Vail Valley Bizwatch: Media Safari, advertising and marketing
Business name: Media Safari.
Date opened: August, 1995
Owner: Howard Leavitt.
On the Web: http://www.media-safari.com.
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Contact info: Call 970 949-5373, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
What goods or services do you provide? Media Safari offers the full range of agency services, including: strategic media review and planning as well as comprehensive creative services such as design, copywriting and production for all print and broadcast media. We also provide Web design and development plus press and PR services.
I started on the other side of the table selling ads and quickly learned how difficult it was for my clients to navigate the advertising jungle (hence the company name) that already existed at that time. I wanted to help these smaller businesses with their media planning and the rest of the services developed as my clients needed help creating a cohesive and consistent message. We’ll take on any project, no matter the size, from a one-off brochure to an entire campaign or collateral program.
What’s new or exciting at your place? I would have to say that the rapidly changing world of the Internet and social networking has had the greatest impact. Just as with the Web just a few years ago, everyone thinks they need it, but it may not be appropriate for certain market segments. It can be very powerful or it can be superfluous. You can’t just throw up a Facebook page or Twitter account without supporting it and feeding it properly. To that end I’ve surrounded myself with extremely savvy and talented resources who can provide expertise in a variety of areas.
What strategy do you use to differentiate your business from your competition? Contrary to the traditional “Buy net – sell gross” agency model, we don’t start the clock every time we answer the phone or make a commission on anything we buy for the client. In fact, any savings we garner through negotiation or available discounts we pass directly through. In a sense, we become de facto marketing coordinators for our clients.
We determine which media will effectively help them attain their objectives in the most cost effective manner. This can include running interference for them and representing them in all vendor interfaces. Any business owner in this valley will tell you how much time is taken up by the daily onslaught of advertising sales people. This is especially important now, as more business owners have to consolidate and commit more time to day-to-day operations to keep payroll and expenses under control.
What philosophy do you follow in dealing with your customers? What can your customers expect from you? We treat every business and budget as our own. We are currently in the most challenging business climate this valley has ever seen and it is more important than ever to be sure your message is reaching and penetrating your target market in the most cost-effective manner. I’ve watched the economy wax and wane numerous times in my 35 years here and I have a pretty good sense for our seasonal resort economy – challenging even in the best of times. I try to bring that perspective to the table in this increasingly competitive and congested market.
My clients should expect me to take ownership of their business and treat it as I would my own. The more I can take off their plates, the more time they have to focus on the matter at hand: – thriving and succeeding.
Tell us a little about your background, education and experience: My grandfather, who didn’t leave Brooklyn, New York for most of his life, took up oil painting at 60. He loved to paint snowcapped peaks from postcards he’d find. Growing up surrounded by these images I became intrigued with mountains. That ultimately drew me to Vail in 1974 after studying communications in college. Once here, I did all the usual jobs in those early days – restaurant, construction, landscaping, ski teaching, etc.
l eventually started selling ads for a magazine with editions in 16 other ski resorts across the country, ultimately becoming VP of sales for the western region. In this role, found myself helping prospective customers determine their advertising needs – often recommending against my own publication. That was the initial inspiration for starting Media Safari.
What is the most humorous thing that has happened at your business since you opened? I was doing the publicity and marketing for the opening of the Back Bowl in Eagle. Everything was in place for the big event, so I was invited to try my hand at rolling one of the first balls down the new lanes. They use a special, extremely slick oil to prepare the wood of the lanes and it runs the entire length just short of the foul line.
I happened to overstep the line and, with my new clients, press, local dignitaries and everyone watching, I did my best Three-Stooges-on-a-banana-peel move, landing flat on my tail!