Membership-based digital marketing company helps companies tone their digital muscle.
With i5 Digital LLC, cofounders Janis Henslee and Nick Squires have created a membership-based, one-stop shop for all things digital marketing-related. Photograph by Robert San Juan
BY JAN WILSON
From the pages of In Business magazine.
Entrepreneurs Janis Henslee and Nick Squires believe they’re on to something big. The company they’ve cofounded, i5 Digital LLC, offers all-inclusive, membership-based digital marketing solutions for companies needing digital support, from creating a logo to upgrading a brand, from graphic design to search-engine optimization, and from content to press releases.
For one monthly fee, i5 Digital will maintain an ongoing and cohesive web and social media presence, freeing business owners to do what they do best — run their businesses. “This is a one-stop shop,” notes Henslee, who owned her own digital marketing business prior to i5 Digital.
“We created this model so business owners don’t have to shop around for various services,” Henslee says, adding that she’s seen companies blow a budget on a website but then not be able to afford anything else. “Or they didn’t understand the value of doing organic search ranking, or social media, or blogging, or making sure their brand is cohesive everywhere.”
That’s important, she explains, because a website alone doesn’t guarantee business success.
Squires, who owned a web development company prior to i5, agrees. “The neon ‘Open’ sign doesn’t mean people will walk in the door,” he insists. “I tell people, ‘If you build it, they will not come.’ There is no Field of Dreams anymore.”
The key, they say, is digital fitness, one of several terms Henslee and Squires have trademarked in Wisconsin. Just like exercising, digital fitness requires ongoing dedication to achieve lasting results.
As a guideline, Squires says companies should spend at least one-third of their advertising and marketing budgets on digital messaging. For some long-established companies, that’s a whole new ballgame.
“Google is live,” cautions Henslee. “If you’re not doing something constantly to show that you are active, participating, engaged, and cohesive, it can negatively affect you.”
The core of i5 Digital is a five-step plan: Brand, build, optimize, broadcast, and evaluate. “You get toned in year one,” notes Squires. “That’s the most difficult year when we’re your lifeblood on the digital landscape. Year two is when we get you buff.”
In the digital marketing world, services are often provided à la carte, Henslee says. “There may be a social media person or company, in-house or not, an SEO person, a web developer, but here’s the problem,” she cautions. “Everyone’s out to protect their piece of the pie and nobody works cohesively together. Here, your end result falls 100% on us. That’s what a lot of businesses are missing.”
The company’s business model is scaled for growth based on member groups, or pods. Each pod is assigned its own creative team consisting of a digital coach (i.e., personal trainer), graphic designer, and a web developer, which keeps customer service front and center. Members are also allowed up to 90 minutes a week of dedicated time with their digital coach if they so choose.
While i5 Digital will not manage a client’s social media, it may post newsworthy and relevant items or videos to a corporate Facebook page or other account to boost engagement and improve search engine ranking. “That’s what gets results, not wishing everyone a good weekend,” Henslee says.
The company launched in January intent on signing one new member each week, but it has already surpassed its June 1 goal of 20 members. “Our new goal is to have 40 members by the end of June,” Henslee explains, “and I think we’ll blow that away.”
Yearlong memberships vary in price based on the amount of professional photography, videography, and SEO work desired. Currently, plan rates range from Basic ($695/month), to Premier ($995/month), to Elite ($1,495/month).
Thus far, Henslee and Squires have bootstrapped i5 Digital, but membership fees are fast-tracking their plans to expand to a larger space. The company already has 13 employees, including five on the payroll, two interns, and five contractors, but the ultimate goal is to bring everyone in house.
i5 Digital Fitness
583 D’onofrio Drive #1011,