November 24, 2010

Just Don’t Ask to Fix the Kitchen Sink!

An Interview with Jonathan Klein and Tal Koren of Ascended Media

Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)
Click on any picture to humongenate

Guys, you’ve noted that your ‘headquarters’ if I can call it that is located in the New York Metro area, which allows you to cover obviously New York City and the Northeast regions. In addition, you indicate that your web services cover the globe! How then are you managing this global presence, even say for example
if you’re dealing with a customer who insists on having you close at hand?
We offer remote support on the IT services portion of our organization for both work-stations and servers. Website design, SEO, graphics and promotions are able to be done remotely as well. Overall, web services never have to be done locally. In cases where the customer insists, we typically use remote audio/visual solutions such as SKYPE or

What is key is that part of the interaction with customers is the ability to diplomatically provide them with education on the solution of which we are providing. Once we are successful in doing so, we typically have their confidence, even if we’re physically quite some distance away.

How are you placed then to service these customers vs. say a more globally ‘recognised’ – in terms at least of ‘divisions’ or addresses – company such as
MetaDesign or others?
We typically cater to the smaller customers, however we can provide global service, being that our webmaster is based in Israel and we are based in the United States.

Sure, since we are currently small, we have lots of room for growth!

How does one of your projects typically start with a customer?
We typically start with an interview of the customer's needs. We want to ensure that the customer knows that we are there for their benefit and that he or she can confide in us. It’s key that they realize that we 'feel their pain'.

How about the incubation and start-up periods of a given project?
After we have had a chance to sit with the customer and the customer has decided to choose us based upon their own criteria (this varies between customers as you might expect), it is a 3-stage process. Typically this involves:
a) We bring forth a proposal to the customer identifying the customer's requirement and/or issue;
b) We outline what we need to do to get ‘there’ (why has the customer hired us to do what needs to be done), and
c) We discuss how we will satisfy the customer's needs/objectives/expectations, providing an ultimate resolution or satisfaction accepted by the customer.

Next, we typically come up with what is referred to, for example, as a ‘website wireframe.’ This allows the customer to ‘see’ what they are getting before the actual work continues. At the point where the customer is actively working with us on the project, such as the website design, we ask the customer for the ‘content’ for the site. Only the customer is the expert of the website that they want for their business. As such, the customer needs to provide us with the information so that we have it to post on the website itself.

With regards to other projects, typically Tal and I, along with other applicable engineers will work together to gain an understanding of customer-related projects. For example, if we’re working with a customer to create a website, we’ll also look into other areas of the needs of this customer that often go hand-in-hand with the initial project.

What kind of other services do you typically identify in these regards?
If IT support is needed, we discuss what is needed and assign these tasks internally, that is, among the Ascended Media organization. If a logo is needed, we get to work on creating a ‘corporately-clean’ logo which would apply and be accepted by the customer. If there is a need for customer Internet marketing, we discuss once again internally what needs to happen to make these solutions work.

It may be that we’ll also look into providing SEO to the website. So we’ll interview the customer [further] in order to support their understanding about how the meaning of implementing SEO is all a matter of where the website is located, focused, and how it will impact the customer's business.

What about follow-up with companies using your services? Certainly, changes can come at any time in the market or only too often within the corporate structure itself. How do you deal with these new scenarios?
We keep the customer posted with a variety of media, including emails, newsletters, and other communication methods. The customer never loses touch in terms of communication with us.

We also make sure and provide the opportunity for question and answer sessions again using SKYPE or other audio/visual software, chat sessions and phone calls. The customer always knows that we keep them in the highest regard for the best possible experience in relation to the price they are [or were] paying.

It is also apparent that you pride yourself on your ability to provide extremely quick responses for many activities. How do you balance these more ‘immediate’ services with the longer term projects?
We do work hard [and of course play hard].

Really, there is a constant ‘triage’ assessment made throughout the work day, work week, work month, and segments of the work year. In a small business, as you might expect, we all have to wear many hats. Typically, each person knows what he or she is supposed to do within the organization in order to exceed customer expectations.

At Ascended Media, there is a trusting knowledge of each member involved in each project. We very much keep an open communication for new know-how or knowledge, as well as for new assessments for the needs of the customer, in order to effectively provide the customer with the best possible service.

One service that particularly caught my eye was SEO or ‘search engine optimization’, which you mentioned earlier a couple of times. Now perhaps without giving GOOGLE even more free advertising, can you give us a brief introduction to how you would approach this often key criteria for businesses?
There are many modes of approaching SEO. Typically, the best and most-talented individuals keep constant track of the GOOGLE algorithm, as well as how the company is leveraged among other businesses in the same field. There are also some other ‘hidden secrets,’ some of which I know, others of which our SEO expert Tal and his resources know, both of which we cannot possibly share! Sorry!

I will share with you this one small ‘secret’: we have found that having a Facebook presence for each business should assist a business's SEO page ranking. Most recently, we also began offering ‘customized’ Facebook pages: these are beneficial for the customer's presence, since the page changes in its appearance significantly from the traditional Facebook page.

