When Barry Welch, founder of Internet Databases and developer of FurnishWEB, a web-based online ordering and product inventory data management system serving the home furnishing industry, wanted to increase the industry’s awareness of FurnishWEB, he turned to social media to help him get the word out.
Welch, a seasoned entrepreneur with a ten-year success record in providing custom web development services for the home furnishing industry, called on the expertise of social media expert Anne Giles Clelland, founder of Handshake Media, Inc., to give both him and FurnishWEB more exposure online than having only a web site could offer.
According to Welch, “There has been a learning curve on my part to relate social media and public relations to my business. Anne suggested I give it a try for two months and I’m glad I did. I’ve made contacts in my industry I would not have made and there is more ‘churn’ in the market relative to our service. Plus, our website traffic is up 14%.”
“In an era of media fragmentation,” Clelland said, “Barry Welch’s willingness to both run a company and to engage with industry experts, current customers, and potential clients online – in not one but many social media channels – shows true, innovative leadership.”
“Connect and communicate” is the mantra Welch set for the company he founded 10 years ago. By using Facebook, Twitter, a FurnishWEB YouTube channel, and blogging, he’s found that he can engage with existing and potential customers at a deeper level from the very start. “We’ve always considered ourselves to be readily accessible to our clients, now we find that by adding this level of exposure, we’re that and more,” says Welch.
While his FurnishWEB blog addresses topics of interest to existing and potential users, Welch writes his CEO blog (http://barrywelch.typepad.com/bdw/) to share insights and experiences on business, leadership, and life. There he is able to focus on topics that he hopes will help other entrepreneurs as they learn and grow.
As the furniture market continues to expand globally, Welch believes FurnishWEB is well poised to build a worldwide customer-base. “Our good name is our biggest asset,” said Welch, “and by having a social media strategy, more people are discovering who we are and what we have to offer.”
FurnishWEB was developed by Barry Welch, founder and president of Internet Databases. This Software-as-a-Service, SaaS, features sales force automation tools, online catalogs, online order processing, and an extensive furniture photo library. Launched three years ago, FurnishWEB’s user-base includes over 2000 dealer/retailer users, 450 sales reps, and 250 staff from the home furnishings industry. Welch has been developing software tools to serve the home furnishings industry for more than a decade.