Jon-Mikel Bailey is President of Wood Street, an award winning web and mobile design and development firm.
Britty: In 10 words or less how would you describe Wood Street?
Jon-Mikel: A web and mobile design, development and marketing firm.
Britty: Who does Wood Street help and how has it changed over the past 10 years?
Jon-Mikel: We have always worked with non-profits and associations as they tend to handle a lot of their marketing, outreach and communications efforts online. We have a strong IT niche as well. I think over the years the type of clients we attract and work with has changed in the sense that our clients now come to us with a better knowledge and plan for their online communications strategy.
Britty: What were you doing before Wood Street? What inspired you to decide to start Wood Street?
Jon-Mikel: One of the partners here, Jamie Stup, and I were working for a small web design firm in Frederick called Gecko Media Group. After a lot of discussion Jamie and I determined that we really had a different vision of what a web marketing firm should look like. We knew that to see that come to life we would have to branch out on our own.
Britty: Who are the other co-founders of Wood Street? How do you complement each other’s skills?
Jon-Mikel: Shortly after forming Wood Street, Jamie and I brought in some old friends to fill in some gaps. Jason Giuliano and Derek Jubach, both partners at Wood Street, joined us to fill the roles of business development and web developer respectively. There are overlaps in what we do but we each have specific roles and we are all very different people with different styles. Our knowledge, skillsets, and approaches to problem solving are all unique. But, what makes it all work is our shared passion for helping clients succeed. We are all interested in the next idea, the newest technology and whatever innovative solutions we can find to solve our client’s online marketing and communications problems. Our efforts in Mobile are a great example of how we’re constantly evolving to be the best solutions provider for our clients.
Britty: Who came up with the name?
Jon-Mikel: I don’t remember who said it first but basically we had a white board with all sorts of name ideas on it that just were not working. Then someone said “how about Wood Street?” This is a reference to the street in Frostburg where Jamie and I rented a house and where we all used to hang out in college. The name stuck.
Britty: Your bio says that you give seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web and graphic design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. What seminar do you find most in demand? Why?
Jon-Mikel: It depends on when you ask me and what is blowing up in the blogosphere and on the news. For a while it was SEO or Search Engine Optimization, then it was Social Media and now everyone wants to talk about mobile. What I try to do with all of these is focus more on the marketing and messaging and stay away from the shiny objects. I recently did a seminar on social media marketing basics for SCORE. I barely spoke about Facebook or Twitter or any of the other usual suspects because those will always change. Instead I find it’s best to discuss audience and strategy in any of these topics so the audience can relate and use what I share to develop an effective marketing strategy using the disciplines discussed.
Britty: Wood Street’s portfolio has a vast array of fresh and unique website designs. What’s your favorite portfolio piece? Why?
Jon-Mikel: It changes every week. I like the Inslee site because it is clean and elegant. I love the Visitation site because of the way we captured the essence of that school. The AOPA MyFlightTraining site is one of my favorites because of what we were able to build on the backend. That site is very sticky. But, my favorite designs are the ones that haven’t launched yet. We have some really cool stuff in the works.
Britty: What conversion tactics have you found most effective for converting website visitors for Wood Street and client websites?
Jon-Mikel: Traffic is important but like your question implies, conversion is where the rubber meets the road. I think you really need to understand your target audience and find a way to relate to them and excite them with your website. For us, it happens with our blog and our portfolio. Our blog gets clients thinking about what’s possible and gets them excited to do more with their online marketing so they call us. Our portfolio speaks to them visually. They see something that they are able to identify with and they call us. For our clients, we try to get into the heads of their target audience and find out what is going to get that group excited. We use design and content to drive the visitor to a call to action. Then we track the successes and failures and repeat and enhance what works.
Britty: Wood Street has been awarded multiple Addy Awards from the American Advertising Federation of Greater Frederick. What are the main factors that have led to Wood Street’s growth and success?
Jon-Mikel: Our growth and our success come from a lot of hard work. We have done this by focusing on making our clients successful. Sometimes the advice we give our clients isn’t what they want to hear. But if they stick with us and follow our process, they see how our methods make sense and make their online and mobile efforts successful. That success is what inspires them to recommend us. Their projects in our portfolio also inspire others to contact us for help. This is where our new business comes from and this is how we continue to grow and succeed every year.
Britty: Congratulations on Wood Street’s 10th year anniversary. Thinking back on those 10 years is there anything you would change or do over again?
Jon-Mikel: I know this sounds cliché but any adversity we’ve faced in the past has contributed to the strength of the company today. I don’t think I would change anything.
Britty: What would you say is your biggest achievement with Wood Street?
Jon-Mikel: I think the fact that we continue to see success every year is a true testament to the strength of us as a team of individuals and as a company. The biggest achievement in my mind is our financial stability no matter what. We’ve been through 2 economic downturns and countless changes in the marketing and tech landscape. And every year is better than the last. Seems a bit like a politician answer but it’s true. I can’t say that I have one achievement that stands head and shoulders above the rest. The only achievement that matters to me and to our team is our continued success.
Britty: Where do you see Wood Street in 10 more years?
Jon-Mikel: We started another company called Kicking Apps, LLC. This company is our product development initiative. I see us moving more and more into developing mobile apps and other solutions for associations, businesses and non-profits. I also see us providing more guidance to old and new clients on content marketing, online marketing and mobile marketing projects.
Britty: What advice would you give to companies seeking to start an online presence or in maximizing their online exposure?
Jon-Mikel: Develop a solid content marketing strategy. Know your target audience and find ways to be their go to resource for what it is that you do. Also, don’t ignore mobile. Find ways to engage with your clients on mobile because that’s where they are. Mobile is growing and you can’t ignore it anymore.
Wood Street is an award winning web and mobile design and development firm offering services such as web and responsive design, application and database development, and internet marketing solutions. Serving clients from across Maryland, Northern Virginia, D.C., nationwide and now globally, Wood Street provides high-end design and development solutions that help businesses stand out and succeed. www.WoodStreet.com