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How a Vision 18 Years Ago Grew into a Digital Marketing Success

CEO Chris Mulvaney of CMDS is a creator.

  • A creator of old cars.
  • A creator of rustic furniture.
  • A creator of music.
  • And, a creator of brands. Marketing them, that is.

Something you will notice almost immediately about Chris, the 43 year-old CEO of the start-up CMDS, is his tattoo. It’s a rendering of a tree, it’s roots grounded at the wrist, its trunk and branches grown into something majestic and beautiful as it crosses up the arm of its creator. It represents the growth of his agency, CMDS, 18 years in the making, with its roots firmly planted in the birth of the digital marketing era.

Chris has taken CMDS from a small digital marketing office and has cultivated it into the multi-million dollar agency it is today. He sources raw talent from all over and has created a team of digital marketing rock stars. CMDS has grown into its success, all because its CEO envisioned the future of digital marketing – and wanted to put the clients first.

Chris likes building cars. According to him, building classic cars is really no different than building brands. It’s all about putting the pieces together to craft the perfect end result. With his background in marketing during a time where the digital era was born, it’s no wonder that he envisioned a different kind of future for his clients. The kind of future that allowed those clients to attract the ideal customer that they want to have in five years, but being able to acquire them today.

And, with CMDS using their core talent to offer unique offerings that usually only the bigger agencies can, they are able to craft the perfect end result for each and every client.

We asked Chris to chat a little bit about his background, his inspirations and the agency he was able to grow into such a powerhouse today.

Tell us about your journey into digital marketing. What made you start CMDS?

I was really into digital, but my background came from building brands for larger entities. Because digital was so new, there weren’t many exclusive digital shops that focused on branding. There were agencies using the technology, but the websites were poorly designed and had no user experience whatsoever. I feel like we filled that gap really well for our clients.

For those who haven’t heard of CMDS, what is the best way to describe it?

We’re a brand building agency that understands buyer intent and designs a solution to help attract ideal clients through emotional storytelling.

What are the services you offer to your clients?

We’re a full service agency with a heavy slant on digital. While website design and enhancements are a large part of our revenue, we also help our clients with coming up with names for their company, logo development, content creation, paid social and search, and usability.

How is online marketing different today than it was a few years ago?

Authenticity is tremendously important… more than ever. Engagement is mandatory in order to keep visitors on site, coming back and search engines to help you rank high based on the query they found you on.

Why is digital marketing important for every business?

Your brand doesn’t exist without it! It helps build trust with prospects. It attracts good employees. It validates decisions to work with your brand. It’s a necessity in today’s environment!

How you discovered you were creative.

When I was a kid, I used to take apart my toys and put them back together, sometimes in the same way and other times with some sort of variation. I also loved building go-karts, mini-bikes, stuff like that. So, in that sense, I was always building things.

Who is someone you idolized creatively growing up.

It would have to be Joshua Davis, the designer and technologist. He is an innovator in Flash and built a lot of art pieces programmatically. I met him when I spent two semesters learning how to program and in Flash. I was the best student in the class because I always took things to the next level. Joshua and I would walk back to the train station together and we would have great talks about the industry. He is definitely someone that I could say I looked up to. He gave me so much good advice and feedback.

What’s a moment that changed your life?

When my daughter was born. Up until that point, I had always been doing what I do, which was creating a job and a career for myself. After she was born was the moment I decided to take it to the next level.

The first concert you saw.

Beach Boys. I was probably 9??

What’s your favorite band or musician today?

I’d have to say the Deftones.

What’s your favorite project you ever worked on and why.

Hands down, it was a large bio pharmaceutical company. We were brought in to validate the quality of programming done to develop out their websites for two major brands. After being told by the managers that we would ever work on big brands by this company because of the size of our agency, we still went ahead and helped them with their challenges. Once they understood what a vast difference we made, and what challenges we took on, they confided in us.

Today, six years later, we manage and develop the majority of their web properties.

What excites you most about your industry?

That it’s constantly evolving. It’s scary because it changes every five seconds. However, this also makes it the most exciting. This, and that we have the ability to affect change and create something that could be a new standard in the industry.

What do you consider essential skills for a marketing agency these days?

Thinking. A lot of agencies will execute a project based on immediate client needs and recommendations, but thinking about the desired outcome in the long run is the essential skill for creating a successful campaign.

What’s your main strength as a creative person?

I can’t stop thinking about unique ideas. I come up with ideas for new businesses all the time. This is an advantage to my clients because I’m always coming up with creative business ideas for them.

One thing that always makes you happy?

Vacationing with my family. Always puts a smile on my face.

What do you love to do during your downtime?

I like building things.

What you would be doing if you weren’t in digital marketing.

I think I would be making and building unique pieces of art from raw materials.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

I have two.

The first one is to keep your head down and keep doing your good work. Don’t get distracted and be involved in what everyone else is doing. Even if you are centered on making big wins, always keep focused on doing the best you possibly can for the clients, all the time.

The second one is to stop and turn around. Look behind you at all of the great accomplishments and appreciate how far you’ve come. Take CMDS. We have so many clients that appreciate us and love what we have done for them. A lot of times, I don’t sit back and appreciate that enough. Instead of always being focused on the next project, I need to reflect more, turn around, and really see how far CMDS has come.