An Interview with Geoff Wilson of 352 - By Seth Lane of Front Street

 A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of having lunch with 352's Geoff Wilson. We were privileged to have worked with 352 during their site selection for their new office. I gained tremendous respect for Geoff, Peter, and the rest of the 352 team. They exuded a unified disposition of fun culture, a passion for their work, and a true understanding of what 352 is as a business. I wanted to have a chance to learn from Geoff; how had his business grown? What challenges had he faced? What could I learn and apply as Front Street grows?

While we were working with 352 on their office search we attended ReThink: Success, a leadership summit put on by FreshSpark. Geoff was a speaker at this event, discussing what success means to him and his company. This event was full of great speakers but Geoff was the best. Maybe his message spoke to me because of the current growth stage Front Street is experiencing? His message resonated. I knew then I HAD to have lunch with Geoff. I sent him an invitation that very day. 

Here's Geoff's Keynote at ReThink: Success:

 

Here is a recap of our discussion

My first question for Geoff was this, what was the first year of 352 like and how did it inform what you do now?

Geoff described how he and his team focused on brand and position, knowing that it would yield opportunities. He elaborated that positioning is key to attracting the right talent and the right clientele. 

I asked, would the younger you be proud of the current you?

The answer was yes, although he did realize some things he could have done differently. He tried to be self-reliant, and didn't seek out enough outside advice. Now, he leads monthly book clubs with his leadership team, where they read, discuss and implement teachings from business books. Through the course of the company’s growth, he focused on higher standards for hiring. He knew that talent would drive the value proposition.  The lesson he learned that resonated most with me was this "If I had been less frantic and less "busy" … if I had gotten my head out of the day to day and looked at the bigger picture, I could have been more successful more quickly." Real estate brokerage often succumbs to the tyranny of the urgent. Whatever squeaky wheel is squeaking the loudest gets our immediate attention. Taking time to position your brand, hone your value proposition, and just take a few steps back can be more useful for the company and in-turn the client. 

what is 352's Sweet Spot?
352 specializes in making in-depth websites, typically including a service or activity. Much of their current work is centered on usability improvements, digital marketing, and traffic enhancement.

How has that sweet spot evolved? 

352 learned to not all things to all people. They do less small business websites and focus on finding the right customers. 

What is 352's biggest opportunity over the next 3 years? 

352 was managing 100+ projects a year. Now, they aim to manage 30. They are focused on raising the bar on their client caliber, and leveraging their business model through more focused business development. 

What is the biggest challenge? 

The market and technology is changing so rapidly. 352 is focused on refining their business development strategy and lines of service to stay ahead of their competition; As they seek to compete against larger companies. 

What is something that will be common place in 3 years that is unimaginable now?
Geoff described current technology where all aspects of a website will be customized to person reading it … they will recognize who you are and change the content. He gave a great example of where a site may know if a visitor is a potential customer or competitor. The customer may see case studies of relevant projects, products, and services. The competitor ... they will see job openings. 

Check out their redesigned website over at  352media.com.

352 is scheduled to open their new office in Tioga Town Center in early 2014. 

 
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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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