Oneupweb Alums: Where are they now?
When Lisa Wehr relocated Oneupweb from Alaska to Traverse City in 2000, there weren’t many companies of its ilk in the area. Founded in 1996, the search marketing company had started out as a subsidiary of Alaska Web Art, a website design firm also owned by Wehr. When Wehr moved to Traverse City in 2000, she sold Alaska Web Art, but kept Oneupweb.
Oneupweb was one of northern Michigan’s first search engine optimization (SEO) companies and it was a juggernaut. In its early years here, the firm saw massive growth, major domestic and international clients, and prestigious recognition. At its Suttons Bay headquarters, Oneupweb was working with Fortune 500 companies like Equifax, Motorola and Kimberly-Clark Corporation.
Ernst & Young dubbed Wehr its Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003. The same year, BtoB Magazine named her among the “Who’s Who in Search,” alongside giants of the field like Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Fast forward to 2018. Things look a bit different at Oneupweb. In 2015, Wehr retired, selling the business to Fernando Meza, then an account executive. As CEO, Meza relocated Oneupweb to new digs at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. He also transitioned the company into a full-service digital marketing agency. Today’s incarnation of Oneupweb offers not only search marketing, but also website development, social media management, content marketing and more.
Because Oneupweb was one of the first online marketing companies of any sort to reach northern Michigan, it has left a footprint that transcends its services and clients. Many of the area’s top marketing professionals either started at Oneupweb or served brief stints there. We tracked down several Oneupweb alumni to see what they took from their time at the company and what they are doing now.
Oneupweb job title: Senior natural search product manager; client services advisor
Years at Oneupweb: 2005-2011
Current position: Vice president of sales, marketing and customer service, eFulfillment Service
What I took from my time at Oneupweb: I graduated from Central Michigan University in 2005 with a marketing degree. [Today], the majority of marketing budgets are allocated to some form of digital marketing, but at that time, digital marketing was not part of the curriculum. I started working at Oneupweb right out of college. They were not only at the forefront of this emerging digital marketing industry, but they were also a significant player among national agencies. I had the opportunity to learn how Google and other search engines operate, how organic search results are generated, how to build optimized pay-per-click campaigns and how their larger ad network functioned.
What I’m excited about for 2018: I now work for eFulfillment Service (EFS), one of the nation’s leading order fulfillment providers for ecommerce sellers. My job is to lead and develop teams that bring on new clients and help retain those clients by providing a high level of service. For 2018, I’m most excited about being a part of some big changes that will help drive EFS into new areas, including internal changes that will bring about new competitive advantages and allow us to go after new niche markets.
Oneupweb job title: Graphic designer
Years at Oneupweb: 2004-2005
Current position: Senior manager and creative director, Hagerty Insurance
What I took from my time at Oneupweb: I was with Oneupweb during the Suttons Bay/early Lake Leelanau days, when the primary focus was on SEO. When I started, I really knew nothing about how search engines worked or how to design websites with searches taken into consideration. After spending some time writing copy for clients’ websites and creating keyword lists, I moved into designing landing pages and websites with SEO principles in mind. It helped round out my knowledge of graphic design for print materials with the digital expertise that is essential for a designer to understand in this connected world.
What I’m excited about for 2018: There is an increasing need for designers to create engaging experiences, not just graphic artifacts. I think 2018 will be full of opportunities to work on projects that demand that kind of end-to-end creative thinking. I am a big proponent of using design thinking techniques to develop experiences and products that will delight users and serve them well. I have a fantastic team, and we get to craft messages and artwork that cut through the noise and help our brand contend with some pretty big competitors.
Oneupweb job title: Senior search engine optimization project manager
Years at Oneupweb: 2004-2006
Current position: Associate director, Crooked Tree Arts Center – Traverse City
What I took from my time at Oneupweb: I worked with some very smart, talented people. I still maintain a network with them even now, more than a decade later.
What I’m excited about for 2018: Crooked Tree Arts Center – Traverse City is launching a new plein air (or open air) painting festival, called “Paint Grand Traverse: A Plein Air Affair.” Thirty of the nation’s best painters will come to Traverse City for a week to create, compete, and interpret our landscapes. It’s going to be an amazing annual event, and will help put the Grand Traverse region on the art world map.
Oneupweb job title: Market intelligence analyst; account executive
Years at Oneupweb: 2012-present
Current position: CEO and owner, Oneupweb
What I took from my time at Oneupweb: I had worked in various roles, across various mediums of the advertising spectrum, but the one thing that I did not know was the science of digital advertising. My time at Oneupweb exposed me to a whole world that I previously did not know existed. Now, I leverage my experience to show how digital can lead the way in the marketing communications mix.
What I’m excited about for 2018: I am looking forward to continued growth at Oneupweb. It’s been a whirlwind of positive energy and growth since my acquisition. I hope to leverage that success to continue to develop as an agency and to make sure that we’re doing the best job possible for our clients, while also nurturing our colleagues at Oneupweb.
