Ryan Thogmartin of DISRUPT Media
Meet Ryan Thogmartin, founder of DISRUPT Media
, a social media strategy and management agency.
What is DISRUPT Media?
We specialize in helping global organizations, small businesses, and celebrities create strategic approaches to social media and social networking. We are a small and nimble firm that adjusts to our client’s needs, providing creative ideas and a simple plan to create a social media presence that is completely unique.
How did you come up with the idea?
Through another company of mine (ConnectingDirectors.com
, the largest online funeral publication), I have access to a monthly reader base of over 16,000 funeral professionals who were archaic in their marketing. I became the go-to source for social media, which put me in circles of “normal” mainstream business owners as well.
I started DISRUPT Media, because there was a demand in my area with small to mid-size businesses that needed a social media presence but they didn’t have any idea how to get started. Most business owners just wanted us to set up social media accounts and turn them over. What they quickly found out was a Facebook timeline is not a field of dreams. Just because you build it doesn’t mean customers are going to show up.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
It blew me away how many business owners threw tens of thousands of dollars away each year on blind marketing that can’t be measured. I am still shocked at how many business owners are still placing a bulk of their ad spend in these traditional media outlets.
Where did you find your first employee?
Online. I received an email one day through our “work with us” form on our website. The email was from a 20-year old college kid who was a self-taught programmer and had an interest in working for a progressive startup. He worked for me on a project-to-project level at first. He has now been with me for two and a half years, and we still haven’t met in person.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
I spend the first part of the morning reviewing our clients’ social media channels, making sure the correct updates have been posted and no messages have gone unanswered. We have account managers for each client, but sometimes there are comments and questions that get assigned to me. The majority of my day is spent answering email, emailing prospective clients, and engaging through our companies’ social media outlets by answering questions business owners ask about social media and creating content.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Zanesville?
The biggest advantage DISRUPT Media has right now is a wide open marketplace. Social media is still not completely understood by many businesses in our area, so we have a great opportunity to really be in the driver's seat. Zanesville is also a smaller community, allowing us to rely heavily on referrals from happy clients.
What resources or organizations in Zanesville did you take advantage of and how did they help?
The Muskingum County Business Incubator
has been a great resource. There is great energy among the companies housed there and we all are growing companies facing many of the same hurdles. I am also a big idea guy. I love grabbing some of the other business owners and bouncing ideas off of them.
The Zanesville Country Club
has also been a great resource for my company. It was a risk joining the club because of the expense, but the immediate access to successful business owners has resulted in multiple clients. You can also learn a lot about a person’s character in a four hour round of golf!
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
I landed an intro meeting with a prospective client located in Las Vegas in March of 2012. The client owns a clothing company and high-end concierge service. When I arrived in Las Vegas and made my way to the Bellagio where I was meeting the client, I saw numerous advertisements for a reality show that was being filmed in Las Vegas. The show was called Gigolos
. There was one guy that seemed to be the front man in the advertisements. When I arrived at the restaurant where I was meeting the client, I about fell over when I saw the guy from the Gigolos
ads sitting with the client I was meeting. I soon learned that he was partnered in the clothing company as well. With me also being an ordained minister, this made for very interesting conversation!
What inspires you?
Disruptive change! Most of the time when we start working with a client it is their first experience with social media marketing. We are an all or nothing company. The client has to agree to all of our processes. There is no a la carte. This can disrupt the normal flow that the client is used to. Our goal is to take our client from being a company using social media and turn them into a social business where they start thinking like social media marketers.
What founders do you admire and why?
There are so many great company founders and innovators, but one founder who I admire is Joe Joachim. Joe is the founder and CEO of Hello Innovation
, a strong set of businesses powered by innovation and change. Joe is a personal friend, but also a great mentor. His companies are extremely successful in a multitude of areas, including telehealth, telemedicine, health and beauty, the funeral profession, film industry, real estate, and genealogy. The products and services his companies create are completely disrupting entire industries. I admire the way Joe started from nothing but an idea, and has created a portfolio of game-changing products while thousands of other professionals were telling him it couldn’t be done and it wouldn’t work.
Joe has been very instrumental in helping me mold my ideas into profitable companies. He is the only person I have ever met that could take a rock into a conference room and in a few hours create multiple ways to monetize it.
What’s next for you?
DISRUPT Media is still a small company with many more years of sustainable growth potential, but like most entrepreneurs I have Evernote notebooks full of ideas. I am greatly intrigued by crowdfunding and its primary reliance on social media. Crowdfunding is still a relatively new concept, and there are a number of niche industries that could be disrupted by crowdfunding. If I’m projecting what’s next, I think it will be using the powers of social media to drive crowdfunding into a niche industry.
Interview by Joe Baur