In 2003, digital marketing was on the cusp of transforming the way companies do business. MySpace was founded that year, and Facebook followed the next year. Few businesses, however, knew how to incorporate digital media into a marketing plan. Philadelphia had a smattering of digital agencies, but Wilmington was wide open. To fill the niche, Lee Mikles and Patrick Callahan started The Archer Group.
Nearly 15 years later, The Archer Group has experienced some changes. The founders sold their shares and have started other businesses. But one thing hasn’t changed: The Archer Group is still a company to watch.
While some marketing and advertising agencies have added a digital element, The Archer Group remains focused. “We don’t do anything that a traditional agency does — we are strictly digital,” says CEO Michael Derins, who joined The Archer Group in 2006.
The agency, which counts large-cap companies among its clients and has a long-standing relationship with WaWa, has experienced a growth curve not unlike the digital world itself. When the company started, it handled websites for small businesses. (Granted, there wasn’t much else on the digital front at that time.)
Today, The Archer Group specializes in a host of platforms — social media being just one of them. “It’s all about the choreography of all the layers of digital that make The Archer Group successful,” Derins says.
The team starts with the strategy, but the services don’t stop with a campaign’s implementation. The business platform on which the actual transaction or interface between the customer and the business occurs is also part of the equation. “We are responsible for end-to-end,” Derins says. “Analytics, optimization and the management of the software-delivery lifecycle all fall under the agency’s umbrella.”
The team uses multiple technologies to deliver the results. That is no easy feat. There are platforms for social media, media buying and analytics — to name only a few. Not surprisingly, there’s always a new tool. “It’s easy to get caught up in shiny objects,” Derins says. The Archer Group prefers to invest in the tried-and-true rather than chase the new. “There are inefficiencies in doing that,” he says of switching to an unproven technology.
The focus on digital hasn’t changed, but the digital world has. “It’s incredibly complicated and nuanced today,” Derins says. As a result, The Archer Group, which has 75 employees, has hired specialists. He compares it to the medical field. Within oncology or cardiology, for instance, there are subspecialties. “Gone are the days when you had generalists,” he says.
The agency invests in an onsite lab program, where the team can tinker. “We’re always thinking about ways to do things better — more efficiently, more effectively,” Derins says.
The Archer Group is thinking big in other ways. In August, the agency will move to 27,0000 square feet at Sixth and King streets. “It will be a game-changer” Derins says.