO needs to be forward leaning and aggressive. You can’t continue to grow a company and keep it successful if you allow inertia to set in. That means continuing to develop new services, and continuing to recruit the top marketing talent available. There are a lot of “numbers guys” in this business, but we’ve always been a people company because we know that to be successful, you need to surround yourself with intelligent, high-performing individuals, and you need to not be threatened by that. To keep the company growing, you need to listen to your staff and managers, you need to be empathetic to their needs, and, in the final analysis, you need to be as driven as they are. That’s how you create a company culture where employees feel they’re a part of the firm’s future. Focused, motivated people naturally want to take ownership of their work, but to do that, they need a management that gives them the tools they need. That’s why a successful CEO needs to be a great communicator who can talk to all types of people at every level–both in their own company and their customers’ companies.
4. Where Do You See the Future of Digital Marketing Going After 2018?
Digital marketing is an ever-changing landscape. You can never afford to stop learning or keeping your eyes open to new strategies. In the near future, I think you’ll see more self-service on the Programmatic side of the business. But at the same time, local businesses as well as national companies will still need agencies they can trust to help them develop a holistic, full-funnel approach to their digital marketing. That will mean being a true partner to your customers. You won’t just fill their immediate needs, you’ll take a patient, strategic approach to helping them play the long game when it comes to fulfillment models.
Another trend you can expect to see will be the need to accurately forecast where the Internet is moving and get there one step ahead of it. Being on top of industry trends is essential so your staff can be prepared to pivot as needed in a proactive instead of a reactive way. The future is very bright in digital marketing as long as you drive results for your customers.
5. What Story Does Your Agency Have to Tell?
That you can start with one service and grow nationally from there. And that small, proactive steps for growth are possible if you develop the right strategy and pay the necessary attention to hiring.
In the case of V Digital Services, our growth can be attributed to our belief that a successful customer journey starts with in a full-funnel approach to marketing. We’ve been able to expand so rapidly because we’ve made a priority of understanding the actual needs of our customers and then delivering solutions that will satisfy those needs. Put another way, we don’t sell customers things that won’t help them. This means that rather than being constantly burdened with the need to upsell, the experts on our staff are freed up to do what they do best — and what they love — which is to innovate on behalf of the customer. Whatever your field of expertise, you’re going to be happier if you know you’re actually helping people.
We also believe in managing budgets responsibly and in driving results. We are accountable, both to our customers and to ourselves. We see our path ahead as strong, and we believe we’ll continue to grow by staying true to the core belief that got us here: that we grow by helping our customers grow, no matter what size their business is when they come to us.