PORTSMOUTH — Two Seacoast digital marketing companies have merged to create what its new CEO describes as a “top to bottom” opportunity to serve the needs of clients.
The merger involves Centrus Digital’s acquisition of To The Point Marketing. The merged company going forward will be known as Centrus Digital. TTPM employees, who had been working in Exeter, have joined Centrus Digital at its 36 Maplewood Ave. location in downtown Portsmouth.
CEO Jonathan Day likened Centrus Digital’s services as “top of the funnel” in its expertise in search engine optimization (SEO) – the ability to attract people to a website by way of a search engine, such as Google. TTPA’s services, as Day described, was more “bottom of the funnel” in what it offered once people got to the website.
“What our clients hire us for is generating awareness and driving traffic to their website,” Day said of what Centrus Digital has been doing since its creation in 2007 as Sharper Selling. “What TTPM clients pay them for is what happens once a person gets to the website and how they are treated once they are there. What they do is all the lead nurturing, all the landing pages, and all of the email automation of the drip marketing.
“We at Centrus used to be very top of the funnel; TTPM used to be very bottom of the funnel, and now we’re top to bottom together,” Day added. “We can offer services to our clients that we couldn’t offer before, and vice versa.”
Day as chief executive officer is backed up by a new leadership team that includes Robert Rustici as chief operating officer, Jen Hazell as senior account strategist, and Leo Roy as senior marketing technologist.
Rustici formed Sharper Selling 16 years ago to help clients optimize Google AdWords with paid search advertising and search engine optimization. He was joined in 2016 by Day, his son-in-law, flexing the business’s reach into becoming a more full-service digital agency, becoming a managing partner and changing the name in 2018 to Centrus Digital to more reflect its business mission.
To The Point Marketing was founded in 2009 in Exeter by MaryAlice LaPoint, specializing in marketing automation and CRM (customer relationship management) tools such as Salesforce and the Salesforce product Pardot.
“I am staying on as a partner for the foreseeable future and actively working to integrate the two businesses,” LaPoint said. “I was really pleased to formalize this merger, as we had been working closely with Centrus before this transaction, and the fit was very good – both from a corporate culture standpoint (great minds think alike) and a business synergy standpoint. The work that Centrus does is critical to our clients as a top of funnel lead generation company.”
Hazell was partnership development manager and account manager for TTPM, while Roy was its senior digital marketing engineer. LaPoint, with the acquisition by Centrus, left to pursue other interests.
Centrus, the smaller company, had done some collaboration in the past with the larger TTPM. That collaboration, according to Rustici, opened his and Day’s eyes to greater opportunity and risk of buying a bigger company.
“Having the collaboration with different organizations was interesting because it gave you the capability to address bigger projects and more interesting things,” Rustici said. “You take on more headaches now in terms of financing, payroll, etc. But the exciting part is you start to become more effective in terms of what you can do.”
“The motivation behind this acquisition was to keep their talent and bring them on board to our team under one roof,” added Day. “We wanted to acquire that talent and the specialties those people had.”
They see numerous advantages to the merger – more marketing opportunities for clients, a more national reach for new business, and revenue growth that they expect could triple while expenses only double.
“Outside the talent that we acquired in this acquisition, the upsell opportunity on both sides is what makes us really optimistic and excited about it,” Day said.
“If you can pay one agency half as much as you’re paying three different agencies, you’re going to do that, and you’re going to be working with the same team across everything that you do,” Day added. “Not only is it going to be cheaper, it’s going to be better and more effective, because you’re not trying to keep passing the ball between multiple different places.”
According to LaPoint, the business she founded has always been about prospecting for sales leads.
“When I began TTPM 11 years ago, companies were still using USPS mail to prospect for leads, but those marketing dollars quickly moved to digital and email lead generation,” she said. “Email still plays a critical role in lead gen follow up, prospect cultivation, brand recognition, and sales support. Our clients now spend most of their marketing budget with online advertising such as Google ads, Facebook ads, and digital banner advertising in order to attract new business.”
Day and Centrus Digital have been very active locally with nonprofits.
Day was a 2017 10 to Watch winner. It is an annual event sponsored by Catapult Seacoast in partnership with Seacoast Media Group as a way to highlight the work the region’s young professionals age 40 and younger do in their professional lives as well as their contributions to the community at large.
He is a co-founder and executive director of the Digital Marketing Center, a nonprofit dedicated building a prosperous community by closing the workforce gap in digital marketing and strengthening the nonprofit and small business economy. He is also an officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and is a trustee of the Seacoast Repertory Theatre. The community involvement remains at Centrus Digital’s core.
The merger also enables him to be better at running a business.
“They have a stellar account strategist there,” Day said of Hazell, “which is one of the things I’d been doing for Centrus. And because I was running the company and doing the business development, I wasn’t doing a great job at any of them. And now I have that person dedicated to that, and it allows me to focus more on strategy and development.”
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