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Intense physical training (think marathons and ironman competitions) might be a hobby for JoAnna Dettmann, but her athletic achievements are proof of her abilities to identify long-term objectives and create step-by-step paths to success. As the co-owner of tSunela, JoAnna brings the same goal-oriented approach to her clients. She has conceptualized and implemented digital marketing successes for St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Trane, Logan Chiropractic, Energizer, Ameren UE and Fontbonne University.
But she hasn’t done it alone. An early study of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), tSunela co-founder, Kaysha Kalkofen continues to be at the forefront of search engine marketing know-how. With 10 years of industry experience, she has helped clients such as St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Patients First, Microsoft Windows Mobile, Praxair, Scottrade, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, and Showtime enhance their online visibility. Kaysha’s expertise is in search engine optimization, pay-per-click campaigns, link building practices, and web analytics.
Together, in 2006, they established tSunela—a digital marketing firm that provides strategic Internet marketing counsel and recommendation implementation to organizations of any size, in any industry. Six years later, tSunela has a headquarters in St. Louis, MO and a satellite office in Portland, OR.
MO: How did the two of you meet? How long did you know each other before you decided to create tSunela together?
JoAnna & Kaysha: We met at Brighton Digital Marketing in St. Louis, MO. After working together for a year (and helping to grow the agency’s digital marketing department), we decided to combine our strengths and open tSunela. We were there at the beginning of the digital marketing revolution, and have continued to evolve as the industry and its tactics have evolved.
MO: How have your individual backgrounds and experiences contributed to the development and success of tSunela so far? How do your abilities and strengths complement each other?
JoAnna & Kaysha: We are Yin and Yang, and complement each other very well. JoAnna excels in new business development, client retention, and strategic forecasting. I, on the other hand, bring the technical know-how and analysis to client strategies. Because we have used our natural strengths to grow the business and better serve our clients, we never had to formally define our roles in the business. Our business is stronger because of our differences. However, we do share the same philosophy on life and career and how to make time for both; this shared work-life balance perspective is also helpful in running the business, hiring employees, and more.
MO: Do you think that businesses can create successful campaigns only using social media?
JoAnna & Kaysha: Yes, but that type of approach would best be used for a one-time event, such as a product launch, announcement or limited-time deal/coupon. We would never recommend a social media–only campaign for overall business awareness or visibility. A campaign consisting only of social media can be successful in specific instances because social media exists everywhere and in a variety of forms – blogs, Facebook pages, Google+ pages, Twitter, YouTube, message boards, LinkedIn, and more. These online mediums all contribute to an organization’s search engine results page listing (if optimized appropriately), and these pages then become destinations for online consumers. In fact, social media pages (when developed robustly) can hold as much information as a small website, but with the added benefit of facilitating interactions between the business and consumers.
MO: How does Google+ factor into the social and search equations and how can it be used as a marketing tool?
JoAnna & Kaysha: Google+ has become increasingly important as a marketing tool, especially for search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines have added social signals to their algorithms and Google uses its +1 platform as one of its top data points for social signals. At this time, Google+ can be used by businesses the same way they use Facebook. The layouts of both platforms are very similar; the same type of message that an organization would post to Facebook can also be posted to Google+. At this time, however, there are no paid advertising options on Google+ like there are on Facebook. Stay tuned, though, because we are anticipating that to change.
MO: With the constant arrival of emerging techniques, products and companies, how do you decide which ones are worth testing out for your clients?
JoAnna & Kaysha: Our strategies are never trend-based. Every client strategy, every recommendation must move the organization closer to its business goals. A great illustration of this is the growing popularity of emerging social media platform Pinterest. Since it has recently garnered significant press, we have clients asking if they should be on there. For some clients, Pinterest fits their industry and business goals and so we recommend them having a presence on the site. For others, though, it does not make sense and so we advise against it.
MO: What’s your marketing strategy for building a client base on the west coast?
JoAnna & Kaysha: We are utilizing our in-house talents, as well as some traditional PR initiatives to build our client base on the west coast. In addition to implementing a paid search campaign and utilizing our social media outlets to seek out desired leads, we are actively utilizing LinkedIn to expand our networks. We have also been attending conferences in the area to increase out network of prospects. Plus, our PR firm is targeting business and target industry trade media outlets throughout the west coast to build awareness about tSunela in that region.
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