What do you love about the Tampa Bay area?
I moved to the Tampa Bay area after doing market research in 2011. I wanted to grow my company. First, I needed to find somewhere with a sizeable population, but not so large that I’d get lost in the shuffle (200,000 people was my target at the time). The second thing I looked for was a place that had a higher ratio of locally-owned businesses, compared to the big box stores. Tampa Bay hit the map, and as one of the sunniest places in the country, it seemed to fit my style. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. The community in Tampa Bay is so entrepreneurially-minded. They care about the growth of the companies and people who move here and are incredibly supportive. Not only do you get to live in one of the most beautiful places in the country, you’re surrounded by people who truly care about your success. There aren’t many places that you can say that about. I love Tampa Bay.
What are some of your favorite things to do around town when you aren’t working?
When I’m not working or volunteering, you can most often find me running (yes, literally) around Tampa Bay. I’m currently training for a marathon in Iceland, which will be in August. It requires very long runs, which gives me lots of opportunities to explore different parts of our beautiful hometown. I love running in Downtown St. Pete, Dunedin, Ft. Desoto, and on the Pinellas trail.
If I’m not working or running, you can find me around town in quaint, locally-run restaurants (I especially love Gulfport), having a glass of wine with my husband or a friend.
How do you give your time back in the community?
In addition to regularly volunteering with our team at Symphony for organizations including the Saint Petersburg Health Clinic and Habitat for Humanity, I am also involved in the community serving as the President of Creative Pinellas.
Creative Pinellas is the county’s non-profit local arts agency. I was recruited by the board in December 2015 to serve as their digital ambassador with their strategic partner Visit St. Pete Clearwater.
In my first year on the board, I spearheaded their digital marketing efforts, including the development of their new website, which launched in September 2016. In my second year, as the Vice President of Creative Pinellas, I helped lead our organization to be awarded a $500,000 BP Grant fund for an on-the-move art project featuring local artists. This year, I’m excited to be taking on the new role of the board President. We are looking forward to a successful implementation of our on-the-move art project and continuing to inspire our community for the love of art.
Tell us about the tech project that you are most proud of.
One of the biggest challenges that marketing and advertising companies face right now is the commoditization of the website. Everyone makes them, you can make a decent one on your own, and the days of a local business valuing a custom website with a $15k to $30k price tag is dwindling. That being said, to perform well within the search engines, you need the performance you get from a custom built site.
We wanted to create a solution that would help local businesses get the site they need, without the huge upfront investment. We started by looking back at all of the custom sites we have built over the last seven years. Which ones had the highest conversion rates? Which ones generated the most leads? We looked for commonalities between them and build a new custom WordPress theme that took all the best stuff and combined it into one platform. Then we figured out how to ensure that the code loaded lighting fast to ensure that the sites would all load in under 2 seconds (great in our industry is under 3). Finally, we built a process with our new technology that would allow us to cut 90-day custom built timelines down to only 30-days.
We call this new website technology, Blue Local, and we are rolling it out this year nationwide to service based companies looking to increase their lead generation through online marketing efforts.