local media insider

KN Digital Media uses "turnkey" provider to launch digital services agency, $25,000 in new sales

Both small and large companies should consider this option

Alisa Cromer
KNDigital's Facebook page practices what the company preaches.

Media: Kenosha News 

Market: Kenosha, Wisconson, population 100,000
Audience: 29,000 Sunday 24,000 daily newspaper; 900,000 page views www.kenoshawnews.com 
Company owner: United Communications 
Initiative: KN Digital Media
Key executives: Lani Renneau, Advertising Director and Nicole McQuestion, Advertising Manager

Challenge: Over the years, the Kenosha team realized that their  'needs analysis' sales approach needed a new set of products and services. In addition, there was an educational component;   merchant clients were "almost paralyzed" by marketing choices. The organization needed to provide both new services and help local merchants learn.

Strategy:  In 2012, the team began to look through the options of how to provide services using new technologies. Ultimately they chose a turnkey vendor. Instead of developing all the skillsets inhouse, this partnership would both train in-market and provide back-end white label fulfillment as a complete set of services.

They selected Dream Local Digital as the provider. Dream Local CEO Shannon Kinney also specializes in advertiser workshops and training. She could educate both the newspaper and its merchants so "We could get the program up and running while we were learning." 

Since the newspaper did not have the skills  to provide a complete set of services on their own, partnering with a turnkey provider  allowed them to launch a more rounded product and service set. "We felt that was very important that if we were going to present ourselves as a needs-based sales organization." 

The new division, KNDigitalMedia, has its own web site that describes the services which are entirely white-labeled.  Most merchants purchasing the new programs don't know that Dream Local is involved. 


The product and service set is divided into four blocks:

1.  Social Media -  Services now include creating or optimizing a social presence via customize Facebook pages, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Four Square.

Training and/ or social media management are also available. From the explanation on the knmedia.com's explanatory media kit:

We can show you how the best Facebook pages and social media channels engage their fans by:

• providing information of interest from other sources besides your own company.
• by asking survey questions using the Facebook question app.
• by posting interesting photographs and tagging your fanbase to give credit.
• by providing information about the key people in your business.
• by sharing information about events or your business’ public service involvement.
• by providing information about sales and special promotions.

2.  Web & Mobile Development 

Including in this block of services are:

• A content calendar "customised to each individual business that positions them as the trusted expert in their field" 

• Audience building promotions & Contests 

• Video marketing & distribution on via YouTube. "We use video in a unique way that takes on esingle video and blasts it out all over the web, syndicating it to hundredds of social media sites..." 

• Mobile mini sites "for local search domination."  From their website promotion:

 The added benefit is that with these additional and optimized mini-sites you also now have a chance to dominate local search for your market and keywords – getting the lion’s share of exposure and pushing your competition off the front page of the search results 

 3. Search engine optimization

These services includes reputation management and placement in 100+ directory listings, key word analysis, seo recommendations, a back-linking program, plus the blogs and social media strategy.  Finally the company offers management of PPC campaigns. 

4. Email services 

Email services includes opt-in list-building and developing company newsletters.

The  web site, KNDigital.com, under the navgational tab "our services."  There are also tabs for "our stuff" with  a gallery of customer sites and pages, "our blog" in which KNDigital does what it recommends, and "Our awsesomeness," which is a pitch for new clients: 


How awesome are we?

We’re so awesome that we are going to do a FREE Social Media and Search Engine Ranking review of your business.

Contact Us

Phone: (262) 656-6242
5800 7th Avenue, Kenosha

Nicole McQuestion
Director of Client Media


Sales and Launch strategy

To launch the program, KNDigitalMedia brought in Dream Local in-market to train the sales reps for two days, and then produce two advertiser seminars with existing customers (see how to run an effective advertiser seminar here).

The first event was an evening seminar for small to midsize accounts, including those personally invited by reps. 35 business showed up. The sales team of eight reps were given a "report card" for each client, so that clients could stay to review information about their own business. Included was a search engine health report on how they were appearing in search with a list of suggestions on what to do to improve, and a reputation management report. 

The second event was private dinner for 6 of the larger clients with a presentation by Kinney. Rather than the standard workshop, the dinner presentation was educational. Later meetings included a needs analysis on areas where each company wanted to grow. 

The types of businesses attendng seminars ranged across the spectrum, including auto, attorneys, medical, restaurants and bars. "We are also uncovering opporutnities from different businesses that would never ust he newspaper.... beyond the traditional advertiser," Renneau said.

Sales tools for "in the field" follow-up calls and new calls include iPads for all reps. Reps show  reputation management reports and conduct a needs analysis. "We never never make recommendations on the first call. even if its a small account." 

The Advertising Manager, McQuestion plays the new role of digital expert, working as the liaison with Dream Local.

 "Reps are not the experts yet it is a lot to learn. But if you have DreamLocal do everything you can ever expect your reps to be the experts."

Pricing is a la carte, and piggy-backs on DreamLocal's pricing model. Since the program has hard fixed costs, there are no price concessions for advertisers. Most packages are annual, the shortest they will accept is six months. 


• "Every single one of the businesses  stayed after the seminar to say 'I need your help.'" Kenosha sold 25 to 28 businesses on programs between end August and October 2012.

• The average sales is about $800 to $1400. Monthly revenues in the second quarter of operation were at about $25,000 minus the cost of the partnership.

• Like most new digital initiatives, a few sales representatives brought in the most deals, some acheived moderate goals and a few struggled to sell the program.

• One example of an account developed using the new services was Gateway Technical College, which increased its SEO budget "in a way that we could ot have done before."

• The team later held another "Lunch and Learn" workshop with 25 new advertisers and "everyone of them stayed afterwords to talk to us,"  Renneau said. 

Lessons learned

• "The need is there," Renneau says. Merchant participation in the workshops and willingness to sign-up for the program quickly has proven to the team that there is market demand for these services. 

• Using a turnkey program allows for a speedy ramp up. "The other avenue we could have taken was to grow very slowly and take on one or two services at a time ... it would have taken years. This was the best way to go in the local level and take on the next level," Renneau said. 

• Speed to market was also important because of the presence of competitors. "We already have a minimum 4 to 5 media competitors in our marketplace" offering digital services, including a radio station.  People are going to get in touch with the business in this community whether it's us or somebody else. It used to be just the newspaper,  but with  digital media, anyone can get involved."

•  "I would be dreaming if I thought there was not any switching going on. We've spent a lot of empahsis and alligned a focus so you are going to suffer a little a other end. But you have to look at what you truly believe the future is going to look like. We happen to believe this is something our clients need our help with." 

• "It takes a longer time to make a sale. We're use to saying... the deadline is Thursday and just get it in... Social media needs time for analsysis, acceptance, and implementation of the program...you cannot expect it to be up and running the next day...if you get into this line of buisness do not place in your bets that if you go into business in January, you are going to make money in January. We didn't see revenues for 30 to 60 days."

Our take 

Turnkey options are a great solution for small companies who want to ramp up quickly and develop internal skill sets over time. Another provider of turnkey services is Guaranteed Digital, which has contracted with the Pittsburgh Post and other media companies. Using turnkey service comes with training - a huge advantage in ramping up quickly - and there is the option to adapt these programs if some services are already provided inhouse. 

Many thanks to Lani Renneau, Advertising Director and Nicole McQuestion, Advertising Manager of Kenosha News for sharing their experience with us.

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.