Entrepreneur’s Success Story
Asheville based JB Media Group is an Internet marketing agency and training service launched in 2011. The company focuses exclusively on online marketing offering strategy, research and content for search engine optimization, social media, online advertising and public relations campaigns for agency clients and offers education in these areas through the JB Media Institute. JB Media Group received a Sky High Growth Award from the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce in 2015 and founder, Justin Belleme was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014. While the company’s story is still being written, its success so far has been strong. JB Media Group points to two key elements to the company’s success thus far:
#1 Planning for the Future
An industry like Internet marketing requires looking ahead and planning for what is to come, but for JB Media Group this approach has always been used in looking at the business as well. Belleme spent six months planning before launching the company. This early planning including brainstorming services, potential clients, identifying potential staff members, choosing a name, developing a logo, creating a website, finding office space and seeking out mentors. Belleme created an outline for the company capturing his decisions and ideas. It wasn’t exhaustive, but served as an important guide for the early months of the business.
This focus on planning resurfaced in a major way in 2012 and 2013. The company had received requests to provide training for their clients. In some cases, members of a client’s marketing team needed additional skills in order to support and supplement the efforts of JB Media Group. In other cases, clients grew to the point of being ready to take their marketing in-house and needed help hiring and training new marketing staff. Belleme had anticipated this need and hired a local competitor with extensive training experience into JB Media Group very early in the company’s history. That competitor, Sarah Benoit, became a key employee at JB Media Group becoming Director of SEO then Director Training. In response to the demand for training for marketing staff and start-ups, Belleme and Benoit began planning the launch of an Internet marketing educational program addressing SEO, social media, PR and online advertising. An intern was used to create an initial business plan and partnerships were sought with area business development organizations. In summer 2013, the JB Media Institute was launched. In 2015, an online version was created allowing the company to serve students across the globe.
As the Institute launched, Belleme turned his attention to planning for his growing team. With a team of eight, the company was outgrowing its space at Mojo Coworking and Belleme felt the time was good to invest in office space. Just as he did when planning the business before launch, Belleme began evaluating what the growing company would need, what his financing options were and getting advice. Months were spent evaluating the situation, getting advice from mentors and advisors, creating a plan, contacting lenders and developing a loan package. In early 2014, JB Media Group moved into new office space that provided room to grow and increasing the company’s assets substantially.
Throughout its history, Belleme has been very thoughtful about hiring for the future as well. He has identified and invested in team members that have skills and experience that will not only serve the company and its clients now, but also in the future. As a result, key team members have been promoted and the company continues to evolve to create and promote results-oriented messaging for clients and organizations even in the midst of tremendous change in the industry.
#2 Branding for the Future
As a marketing company, JB Media knows its brand matters. During the initial planning phase of the company, Belleme was thoughtful about the company’s name and logo. He wanted a name that demonstrated the company was more than just him. He had been serving as an independent marketing consultant for some time, but wanted to emphasis that the business had greater depth and breadth than his own skills. He considered words like “collective” and “collaborative” before settling on “group” even before he hired his first employee. “Media” was chosen to be broad enough to encompass any new technological advances in online marketing and communication the company wanted to venture into in the future. He worked with a college friend for a logo initially then sought out another graphic designer from his network. A conversation bubble was used to emphasize that the company specialized in communication without tying the company to any particular type of technology or platform.
To better position the company in the future, particularly for clients outside of the Asheville area, the company rebranded in 2014. A new logo, color scheme, font set and website were created to establish a more memorable, updated brand presence.
The new, highly visible office location received strong branding with window graphics and brand colors inside as well. Strengthening the brand also meant improving the company’s own marketing presence both on and off-line. Speaking engagements were sought for several members of the team to demonstrate expertise in a range of subjects and to illustrate the size of the team. The company’s own online marketing was elevated with expanded website content, more frequent blogging, strategic social media management by the company’s own social media department and press releases. By applying their skills to their own marketing, JB Media further demonstrated their capabilities and the results their work can achieve.
JB Media continues to look ahead both in how best to serve clients in the ever-changing sector of Internet marketing and in how to grow as a company. The company has recently completed a process of identifying and defining their Core Values and has grown to a team of 12 with additional hires expected in 2016.
Source: Adrianne Gordon, Director of Marketing and Operations
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