Some Truly Amazing Newport, Rhode Island Cinematography

This video was shot & edited by Vanio Tavares of Vonbex Creative Media as a part a our collaboration for our creative assets & digital transformation for Newport Living Group of William Raveis Real Estate located in Newport, RhodeIsland.

Vanio did a terrific job of capturing the different facets of the “city by the sea” – from Fort Adams, Pell Bridge, Broadway local district, Washington Square, the renowned Cliff Walk and many others.

The Difference Between Being Motivated & Being Driven

The difference between driven and motivated is sublte but important. Right around this time, the middle to the end of January – people already begin waivering on their New Years goals. This is actually normal, so if you are in this group, you are not alone. The reason is that motivation in itself is a short term emotion. In order to find something that is long lasting, one has to discover within themselves what it takes to become drive.  #BecomingDriven👉🏻👇🏻

I love the feeling of being inspired or motivated, but honestly… it lasts about 3 days, then something punches you in the gut. No more feel-good inspiration…. Drive is much less fashionable. It’s a quiet, simmering, slow burning flame inside you that can’t be extinguished.

It’s the only thing that propels you through the muck, the drudgery, the pain, failure, doubt and countless setbacks. It’s means not negotiating the price you’re willing to pay. Drive can’t be bought or sold. .

It means that even after you’ve ‘arrived’ at your goal, you still won’t stop. People who are driven have a ‘WHY’ that far exceeds their own personal gain. .

Being driven is bittersweet. If you want to get motivated, think about what it will take you to become driven. I’ll do the same and consider what it will take to bring my drive to the next level.

The Ultimate Experiential Marketing & Previewing Web Based VR

Many different reactions to our HTC VIVE VirtualReality kiosk but most are impressed by how immersive the experience is.

From a #creative standpoint I’m not sure there’s ever been anything so limitless but from a practical biz dev perspective it’s a bit more of a challenge. The idea alone of being able to create literally ANYTHING you can imagine is kind of unbelievable and a bit overwhelming.

How can businesses leverage VR to superpower experiential marketing and leave a lasting footprint on consumers minds?Maybe you’re a Las Vegas casino building in #Boston and want to show your customers the new east coast scene… a real estate development conglomerate resurrecting a skyscraper in Shanghai and want to give potential investors a real pitch… a high-end retailer that wants to show lifetime customers new unreleased products via virtual shopping —- these are just a drop in the ocean of the possibilities. Which direction VR and AR will take is a bit of a question mark right now but in these formative years I’ve felt it important to get involved and get active.

We’ve even built a Virtual Reality 360 aerial drone tour of the Newport, Rhode Island coastline and it’s pretty awesome (drone work by Brian Kelly).


We’re also exploring dev concepts of virtual web browsing. Our goal is to make our native site full virtual friendly, so that users on both mobile and desktop who are equipped with headsets on their device can tune into with their Vive, Oculus or other headset. The future implications of this are again, endless. It’s easy to envision a next level internet where virtual browsing is much more prevalent – and advertisers would benefit by eliminating the mass hysteria that is the current landscape for attention on the internet.

We’re hoping to have a landing page web based VR concept for user preview starting this spring.

The power of focused & managed SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

Driving results in real time, providing transparent data that tells the story 🔎 Paid search is a fantastic avenue to find + ROI, especially for ecommerce retailers. This particular case is an example where client already has vast traditional sales & distribution network and where Ecommerce totals only 1% of gross sales.

Google merchant is a underutilized channel within AdWords that we have found usually has stronger impact on direct revenue, in a short time window than traditional text or banner ads. In just over 30 days we’ve been able to increase gross revenue from ecommerce over 50% and over time with complete digital strategy overhaul, we believe we’ll be able to move online sales from 1% to 10% of total sales.

The results speak for themself: see below. Could you benefit from increased revenue performance like this?

