Nicole Newville is working to meet brands’ growing desire to capitalize on digital marketing with sustainable results at Kose, her boutique digital and media-strategy agency.

Newville’s focus on digital has helped Minneapolis-based Kose double its revenue nearly every year since she founded it in 2013, reaching $5.1 million last year. (Kose, which rhymes with “close,” is short for koselig, a Norwegian word that for Newville, the agency’s president, expresses a sense of trust and being content, a nod to the connections she aims to build among clients, customers and Kose employees.)

Kose is winning new clients including the University of Minnesota, Cost Cutters, Honeybear Brands apples and Ergotron while moving into new office space in the North Loop’s Colonial Warehouse. Kose, which has 11 employees, plans to hire this year.

Digital marketing has quickly shifted from important to indispensable.

“Clients say, ‘I don’t even want to talk about traditional media until I know we have the digital figured out,’ ” Newville said. “They truly believe in the power of the data that drives digital.”

Kose analyzes major digital platforms to educate clients on what Facebook, Instagram and other sites’ algorithms like, Newville said.

Newville previously was head of digital media at Space150 and also worked at Periscope and MRM Worldwide. She has an MBA from the U’s Carlson School of Business.

“We’re always thinking about our clients’ business,” Newville said. “Your business plan should be informing the way that you get to market with your media.”

Q: Why did you start Kose?

A: Working at a full-service agency that has creative, media and development/tech, you’re competing over the same pool of salary dollars. I envisioned creating something where we could focus on the best and brightest in media and reward them for their work. A big portion of our work is meeting with outside parties to understand what third-party data segments are available or what new platforms we might want to work with. It’s hard to bill that back to a single client and sometimes hard for people to understand that’s as important as the billable work.

Q: How do you pitch Kose to potential clients?

A: People truly want to unlock the great promise of digital, all of these wonderful insights, all of this great data. But you can’t hire an intern to do that. Having experience, knowing how to set up a team on our end but also talking to our clients and say you need resources to complement what we’re doing. Here’s the road map for how we accomplish what you’re looking for this year. Here’s the vision for where we want to take you over the next three years.

Q: What is “the great promise of digital”?

A: The true promise of digital is continuous improvement. What everyone wants is the right answer the first day but that’s never possible. We can get to 75% of the right answer but there’s still 25% that we need to figure out over time. For me the great promise is that every campaign builds on another and that you create true momentum behind a brand rather than just this moment of great fireworks and then the campaign is over and the sky is dark and there’s nothing left to look at. We want to start with what’s made someone successful and build on it.


Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is