As we venture into 2018, I wanted to write a little something to tell our company's story. Look at any tech startup in this country and there's a story behind it. Uber was started by a few kids with a black car service, Netflix came about because a smart guy got a $40 late fee on a video rental, and Airbnb got it's start with a couple air mattresses.
Citrus Three has a familiar story. In 2013, I began managing, then consulting, on local political campaigns. No matter what you hear out of D.C., the entire job of a political consultant/campaign manager is to sell their candidate. 90% of that includes placing ads in places voters will see them. TV, radio, newspapers, campaign signs, magazines...they all have one thing in common: They're expensive.
Local campaigns, unlike state-wide and national campaigns, have a very limited budget, (we won our first city council campaign with $8,000). So, out of necessity, I started toying with cheaper ways to get my candidates out in front of voters.
Turns out, social media was my answer. I was able to place videos as long as I wanted (can't put a video in the newspaper, TV limits you to 30 seconds, and there's only audio on radio), and get them in front of the exact people I wanted. Also, supporters of my candidates LOVED being able to share and comment on their thoughts. This was political gold! (My personal favorite was when a school board opponent told my client, in an open debate, that he didn't attend school board meetings because he actually had to work for a living. (My client was a stay at home mom). Her videos got tens of thousands of views and hundreds of shares. She won by 20 points.).
My biggest problem was that with all the other marketing outlets, I had an agent that could help me with placing these ads. These were experts in their field. "Research shows Page 6A is great!" or "We'll air this at 5:15pm when folks are in their cars on the way home". But there weren't any experts in Vero Beach for social media. Sure, there were people toying with Google and PPC stuff, but nobody knew the social media landscape like I needed them to. So, I became the expert. I spent tons of time researching the back end of Facebook, learning about effective posting times, and keeping up-to-speed on the daily updates to all the platforms. This was my secret weapon and is primarily responsible for how I was able to help win six different seats in the City and County level.
I rode this wave for a few years and got a little burnt out after consulting on five separate campaigns in 2016. So after Election Day, I packed up my office and retired. I was done. I spent three months paddle boarding and fishing...I got bored (and broke, but I'm going with bored).
I did a lot of walking around town in those three months and realized nearly every business in Vero Beach was using antiquated marketing methods; spending tons in advertising. I had an epiphany...what if I could help businesses like I helped those political candidates? And like that, Citrus Three was born. I got my office back and got to work.
I started out with Bambi legs. I had a great concept, a mind-blowing concept, but I couldn't get out of my own way. I was struggling to build the foundation Citrus Three needed. That's when I stumbled into Dustin Tackett.
Dustin and I both grew up in Vero. We both went to Vero Beach High School and both were huge sports fans. He was a couple classes behind me, and for volunteer hours, I was an assistant coach on a baseball team he played on. We had a little history, but not much.
In April, I happened to run into him at the annual Jackie Robinson game at Holman Stadium and asked him how he'd been. He went away to Florida State after high school, got a degree in EWM (Editing, Writing, and Media...basically a 21st century journalism degree) and covered FSU football for a few years. Then he moved to Hoboken to take a job with 'The Spun' in New York City. After a year and a half shoveling snow, he decided to come back to Vero Beach. When I asked what he planned to do here, he said, "I'm thinking of starting a social media marketing company". BAM! I said, "We need to chat some more. Swing by my office next week."
After a couple of meetings discussing different ideas that we had, he decided to sign on. We threw a desk in the office and he immediately got to work. Citrus Three finally got that foundation.
In the seven months that we've been in business, we've laid out our services, created pricing, purchased all of our equipment, moved and expanded our office, facilitated an internship, created multiple partnerships, signed a bunch of clients, brought on a sales person (shout out Dan Lamson), and began educating local businesses about our revolutionary marketing strategy.
2017 was a whirlwind of a year and a rousing success. I can't wait to see what 2018 brings us. Happy New Year!