Customer Stories

Growing a company with a lean team: A conversation with Don Brown, Founder & CEO of The Long Tail Agency

Headshots of Don Brown and Dean Watkins of The Long Tail Agency

The digital media landscape is vast and ever changing. With constantly moving parts and assets, it can be challenging to manage. Now imagine running a business—and all of its moving parts—on top of that. That’s exactly what Don Brown, founder and CEO, at The Long Tail Agency does on a day-to-day basis. 

The Long Tail Agency is a full-service digital media and marketing agency that specializes in building strategic full-scale campaigns to drive tangible results for their clients. We sat down with Don  to find how his team balances client work with agency work to help their clients exceed their goals.

What inspired you to start The Long Tail Agency? 

Me and my partner Dean Watkins, our Growth Marketing Director, are very big on ownership. When the business is yours, it gives you a different perspective. 

In our previous roles, we were operating as an unofficial agency between the two of us, so we knew we were capable of running one. Our natural entrepreneurial spirit coupled with our  work experience forced the light bulb to go off, and we decided to do it.

When a client comes to you with a goal, how do you determine the best marketing campaign strategy to execute?

Our strategy is to start with our client’s goal and then cross reference it with our capabilities. Then we work from a place of, “How can we most efficiently meet and exceed this goal?”

We have our suite of tactics, and to use a metaphor, it’s like being in a kitchen. We go to the cabinet and pull out our seasonings to start. Then we see what we don’t have, and we go to the store to get two or three other things we don’t currently have.

We’re a full service agency so nine times out of 10 we work from our list of services and combine those together to make the best meal. For example, if it’s in the social and digital space, you’ll need a website, potentially  paid social campaign, maybe newsletters. We have a firm understanding of what makes an effective digital campaign and have a team that can execute. Keeping the kitchen metaphor going, since we’re very clear what our capabilities are and we know how to combine tactics, we’re able to make a good recipe for our clients.

A key strategy we use is to look at things holistically. People often think of marketing in silos because emails, social media, and paid social for example are all different channels, but we like to ask, “How do these things work together?” when building out a campaign strategy. 

How do you use Asana to manage client marketing campaigns at The Long Tail Agency?

I’m a big fan of Boards view. One of the things I really like about the tool is that everybody can use it in the way that’s most effective for them and their teams. I’ve seen a lot of people use it in different ways, and still be effective.

We have a project for our entire business. Then we use columns on the board to track clients.  We have current clients in one column and then new business is another. Then under new business, we have tasks for each  new business conversation so we can keep a pulse on how these discussions are going. 

Within the agency view, there are columns like new business, current clients, and  housekeeping like taxes. When I go into the project, I can see the 30,000 foot view of the company, and then drill into a specific task to get into the details of that client when needed.

Then we have a project for current clients and we track specific projects for each client as tasks. For example, when we worked with Asana on the Level Up Conference it was a task in our current clients project. Within the task, we have subtasks that represent the ads that need to be created or the black enterprise newsletter takeover. Subtasks represent the tactics we’re executing for the campaign and we can track the status of it, who’s responsible, and what needs to be done. 

What impact has using Asana had on your business and how you manage your client’s campaigns?

Asana has definitely allowed us to grow a lot quicker and more efficiently because we are a nimble team. We like to keep our clients happy, and to do that we need to execute. All of our new business has come through relationships, and those relationships are a result of people knowing we can deliver. 

There are a lot of moving pieces to the campaigns we work on and it’s very easy for things to get forgotten about if we weren’t tracking them. That’s where Asana comes in. When you have so many ads you’re running, creative you’re developing, YouTube pages you’re managing, sponsored content deals you’re planning–all for one client–it becomes extremely important to have a tool that can help you organize all of those moving pieces. 

I am naturally not the most organized person, but Asana has helped me a lot with this. It has allowed me and the team to keep everything as organized and as efficient as possible so that we can execute. When we execute, we run and we grow. 

What’s next for The Long Tail Agency?

For us, it’s about scaling the company in the right way and working with the right kinds of clients. We’ve had opportunities to work with some enterprise and corporate clients, and that’s where we want to focus more in the future. We want to become a digital and social agency of record for Fortune 500 brands. And to do this, we’re focused on delivering great campaigns that hit our clients’ goals so we can maintain long-term relationships with them.

We’re inspired by our customers like The Long Tail Agency who are using Asana to achieve their goals. See what teams around the world are doing with Asana.

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