Customer Service As A Competitive Differentiator

The ability to push past customer focused and into customer obsessed is where most companies are unwilling to go in both the B2B and B2C space. I’ve always placed customer service as top priority since I started J. Arthur & Co. 5 years ago, starting with a very basic ideology. Early on, I reasoned that my best chance of survival as a self-funded, bootstrapped startup was to get customers and to keep them, which would increase cash flow in a recurring monthly model and overtime would also help with referral accounts. Fairly simply logic, right?

As time went on I noticed a pretty clear difference in how clients were responding to the added attention in discovery meetings, throughout project management and the overall focus on details of product launches. It was clear that not only in my local market, but even in larger markets customers were not used to this type of service from their providers, specifically in the web development & management space.

It helped me keep customers and also had an impact on how successful I was in selling new products to current customers. This grew the lifetime value of each new account. Common sense & instincts naturally told me to increase focus here. Stick with what’s working and level up…

I began pushing this ideology more & more on team members. Fundamentals like: every client needs to feel like they’re your only client, immediately responding to emails, being direct when confronting problems or complications, transparent about timeframes, not leaking timelines weeks overdue, constantly contributing new ideas, reporting clear analytics and data reports on performance. These are only a few among many that startups can lose focus on as they grow, or are simply unable to scale accordingly as their client services list grows.

I was always fascinated by super successful customer centric companies like Amazon and how focused their culture was on the customer. Moreso how this culture built the company.

Bezos says, “The No. 1 thing that has made us successful by far is obsessive compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor.” See the full portion of the interview below.

In my particular industry, digital advertising & software development, the service side tends to be really, really bad. I know this by constantly talking with frustrated VP’s & Marketing Directors. Where service unions with creative, results and quality – it’s even worse. That’s one of the reasons I’ve stuck around, I feel we execute exceptionally on all three, with healthy room to improve of course.

Our success model is as follows: Customer, Product, Employee, Company, Founder.

Founders eat last, as they say. I really agree with this, how can you grow a company, especially a bootstrapped startup, if you are taking large % of profits out of it and putting it in your own pocket instead of investing into new growth? And yes, employees have to be willing to sacrifice for a superior customer experience and product quality. This ecosystem only makes their job more valuable over time.

OK, back to the customer and my question: Can customer service alone be a true differentiator?

To help answer this let’s look at Peter Thiel’s definition on what it takes to achieve true differentiation to the point of “escaping competition altogether,” which he argues all businesses should aim to do. In his book ‘Zero To One,’ he defines this (escaping competition) as being 10 times better than second best. Now, he’s mostly referring to something like proprietary software, which is a lot different than something so intangible as customer service… but I’m saying the idea can still apply.

In order to achieve absolute and total advantage over competitors, we’d have to be 10 times better when it comes to all facets of customer service.

Compared to consumer facing companies who potentially have thousands of users or customers, this should be significantly easier for a digital agency with a B2B client services model. I don’t know that there’s any way to measure this but for a bit of perspective, to be 10 times better we’d have to:

Respond to emails in 10 minutes instead of 2 hours
Troubleshoot and fix breaks/errors in 1 hour vs. half a day
Never give a client an excuse vs. 10 excuses
Etc, etc. So, that’s essentially the goal across the full customer service spectrum. Executing this as we continue to scale but making sure it’s embedded in the organizations core, so it becomes a key element to our scale – not something we just have to keep up with. As founder, this IS the most important facet of our growing culture. The recent data reported by McKinsey & Company (below) affirms that this will give us an edge and isn’t uber-stressed by other agencies, who may choose a product centric or internal brand building approach instead.

Perhaps because we’re still small I can afford this luxury, but this is one of the keen advantages startup companies have over larger corporate players. The larger a company a gets, the less agile they become by definition. Bureaucratic structures become stiff and bulky, putting multiple players in the middle of what used to be a seamless customer interaction. While many chips are stacked against startups from the get, this is not one of them and what I’ve defined as a distinct advantages over larger agencies. I aim to keep this agile mindset even as the company continues to grow.

