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Jonathan Peress is the President and CEO of ProMedia, a full-service, tech-enabled marketing agency specializing in cost-per-acquisition, direct-response, and alternative media.Under his leadership, ProMedia’s annual revenue has grown by more than 120% each year, earning the agency the 10th Fastest Growing Small Business in America award from Entrepreneur Magazine and recognition in the Inc 5000 list of fastest-growing businesses for three consecutive years. 

Before ProMedia, Jonathan was a member of Viacom’s industry, leading the DRTV sales team and working closely on Comedy Central, Spike TV, LOGO, and Vh1. In 2020, he was named one of South Florida’s Top 40 under 40 by the South Florida Business Journal.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [03:15] Jonathan Peress talks about ProMedia and the services they offer
  • [06:56] ProMedia’s ideal customer profile and business model
  • [10:45] What are the key elements of a good ad?
  • [12:10] Mistakes people make with their call-to-action
  • [14:57] Partnering with celebrities for marketing campaigns
  • [20:43] How do you effectively advertise on multiple channels?
  • [24:25] ProMedia’s customer success stories 
  • [26:16] Jonathan talks about work-life balance and shares his journey to becoming a CEO

In this episode…

Having a well-built online presence has become critical for business success. How can you effectively employ direct-response marketing as a growth strategy?

According to Jonathan Peress, a leader in tech-enabled marketing and alternative media, creating an effective direct-response campaign is challenging but highly rewarding. With the right campaign, you can grab your audience’s attention and drive results, but this requires expertise and experience. Therefore, Jonathan recommends hiring a direct-response agency to help craft messages that resonate with your target audience and compel them to take action. A direct-response agency can also offer advice on suitable media channels — online ads, TV spots, or direct mail — and  manage your campaigns, from creative development to media buying to campaign optimization. 

On this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz sits down with Jonathan Peress, President and CEO of ProMedia, to discuss how to thrive using direct-response marketing. Jonathan explains ProMedia’s services, the critical elements of a good ad, the call-to-action mistakes people make, and how to advertise effectively on multiple channels.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

Quotable Moments:

  • “The unique thing about direct-response is the people decide whether or not the spot works, and whether or not the approach and the messaging makes sense to them.”
  • “Sometimes the simplest solution is the right one.”

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:01 

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz 0:22 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I’ve Jonathan Peress of And Jonathan, before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out other episodes people should check out of the podcast. A couple that stick out actually, was Kevin Hourigan. He has been agency owner since 1995. And he’s a Spinutech he shares kind of evolution of the journey, because always an interesting evolution back from 1995 to the present, I had Todd Taskey on who’s got to also has a great podcast, a Second Bite Podcast, and he basically pairs an agency with private equity, and help sell agencies essentially. And sometimes they make more off the second bite than they do off the first. So hence the Second Bite Podcast, I’ve listened to all his episodes, Jonathan fantastic, because if someone’s an agency owner out there, just some great lessons to be learned. So check out the episode I did with Todd Taskey. And this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and partnerships. And how do we do that we actually help you run your podcast. We are an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast. We do accountability strategy and the full execution and production. Behind the scenes, we call ourselves the magic elves that work in the background to make sure everything looks easy for the host in the company. For me, Jonathan number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should give questions go to to learn more. I’m excited to introduce Jonathan Peress. He’s CEO of ProMedia. ProMedia has grown by more than, you can correct me if I’m wrong, Jonathan, but more than 120% each year and they made the Inc. 5000 four years in a row 11 fastest growing company in South Florida. By the South Florida Business Journal 10th fastest growing small business in America by Entrepreneur Magazine. Jonathan, you were named one of South Florida’s top 40 under 40 by the South Florida Business Journal and what ProMedia does is there an independent advertising agency that specializes in cost per acquisition, use direct response alternative media, they offer clients TV, radio, out of home digital advertising services, placement and national cable and more with company, you can get on ESPN, TNT, vice, MSNBC, and many more. And Jonathan, thanks for joining me.

Jonathan Peress 3:02 

Well, thank you so much for having me.

Jeremy Weisz 3:03 

Start us off, first with and everyone was watching the video, Jonathan’s got a beautiful view. Unlike Chicago, it’s cold. He’s in Florida, but tell people about ProMedia and what you do.

