This Digital Marketing Agency’s People-Focused Culture Is the Key to Its Success

Elite SEM's clients include Barneys and the WNBA


Who Ben Kirshner, CEO

What Digital marketing agency

Where New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Los Angeles and Toronto

Elite SEM's CEO, Ben Kirshner, cites one major reason for the agency's accomplishments: It's structured so that every employee owns a piece of the business. "It's not just the executives at the top who are enjoying a win," he said. "Everyone in the company feels a win, and everybody makes more money when a new client comes in. We're not driven by shareholder returns. Everyone is treated and acts like an owner. We allow people to work whenever, from wherever, on whatever accounts they want to work on." The agency has a 97 percent retention rate for its 150 employees. "We focus on making our people happy, which makes our clients happy," Kirshner said. Putting people first and focusing on culture has fueled successful efforts like a search marketing campaign for Barneys that helped the store increase its online sales by 40 percent and return on ad spend by 30 percent. Elite SEM also works on paid search and SEO for Tommy Bahama, Henri Bendel, Kind,, Etsy and the WNBA.

This story first appeared in the November 14, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.

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