Mixer Sponsor Profile: Freshwater Digital Media Partners
January 25, 2014 by Dave Haynes
The Preset Group Mixer at DSE has grown into a pretty ambitious undertaking, that takes a lot of time and money to pull together. It doesn’t happen without sponsors and one of the ways we try to say thanks and recognize the help is through sponsor profiles on this blog.
First up is a new sponsor, Freshwater Digital Media Partners, a strategy and creative firm based across the lake from Chicago in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I met founder and President Matt Downey on a flight to small signage event in San Diego, years ago, and we’ve stayed in touch since then. Here’s a Q&A session that will help you understand more about Freshwater:
Q: Your company may not be as familiar as some of the other sponsors. Tell me what you guys do, where you are based, and so on?
DOWNEY: Freshwater is based in Grand Rapids, MI. We specialize in three primary services as it relates to digital signage.
1) We assist companies who are considering launching a digital signage network that will provide an attractive ROI or ROO (opportunity):
- Physical considerations (location, screen size, hardware and software options, etc.)
- Overall network strategy (what are they trying to accomplish, traffic patterns, will they allow advertising, etc.)
- Content strategy (based on answers in a and b above)
- Revenue strategy (if applicable)
- Sourcing and evaluating hardware and software (Freshwater works with many of the leading CMS and equipment manufacturers in the industry, and are always looking to develop new relationships)
2) Freshwater is a creative and content house. We have a team of video producers, motion graphics designers (including 3D animation) and editors. We can produce custom creative, including anything from simple graphics to full production shoots. We pride ourselves in providing world class content at a very reasonable cost. These costs have greatly assisted us in gaining and retaining new customers.
3) Freshwater also offers full content management services. We can provide full network management or assistance in training and ad-hoc support for those who prefer self-managed networks. We house multiple CMS systems in our lab and try to stay on top of the latest trends and releases from many different providers. We also love it when the client wants to invest in research to determine the effectiveness of the investment. We have helped current customers conduct viewership and impact of sales analysis through third party research companies.
Q: Can you run by some of the clients you are working with, and where, perhaps, your team is particularly strong?
DOWNEY: We currently are working with several local Michigan companies including Meijer, Spartan Foods, Biggby Coffee, Bluewater Technologies and The Plan-It. We are also in conversations with several other local and national companies for one or more of the services we provide that we can’t discuss yet. Additionally, we are gaining traction in offering our production studio and local facilities for non-Digital Signage customers – companies that just need studio space or design services.
We just recently moved into a new 7,500+ sq. ft. office space in Grand Rapids, where we currently have 6 edit suites, a full video production studio, a technology lab (where we evaluate and demonstrate new products and technologies) and a large warehouse/open set space that can be used for larger shoots. We are also in the process of building an audio recording studio for Voice Over and Sound Effects work. Fortunately, we also have room to grow as needs arise.
Q: What’s your goal heading into this show?
DOWNEY: I have exhibited for the past two years with Wave Dynamic Advertising, a software company that Jeremy Gavin (Screenfeed) and I founded together. Now that Wave has some traction and is being used by a handful of companies around the country, I am focusing this year on Freshwater. We have three (again) primary goals for the show:
1) We are hoping to get the word out that we can provide first class content and unbiased consulting services to those attendees that are considering launching a network or for those who have an existing network and just need help.
2) Pedro Sanchez, our new Research and Technology Specialist will be attending this year to walk the show and gather as much information on new and interesting technologies that we can bring back and offer to our clients. In the past I have tried to do this myself, but haven’t had enough time to do that and manage our booth (C17).
3) Finally, we hope to come away from the show with a handful of new strategic partnerships with other companies in the industry. We have a good amount of potential clients coming to us looking for solutions of all types and we want to surround ourselves with successful and passionate service and equipment providers who want to build a mutually beneficial relationship. Not only can we bring their solution to the table with our clients, hopefully they can bring Freshwater to their client base as a content and creative resource.
Q: People have been hollering about the importance of good creative for years now, but there’s still a lot of woeful stuff out there. Do you see end-users getting more mindful of the need to budget and order quality creative?
DOWNEY: Creative is perhaps the biggest challenge in the industry. The bottom line is good custom creative costs money. While standard cut and paste templates work in some cases, having a screen or network that ties in with a client’s brand will create a more professional and cohesive environment. Custom doesn’t have to be expensive – and that’s what we’re trying to do at Freshwater.
Many of the end users that we are talking to have either generic templates or are still working with the original creative that they bought a few years ago. It gets tired quickly. Combining simple, smart, frequently updated creative with some of the great syndicated content (like that from Screenfeed) is a great way to keep your screens interesting while keeping some coin in the bank. So yes, I think there is an appetite for the end users to put something fresh and attractive to work on their screens. Freshwater hopes to maximize their investment.
Freshwater was one of the first companies to step up and do original creative for the recent DOOHgood Typhoon Haiyan campaign. A nice bunch that also does solid work, You can see Freshwater at DSE Booth C17.
I think the most valuable thing about Freshwater is that if you are actually trying to have an impact on your business with digital signage, make the numbers (budget or ROI) work in a positive way, and operate a first-class network, Matt Downey really makes that happen.
A lot of people in our industry can ‘make the parts work’ for a customer, but few will drive the network further than the customer’s expectations or just doing the basics. Its worth taking 20 minutes out of your trip to DSE in Vegas to stop by the Freshwater booth.