In 2009, a small upstart set out to change the way small businesses performed digital marketing. This is the story of PogoPlus' development and growth.
I am the founder and head experience designer responsible for small business success. I lead the UX work, manage a group of outsourced designers and developers, and work with my financial advisor to ensure business viability. Along the way, I have relied on contributions from many friends, family, and employees. This is our story.
I founded this Boston area online reputation management company to help local small businesses harness the power of digital media. The time was 2009 and we were just starting to feel the major effects of the Great Recession. Being the son of a small business owner, I knew all about the hard work and dedication that goes into business ownership. It has long hours, many stressors, and a need to focus on everything you can - seemingly at once.
Plenty of do-it-yourself sites were becoming available to help business owners with digital media. GoDaddy could help you build your website. Yext could help you with directory listings. Hootsuite could assist in managing social media. Yelp helped (or hurt?) gather customer feedback. Google Alerts/Analytics/AdWords assisted with marketing. But these tools still took time to use and the understanding on how to appropriately leverage them remained evasive. Many small businesses didn't have capacity to build a complimentary digital solution to their already awesome offline shop. They needed something quick, robust, and most importantly - simple.
All-Inclusive Reputation Management
PogoPlus is more than just a digital agency. It is a small business online reputation management service designed to hide the complicated technical jargon while highlighting the hustle of the people behind these businesses. These companies didn't need a digital agency, they needed a reliable partner. They didn't want hourly rates, they wanted around the clock consultation. They didn't need to track different tools for different things, they needed a one-stop shop. And that's what Pogo gave them.
These companies didn't need a digital agency, they needed a reliable partner.
We designed an all-inclusive business model for the all-in business owner. This fixed-fee model enabled owners to focus on their own businesses while we took care of the rest.
But to properly care for a digital representation of each business, we first had to understand what it meant to represent each. This, in turn, inspired our initial service principles:
Engage with PurposeBring confidence and clarity to establish trust. Engage businesses who have a clear mission and engage that higher purpose
Focus on PeopleAt the heart of every successful business is a successful person. Businesses are little more than a group of individuals working together to achieve a shared purpose. Highlight them.
Think BigDon't sweat the small stuff. Help each person become what they strive to be.
Be TrueGive each person and business your best work. Set expectations early and often.
Using the principles as a guide, myself and a small group of friends set out to find business partners to assist. Below, is a sampling of some of our favorites to date:
Pax Populi is a people-to-people peacemaking non-profit focused on bringing education to minorities in the middle east. They had a goal to grow their awareness and fundraising 5x over a 6 month span - a feat that we successfully accomplished.
Above is one of the very first creations we made for Pax Populi - a Facebook front page from back when the business pages were customizable and self-coded.
Pax wanted to tell their story - one of hope, but also one of uncertain futures. We used the inspirational imagery in the header and water art video cover to express these emotions - with large calls to action based on our goals.
Within 5 months, the page organically grew from 60 likes to well over 500.
Larry was a local politician from my home town of Newburyport, MA. He cared strongly about the town, preserving its beautiful waterfront from mass development, and encouraging the arts and downtown commerce.
During his run for an at-large seat, Pogo helped him re-define his audience and appeal to younger voters. He was one of the only candidates with a solid digital presence which helped to distinguish his campaign from the rest.
Newburyport Family Practice
Newburyport Family Practice is Norman Rockwell-style doctor's office in Newburyport, MA. It is also one of the first clients where we run continuous design research. Through this research, we first discovered that there should be less of a priority on SEO (search engine optimization), and much more of a priority on partnerships. This may seem counterintuitive to a digital marketing agency - but makes a lot of sense applied in context.
During our qualitative research phase, we witnessed people in search of a new primary care physician. To our surprise, instead of heading over to Google, many people first went directly to a 'trusted referer' - either their insurance provider, a friend, or a review site.
Armed with this information, we continue to work with Newburyport Family Practice to build an engagement experience that focuses on areas of trust. This strategy relies on partnerships with insurers, localized social engagement monitoring, and a focus on the true patient journey - which atypically lives its life outside of Google.
More to Come...
Be on the lookout for more from PogoPlus as we constantly evolve and try new things.
Diversified Data Technologies, LLC
March 31, 2009
I created PogoPlus in 2009 to gain practical experience while attending college. Almost 10 years later, the tables have turned and I now use Pogo to learn new things and enhance my skills.
PogoPlus has helped over 20+ small businesses and continues to develop our offerings.