Reinventing your Business with Social Media and Blogging
When it comes to reaching your target audience in novel ways, it pays to be creative. As a business owner, there’s a very limited window when it comes to attracting current and new customers without sounding too aggressive or pushy. Sometimes your business plan actually paves the way into innovations within your brand and how you can gain new customers, followers, and friends.
We sit down with Allan Wright, founder of Zephyr Adventures, which started in 1997 as an active tour company and successfully added a business segment that became the organizer of a privately-owned niche lifestyle blogger conference. Wright was the first organizer of any wine and beer blogger conference in the U.S. and has continued to promote niche blogger events for industry professionals. This year alone, he will host six wine, international food, beer, and fitness and health blogger conference in the U.S. and London.
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL ADVENTURES
Wright has a background in international business and entrepreneurship and decided to create a company that surrounded his own interests: being active, traveling internationally and attending social gatherings. He created Zephyr Adventures to run active tours around the world. “Instead of visiting a wine region on a bus, we’re actually going to these communities and hiking and biking in and around these vineyards,” Wright says.
When Wright looked at the industry four years ago, there wasn’t an organized community among wine bloggers and he realized this niche should have an annual conference. “We decided we could organize the conferences and then tell writers about Zephyr Adventures. Very quickly, I realized this idea was larger than just marketing Zephyr’s tours to bloggers and that it was going to be its own idea in and of itself,” Wright continues. He organized the first wine blogger conference in 2008 with 170 attendees and realized it could stand alone on its own.
DIVING INTO LOCAL CULTURES
If you’ve ever wanted to hike the Inca Trail, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, or go on a biking tour in Provence, Zephyr Adventures is the way to go. “We’ve got a six-day food, wine and biking tour in Provence, France where you can travel with a group. We arrange local transportation, hotel and meals while also renting out bikes and providing travel guides and support,” Wright says. The specialty of what Zephyr does is focused on food, wine and biking.
For example, one day travelers will wake up, bike to a honey bee farm, goat cheese farm, winery, olive oil distillery and pig farm and purchase items before convening at a local farm for an amazing feast. “It’s all about getting active and going into local culture,” he continues.
“We cater to adventurous travelers who appreciate local culture and enjoy group aspects of exploration, but don’t require the five-star luxury experience,” Wright says. “When someone is out there biking alone, that’s when the best adventures happen. That’s when the memories are made, when you get lost, or you ask directions from a local, or stop at a café and watch passersby. You don’t forget those weekend.”
Wright also believes that the worst thing a company can do when entering into the social media world is to create a Facebook or Twitter page and doing nothing with it. “Don’t engage in social media unless you have all the resources in place to make it beneficial,” he continues.
Companies are continuing to look at bloggers as legitimate sources of communication and go to Wright’s conferences as a way to be in touch with these individuals.
“We’re noticing that companies are allocating their marketing budgets differently and want to be a part of our conferences for a new way to reach their audience,” he continues. “With these companies clearly recognizing bloggers as a legitimate source, it has removed any doubt whether or not blogging and social media are here to stay with as a credible presence.”
Giving efficiency the full throttle at NASCAR
The NASCAR organization has long been synonymous with speed, agility and innovation. And so by extension, partnerships at NASCAR hold a similar reputation. One such partner for the organization has been CDW – a leading multi-brand provider of information technology solutions to businesses, government, education and healthcare customers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. CDW provides a broad array of products and services ranging from hardware and software to integrated IT solutions such as security cloud hybrid infrastructure and digital experience. Customer need is the driving force at CDW, and the company helps clients by delivering integrated services solutions that maximize their technology investment. So how does CDW help their customers achieve their business goals? Troy Okerberg, Field Sales Manager - North Florida at CDW adds “We strive to provide our customers with full stack expertise, helping them design, orchestrate and manage technologies that drive their business outcomes.”
NASCAR acquired International Speedway Corporation (ISC) in 2019, merging its operations into one, new company moving forward. The merger represents an important step forward for NASCAR as the sport creates a unified vision to embrace its long history of exciting, family-oriented racing experiences while developing strategic growth initiatives that will drive the passion of core fans and attract the next generation of race fans. CDW has been instrumental in bringing the two technology environments together to enable collaboration and efficiency as one organization. Starting with a comprehensive analysis of all of NASCAR’s vendors, CDW created a uniform data platform for the data center environment across the NASCAR-ISC organization. The IT partner has also successfully merged the two native infrastructure systems together, while analyzing, consulting and providing an opportunity to merge Microsoft software licenses as well.
2020 turned into a tactical year for both organizations with the onset of the pandemic and CDW has had to react quickly to the changing scenario. Most of the initial change included building efficiencies around logistics, like equipment needing to be delivered into the hands of end users who switched to a virtual working environment almost overnight. CDW’s distribution team worked tirelessly to ensure that all customers could still access the products that they were purchasing and needed for their organizations throughout the COVID timeframe. Okerberg adds that today, CDW continues to optimize their offering by hyper-localizing resources as well as providing need-based support based on the size and complexity of their accounts. Although CDW still operates remotely, the company commits to adapting to the changing needs of their clients, NASCAR in particular. Apart from the challenges that COVID-19 brought to the organization, another task that CDW had been handed was to identify gaps and duplicates in vendor agreements that the two former single-entity organizations had in place and align them based on services offered. CDW further helps identify and provide the best solution from a consolidation standpoint of both hardware and software clients so that the new merged organization is equipped with the best of what the industry has to offer.