Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm
Three years ago, Mike Stevens, the vice president of sales and marketing for Hartford-based Sno-Way International Inc., was looking for a company to help him with Web design. He came across a Thiensville-based firm now called Smart Interactive Media. Sno-Way, which sells snow plows, ended up enhancing its entire marketing effort when it started working with Smart, Stevens said.
"We do not have a huge marketing department, and (Smart Interactive Media) has become a major marketing arm for us," Stevens said.
Smart Interactive Media recently changed its name from the founder’s namesake, Strong Interactive Media. The company is 6 years old, and founder Kirk Strong said he felt its name should reflect all of the owners and employees, not just one.
Smart Interactive Media creates training videos, promotional DVDs, packaging, radio and television commercials, product branding and databases for Sno-Way. Smart also organized the photography for Sno-Way’s products in print and online, Stevens said.
"They know what I like and what I like to do," Stevens said. "I like to shoot something once and use it 50 times if I can. They bring the right equipment, resources and tools to be able to accomplish that for me."
Using digital and versatile multi-media, combined with Smart’s group of experts, allows customers to save time, headaches and money when it comes to competitive marketing campaigns.
Smart Interactive Media’s staff includes Kirk Strong, partner and sales and marketing consultant; Paul Navarre, partner and production manager; Jeff Everts, media producer and part-owner; and Matthew Drollinger, Web manager and part-owner. Each brings his own level of expertise to the table.
"We create sales, marketing and training tools that work," Strong said. "More than anything, we create solutions for people."
From the outside, Smart looks like a regular production company with an expertise in Web design. But Navarre said Smart is an advertising company with in-house capabilities.
With the exception of strategic partnerships for photography and public relations work, 99 percent of what Smart Interactive Media provides companies is in-house, Strong said. Ninety percent of their work is business-to-business, he said.
Their specialty is a synergy of video and Internet and video and DVD. Video is the future, Strong said.
"People want to see things that are condensed and edited. They want to be entertained," Strong said. "Viewers are savvy enough to sort out the truth from entertainment and get to the meat of a presentation."
When business owners approach Smart, they usually have an issue or a problem. Whether it is branding, videotaping services or the optimization of a Web site, Smart Interactive can do the job in a strategic way for a company or put that company in touch with someone who can, Strong said.
"First off, you need a Web site," Strong said.
Then you need a video.
"Video has always been a powerful medium and now we are able to package videos to put them on the Web or on a DVD," Strong said. "It should be quick and driven by testimonial."
DVDs are becoming more prevalent for marketing purposes, Strong said.
Smart Interactive Media can also use video on a Web site to show a seminar or conference either live or in a downloaded version, Navarre said.
Showing a video of a conference or seminar on a company’s Web site can share knowledge or expertise on a subject or industry and can also accommodate those who could not attend, Strong said.
"Most businesses we work with have downsized to the point where individuals cannot take a day off to go down to a trade show in Chicago or attend a breakfast meeting," Strong said. "When the video is available on the Web site, more people see it, experience it and sponsors of the event are happy because they have more exposure."
In a six-month period, a video could be watched by more people than were in attendance at the seminar, Strong said. Business people could also recommend colleagues who did not attend download the video or they could watch it as a review of what was said.
Part of Smart’s role in finding solutions for businesses is saving them time and money, Strong said.
Columbia St. Mary’s, one of Smart’s clients, has about a 15 percent turnover rate for employment, and hospital staff are constantly showing training videos to new employees, Strong said. Every new employee has to go through benefits training and health care and proper procedure training and general orientation.
Columbia St. Mary’s had only one person employed to take on the training programs by filling out paperwork and teaching the orientation classes.
Smart created a video for the health care provider that was in the format of a news broadcast in which a host would introduce different employees within the hospital system to explain benefits, practices and regulation.
That way, the employee in charge of the training program could focus more on improving the programs and sorting through paperwork than having to spend a day or sometimes a whole week doing presentations, Strong said.
As policies, benefits or hospital regulations change in the future, Smart can film a new segment and swap it with the old one, instead of charging St. Mary’s for a new video, Strong said.
"The idea is that now people can watch something that is interesting and exciting while the trainer can get the paperwork together and it all makes the business work better," Strong said.
Columbia St. Mary’s changes segments in the video about twice a year, Navarre said. By swapping segments instead of re-filming or finding and hiring the same host to change information, Smart is saving St. Mary’s thousands of dollars annually, Navarre said.
The average price for standard Web site development is between $4,000 and $6,000, he said. For videos, Smart charges per finished minute and the challenge of the film.
Smart recommends clients make their promotional videos about three minutes long.
"What you don’t have enough time to tell people about your business on an elevator should not be in your video either," Navarre said.
For training videos, Smart suggests a more straightforward approach.
Sales videos should be broad in topic and entertaining, Navarre said.
"The main place clients save money is in the fact that we can do everything; video, Web design, print media, packaging," Strong said. "Altogether clients spend a third of what they would by using multiple agencies. Plus we know all of the media, we have all of the files here and we know how to easily work with it."
Elizabeth Geldermann is a reporter for Small Business Times. Send technology news to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at (414) 277-8181, ext. 121. Technology news can also be sent to: Elizabeth Geldermann, Small Business Times, 1123 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202.
Small Business Times, December 9, 2005, Milwaukee, WI