Thriving through change [The Decatur Daily, Ala.]
(Decatur Daily (AL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 27--Whether it's designing and launching websites for non-profits or developing social media marketing campaigns for small businesses, Red Sage Communications is a local technology company doing big things.
At its helm, company President Ellen Didier has made it her business to craft eye-catching branding and messaging and bring a growing online audience to her clients. The busy wife and mother of four started her web design and marketing company out of her home in 2006, and through strategic positioning, it has grown while other firms have down-sized or collapsed. Red Sage employs a young and tech-savvy staff of eight (plus one intern) and calls a downtown Decatur loft office its home.
Didier recently took time away from her crammed schedule to talk to The Decatur Daily about how Red Sage thrived when other firms withered, what qualities an ideal candidate needs for emerging technology jobs and the disruptive market forces that keep her company on its toes.
Question: What's the hardest part about this business
Answer: Ensuring a website's security with increasingly sophisticated hacking attacks. The easy part is designing the website. Supporting it over time and keeping it secure is a major challenge. It's such a risk, and it's not hard to do. Hacking is a reality of our world now.
Another is staying relevant in a fast-changing environment. With technology, you're constantly dealing with disruptive change. Seven years ago when I got started, social media and mobile devices weren't what they are now. Even with websites, they way they are built is so different now than they were just a few years ago. So managing that change, being flexible enough to adapt to it, it's challenging.
Q: So how does Red Sage stay ahead of the curve
A: Top-down management doesn't work, that's why I've tried to empower every member of my team to constantly look out for these changes. We read blogs and follow trends. We're always trying to adopt them faster than our competition so we can stay a step ahead.
Q: What do you look for in a potential candidate
A: They have to be participating in social media. The first thing I look at is someone's Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. I need someone who is adventurous, a lifelong learner because this industry, it's non-stop. It's read, learn, apply, read, learn apply. We're very collaborative here. I look for people who think on their feet, who can shift gears very quickly. If someone shuts down because they're overwhelmed, then they're probably not going to make it. It's learning from your mistakes and quick adoption of lessons learned.
Q: How did you get started
A: I started Red Sage in March 2006. We'll be in our seventh year this March. I started out as a designer, but I always enjoyed the web-related aspect of the job. I started the company because I wanted to capture clients' brands in a more expansive way. A wrote a very detailed business plan that had an emphasis on web-related design and building. I was able to building multiple websites very quickly. Strategy is my nature so because of our strategic position, we were able to stand out in a very crowded market. We positioned ourselves to offer comprehensive, full-service marketing and design. Our business remains 50 percent marketing and 50 percent web-related design. Now, while others have downsized or gone out of business, we've actually grown. That's why it's important to take advantage of your environment. We apply that same approach with our customers so that we can set them apart from the competition.
Q: How has the economy affected your business
A: In this economy, every dollar is accounted for because all businesses are running so lean now. You have to be able to show your clients that what you're offering them is going to help them succeed. They don't have money to throw away in marketing. It has to produce something for them. Before, the thinking was just broad, blanket marketing to get yourself out there to everyone. Now it's more targeted to specific groups. It can't be just pretty fluff. It has to drive sales.
Q: What trends do you see coming down the road
A: Software tools for managing websites is going to continue to become more sophisticated. They'll be better monitoring tools to see what people are saying about you on social media. Tracking, lead generation and quantified marketing, they're all going to make it easier to track web activity and market to that. Mobile will continue to be huge. But I think people are beginning to pull back a little bit in the sense that they're realizing that you don't need a mobile app for everything. Responsive design, where the pages you retrieve naturally adapt to your device. I think text marketing is going to mature and used by more retailers. Managing your online reputation and keeping a clean online trail will become more important, especially among young professionals.
Tiffeny Owens can be reached at 256-340-2440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Red Sage Communications
Employs: 8 full time, 1 part time and 1 intern
Location: 111 Second Ave. N.E., Decatur
Websites: 25 to 30 built annually, with a total of 184 to date
More information: www.redsageonline.com
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