Freshbooks: Online delivers the results, but traditional media still bring legitimacy

The essence of the Third Tuesday gatherings are the exploration of social media capacity to build communities of interest. That can be communities that are driven by individuals. It can also be communities that grow around a company or a service.

Freshbooks is a company that has seen a sense of community grow among its users and around it. So, it’s not surprising that several of the questions from the audience to Freshbooks Michael McDerment and Saul Colt related to how they view traditional and new communications channels.

“From day one, we’ve paid for advertising,” says Freshbooks founder Michael McDerment. “Google pay per click, search engine optimization, we baked that into our marketing efforts. That’s our foundation. … Gradually, we started networking and eventually we brought on PR.”

McDerment says that most of the value of Freshbooks’ investments in PR have come from social media. Yes, they’ve been in traditional media such as the Globe and Mail, Profit Magazine, the National Post – and they expect to be in more of this. However, states McDerment, “We see more impact from a blog post than we do from the Globe and Mail.”

Saul Colt adds: “Traditional media goes a long way toward legitimizing your brand. But our core customer base is living online. … This is where a lot of our success has come from. At the same time, while I consider it “ego advertising”, features in magazines are so important for so many reasons. Besides the warm feeling you get when you buy the magazine with yourself in it, it just legitimizes everything. Because there are tons of people who aren’t in the [online] places we’re in, but could be great for us to know and be top of mind.”

McDerment agrees, “Traditional media helps us to reach other markets.” And he notes that while a blog post may have more direct impact on Freshbooks business, appearances in traditional mainstream media still matters to most people. They think, “You were in that magazine? You must be so successful.”

Other posts about Freshbooks’ Michael McDerment and Saul Colt at Third Tuesday Toronto :

A Fresh(books) approach to social media by Dave Fleet

Building a Winning Team

Your next great business idea may be staring you in the face

Freshbooks: Don’t talk about the product. Talk about what it means to people

Freshbook Execs listen and respond to customers

  • Tod

    I switched from Blinksale to Freshbooks and haven’t looked back. Their site IS a little too U.S.-centric (invoices mailed from the U.S. regardless of destination, and that dreaded mis-spelling “check” instead of “cheque” ) but the service itself is awesome.

    I do wish their blog were less about customer profiles and more about updates to the site. Perhaps they could create a second blog where they talk about updates and new features, etc.

    I ended up unsubscribing from their feed because of that.

  • I find it interesting that only after their traditional marketing and advertising efforts did they bring in PR. Many organizations have the mentality that PR is “something extra” when in reality, a good PR consultant can offer tremendous ROI over any advertising campaign.
    Equally interesting is their point on the legitimizing effect that traditional media has over social media. Slowly but surely, as standards are set and experts become established, the social media space will become more credible. Due to its open nature, though, it may never reach the same level of authoritativeness.