A friend of Tramar Lacel Dillard, professionally known as Flo Rida, suggested that he meet Marlo Gold. That was in 2012, after Flo Rida had already amassed tremendous success in the music industry. By then, he had been recognized for his brilliance by capturing wins at the Teen Choice Awards and People's Choice Awards, but Flo Rida had not fully crossed over to the top of mainstream music.
Four years later, and Gold remains by Flo Rida's side with her company D3M Licensing Group handling much of Flo Rida's marketing and licensing efforts. Flo Rida has taken Gold along for the ride as he has transformed from a focus on mostly urban music to dominating the charts in a variety of genres.
Connections can mean more than concrete plans.
Gold had no clue that she was going to one day be in charge of licensing for a top selling recording artist. Her background was in direct response advertising, commercial writing and licensing. She was responsible for licensing personalized DVDs for Nickelodeon with titles like Dora the Explorer and Spiderman.
When a friend of Flo Rida's suggested a meeting, Marlo didn't think twice. Flo Rida was impressed by her tenacity and willingness to think outside of the box. After a few meetings and a bit of back-and-forth, Flo Rida was going with Gold.
"He liked the idea of going with a smaller firm to have more control over the products he's endorsing," explained Gold.
In reality, the firm was Flo Rida. D3M launched in 2012 with Flo Rida as its only client.
A startup must be extra cautious when it grows with an anchor client.
There is a reason why Flo Rida has remained by D3M's side for over 3.5 years and allowed Gold to continue her efforts to secure brand ambassadorships, licensing deals and product placement in his music videos as well as organizing special events for him.
"We've been careful not to saturate the Flo Rida brand," said Gold. "He's a very hands on client. We don't just put things in front of him because of a price tag. He likes to truly enjoy everything that he is representing."
Gold's strategy has been to align Flo Rida with 1-2 products in each category. She helped place Flo Rida in deals with a couple consumer electronic companies (Muzik Headphones and iLoud by IK Multimedia), an alcohol brand (Vintage Rockefeller Empire Vodka) and an energy drink (Celsius). In fact, D3M introduced Russell Simmons of Def Jam fame to the CEO of the Celsius brand, which ultimately led to his investment in the company.
For D3M, it is not only about trying to secure a large advance and overall spend in a licensing deal. Gold also looks to get a bit of equity for clients in each deal.
"Our biggest claim to fame is a 360 licensing approach where our clients own a piece of the company that they are pushing," said Gold.
Do well with one client and a world of opportunities arises.
"We've become a go to solution for things we never thought we would do," said Gold. "Whether it is planning an album release party, raising sponsorship money, putting together Art Basel events, public relations, and a lot of marketing outreach for social media.
D3M has grown to represent singer and songwriter Natalie La Rose, supermodel Cynthia Bailey, recording artist Gorilla Zoe and just started outreach for Jeremih. There is certainly a focus in working with artists and entertainers, which makes sense since D3M's body of work is mostly revolving around what it has accomplished for Flo Rida off the stage.
"Our strategy for growth right now is to hire more sales representatives so that we can service everything that is coming in from people looking for product placement in gaming, new product development, fashion and more," added Gold.
It is a good place to be for Gold, who no longer has to worry about direct response advertising campaigns.