Ask The CEO

Photography by Rebecca Baxter By Molly McCartney May 31, 2010

With the commercialization of the Internet in the mid-1990s, Michelle Nelson quit her job for a Sarasota-based land developer and founded Anexio, which provides information technology services for hundreds of small-to-medium-sized businesses as well as IT consulting and strategy. As the market grew, Nelson added a creative services team. Now she has rolled that creative services operation and its eight employees into a new enterprise that opened in January 2009, Blue Strategy + Creative International. Anexio is now run by her husband, Jeffrey Nelson.

Explain Blue. We are a “tradigital” company, meaning traditional digital. We do traditional marketing and advertising that also understands and delivers the agility and muscle that come from digital delivery. We are truly a converged agency. About 70 percent of our clients are local; the other 30 percent are national.

Who are your clients? One of our larger clients is a Canadian pharmaceutical company. We developed a national campaign for one of their over-the-counter products, helped them with digital strategy and search engine optimization. We just went through a rebranding for a Sarasota software company, everything from developing logo and message to redoing the Web site, packaging, product logos, corporate identity and developing a social marketing plan. We just launched a new Web site for Neal Communities.

Who’s your local competition? I don’t know of anybody else taking a true “tradigital” approach to marketing. You have traditional marketing companies that don’t understand digital and you have digital that don’t understand traditional.

Biggest challenge? Convincing our clients that you don’t market when you are making money, you market to make money.

What do you love most about your job? Seeing past a client’s day-to-day hardships, identifying what their true gift is that they are trying to deliver to the marketplace, and helping them shape that.

Tip for managing people?  Let them do what they are good at and get out of their way.

Favorite book? Blue Ocean Strategy, published by the Harvard Business Press. It describes two kinds of oceans: red oceans that are well explored and crowded with competitors, and blue oceans that have “untapped market space” and the chance for highly profitable growth. One example of a blue ocean company in the book is Cirque du Soleil, which reinvented the circus to forge a profitable business. I named my company Blue because of that book.

What life experience shaped you? Growing up in a craftsman’s world. My father is a master stair builder in New Hampshire, so I understand what a craft is and the hard work that goes into it and the respect you have for that craft. It brought the food to our table. It paid for college and vacations. That experience as a child taught me how to roll up my sleeves and get the work done. It also taught me the importance of the bottom line. 

What don’t people know about you? With all the technology in my life, the thing I enjoy most is going to my home out east of the Interstate, sitting in my back yard with a glass of wine and watching the deer.

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