Oneupweb job title: PPC project manager
Years at Oneupweb: 2006-2007
Current position: Founder and owner, Social Vision Marketing
What I took from my time at Oneupweb: Oneupweb was my first job out of college and in my field of marketing. My position helped to get my feet wet in the digital marketing world. I worked with some incredibly talented people during my time there. We competed on a national playing field from the offices in the little town of Lake Leelanau. I’m lucky that I get to work with some of these same coworkers and that we have helped build our tech community in Traverse City.
What I’m excited about for 2018: I’m most excited about continuing to assist my clients with marketing services to help grow their businesses, as well as expanding my own knowledge in the digital marketing realm. There are so many new trends occurring with new social engagement tools and ways to personalize user experiences on the social networks.
Oneupweb job title: Marketing director
Years at Oneupweb: 2004-2007
Current position: Marketing director, MyNorth Media and Traverse Magazine
What I took from my time at Oneupweb: Like everyone in internet marketing at that time, the world was evolving under our feet, so we were always learning. The people I worked with at Oneupweb are also some of the most talented, creative and hard-working folks I’ve come across. I’m honored to have been able to work with them then — and some of them again, post-Oneupweb. It comes as no surprise that Oneupweb alums are doing well. If you give folks security — like a good wage, healthcare they can count on and flexibility to enjoy northern Michigan’s lifestyle — and put them in a collaborative environment, then talent is going to thrive.
What I’m excited about for 2018: I landed with another great team, and not only is MyNorth Media continuing to flourish, we are also on the cutting edge of our industry. And with GeoTix, we are disrupting a $5 billion national ticket industry. GeoTix takes what we have here with MyNorthTickets and helps other local media to sell tickets to the events they’ve been writing about.
Oneupweb job title: National accounts manager
Years at Oneupweb: 2005-2011
Current position: Marketing operations and analytics manager, Interlochen Center for the Arts
What I took from my time at Oneupweb: I learned a lot about the fields of SEO, PPC [pay-per-click], and social media marketing. Operating in these spaces as they developed and were evolving was very exciting and certainly beneficial. However, my biggest takeaways didn’t come from the work itself, but rather the life lesson that you’re going to find yourself in a variety of situations. Some good. Some bad. Some neutral. But regardless of the factors that are out of your control, it is within your control to decide what you are going to take away from the experience.
What I’m excited about for 2018: There are a couple of exciting projects on the horizon for 2018, but the thing I’m most excited about is still a bit unknown to me at this time. I’ve recently completed Seth Godin’s altMBA program and I’m excited to see what this new way of looking at things brings in the coming months. I don’t have any … plans coming off that program, but I know that there are learnings and practices that I’ll take with me into every challenge that I confront. I’m excited to see what I’m able to do and the change that I’ll create.
Oneupweb job title: Senior content marketing project manager
Years at Oneupweb: 2012-2014
Current position: Co-founder and content strategist, Slabtown Marketing; director of content marketing, Affinitas Health
What I took from my time at Oneupweb: During my time at Oneupweb, I benefited from the opportunity to hone my writing and digital marketing skills by serving national B2B [business-to-business] and B2C [business to consumer] clients in a fast-paced agency environment. The aspect I valued most was the relationships I built with my colleagues. I learned from communicating with my friends from other disciplines — design, account management, web development, and business development — within the agency. That ability to communicate seamlessly with multiple contributors to a project serves me well in my current roles.
What I’m excited about for 2018: In 2017, I left my in-house role at ECI Healthcare Partners (now Schumacher Clinical Partners) to co-found Slabtown Marketing and to serve as director of content marketing for Affinitas Health. Slabtown Marketing is a boutique digital marketing agency specializing in B2B marketing. Affinitas Health is an emergency and hospital medicine management start-up based in Dallas, Texas. In 2018, I’m most excited about growing both of those businesses.
Oneupweb in 2018
Since acquiring Oneupweb in 2015, CEO Fernando Meza has been adjusting the company for the modern world of marketing. The biggest change, he says, was the transition from a search-focused business model to a one-stop-shop internet marketing agency.
“We kept getting clients that were approaching us for website redesign, so we started to take on those projects. And then it’s hard not to talk about a company’s brand when you’re redesigning their website, so I saw that as an opportunity for us to start doing brand development work,” he said. “That kind of evolved to just us working as a cross-functional organization.”
Even since Meza took over, he’s seen changes in the landscape of digital marketing. For a few years, he says, many clients were still “suspicious” of digital or unsure how much their websites really matter. Today, most organizations understand that it’s not only important to have an online presence, but also to nurture it. That shift has pushed Oneupweb toward more day-to-day work for clients, including content calendar work and video development.
Website redesigns are Oneupweb’s sweet spot right now, though. On the local level, the business recently revamped Cherryland Electric Cooperative’s website, making it mobile-friendly and improving conversion rates. Other recent website redesign clients include Billhighway, a company that develops cloud-based accounting solutions, and The International Kitchen, a Chicago-based business that offers international cooking vacations.