Jesse Stuart Foundation (JSF) presented to us with a need for IT services, Marketing, and Web Design. They were not getting the most out of their technology and felt their marketing could use a shot in the arm. Their current website was not as functional as they wished it to be. They wanted more integration between their online store, their physical bookstore, and their Amazon marketplace.
The JSF has a very small marketing budget. In the past, they had done very little with marketing and didn’t take advantage of social media. They relied mainly on word of mouth of their current customers and buzz generated by a small amount of events they held every year.
Once again, budget is very much prevalent in this facet of JSF’s budget. There was no active data backup. Many of the systems in use were antiquated and not reliable or efficient. Virus protection was non-existent. They also had a phone system that was unreliable and experienced malfunctions often. The voicemail system had failed and customers could not leave messages if someone didn’t answer the incoming call.
Beyond the phone system issue, there were underlying cabling issues that play havoc with not only voice, but data communications. The building is a former federal post office, which meant it was jam packed with thick concrete and steel.
Their website wasn’t being maintained and subsequently out of date so there was a lot of cleanup to be done. They needed a better ecommerce solution since there was no continuity between their in store and online inventory because the two systems were incompatible with each other.
We became the contracted Marketing Director for the JSF. As soon as we took over marketing responsibilities, we began compiling a media list that not only reached out to the Tri-State, but to the surrounding region. Press releases are consistently sent to this network of reporters, newspapers, television stations and radio groups.
In an effort to reach out to a younger market, we implemented consistent posts on Facebook to reach out to “friends” of the Jesse Stuart Foundation. By sharing poetry, photos, contests and more, we have grown the Facebook network from about 250 friends in March to over 2000 (as of October 30th, 2013).
We also took advantage of the Jesse Stuart Foundation’s non-profit status and utilized unpaid announcement in various forms of media, and also organized participation in events, such as a display unveiling at the Greenup County City Hall and the Word and Song Café at Old Central City Days in Huntington.
By using our Managed Services Contract model, we were able to give the JSF the answer to all the missing pieces to their IT issues. Using us in a capacity that turns our entire company into one resource for them meant they had specialists to see to all areas of their infrastructure in one location.
We modeled our contract in such a way that it’s a fixed monthly fee for a 12 month period, which means they can budget what they’re going to spend on IT services for the whole year. Not only that, they get all the areas of IT they need covered under one cost and not have the hassle of hiring someone, but then still needing help when something falls outside of that individual’s scope. With this, they have someone that can respond anytime, 24 hours a day. Plus, it doesn’t put a further strain of the costs associated with an employee on an already taxed budget. It’s like having an employee that never takes sick time or vacation.
We replaced their phone system with a new, up to date system that filled all their needs and fit their budget. With the service contract, they were able to get their entire building re-cabled by our structured cabling team for nothing more than the investment in the materials. We overcame the structural issues with the building to give them a pristine cabling environment.
A revamp of their content and ecommerce system yielded them an up to date site and a more robust system to interface with their in shop systems. A custom written API interfaced systems that normally wouldn’t have natively been able to exchange data with one another. The API also allows communication between their Amazon marketplace inventory and the in store one as well. Now, all of their sales mechanisms allow for centralized inventory and reporting.
Additions to their CMS structure allow for members of our marketing team and even JSF personnel to make changes to content on the site whenever needed.
The JSF has enjoyed increased promotion and media coverage. CEO and Senior Editor, Dr. James Gifford has been asked to participate in several radio interviews, and various media outlets have featured the JSF.
As a direct result of the increased frequency of press releases, out of the box marketing, and social media, the JSF has increased revenue from the previous year and also had its largest attendance at its annual open house in 7 years.
The JSF’s technology assets and data are now well protected and maintained. Downtime has been reduced as issues are dealt with promptly. Our ability to perform remote assistance means that many issues can be dealt with without personnel having to wait for someone to come to site.
Our contract gives the JSF an IT staff without having to spend what it would cost to have someone on-site. The method in which we deliver the contract means that they can budget their IT services costs without any surprises. They have the support they need for the technology they have, and the technology they’ll need for the future.
The new phone system has increased their ability to serve the customers. Important phone calls are no longer missed and improved call flow strategies mean that customers are serviced efficiently and expeditiously. The have had zero voice or data related outages since our improvements and the introduction of our managed services.
The changes made to the CMS and removal of the old content has created a more user-engaging experience. Beyond that, the inventory and sales process is now much more robust and stream-lined. JSF now has a better platform for delivery of their web based content. Their web sales have increased and inventory shrinkage has decreased.