Jonathan Peress 3:15 

Yeah, thank you. So we’re a full-service direct response ad agency direct response, very key to what we do. It’s all we do. Direct response is advertising that utilizes unique call to action. So everything that we do as unique phone number or website to make sure that we can give our customers a directly attributable immediate return on their investment. As a full-service agency, we offer creative development services with our state-of-the-art green screen production studio in our offices in Miami, and pass that our full post-production distribution capabilities, telephony services that include access to 25,000 to 800 numbers. And then more formally, as a media buying agency, we offer services, television, radio and digital as you already touched. And that’s both in English and Spanish short form and long form and a really unique distinguishing factor for us as we work with customers in two different ways. It’s both been a paid media environment where we buy media on our customers behalf based on their expertise and relationships and make a fixed commission on the spend, or more excitingly is our performance media model, where our customers are paying us a fixed cost for a qualified response, both the amount per response and the type of response is subjective to the campaign. But the key point there is that we take the risk on the media buying side, something that a lot of people are very familiar with in the online space but aren’t aware of that exists in traditional linear media as well to specifically in television, radio, and then just pass that as a really significant commitment to technology and analytics. We have a full-staff development team that is on staff for the agency full-time domestic here in the US, we run the agency 100% of proprietary technology to really provide our customers the most bang for their buck in as many resources as possible to grow their campaigns.

Jeremy Weisz 5:03 

Jonathan I love, I want to get into the mistakes people make with calls to action, because it you’ve probably tested and seen a lot. But before we get there, I love to hear why a lot of companies go with the fixed commission piece, right, and you have a performance piece. So you only get paid if you get results for the client, which is risky, on your behalf, right? Because you’re putting in the time you’re putting in the money, and you only get paid if you get a response for that company. So talk about why you made that decision to do that. Because, obviously, it’s seems like a no-brainer for the client. But for you, there’s risk.

Jonathan Peress 5:46 

Yeah, no, I appreciate the question. We started out as a pure performance agency really cut our teeth there. And it was really only over time of being one of the more consistent, reliable performance agencies out there that we even earned, that paid media environment for our customers. And frankly, even at that point, there was always a blend of the two for our customers to take advantage of the both and really have a more cohesive campaign at the end of the day. The reason why we do it, though, is just we’re really good at what we do. And we’re confident in that fact. At times, customers may have certain feelings about things that we may or may not agree with. So in an a performance environment, a lot of times it allows us to do what we believe is going to be the best decision for the campaign and get our customers results, while at the same time not necessarily offending them, or upsetting them that our decisions might be different than theirs to just be as PC as possible around them.

Jeremy Weisz 6:43 

So who is a fit, because again, you take on the risk. So you can’t take on everyone, right, because you’re putting your money down first, who’s a fit to ideal company or fit for you to work with?

Jonathan Peress 6:56 

Sure. So just within the overall direct response world television and radio, more predominantly, we’re looking for different products or services that makes sense for a process that’s either going to look for a generation of leads, and then be able to follow that lead down the funnel to eventually acquire it, or really something that will turn over really in an immediate fashion. We work in a lot of different verticals, we’re fairly agnostic in that regard, whether it’s legal services, financial services, medical devices, insurances, education, as well as just standalone products as well, too. But we work with entrepreneurs that have a very keen understanding of their business and are looking for a fairly efficient and light-on-the-risk model, as well as huge fortune 100 companies that have enormous campaigns, they’re running multiple different channels, and they’re looking for just optimizations within the spaces that we work in.

Jeremy Weisz 7:59 

How do you decide where to start? I don’t know which of those we want to take an example, whether it’s financial or legal, but what’s the first step you have to working with them? Because it seems like there’s so many channels that you can use to sell stuff.

