Face of Small Business August 2011 - Encounter Marketing
Face of Small Business - How We Got Here **
By: Matt Heffner, Co-Founder/Consultant, Encounter Marketing with Tonya Ramsey – Co-Founder
Looking back on my childhood, it’s clear that I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset. At the age of ten, I built a small lawn care business mowing neighbors’ yards during the summer, raking leaves in the fall, and shoveling snow in the winter. At age 12 we moved to the country which put a quick end to that business but I continued to look for ways to grow my own ideas into a business. Throughout high school and college I started a number of ventures whenever I saw a need meet something I could enjoy doing. While the sports nutrition company, college taxi service, selling collectibles on eBay (among many other ideas) met with varying success, I always enjoyed the adventure of building something that I enjoyed doing.
Fast forward to just over a year and a half ago and I found myself with that same desire to start something new. I was working in the marketing department for a company handling many of their online and social marketing efforts. While at this job I realized there was very little help out there for a small town business in the area of online marketing particularly with social media marketing.
So after months of planning, I started Jostle Media in April of 2010. At that same I time I entered a video contest by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The contest asked you to explain a business concept (which I had already started) for the chance to win funding to make that idea a reality.
The very next day after posting the video online, I received a call from Sharon Deschambeau. The relationship that formed soon after forged the opportunity to produce a video for the Darke County Chamber about free enterprise, speak at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting, and to conduct workshops on social media marketing for Darke County small businesses and non-profits. Not only did those opportunities bring a greater awareness of Jostle Media but it also brought contact with many people who I call friends today.
Over the next several months I continued to grow Jostle Media and the online marketing services that we offered. However, during that time I saw the need for quality online marketing solutions expand to the need for a small town marketing agency. A company that could be a trusted partner in meeting both online and offline marketing needs, focused on quality work over an extended relationship (that turns people from clients to friends). And who is solely devoted to serving and strengthening the small town business community in Ohio.
From my contact with current clients and conversations with a friend, Tonya Ramsey, the idea for a small town marketing agency took shape. In October of 2010 Tonya and I officially launched ‘Encounter Marketing’. It has been exciting since that time to see our business grow and rewarding to see our efforts really help the organizations we have worked with.
Throughout the journey that has led to Encounter Marketing, there is a poem by Edgar Lee Masters that I continue to come back to for encouragement.
I have studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me --
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one's life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire --
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.
~Edgar Lee Masters
Moving forward into the next years of Encounter Marketing, I look back on how we got here and am thankful for the unending love and support from my wife Leah, the friendship and passion of my business partner, Tonya Ramsey, the support of my friends and family, and the Darke County community that been so willing to support our young growing business.