Today’s post is pretty long.
If you happen to be a member of the press and you’d like to get to the facts quickly, you can download the PRESS RELEASE and also find images available to use on the TKG Flickr account. If you’d like commentary for an article, please reach out to Geoff Karcher via email at geoff [at] tkg.com or by phone at 1-888-485-4932, or myself at nriggs [at] tkg.com or by phone at 614-348-2646.
As always, thanks so much for your attention :)
You might be wondering about what I’ve been up to for the last month. I’ll admit – following my sudden reemergence in the online social circles has been a bit confusing.
Back in September of last year, I announced that I would be leaving the entrepreneurial space and joining up with the good folks at Bob Evans to lead their digital marketing efforts on the restaurant side of the business. Since early on in my career I had always loved working in the restaurant industry, and with the birth of Max a month earlier, the opportunity to join a stable public company seemed like a no brainer.
About 30 days in, an old friend by the name of Geoff Karcher called me and asked if we could have dinner in Columbus. Over the years, I’ve learned that you never turn down dinners with old friends … especially friends like Geoff.
When we met at Lindy’s in German Village, Geoff introduced me to Todd Whetstone, his director of strategic initiatives at The Karcher Group. Todd’s a literal juggernaut in his own right, chalking a background of experience that includes a laundry list of Fortune 500 companies.
We shook hands, were seated and soon began picking through calamari, sipping beers and chatting about our families. The conversation soon turned to the Columbus agency environment and how so many businesses are struggling to simply be ‘social’.
About 7 Years Earlier
At the time, I was working with a retail design agency who had hired a branding firm to develop our new website. While the site was beautiful and full of sexy flash animations, the heavy use of flash made it completely invisible to Google’s crawlers. Our company fell out of the SERP’s faster than Tebowing.com became a case study on social proof.
All of this happened back in 2005, well before social media was all that shiny. At the time LinkedIn was still gaining popularity with professionals. Facebook was quickly spreading through colleges and universities, and Twitter was really only a noise you heard on spring mornings if your window happened to be open. Business folks everywhere were flocking to local and national educational events to learn about the buzz behind this thing called ‘search engine optimization’.
After attending a Karcher Group seminar on organic search held at TechColumbus, I decided to hire Geoff and his small team at The Karcher Group to help us redesign our flash website with organic search optimization in mind.
Back to the Calamari
I began to ask some questions about TKG and where Geoff’s agency was heading. I could see Todd begin to smile as we talked about ideas that would combine content marketing and deep SEO, community management and other applications of social business.
Then Geoff asked bluntly: “Are you for sale?”
I paused and then chuckled softly, somewhat dumfounded by the question.
“What do you mean? What do I have to sell!?!”
Working with Sarah J as a contractor, I’d been able to keep a small pipeline of SBS clients going, even after joining Bob Evans full-time. There were really no assets owned by SBS and no full-time staff to sell. IP knowhow in developing social media strategies and a decent online consulting presence made up the meat of LLC.
“You, your partner and what the two of you can do.” replied Geoff.
After spending the holidays working through due diligence with Geoff and his team, as well as with the help of my friend and attorney Dan Barham, we came to an agreement that made everyone happy. I’ll say in all honesty that the process was the easiest and most friendly negations I’ve been a part of to this point in my career.
By the second week of January, I gave notice to Bob Evans that I would be leaving the business to take an offer that would get me back into the culture of the agency world I love so much, and one that I simply could not pass up.
So, why leave so soon?
I think the video below will share why Geoff and I felt coming together was a good move to make. You’ll see Geoff open, and you’ll also meet Josh Gordon. Josh is the mastermind who figures out how to get work out the door and on time for TKG’s 400+ clients.
[I want to give a special shout out to my friend and video production mastermind Eric Leslie for producing our announcement clip.]
Thank You, Bob Evans
You sometimes hear horror stories about people landing new gigs, and leaving not long after because the opportunity turned out to not actually be the best fit. In most of those cases, bridges are burnt to piles of ashes.
Trust me … I was sweating like crazy when I walked into Dee Hadly‘s office and broke the news that I would be leaving. I had come to really love working with the people at Bob Evans. I was able to learn a lot about what it actually takes to help big businesses ‘be social’, and even had the chance to get a few programs off the ground that made a quick impact for the brand.
But in those months, I also realized just how much I missed the fast-paced hustle and cultural freedoms that come with being on the agency side of the business. For at least the foreseeable future, I’d like to keep my seat on this side of the table.
While Dee and others in the marketing department were disappointed that I would be leaving, I can honestly say that all of my former associates at Bob Evans have been nothing but kind, encouraging and helpful during my transition.
To each of you – thank you. Thank you for your help and friendship, and for being cool with me doing what’s best for my own direction. I’ll miss seeing you each day down on S High St, and I will always have great respect for the Bob Evans brand, and all of you who serve as its stewards.
Next up is already in motion.
Sarah J. and I will be working closely with the TKG team, while staying in Columbus. With a little diligence, time and some luck, we’ll eventually open the TKG South office in Columbus. When that happens, we’ll grow the team as the business drives us towards new service offerings and programs.
For you soon to be marketing, PR and communications graduates, keep your eyes on us and your blogs and resumes polished.
You never know what might be in store down the road…