Social media companies, IT providers, web developers—anything to do with today’s far-reaching and increasingly difficult to navigate Internet presence can apparently be handled by anyone these days.
From the proverbial nephew in the attic to a new, fly-by-night firm, the message to businesses who otherwise are too busy making a profit is: “Don’t worry about your online presence; just leave it to us.” For a healthy retainer, of course.
But should modern companies, businesses and professional firms be so cavalier and lackadaisical in handing over an increasingly critical component of their business model to just anyone? Even if the price seems right?
Absolutely not, emphatically claim two IT/internet professionals in the Jackson-area who, a few years back, combined forces to form a company to truly assess, correct and help their clients—in a professional, upfront and courtesy manner. With no hidden costs in the bill.
Co-owners of ProVis, Joe Garner and Stephen Edmonson are longtime fixtures in the Metro Jackson tech, PR/advertising and social media field. Both men have an extensive and well-document background in Internet and media stretching back well over 20 years.
In 1996, for example, Edmonson helped develop the second-ever ISP in the state of Mississippi. For his part, Garner was a research analyst for the Department of Defense for two years, then moving on to the public sector as Engineer then Sales Manager for one of the largest DSL providers at the time. Both men started developing websites and technical services early on in their careers.
Garner also owned his own software application and full-service marketing agency in the 2000s thus, presciently, setting the way for a combination PR/social media that would be needed (unbeknownst at the time) in the very near future.
The dye was cast for a great meeting of the minds—and talents—which culminated in the formation of ProVis, Inc. in 2011.
ProVis, simply put, specializes in any aspect of a business that relates to the social media world which, “necessarily” as Garner puts it, ties in to the marketing of a given business.
The two first met while working for different companies when Edmonson reached out to Garner for assistance on a specific project. Years later, the two got together again and decided a partnership was not only in the cards, but a smart business move as well. The complimentary levels of expertise seemed opportune for a new business to start.
“In fact,” Edmonson laughs, “ProVis actually formed the day Joe left for his honeymoon!” Perhaps a good omen, the partners chuckle.
Initially, ProVis began with a mission of carving a specific niche in a market which had exploded and left many businesses either bewildered or unprepared.
“Our first major project was for a nationally-recognized advertising agency based here in Jackson,” Garner recalls. “It was an integration project which, fortuitously, kicked off our ability to offer the same service to other similar agencies in the state because of our success. Word of mouth helped us get off the ground and then Stephen used that success as a catapult to go promote our services to other businesses.”
While ProVis lists a myriad of services to its clients, Garner says the primary objective for his company is to develop core marketing digital engines for businesses and then measure the effectiveness of these in order to increase a client’s sales and bottom line.
“That’s how we approach a CEO,” Garner says. “We know we can assist them in improving their sales. However, we can also work with and know the terminology of the bigger companies’ IT directors and departments. I say that we serve as a communication bridge of sorts between the executives and the IT department. Stephen and I know the specific languages of both and help create a synthesis between the two which can only help the company’s digital presence and bring in more revenue.”
Moreover, ProVis specializes in measuring the date that they either implement or that the client they’re working for has in place.
“We look at ways to improve what is in place and to determine if a businesses’ digital presence is, in fact, making money,” Garner says. “Plus, is it saving time? We can determine what strategies and factors are working or not. Frankly, most companies simply don’t know that. Too often it’s a matter of throwing something out there in the social sphere and hoping that it sticks. We can analytically and concretely ascertain what is actually producing results and can then also work to correct any problems that may exist.”
But does ProVis set out to replace existing IT directors?
“Most certainly not,” Garner emphatically answers. “We actually want to act as the right hands of the IT people in place and, as mentioned, the CEOs as well. We are a support element albeit a very crucial one. ProVis can put in a place of programmers, a team, which can help any company reach their respective missions or goals.”
For those companies perhaps not large enough to employ an IT or marketing director, ProVis can stand in for both.
