Thanks in large part to Owner and CEO Walter Osterman, Social Mavens excels in marketing and communications. With a diverse client roster across a wide range of industries, the Boston-based firm covers everything from travel and leisure to sports manufacturing and nonprofits. It also boasts a lengthy list of professional services that includes everything from copywriting and web design to brand identity and video production. The team prides itself on research-driven strategy, savvy social media and clear messaging, effective branding, and a profound emphasis on client services — which is why it’s vital for the Social Mavens office to maintain a reliable phone system. Thankfully, cielo offers all of that and more. We spoke to Walter to find out about the origins of Social Mavens, exceeding expectations, and what makes cielo such an asset.
“cielo’s service is night and day compared to traditional cable and telephony companies that I've dealt with in the past.”
Can you tell us about your journey in marketing and how you decided to start Social Mavens?
I was classically trained — born and raised in the telephone company industry. It was sales, human resources, mergers and acquisitions, and then it was general operations. So, after 15 years, I had a really good foundation for business and how it worked. During those first 15 years, I was in San Francisco and Manhattan. Then I moved to London, England, and I spent seven years working for a European Telecommunications company.
At that time, I was building and running the prepaid telephony arm of the company serving seven Western European countries. I was always flying around from London to France to Spain … and that gave me a great understanding of business and, of course, marketing. Along the way, I’d met a girl who was living in Boston. We got married, and we're still happily ever after — 27 years. So we moved to Boston after my seven-year tour in Europe. I sold my stake in that business, and I came back home.
I came back and started a marketing agency called TLC Marketing from my little office in my house, and it became a pretty big agency. My partners were a group of people I befriended in London before I moved home. They ran Europe and the rest of the world, and I ran North America; I built up North America from nothing.
In 2009, I sold it and started Social Mavens. It was sort of at the beginning of all the buzz about social media.
What sort of projects do you tackle? What is the scope of Social Mavens’ business?
We started back in 2010 as a social media agency — creating, writing, and managing social media for our clients. But we also created and developed websites. That's how it all started, but very quickly, we branched out. Now, we get into creating and developing brands and brand identities. We do a lot of writing; we help tell stories. We're heavy into video and web, we do a lot of print, and we also do a lot of strategic guidance. We’re more of a full-service marketing agency now, whereas originally, we were just focused on social media.
How does Social Mavens differ from other marketing agencies?
There are a lot of marketing agencies, and there are a lot of freelance copywriters. It’s competitive, for sure. But someone told me a long time ago that to be really good — to be better than your competition — you have to pick one thing that you really excel at. The one thing everybody has always complimented you on. And to truly be the best of the best, pick two. But no matter what, you have to have one. What’s really clear and separates us from our competition is service. We service the heck out of our clients. We're unbelievably responsive. Everybody says, “Man, you’re service is incredible!”.
Considering the importance of service and responsiveness, and how in tune you are with both of those, what has your experience been with cielo? How has the service met or exceeded expectations for you?
They're very responsive, which is great. When you have telephony service, you want quality. And God forbid something goes wrong, you want to know that someone's going to help you as quickly as possible. Their service has been excellent. They’re immediate in their response. It's as simple as an email — as quickly as it gets sent, I get a reply. Whether they’re adding a greeting or a user, changing the layout of my phone screen, or refining my features, it’s immediate. It's almost like as soon as I press “send” on the email, I'm getting a response.
“No one is happy about changing their technology, but we had to, and the transition was seamless. I don’t even remember if there was any downtime; that's how minimal the disruption was.”
You previously used another cloud-based phone system powered by a company that was decommissioned. How does the cielo system compare?
No one is happy about changing their technology, but we had to, and the transition was seamless. I don’t even remember if there was any downtime; that's how minimal the disruption was.
How long have you had it implemented?
Over a year. And the support is just about managing the features — it's not like something has broken. It’s typically something like needing to add in a new employee or redoing our welcome message. Those are services we’ve needed.
From your initial installation until now, how has the overall cielo experience been for you?
The quality is great. cielo’s service is night and day compared to traditional cable and telephony companies that I've dealt with in the past.
I think that if everything is working as it should be, and everything is seamless, the best compliment you can give a telephony service company is that you don't have to think about them often. Because that means that everything is working.
You wake up every morning and go to the light switch and turn it on. You don’t, as you're walking over, say, “Crap, is this going to work today?” You just assume your electricity is fine. That’s how people pick their telephones. They want a good connection, and they want to know that if something goes wrong, there will be people to service it on the other end. That’s what cielo excels at.
Would you recommend cielo to another business?
I have already recommended it to my peers and colleagues! It always comes down to service.