Of course customer service differentiation alone still probably wouldn’t be enough to achieve the level of growth we need. What Peter Thiel also alludes to is that the more proprietary technology a company can create & own, the more valuable it becomes. This is also a transformational shift in strategy moving forward, in building new software that we alone own and operate as opposed to strictly doing this as a service for clients. Stay tuned.

Why We’re Making All Of Our Mobile Websites Work Like Apps

During recent market research, we discovered a piece of data that would change our mobile strategy for our customers permanently. The amount of time users are spending on apps is growing exponentially:

Right now, Apps account for 89% of mobile media time.

What does this mean for user-experience design? We now need to go BEYOND the concept of a “responsive mobile website,” – which is already an outdated design term, and begin to make all mobile websites “app-like.”

This is a huge percentage and means that people surfing the web (the majority of us) are becoming used to the way that apps work and guide us through what we’re looking for on the internet. With that being said- we are looking for ways to have our customer’s sites more “app-like” to adapt to the preference of the people. One change we’re making to achieve this, is to add a bar of icons on the bottom of the mobile webpage, just like nearly all apps have. It makes for one less click and also makes the mobile website look like an app, where mobile users spend the majority of their time and are therefore most comfortable using.

It’s a small adjustment but we believe a large leap in making pages and action-points on mobile websites more accessible with a faster response time. These icons save them the trouble of looking through to find the information that is most popular for our client’s customer base. Along the same lines, since users have become so accustomed to the app experience, tailoring mobile websites mirror that experience is only going to resonate sub-consciously with users, which will increase engagement and conversions.

Check out a couple examples below as we work through out entire portfolio and upgrade the mobile navigation layout.


Our Digital World

Our 2018 digital ad research report told a very clear story: mobile is still taking over. In an age of scrambling attention – both conglomerate companies and smallbiz are looking where to spend advertising dollars to impact consumers in the most ROI positive way. Below are some key snippets from our research, full reports available to clients and by special request:

The amount of internet users has gone from 400 million to a whopping 3.2 billion since the year 2000.  By 2019, mobile advertising is expected to represent 72% of all U.S. digital ad spending.

Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% vising a competitor’s site instead. That means, if your mobile site isn’t working properly almost half of the customer’s visiting it are going to someone else who’s is.

Besides the fact that digital advertising is the fastest way to reach the largest amount of users:it’s cheap. On average it costs $2.85 to reach 1,000 iPhone users with a mobile ad, that’s less than a coke. Traditional media advertising costs $100 to reach 1,000 users- time to leave those days behind us.            


Social media marketing budgets are prospected to double over the next five years. 78% of companies now say they have dedicated social media teams, up from 67% in 2012.  71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. There were over 4.4 million videos uploaded directly to Facebook in February 2016, generating over 199 billion views. So to make a long story short, if you’re not advertising on social media, you’re doing it wrong.

Why Scaling A StartUp Can Feel Like David Vs. Goliath

You’ve probably heard countless statistics about start-up failure rate after one, three or five years. It’s likely that only half of them are authentic, but one thing IS for sure: successfully scaling a start-up can feel like a David vs. Goliath type battle. David vs. Goliath tells as the ultimate underdog story, David takes on the giant Goliath and slays him with a stone, representing the tremendous courage of ‘the little guy’ and the fact that anything is possible, even against the insurmountable odds. 

In comparison, the 21st Century entrepreneur fights to survive, scale and chisel away market share against some of the most formidable economic forces this world has ever seen; the Fed, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Walmart, whomever etc, etc. Even at a lesser degree contending with middle market companies can be a tall order when new, unknown and undercapitalized. While some would say this ragged group of dreamers coining themselves “entrepreneurs” suffer from delusions of grandeur, others would recognize the fact that society wouldn’t be pushed forward without them.

As Malcolm Gladwell re-states George Bernard Shaw in his book that targets startup culture David & Goliath, Underdogs, Misfits and The Art of Battling Giants  “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” 

Well stated, but what’s left out of this bit is the part about the painful process that happens during progress. As someone who finds more satisfaction in a hard fought journey than a fancy destination, I have drudged through the first four years of founding & operating an AdTech Agency with my fair share of war stories. But that doesn’t skirt the fact that it’s TOUGH – mentally, physically, psychologically and emotionally. You’ve heard it before, right?