Jonathan Peress 8:14 

So as it relates to just how we start a campaign up, it really depends on what the vertical is, is it something that’s out there in traditional linear media? Or is it something that’s really brand new to the consumer? So based on that alone, too that has a lot to do with our recommendation to our customer of how we’re going to test them how we’re going to step foot into the overall space, and then pass that as well, too. There’s a couple of different principles there one, a lot of times we’re providing production at no cost to our customers. So when we bring people on, as long as they’re willing to make at least a reasonable commitment at around the media test standpoint, we’re going to utilize our state-of-the-art production studio and provide our services really no cost to our customers. And then from there, it’s not falling in love with our creative because the unique thing about direct response is the people decide whether or not the spot works, and whether or not the approach and the messaging makes sense to them. And the reason that that makes sense to the consumer. And then past there, we utilize proprietary AI, we utilize third party media research and planning tools, as well as our hundreds of millions of dollars of historical results that we keep within our proprietary technology to inform our decisions as it relates to selections from the media partners standpoint, and how we grow and scale campaigns. We work with customers and like I said in a lot of different verticals. And a lot of times if we’re working for example, in a vertical that is already pre-existing out there, let’s utilize legal services you know, a class action lawsuit or something like that we’ll go so far as to create our own campaigns called a white label campaign, where we will produce the spot ourselves by the media ourselves, and then utilize our proprietary technology to route those responses or pass those responses to a variety of different customers throughout the country. And it gives those customers the ability to take advantage of potentially a national advertising campaign when they necessarily don’t have the budgets or the need for that, but have the ability to buy off of a program like that, which is going to be vastly more efficient and more capable, both at scale and optimization levels.

Jeremy Weisz 10:28 

Jonathan, talk about the components of the ad, right, you’ve produced many ads. And I’m sure there’s certain elements that you’ve seen that need to be included in the ad itself from a direct response standpoint, what are some must-have elements of the ad?

Jonathan Peress 10:45 

Very clear messaging, we’re big believers in the kiss method here, we try to keep it as simple as possible, because listen, to utilize television, and radio, for that matter, as well, too, people are distracting. There are things going on in your household, or you might be driving, the kids are tugging on you, your spouse, your loved one is talking to you about something else, you’re looking perhaps in another screen as well, too, which is definitely obviously something that is happening more and more every single day. So we got to keep things as simple as possible. If you see it, or don’t hear it, or if you hear it, you don’t see it need to be able to absorb a lot of the same information as well too, to just some of the things that we try to focus on. But like I said, also before as well to never fall in love with what we produce. It’s beautiful. It’s funny, is great. So be it, just because we think that doesn’t mean it’s going to work. What works is what brings the response in at the price point that the customer can pay for and that we can live at.

Jeremy Weisz 11:48 

What are some mistakes you’ve seen, they’re made with the call to actions, you can do everything right, up to the point. And the call to action is not good. It doesn’t matter. So what are some mistakes you’ve seen? Either you’ve iterated on, or you’ve seen others make? You may be watching TV and go, oh, they totally blew the call to action on that one?

Jonathan Peress 12:10 

Sure. I think, to touch on what I was mentioning before confusing call to actions, or perhaps maybe not offering enough of a call to action, understanding how distracted your potential audience could be. I love the fact that you use the word iterate, we find in our process, that direct response is a very iterative process. And that’s really why we developed the ability to create production and provided at no cost to our customers in-house. Because down that path of not falling in love with our creative, there are a lot of times where things need to be changed and altered to find that sweet spot and to achieve the growth and optimizations that we’re looking for. So we are constantly coming up with different ideas and ways to change the message to provide that value and to get in that spot that we need to get into to find success. But in terms of other mistakes that people make as well too, the funny thing, especially about television, is it is unfortunately a very fickle business as well, too. And we’ve seen sometimes the most minut changes in apps, without even reshooting it or even changing the messaging, but simple things is changing the background color and things like that having dramatic impacts on the success of a campaign. We also like to be cognizant of that as well, too. Because sometimes the simplest solution is the right one.

Jeremy Weisz 13:30 

That’s interesting. I would not have thought of that one. Are there any other small changes that you’ve seen make a big difference? You mentioned background color? I don’t know. Website, phone number, what are some small changes that you found could make a big difference?

Jonathan Peress 13:47 

Absolutely. You nailed it on the head. Sometimes it’s changing the website, removing the website, adding website, sometimes even the use of a phone number, or the phone number that you’re using, we have invested in quite a few what we call rapid recall phone numbers that have the last four digits with repeaters like an AABB or an ABBA repeater. We find that sometimes that helps our potential viewer base with retention, knowing that they’re being fed a lot of different ads in a very competitive space at this point in time as well, too. There are really a lot of different levers that we can pull in buttons that we can push, that’s really I think one of our secret sauces and it’s something that I pride ourselves in being unique in the marketplace and being able to know those levers to pull and buttons to push at the right time.

Jeremy Weisz 14:34 

So Jonathan, in some cases, including not including website is helpful. Could be. Interesting. I want to talk about borrowing credibility, social proof and the celebrity endorsements and how that works with what you do.

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