Digital and Traditional Marketing Come Together for Two Downtown Devotees

April 30, 2012

Michael Tucker and Julie Ray

By Teya Vitu

Julie Ray has been the woman around Downtown the past six years, heavily involved with Tucson Meet Yourself, 2nd Saturdays, the Tucson Pima Arts Council and a series of temporary public art projects.

Michael Tucker for the past year or so has brought social media savvy to 61 businesses along road construction projects across town, most recently along the Modern Streetcar route, all collaborating with the Regional Transportation Authority’s MainStreet Business Assistance program.

You might know either or both of them quite well, but neither was ever likely to invite you to their offices, mainly because they were a) working out of their homes or b) had improvised work spaces rather than full-fledged offices.

That changed in December when Ray and Tucker joined forces and set up shop in the Bellovin Karnas Camarena building, 131 East Broadway. It serves as the offices for Ray’s Julie Ray Creative and Tucker’s Social Mobile Buzz.

“We want to brand ourselves as a respectable organization,” Tucker said about their upgrade to a real office.

But they likely won’t be putting in 40-hour weeks at the office. Both will still work in the field and at their homes.

“This place is our public persona,” Ray said.

Both fall into the realm of marketing. His thing is social media, smart phones and the like. Her thing is more the Internet, graphic design and more traditional mediums like letterhead, brochures and business cards.

Julie Ray and Michael Tucker in the Bellovin Karnas Camarena lobby.

They have separate enterprises but certainly plan to team up on projects to make most of the shared office space, shared desires and similar temperaments. Combined, they offer comprehensive marketing and design solutions covering the full spectrum of traditional and digital methods.

“We’re talking about working together on Tucson Meet Yourself,” said Ray, who designs TMY’s website and all promotional materials.

TMY has tripled in size in just the past two years. Tucker and Ray see other ways the festival can evolve.

“We want to take on the entire marketing effort and take it to the next level,” Tucker said. “I’d like to see more opportunities for mobile devices.”

Ray arrived in Tucson from Los Angeles in 2004. Tucker, a South Carolina native, came here in June 2006, finished his four-year stint in the Air Force at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and ended up staying here.

Ray and Tucker met about two years ago but they have different versions of how they met.

“My memory is at Ad Fed (Tucson Advertising Federation),” Tucker said, turning to Ray. “Your memory is a Local First meeting.”

Tucker’s initiative landed them in the Bellovin Karnas Camarena building.

“I was teaching social media classes in coffee houses,” Tucker said. “This could be something big. I wanted to be able to make a living. I wanted an office even before I met Julie.”

Tucker had even looked at the Bellovin Karnas Camarena building a year before they moved in. Ray was not ready at that time.

“I found this place,” he said. “It’s Downtown. Need I say more? And it’s kind of swank, like we both like. I think the big takeaway I would share is if you’re a growing business, get out of the house. Don’t be afraid to partner with somebody.”

You definitely want the right person to share an office with. What did Tucker and Ray see in each other to make ideal office mates?

“Number one, Julie has an incredible attitude. She’s always smiling,” Tucker said. “The second thing is she had a huge desire. Third, she was in action. She was taking steps. Here’s someone who’s just like me.”

Ray knows her approach might not be compatible for all.

“I needed to share space with someone who would appreciate my creative nature,” Ray said. “Michael is very driven and ambitious and I am too. We want to make things happen. We want to be leaders. We want to make a difference in the world and at the same time we’re trying to make a living.”

Ray introduced herself to Downtown by walking around and riding the free TICET shuttle bus that operated at the time. Her first work space was at Dinnerware Artspace in exchange for some graphic design work.

Ray started volunteering for the Tucson Pima Arts Council and in 2009 got involved with Tucson Meet Yourself. She has been the Web master for 2nd Saturdays since the beginning.

She’s also done a series of public art projects, including the Burrito Files, pop-up spaces (exhibitions in vacant store fronts), and collaborated for the “+/- 92: Downtown Master Plans, 1932-2009” exhibition.

“A big role of mine is to champion Downtown,” Ray said.

Tucker lives on the marketing frontier, introducing local businesses to how Facebook, Twitter and other social media can tap them into a vast new customer base.

“There is a failing to plan,” Tucker said. “They are not even considering how social media can really help them grow their business. Social media is the center point of what we do.”

Tucker helps clients build a personal brand with blogs, getting clients involved in social networks, and lining them up with other leaders in their industry.

Tucker also embraces public speaking. A talk he gave at the Microbusiness Advancement Center caught the attention of the Regional Transportation Authority and got him a consulting gig at its MainStreet Business Assistance program to introduce social media marketing to businesses impacted by road construction projects.

He stresses that effective social media marking revolves around planning, consistency and execution, that is, monitoring the results of your Facebook posts and adjusting depending on what works and what doesn’t. Most important is identifying your social media “tribe” – a group of people who share similar interests with you.

“Identify your tribe and get them to communicate with each other” such as through comments on Facebook posts, Tucker said.

This office is the next step for Social Mobile Buzz.

“The biggest thing for me is I have more control going for larger projects,” Tucker said.