Rising star applies e-technology tools to marketing

Taa Dixon, a 1994 Colorado College grad with a flair for big-picture thinking, started 720 Media, a website design and strategic marketing firm in Colorado Springs. Two years later, her company has already developed an enviable list of premier marketing accounts.

This rising star in the Pikes Peak region’s entrepreneurial skies heads a young team of e-business and technology pros focused on educating and enabling e-business. They typically work with business owners who understand the value of incorporating technology and electronic tools into a strategic marketing plan.

Dixon recalls that her first job as a television producer for a Chicago station came right out of college. “I was studying journalism and the social sciences as an undergrad, and did some work in Chicago prior to accepting a job after graduation,” she said. The opportunity to shoot video, to write scripts and to tell a story, as well as to learn about some of the newest electronic technologies available fascinated Dixon.

Later she went to work for the United States Golf Association. “There I realized that the USGA could increase their reach and member communications through the Web,” she said, citing a project she worked on for the military. “Our own Eisenhower Golf Course at the Air Force Academy is considered one of the finest courses in the country. To market it, we used a fairway-friendly tripod and captured the layout and fantastic scenery so visiting players could check Eisenhower out on the Web.

“From the start,” she said, “my goal at 720 Media has been to educate people on the value of telling their story. If you do it right, a company will see the results on the bottom line.”

So whose stories has 720 Media been telling? David Ogrean and David Seibel at the Colorado Sports Corporation have worked with Taa Dixon and a team headed by Kevin Vicroy for two years. “Our relationship is very collaborative,” says Seibel, “and it’s ongoing. We still meet several times a year to make sure our marketing matches our needs, our corporate vision and our growth plan.” Seibel, responsible for marketing the Rocky Mountain State Games set for Colorado Springs on August 2-4, sees Web-based marketing as key to promoting this year’s event. “We needed statewide coverage in order to attract teams and participants. Taa and Kevin provide weekly reports on the hits and e-mails we receive each week – and helped us strategize about how to cross-market the website in our other promotional materials.”

Seibel stresses that it was 720 Media’s willingness to get to know his organization in depth before making a presentation that resulted in contracting with the marketing firm. “We liked their entrepreneurial thinking, their creativity and the fresh approach they used to help us identify a strategic direction,” he said.

With an impressive client list, so far including Keller Homes, USA Basketball, Gloriod & Associates, Colorado College, the Colorado Springs Chamber’s Nonprofit Center and many more, Dixon sees no slowdown on her company’s horizon.

Among 720 Media’s national credits is a California-based apartment complex owner who recently sold a $3.9 million property marketed electronically by 720 Media. To demonstrate her strategic approach, Dixon submitted a CD-ROM promotional disk her company created for the General Growth’s Southwest Plaza Shopping Center in Denver, showcasing the mall’s stores, layout, market demographics and revenue potential. The mini-CD (sized for easy mailing) provides combination of virtual tours, data and attractive graphics allow potential tenants to get a good look at the mall’s suitability and economic health. The apartment owner hired 720 Media, and the deal closed this spring.

Dixon, who employs an executive coach and plans one day to create her own MBA project based on real life cases, stays close to her clients. She likes to track her clients’ responses and is involved, whenever possible, with a client’s day-to-day marketing operations.

The company’s typical client profile includes a business owner who already understands the need for technology in his or her business and marketing plan says Dixon. “We did have to pull back from one client because they really weren’t ready to implement the necessary technology to build their business. It was tough, but it was the right thing to do,” she admits. Companies with new products or services to introduce are especially interesting to Dixon – and recently 720 Media was selected by Realtor.com as its virtual tour provider for the Colorado Springs area.

While the horizon is dotted with dozens of Web developers, Dixon is quick to differentiate between hiring a full-time developer for $50,000 per year and contracting with 720 Media. “We push ourselves to constantly stay abreast of emerging technologies and want to offer the small to medium-sized business a smarter solution. In five to ten hours a week, we can work as part of our client’s team – helping grow their business without incurring additional overhead.”

Dixon’s “strategic alliances” often start through a combination of face-to-face meetings with company management; focus groups that yield important market data; strategic planning and design of everything from electronic formats to direct mail pieces and packaging or brochures. “We work with print, media and public relations,” she says, “but there is always some kind of technology incorporated into any marketing program we design. We ask our clients to let us run their websites – it’s as if they are our own.”

The company’s vendor relationships are also strategic, says Dixon, citing the importance of finding printers who are comfortable with advanced technology in graphics reproduction. Similarly, Dixon continues to explore other business ventures that may complement her own.

About her style, Dixon is clear: “I am a strategist and can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues when faced with a scenario…I am futuristic with my thinking and like to motivate others.” At the ripe young age of thirty, Taa Dixon is certainly making her mark on the local business community. As co-founder of the Master Mind Alliance, a strategic planning group for entrepreneurs and as a member of the Business Leaders Roundtable (sponsored by the Chamber), she is a willing business collaborator.

Indicative of her upbeat approach, Taa Dixon sees unending applications for her company’s virtual tours, CD-ROMs, website design and marketing insights. When her company relocates its offices to 513 S. Tejon later this month, it will triple its office space. And true to form, Dixon plans to approach her new landlord about the potential for utilizing virtual tours to lease space in his other commercial office buildings.

Entrepreneurialism is alive and well at 720 Media – and in the process, has created an exciting new generation of marketing gurus.