Meet the most in-demand professional in Traverse City, the one who possesses the skills being sought by small businesses throughout the region.
He/she is the online marketer, one who “gets” search engine optimization (SEO), posts on Facebook with one hand and Twitter and Instagram with the other, and knows his/her way around the web, branding, and mobile marketing.
As more retailers, manufacturers and other small business owners see the power of digital marketing – and are understanding less and less of it – those who can spin a masterful strategy on the web are at a premium.
Consider the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, seeking to capitalize on an increasingly digital world. After an extensive search that Marketing Director Steve Timmer says included applications from “across the country,” the resort hired Luke Mason, who now serves as eMarketing Manager. When he was hired in December 2011, the Resort's Facebook page hovered at 4,000 followers and “wasn't a top priority” for the company, Mason explains.
A year and a half later, the Resort today has more than 14,000 followers on Facebook, active Instagram and Twitter feeds, a corporate blog and quarterly social media videos produced in-house. The company focuses on a “50/50 mix” of highlighting its facility and promoting the area at large, which the Resort believes is key to both enticing guests up North and ensuring their return.
Or consider Fustini’s, the purveyor of oils and vinegars. Owner Jim Milligan says social media and email newsletters are an ideal and affordable way to “help people find different ways to nutritiously flavor the food they're preparing.” He first engaged an outside firm to strategize a digital plan, and then “transitioned it in-house.” Milligan expects the next step to be “bringing on more resources to develop this strategy.”
You don’t have to look far to find local businesses searching for help in the online marketing world. A quick scan of this week’s Ticker classified ads shows that downtown retailer Nifty Things is also searching for someone to lead its digital marketing efforts.
All the demand has local SEO and social media pros in the drivers’ seats, including those who own their own agencies serving multiple clients. Erin Monigold launched Social Vision Marketing in April 2010, when social media was relatively uncharted territory. Today she and others like Lisa Newhouse of Cherry City Consulting are the experts that clients are happy to pay – or even attempt to hire away.
“It’s happened at least twice recently with clients I still have,” says Newhouse. “They ask if things would work better if I worked only for them.”