How We Became The Digital Experience Leaders™…and What Happens Next
On May 13th, 2013, “this” all began with a walk in the park. Specifically, Lincoln Park — the Northside Chicago neighborhood.
In many ways, that day feels like a lifetime ago for me. In others, it seems like yesterday.
I recall so many things about spending that Spring day with my parents — mainly the fact that I wouldn’t stop spouting off my best(?) attempts at naming my budding agency — as we strolled the Halstead St. and Armitage Ave. corridor.
But most pertinent to this story, I remember the eureka moment exceptionally clearly. We were across the street from a Lululemon store, and my father said “I got it!”
Huh? I replied.
“Lincoln Digital Group,” he said.
I paused for a moment, unsure. And then I realized it was a perfect fit.
What’s in a Name? For Lincoln Digital Group, Exactly Three Things
Not only did I live and work in Lincoln Park, in a state nicknamed the Land of Lincoln, but I also happen to share something personally significant in common with our 16th President himself. And so it went: Lincoln Digital Group was it.
Next, we entered the Lululemon store. I sat down on the bench while my mother shopped, and I purchased lincolndigitalgroup.com on the spot.
That’s how “this” — this Brand, this website you are reading, this agency you hopefully engage — came to be.
Now, for more…
Less Background, More Journey
This is about what makes us, us. The most significant things we’ve experienced over 10 years of client service. The key mile-markers in our history. And what defines us going forward.
Braman Motorcars (2013-2014) was the springboard for our first years. We graduated from specialized vendor — bringing to life the first of its kind in the industry iOS and Android app — to digital agency of record. There, we launched the Audi A3, the BMW i3 and the Porsche Macan into the South Florida market, and gained so many invaluable experiences along the way. In retrospect, it was very early for us. Maybe too early for that particular (massive) responsibility. But it prepared us for what was to come (much sooner than later).
Provident Jewelry was our first well-known non-auto account. And our biggest website design and development project up til that time. We did some very cool video work there for both the retailer and co-op campaigns with their brands. In the end, I took my lumps on that account. But it also taught me the virtues of choosing the right growth (ie. Customer fit).
Adding Reeves in 2016 was a game-changer for us. And for me. It was like Braman 2.0, except I actually knew what I was doing. From sales, to service and e-commerce support, Reeves is
where we really came into our own as an agency, serving 21 business divisions at once. That forced us to plan, prioritize and perform more than any other client had. We were fortunate to achieve countless all-time sales records for the group during our more than six years of service. Before they were acquired in 2021, our service for Reeves was punctuated by one of our biggest milestones yet — a “Big Game” activation and 50 Birthday campaign, video and website work.
Stiebel Eltron was the first multi-national and Spanish-language business we supported. They are the world leader in electric water heaters and operate on all 6 continents. We hired and trained a native Spanish-speaking team, quickly on-boarded the first 2-3 markets, then rapidly added another 6 within a few years. The brand / wholesaler / retailer relationships — as well as the product launches and unique social media activations with an established, nearly 100 year old brand like this — are a privilege to be apart of.
From there, it’s been a whirlwind of invaluable new milestones. We began working with our first surgical client, Morrison Clinic. Our first DTC brand, Instabeauty. Our first professional fighter, Asa Ten Pow. And our first real estate developer, NDT Development. In between were coaches, chiros, plus countless keynote presentations and video shoots. The perspective gained and processes refined during these most recent few years have been irreplaceable and eye-opening in what they’ve enabled us to experience and observe.
And after all of this thus far — delivering our creative, executing the plan, and assessing the outcomes — it’s become clear to me. We simply deliver measurably superior results.
What a Strong Marketing Agent Really Does
To me, a full-service agency has always been about more than simply the overall strategy and execution. There are countless agencies that can think and perform. But what I’ve come to understand is that there’s so much more to being a great agent than campaign performance alone. When I think about how a full service agency best serves is clients, “to advocate” and “to be accountable” are the descriptions that come to mind. That’s not something that anyone taught me and told me I needed to know when I founded LDG. So I’ll share what it means here.
This means we’re always pressing media partners for more value add, better placements, and pushing back wherever, and whenever, their decisions stand to negatively impact our clients. Most importantly, it means we’re committed. Committed to their best interests. Committed to doing what it takes for the best chance to win. Committed to having their back. And, when necessary, committed to telling them unpleasant truths about the outcomes their decisions are likely to make.
I like to think this is a large part of what separates us from others and has contributed to the 10 years we’ve enjoyed thus far.
When I think about our marathon journey, it’s been a continuous accumulation of experiences, skills, successes, failures (and more failures), in development of expertise.
There are a number of very special people that have helped make Lincoln Digital Group what it is over the years. Without them, we may not be here at all. Beginning with our founding team of Christina, Charles, Nick and Kaeli.
Next came Cara, Diogo, Karina, Luis, John and Wil. Then Kayla, Rene, Diego, Lilliam, Patty and Sam.
And I can’t forget longtime valued clients such as Frank, Gerard, Jeff, Red, Jonathan, Mrs. R, Kim, Kelly, Josh, John and Elyssa. Nor critical professional services providers like Lesley and Jeff.
I’m sincerely grateful for all your support and contributions to helping make Lincoln Digital Group what it is today.
The Next Ten Years
A business milestone such as turning 10 years old forces you to consider many things as a Founder and CEO. One day, your eyes are simply thrown open to where you’ve been, where you are, and what needs to change to get where you want to go.
As we began working on the next decade earlier this year, it became painfully obvious to me that there is still so much work left to do to achieve my vision. I am now almost always working on how to better understand and serve our customers. How to better track our effectiveness for them. How to truly understand what business we are in for them. And most importantly, how to develop and get the most out of our team to continue helping them achieve their work and life goals while delivering measurably superior results to our clients. In fact, Lincoln Digital Group now has a business coach to help us bring these goals to fruition.
I won’t bore you with the details. But I will say that you’ve already begin to see some of what we’re working on in terms of how we operate. And you will continue to see many more changes as 2023 progresses.
Because for the next decade, we are working on getting more of what’s rightfully ours: More of the clients and experiences representative of a premier digital marketing agency that measurably improves the perception and opportunities on behalf of the most notable brands in the world with superior results.
-Justin Cerone, Founder and CEO
Lincoln Digital Group