Elite SEM Hires First CMO, Dalton Dorne Jumps From Merkle

Elite SEM has appointed Dalton Dorné the agency’s first chief marketing officer. The announcement, made this week, reflects the company’s second executive hire in recent months.

The new hires follow a series of acquisitions during the past year, including social-marketing agency OrionCKB, email marketing and creative agency Email Aptitude, and Amazon-focused ecommerce agency CPC Strategy.

Dorné comes to Elite with 20 years of experience from top agencies such as Merkle and RKG where she worked in various roles from CMO to VP of marketing. She also spent time at Havas Worldwide, and Ogilvy.

In her new role at Elite SEM, Dorné will be to build out a newly formed marketing department and launch a customer-centric program to drive new customer acquisition, demand generation, account-based marketing, and client growth.

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“An independent agency like Elite is in a position to make long-term investments, and invest in innovation and clients,” she said. “They have a lot more freedom to make long-term decision and do what’s best for the business and its clients.”

She called Elite a business “in a high growth mode.” Zach Morrison -- Elite SEM president, to whom Dorné will report -- confirmed that the company’s revenue for the year is up 33%.

Brands, she said, still struggle with technology. They have tons of tools and platforms, yet they do not smoothly communicate with each other, which makes it difficult to do their jobs.

Dorné did not always want to work in advertising. She wanted to write, but also studied history in college, earning a double major. “History is all about storytelling, and that’s the foundation of good brand marketing,” she said. “It’s a transferable skill, but I did it in a very roundabout way.”

When asked to name one of the many books sitting on her nightstand at home, she said The Levitan Pitch: Buy this Book, Win More Pitches by Peter Levitan, but her favorite is Midnight in Peking by Paul French. Her love of reading fits into Elite’s culture that encourages employees to exchange and share books.

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