BASKING RIDGE, NJ-TAP into Basking Ridge sat down with Val Waterman, a Principal of Answers Design Group to learn a bit more about her and her local business. Answers Design Group is a marketing communications company that specializes in Web Design/Development, Internet Marketing (SEO/SEM/Social Media), Branding/Print collateral, Multimedia, and Sales Presentations. 

TAP into B.R.: How did you get your start in your business?
VAL: Well, I certainly never planned to be an entrepreneur. My husband, Rob (one of the three co-principals of Answers Design Group) came from “entrepreneurial stock.” I backed into having my own business like the proverbial “frog in the pot”. It kept getting hotter and hotter but I never jumped out, and before I knew it, I was in my own business. 

TAP into B.R.: Tell me about yourself
VAL: All my life, I have been an artist and a musician. I studied textile design in college. One of my jobs as a textile designer was for a large company in the garment center. Luckily, I was set on the right path in my late twenties by a wise “boss” who noticed that I was more interested in talking with people than sitting quietly at a drafting table. She suggested that I concentrate on sales, and she made some phone calls to get me into a sales training program in another textile company.
After working in the garment center, I moved on to becoming an account executive in the home furnishing industry selling fabric, furniture and carpeting to architects and interior designers. I did this for seven years. It combined my love of beautiful things and working with really talented people.

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TAP into B.R.: What separates you and your company from the competition?
VAL: We really take the time to thoroughly know our clients and their businesses. It’s the best way to present their unique selling proposition to their prospects. 
Our group has diverse talents and skills, resourceful and dedicated to learning new things. For example we have segued into creating videos for our website/internet marketing initiatives. We anticipate creating alot more videos in the years to come. Video is “hot” these days. It’s engaging and an opportunity to capture the essence of a company and showcase what makes it extraordinary. It’s also one of the best ways to convey a company’s marketing messaging since most people don’t take the time to read anymore. It’s perfect for internet/social media marketing. A primary reason to include videos is that they are getting to be a critical part of a website’s recognition and status by the search engines (SEO). Since Google owns YouTube it gives preferential treatment to it’s own content on the web.
For instance, we have a client, Dr. John Miller, who is a Brain Surgeon in Brooklyn (New York). Dr. Miller is very special and incredibly humble. He not interested in being a swanky doctor on Park Avenue - he wants to be in the center of Brooklyn working with a culturally diverse group of people. John is a perfect client for us because he is passionate about what he does and has found his true “purpose” in life. It doesn’t get much scarier for a patient than brain surgery, and now anyone who comes to his site can be assured that they will have someone who truly cares about them. 
We also just completed a website for Edgewood Pharmacy & Boutique in Warren, NJ. This three generation business is a cherished and established part of the Warrenville community. The website highlights how everyone at Edgewood Pharmacy & Boutique goes out of their way to serve their customers. Luckily, we were able to incorporate a video that Judy Weiniger, a local realtor created and she graciously allowed us to use it on their site. It adds so much to the whole user experience of the website and highlights what makes Edgewood Pharmacy & Boutique truly special.  

TAP into B.R.- What is your process?
VAL:  We have found that collaboration with our clients is essential. We make them an integral part of the journey right from the start. Since our process is almost always the same, we apply it successfully to any type of business.
We start with the “Discovery Process.” We sit down with the client and ask a lot of strategic questions about their business including who their best clients are. We want to know specifically who their competition is and what makes them superior to their competition. In most cases we take a look at their marketing strategy. We often joke with our clients and tell them that we will know their business so well enough that we can come and work in their company after we finish their project! 
Next, we form an Overall Strategy, the 30,000 foot view that includes all of the components needed to get the job done. Then we present the options to our clients including sketches, etc. then get approval to move ahead. 
Next is the Fulfillment Stage, i.e. the building and launch of a website.
Finally, we review the results with the client and plan for the next steps.
TAP into B.R - What trends do you see coming?
VAL: Video in internet marketing is huge and is going to continue to grow in importance in the marketing world. Although we will always be creating websites, our focus going forward is on video and internet marketing (SEO/Social Media Marketing/Email Marketing). Clients are more savvy these days about the internet in general. Online marketing is going to get much more competitive and complex. Clients expect us to stay on top of the latest technology and offer them effective solutions.

TAP into B.R. - What is one thing you would do with your business if you knew you could not fail?
VAL: There is an old expression that you are only as good as the people your surround yourself with.  We would dramatically increase the amount of talented designers, programmers and internet marketing experts that we rely on so that we can expand. This would allow me to concentrate on my favorite part of the day, which is getting to know people, a.k.a. “new business development and customer care.” 

TAP into B.R. - What have you found is the most effective way of marketing?
VAL: We always tell people that great marketing is never just one aspect that gets the job done. It’s an ever changing smorgasbord of many of things – website, video, SEO, social media marketing, email marketing, etc. Every situation is different. We believe that a website’s potential is achieved when it is used as an educational tool AND a selling vehicle. 
Also, we can implement call tracking and other ways of helping clients improve the opportunities that come from their site, but at the end of the day it’s what they do with their site’s leads that matters. Training staff how to respond appropriately is often a crucial part of the equation.

TAP into B.R.- One sentence that you would want people to use to describe the way you do business?
VAL: We are approachable, we listen, we learn about your business and we seek to give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace.  

For more go to  Contact Val Waterman at or 732- 564-1131