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Small Business Profile: Masi Bicycles

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I first read about Tim Jackson, Brand Manager for Masi, while browsing the BizBlog Profile Series on Diva Marketing. Wanting to learn more, I did a quick search and found that I was not the only one interested in Tim’s story. His apparent social media savoir-faire has already caught the attention of Mack Collier and Media Hunter (just to name a few).

Since I’m not an avid biker (I don’t think I’ve been on anything other than a stationary bike since age 7), I was curious to discover how social media could help a smaller brand really stand out. I reached out to Tim Jackson on Twitter just as he was about to leave for Taiwan and Japan.

KK: What was the motivation behind starting Masi Bicycles and what do you do?

TJ: Masi Bicycles is a manufacturer of road, city/ commuter and lifestyle bicycles. We sell to retailers, but we interact with retailers and consumers both. The business began in the 1930's in Italy and then came to the US in the early 70's. I came to the brand in 2004 to be the "steward" of the brand as it was essentially re-launched to the US and world markets by my parent company, Haro Bicycles.

KK: How do you currently use social media to market, drive awareness?

TJ: I began blogging about 6 months after I joined the company because we were struggling to be noticed about the noise of the much larger brands and I had no marketing dollars to advertise with. Out of necessity, I knew I had to do something. It was during the presidential election of 2004 that I even heard the word "blog", but it caught my attention and I knew that I was intrigued by it. I've got no training or education as a marketing professional, so I'm always learning as I go.

For me, being a social/ people oriented person, Social Media is exceptionally easy as a tool to connect. I use blogs, Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, etc. as a way to connect to people and establish a relationship with retailers and consumers both. The Masi brand was built on the relationships people had with Faliero Masi– the founder of the company. I'm not Faliero, but I can be somebody for people to have a relationship with.

KK: What social media activities do you plan to or want to explore in the future?

I am really eager to do videos. I want to explore YouTube extensively. I have been working hard on selling the idea of video to the powers in charge here. We are now committing the resources to attempting to create our own in-house video production so that we can do more to educate and connect. For me, as much as I love blogging and micro-blogging, video offers the biggest potential for more connections to me.

KK: In your opinion, why is social media important for small businesses?

In my way of thinking, people are looking for connections and ways to develop "pride of ownership". Reaching out and connecting to people in the communities they inhabit, online and off, increases the chances of creating a bond with your customers or potential customers. For me, it really is all about the relationships. I can't see me ever giving up on Social Media- I certainly have no plans to.

KK: Any parting advice?

I just feel it's important to always point out that it doesn't take a genius or a large team to make a blog or other SM effort successful. All it takes is some effort and willingness to be patient. Small companies have the most to gain because it helps to create the impression of a more level playing field. I've been successful with Masi because I haven't given up when things didn't seem like they were producing instant results. Conversation is King… so keep conversing.

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