But I’m talking about something a little different, not the life sacrifices that to me, are par for the course. The constant weekend and late night work sessions, abysmal work/life balance, cheap meals, judgement of friends or family, sleeping on couches, risking all personal capital, etc. All of that is easier to internalize and is usually enough to get you off the starting blocks, but the technical and strategic execution of scaling and creating a sustainable long term enterprise that can solve a massive problem and take market share from major players, THAT’s the real bear.

To throw a bit more weight on your shoulders, let’s factor in operating WITHOUT seed money (like we do at J. Arthur & Co), IE they actually selling things by adding value, learning how to earn a profit and re-invest into fundamental, long-term growth. While the façade of pop-culture venture money can make success appear far easier than it is achieved, tricking wannabe entrepreneurs.

Below is a chart by that shows the rate of failure in start-ups by industry. After just having skipped past the four year mark at J. Arthur & Co – this has some relevance.

But what this infographic doesn’t tell is size & industry relevance. Out of the 30 million businesses in America, 96% do LESS THAN $1,000,000 in annual revenue. While I’m a huge advocate of smallbiz, it’s safe to say you aren’t slaying any “Goliaths” at less than $1M/year. Some would say ‘the first million is the hardest’ (in sales, that is) but I adamantly disagree – all the most brutal challenges are north of the $1M mark. It’s far harder to create a vision, implement a strategy, hire intelligently, employ dozens, exist perpetually and successfully carve off market-share from industry leaders than it is to go from $0-1M. When you are obscure and little, the only place the go is up but when you now have built a sound company framework, the burden becomes heavier to take it to the next level and then the next, and the next.

But hey, this is what we signed up for, yeah? Shut up, put up, add-value and execute. The beat goes on.

Every entrepreneur, small or big, should embrace the David role because it adds some exhilaration to what can seem an unglamorous journey at times not worth taking. But if we’re keeping it real, it will take a whole lot of execution and an uncomfortable amount of courage to actually slay the giant.

Painting by Newport, Rhode Island Artist Romeo Ellorin


A Look At Our New Offices

Location, History, Culture & Mission – Making It All Work

Layering into multuple messages into one ad spot is always a challenge. With some excellent drone videography and storytelling, we tied in our offices HQ citied in Newport, Rhode Island with the deep history the area has rooted in the founding principles of our country.

Newport was known as the original “experiment” for freedom of religion – here’s what that means: Early settlers first landed in Providence, Rhode Island but were being segregated and persecuted according to their religious practiceof choice. Newport was a small island in the southern area of the state where settlers from all types of religious sects moved and agreed to practice their faith peacefully. This set the precedent for freedom of religion to be “scaled” and practiced elsewhere in the country. How POWERFUL is that?

It so happens that where our offices are located is on the direct geographic center of Newport, where the original town Spring was located. This was a meeting spot for Newporter’s and new Americans to meet, gather water for sustenance and become acquainted, forming a close-knit culture. As was the case in the 1700’s, we want to bring the same dynamic to this wonderfully creative city with a 2018 spin – opening up our office doors and resources as collaborative working desks to to innovative creatives, startups and entrepreneurs to foster their next big idea.

Newport was a Loyalist stronghold early during the Revolutionary war and was notorious for a growing population of patriots. With the current division and controversy in the media & politics, it may be that America is on the verge of a new kind of revolution… what that will be is yet to be seen. All we can offer is our hope and our companies mission, what we were founded on and will hopefully continue to grow and employ more people under the same premise.

Bottom line – you can’t control so many things and with the overwhelming access to information & media, we are drowning in unwanted opinions, half of them met with anger & emotion or unverified facts.

Here’s what you can control – your own actions. We hope to live that through our service of creating a scalable managed website service and reach thousands of American small business while servicing our amazing corporate agency clients. Watch the video below and see if we did a good job conveying these messages together…