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Personal connection fuels welcome change of scenery for digital publishing company

Jeff Usner, president, and Nick Aragon, vice president of development, are with Lebanon-based Aramis Interactive. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

Nick Aragon had been working in digital marketing in his hometown of San Francisco for almost 15 years. But in 2014, as he and his wife prepared to have their first child, they realized it was time for a change of scenery.

Aragon interviewed with a number of companies outside of California, but he felt nothing was a good fit until he met Jeff Usner at a marketing event in Las Vegas.

Usner, CEO of Aramis Interactive, was focused on developing digital strategies for home-based businesses like Mary Kay and Pampered Chef, but Usner talked to Aragon about his plans to move the company into digital publishing and marketing.

Not only did the concept appeal to Aragon — so, too, did Usner’s outlook and his disposition.

“Jeff and I realized that, more than just an idea for business, we had more of a personal connection that really intrigued me,” said Aragon.

The two men decided to work together and in May 2014, Aragon joined Aramis as vice president of business development. He got more than just a new title.

What Aramis does

Aramis Interactive is a digital publishing and marketing firm based in Lebanon. It uses websites, email newsletters and social media to market its clients’ brands and find consumers who are interested in their products, as well as getting consumers to try those products.

In addition to changing its focus to digital publishing, Aramis also relocated from San Antonio, Texas, to Lebanon, Usner’s hometown. Usner wanted to return to the city to help build up the area’s economy and provide employment for other Lebanon natives.

And in place of home-based businesses, Aramis began to serve brick-and-mortar companies such as consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble and S.C. Johnson & Son Inc., whose products include cleaners like Windex and Pledge.

Aramis uses websites, email newsletters and social media to market its clients’ brands and find consumers who are interested in their products, as well as getting consumers to try those products.

“We ask consumers questions about their age, marital status or household income,” said Aragon. “You would be really surprised with the level of information people are willing to give online. We like to joke that, if we could ask for their blood-type and eye color, we would.”

Mobile devices, meanwhile, have been a priority for Aramis. Of the roughly 50,000 people visiting the company’s websites every day, 95 percent are using smartphones and tablets.

“It’s all about being able to innovate and come up with new products and ideas and still keeping the consumers’ attention so they’ll want to keep coming back to our sites,” Aragon said.

As part of Usner’s plan to help bolster Lebanon’s economy, Aramis has been collaborating with city schools to generate interest in digital publishing. The nearby Lebanon Valley College, in particular, has served as a consistent pipeline for hiring.

“There really is an opportunity for companies that want to come into the area to build a technology hub and grow out the area,” Aragon said.

Aramis is still looking to innovate and grow beyond its single location. The nature of digital publishing allows the company to set up anywhere, but Aragon has become enamored with the city of Lebanon.

“As a place to live, I love the community and I love our neighbors,” said Aragon. “When we first came here to look at the house, we saw a place to set up and build roots in the community. And I fell in love with that right away.”

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