Let me introduce you to Sarah B. Johnson, managing director of MKG Department. She is my partner and co-presenter for the upcoming Surfaces 2012 Workshop titled Social Media: How To For Business [see press release] which takes place January 23, 2012.
[She is also responsible for my magnificent new Simple Marketing Now logo! Thank you, Sarah!]
In anticipation of our workshop, I asked Sarah a few questions
C.B.: Sarah, tell me about yourself and MKG Department.
I am the founder and managing director of MKG Department, which specializes in Internet marketing of granite countertop fabricators. Through my experience in the stone industry, I have a unique perspective that is very valuable to my clients. I know the ins, outs, ups and downs of the stone industry. I’ve also gotten to know the ideal granite countertop customer very well.
C.B.: How did you get started in your business?
I’ve been involved in the stone industry for about 9 years. Fresh out of college, I began working at a small granite fabrication shop in Fargo, ND. In a small company you get to wear a lot of hats, and I was a sponge. I learned a LOT about the stone industry, from inventory management and OSHA inspections to quality control and customer complaint resolution.
My main job and real passion though, was sales and marketing. In 2005, I was chosen as the recipient of the Migliore Natural Stone Education Scholarship, which awarded me the opportunity to attend my first Stone Expo. I met many respected people within the industry, attended seminars and visited with exhibitors on the show floor.
Over the next few years I got even more involved with the Marble Institute of America and other stone industry organizations. In 2008, I moved to Albuquerque, NM and continued my career at another granite fabrication shop. This was a bigger company in a bigger community, and I was able to focus more closely on marketing (and less on driving forgotten sinks to the jobsite!).
When I made the decision to move back to my home state of South Dakota, my boss asked me if I would consider setting up a home office and continuing to handle their marketing. That was the start of MKG Department. Over the past 2 years I have acquired more clients, and since I can dedicate 100% of my time on marketing, I've gotten very good at it!
C.B.: Sarah, what do you consider most important for businesses to be successful today?
Make sure that your customers can find you. The stone industry has changed significantly over the years. A membership to the local Home Builders Association and a good reputation aren’t enough to keep a fabricator busy anymore. You must have a consistent and appealing online presence where your customers are looking.
C.B.: How does social media fit in?
If you don’t claim your turf, who will? A strong social media presence will help you monitor what people are saying about your products and about your company. Listening to your customers not only gives you the opportunity to respond to their comments, it also plays the roll of market research. If you pay attention, you’ll know what is important to your customers and you can plan your develop your company image and advertising campaigns accordingly.
C.B.: Sarah, what advice would you offer businesses wanted to get started with social media?
Have a plan. If you jump in without one, you will drown. Take the time to define your strategy, and then make a commitment to maintaining each channel properly.
C.B.: Thank you, Sarah!
The advice I would add to Sarah's is to be sure to attend our Surfaces 2012 workshop so you can learn more about how to integrate social media into your business strategy.
By the way, Sarah contributed a fabulous article to the Surfaces Blog titled 20 Creative Ways to Promote Facebook Engagement. I hope you'll check it out.
Comments? Questions? Can you join us at Surfaces? We really hope to see you there.