In The News: Making Worcester restaurants fun
This article originally appeared in the Worcester Business Journal on May 1st, 2017.
When she was 19, Laura DiBenedetto founded Vision Advertising in Worcester. After nearly two decades of purposeful slow growth, the seven-employee company specializes in advertising for hospitality and professional services firms. Her next big adventure is buying her own free-parking building in Worcester to serve as home for her firm and others like it.
Why start a firm at such a young age?
I had a series of jobs that I felt weren’t a really great fit for me. My parents were entrepreneurs and salespeople, as were all four of my grandparents, so it seemed like genetics to want to start my own business.
It turns out I was good at marketing just naturally. I loved marketing and went to school to study more marketing, so I figured I would give it a shot.
Who were your clients initially?
Is your money green? That was my niche then. I was 19. I tried to get business anywhere I could find it.
My very first client was for a motocross retail store, and I built a website for them. I was really proud of the project and developed a relationship with a bunch of people, so things just grew organically.
It wasn’t until about seven years ago that we really started to specialize in hospitality and professional services.
Has the growth of the Worcester restaurant scene helped you?
It is exciting, and it definitely gives us a lot to do. Many of our clients have been here for a long time, so they are having to contend with the new guys. It is an interesting landscape; it is great Worcester is becoming more of a foodie destination.
How do you market a restaurant?
You need to make it fun. Knowing going out to eat is enjoyable, my job is to make it more enjoyable at the forefront of your brain. If you are thinking about wanting to go out, have a great experience, and not be hassled, it is my job to give you that feeling.
Conversely, how do you market a professional services firm?
They are marketed worlds and worlds apart. On the hospitality side, we engage with people and get events and social media going. Business services doesn’t have to do with conversations, at least not until the sales process has begun. Usually, it is more somebody is looking to purchase something like insurance or a car. They are in the market for something, and we need to connect them with our clients.
You use a lot of the same tools; you just use them differently. One is a lot more intellectually based; one is a lot more socially based.
What professional firms do you serve?
Law firms. General contractors. Military contractors. Insurance agencies. Real estate. We have a pretty broad portfolio.
Why buy your own building?
Global domination, obviously.
It is time, really. The company is an 18-year-old baby at this point, and it is time to flee the nest. It needs its own home.
I am looking to buy a building, put my business in it, and invite other businesses that are complementary to ours to share the building with us. I’m excited; it is my first big purchase.
Where are you looking to buy?
I’m looking in the immediate vicinity, which is the Becker/Worcester Polytechnic Institute area. I love the architecture around here. It is so beautiful, and there are a lot of offices, so the area is very receptive to what people want to do commercially.
I would not rule out downtown, but I do want to be able to offer my tenants and their guests free parking. It is a Worcester thing: We don’t like to pay for parking.
I park for free at my office now, and I’m going to park for free in the future. Therefore, I am looking at the areas surrounding the downtown.
Will you add employees as part of the move?
Adding employees is the fun part. We are looking to grow. I like to grow slowly, on purpose, so we can control the quality of everything that goes out there every day, so it is consistent.
As we grow, it is really, really easy to attract top talent to this company because we have some really great benefits. They love their company, and I love them. I wanted to create a company that I would like to work for.