“Absolutely we can,” Edmonson says. “We’ve found that it’s difficult for many companies, especially smaller, more entrepreneurial ones, to have on staff people who possess the skill sets Joe and I have. We’re then brought in to help with the ever-changing, daily changes in social media requirements, rules and trends. Search Engine Optimization and other such social media tools are constantly evolving and we have made it our goal and mission to stay on top of these changes in order to assist our clients.”
A proud Mississippi-based company, ProVis is evidence that a Silicon Valley or Seattle address is no longer necessary to give the façade of better service which both Garner and Edmonson claim it is.
“Our portfolio speaks for itself,” Garner claims. “We know we can compete with anyone, anywhere at, honestly, a much more reasonable rate. Plus we are always on call for our client and can be reached personally, at home or after hours. How many other of the ‘big” companies can or will offer that type of accessibility?” he says.
As an example of their expertise, Garner relates a major project the ProVis team complete much to the extreme benefit of the client.
“We took on work for a national company, publicly-traded, who were still working with an antiquated Lotus 1-2-3 database and only one person one staff who knew how to update it,” Garner recalls. “Stephen, our team and I were able to upgrade it to an Excel system and the project subsequently exploded. It is now a web-based system that integrates with the company’s entire inventory control system whereby now they can forecast, make predictions, use as a sales tool, acquire other companies—it’s an outstanding business tool which they are very happy with.”
Still, ProVis welcomes and encourages smaller businesses to talk to them.
“Especially with web and social presence we have done some very impressive work in improving visibility for some of our more entrepreneurial clients and have helped them increase sales,” Edmonson says.
Garner goes on to say that “there is a specific method for online marketing success that not many small business owners are aware of or have time to implement. And that’s understandable,” he notes. “Plus, even if these smaller businesses have, say, a Facebook page presence, irrelevant postings can do more harm to them than good. We come in and make the messaging relevant to their existing and potential client base via strong content. We have found that businesses can even lose fans, or customers, with irrelevant or inappropriate social media posts.
All businesses need a good attorney, accountant and digital marketing manager!
“We encourage engagement and interaction with our content recommendations,” Garner adds.
As Stephen observes about ProVis’s role as a partner with a business, “Look, you don’t try to act as your own attorney or accountant: why act as your own social media/web manager? That’s where we come in with our level of expertise and understanding, as small business owners ourselves, that the ultimate goal is to turn a bigger profit and attract more customers.”
Garner and Edmonson say they both are—and have to be—students of social media/search engine optimization and are constantly researching, learning and, ultimately, implementing positively the many new changes that are occurring daily in their field.
“We both spend an enormous amount of time with continuing education,” Garner admits. “If you skip one beat it can cost us and our clients. Therefore we are always reading and researching and working to determine the difference between fads and trends.
Look, for instance, how rapidly MySpace faded with the advent and explosion of Facebook,” Garner observes. “Who knows where we’ll be in another five years?”
The distinguishing factor between ProVis and other similar companies is, again, their marriage of the marketing and technical aspects of website and social media work. “We can effortlessly merge the two,” Edmonson says, “and that is rare. Usually, it seems, IT people are at odds with marketing people. We act as the peacemakers!” he laughs. “Actually, both fields today are the same sides of the same coin. Joe and I understand that.”
Websites remain the hub of all businesses, both gentlemen agree. But social media is the ancillary factor around the site and, unlike the website, is essentially out of the control of the company. “Facebook, et al, owns the social media platform and controls and regulates what you can and cannot do. That’s part of our ongoing education mentioned earlier; we know the parameters and can assist in determining what is best and most appropriate for our clients.”
The two say that they want ProVis to remain agile and quick to respond to social media changes while growing their business. “Sure we want to get bigger,” Edmonson says. “But not to the point where we can’t manage what we have. That would be both a disservice to us and to our clients.”
Experience. Service. Knowledge. Fellow business owners. All of these factors—and a noticeable and palpable desire to help their clients—makes ProVis a unique Mississippi-based business.
For more information call 601-790-0155 or visit their website at http://www.provissolutions.com
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