uHAPS Media Founder, Stepfan Jefferies, Leaves to Start Tech-Savvy Reconomy
Smart marketers know that in today’s world of social media, you’ve got to reach customers through the ways they like to communicate if you want to prompt them to buy your product or service.
Stepfan Jefferies is pretty good at that. Good enough that in 2007 he founded and served as chief marketing officer of uHAPS Media, a Lexington company providing digital, mobile/text, social media and consumer analytics services to more than 200 beer and beverage wholesalers across the United States. The adult-beverage industry needed help connecting with people, including many young adults, to boost sales.
“All of the sudden, local, regional and national brands realized they weren’t reaching 20- to 35-year-olds using traditional media,” said Jefferies, who has a degree in journalism and telecommunications from the University of Kentucky.
He provided an example of client problem-solving. Anheuser-Busch and its wholesalers were major clients that had traditionally done radio, outdoor and print advertising.
“With the emergence of iPods and MP3 players, radio became a difficult marketing channel with which to target younger age groups,” explained Jefferies. “Newspapers? That’s yesterday’s news. Other than with the Kentucky Kernel [University of Kentucky student newspaper], they didn’t reach anybody through newspapers.”
uHAPS Media tried to get beer brands in front of 21- to 35-year-olds.
“The strategy was centered on social media, digital and mobile,” said Jefferies.
But Jefferies met a speed bump. He parted ways with uHAPS Media in early March.
“What happened is that I wanted the company to go more toward technology and consumer analytics. My partners wanted to focus on content and social media, which is fine. That was something we did for a long time,” said Jefferies. “But I wanted to identify what’s coming around the corner that can help a brand get engaged with consumers on a local level.”
So Jefferies formed a new company last month called Reconomy. He’ll continue doing the same work for the beverage industry, focusing on multi-screen consumer-behavior analytics and the digital and mobile/text strategies of brands and retailers.
In addition to his work with uHAPS Media, Jefferies is known for his local record label, Hello Records, from the late ’90s, which put out about 35 albums of various bands, covering songs from artists such as the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Later, Jefferies helped start TOPS in Lex with Keith Yarber, founder and publisher of TOP Marketing Group. His latest venture will look to capitalize on the quickly evolving opportunities and technologies for both tracking and attracting the next generation of social-media users.
Consumer-behavior analytics is a highly specialized service involving market studies and custom predictive analysis tailored to a client’s specific needs. That means Reconomy will try to understand its client’s customers, their lifestyles, consumer behaviors and retail preferences.
Jefferies believes he can do it.
One way Reconomy would operate is through technology that anonymously “pings” a smartphone in a retail environment and provides data about where people go in a store and whether they’re attracted to particular point-of-sale displays. Reconomy would advise the client whether that display causes the consumer behavior the client had predicted.
For example, SmartPing allows retailers to drive in-store traffic by sending controlled, measurable, relevant communication (daily deals, multiple offers per day/month) directly to consumers’ smartphones whenever they’re within close proximity of a chosen store.
“Traditionally, advertisers threw a message to as many people as possible and by default hoped a percentage were actually qualified consumers of whatever they were marketing,” Jefferies said. “Now, you need surgical marketing and to invest dollars to reach the exact consumer you want by advertising directly to people you already know are interested in what you’re selling and will likely buy it.”
Social media has dramatically changed the marketplace in the last half decade.
Reconomy would market to people as they shop based on what it already knows people are interested in, as opposed to the more traditional shotgun approach.
“When I was media manager for the Northwest, Stepfan helped bridge the physical and social worlds in relationships between beer accounts [bars and restaurants] and beer wholesalers,” said Mark Gallo of Anheuser-Busch.
When he was still with uHAPS Media, Jefferies built a team of ambassadors for Anheuser-Busch brands that went to marquee events, whether sports or entertainment, to highlight consumers using the products and having good times with friends. Photos were taken. Consumers were given a card with a website address on it where they could retrieve a free photo of themselves.
“Stepfan was really good at the evolution of social media; being ahead of the curve, using different strategies,” said Gallo.
Ed Voorde, sales manager for United Beverage Co. in South Bend, Ind., also used Jefferies and uHAPS.
“We needed a sampling and promotion team. He recruited young adults to work as independent contractors, doing samplings with the public in liquor stores and bars,” he said.
Both Gallo and Voorde hope to use the services of Reconomy when Jefferies ramps the company up.
“Social marketing is the key for us,” Voorde said. “It grows by leaps and bounds each year. It’s just crazy.”