On the other hand, it seems that many of your other IT services would be more what I might consider typical ‘in-house’ tasks for a company including maybe intra- or intercompany website maintenance. If I’m a customer, how do you convince me then that your solution is better than keeping the 5 or 6 guys I have locked up in the basement (don’t laugh) working on same?
We have ample resources internally within Ascended Media, without the customer needing to let those 5 or 6 guys out of the basement! Or it may even be that our solution is more economically feasible in the long run for a company and allows them to better use their own internal resources.

We find that the best way to convey this is to provide the customer the education needed in order to better understand how their total resources vs. services rendered is performing. For example, using Ascended Media’s solutions allows the customer to call whenever they need us. Again, does this provide the customer with real resource utilization improvements? Most often the answer is yes!

We will also provide further perks at no additional cost that they could only get under their current plan through outside resources, which of course only adds to their overall resource expenses. This includes the ‘value-added perk’ of email, chat, phone, and other form of communication with a response from us, typically, at no or minimal additional cost.

How does Ascended Media approach trending? For example, if you were working with the Automotive industry, how would your work today be shaped to include the needs for the near or even more distant future?
After our interview with the customer, we basically immerse ourselves and look to be educated by the customer in the industry in which they take part. We make a concerted effort in maintaining a great understanding about the industry of the customer: how we can better improve the technology of the customer along with maintaining continuous communication of any changes in trends.

These trends are often communicated to us by the customer, as well as through market research among the Internet and other form of communication media. Here is a perfect example: we have partnered with
Edge Studio, in New York City. Lately, we have spent a significant amount of time in learning Edge's business, including where their business is headed, about the actual industry in which they as a business take part, and how we – Ascended Media – can simplify and/or streamline their business's technology. We are in constant communication with Edge and have even been offered an attendance possibility at one of Edge's voice-over workshops! That’s great for us because we learn more and more about their business and as such can only serve them even better than before!!

Ascended Media has already established a website as well as both Facebook and Twitter accounts. I also notice that the separate partners had in the past blogs on which they posted some project information. Is there anything missing in your eyes in terms of your own promotion or even corporate branding?
We are now in the midst of making a big push and offering our promotional services (launched mid-November). We are also in the process of bringing on businesses as potential joint ventures and customers as part of this new offering.

In addition, since Ascended Media is a true ‘media’ company, we hope to bring in more service offerings that relate to ‘media.’ As you can imagine, the ‘media’ field is vast; so the sky's the limit of where we can go from here. In fact, as of today, we have implemented a direct promotional area on our website that enables us to promote our customers directly. The links on our page takes a website visitor directly to the partners' websites.

I’ve asked this question before in a number of different situations (certainly receiving a wide range of answers in return), but in your eyes, what does a brand need in the market to be successful?
The brand needs recognition. It sounds obvious but it’s not near that easy to achieve!

How to achieve this recognition depends upon many avenues or approaches that need to be followed. One is to constantly notate the actual name of the brand. Obtaining a level of constant ‘sight’, repetition, and knowledge about the business is key!

As mentioned, we have to make sure that the knowledge, or if you will, the understanding about what the brand is about (e.g. to which part the industry the brand belongs, etc.) is known and clearly communicated! Otherwise, as you can imagine people would call us for fixing their plumbing issues (‘everything including the kitchen sink!’). Well, okay, sure we could send one of our own engineers, but he may not need a laptop to fix the problem! ^_^

What I’m getting at is that the brand needs to achieve a high level of ‘word of mouth’ recognition, also partnering with other businesses wherever possible to improve and increase this aspect! Again, Ascended Media understands that partnering with other businesses achieves credibility, especially among the immediate local community.

Lastly, the brand may need advertising and promotion. Having this option available reaches out to additional potential customers within either the local community or a targeted area. In this way, Ascended Media is perfectly placed to support our customer in all aspects of what it takes to get brand recognition and ultimately success for their business!


Many thanks again to Jonathan and Tal for their time! If you’d like to get in touch with Ascended Media to discuss your needs, you can access their on-line
contact page here, or visit them on Facebook or via Twitter! And please make sure and check back often to their ‘partners’ section on-line, as the list is growing very quickly!!

Here’s a little more of an inside ‘scoop’ about these gentlemen for your perusal:

Tal Koren, who hails from the very lovely Haifa area of Israel, has been the head of numerous global projects in the past decade, with a strong focus on Website Design & Development and Graphic Design. A seasoned yet youthful veteran, Tal’s journey began as a teenager, where he has always had the passion and drive to learn and improve in the graphics, Internet and IT fields.

Today Tal is Ascended Media’s SEO guru, Senior Webmaster and Designer, and Flash Software Developer extraordinare! In addition, Ascended Media is using Tal’s expertise in social networking, noting that as the advent of this phenomena arrived, he immediately immersed himself into developing custom Facebook pages for the community! Tal is also looking forward to driving the overseas presence of Ascended Media in the future and his presence will imminently provide more confidence for future customers of Ascended Media.

In his spare time, Tal enjoys spending quality time with family and friends and making people laugh as he has 'fallen off the tracks,' as they say! ^_^

Jonathan Klein
, from the New York City area, has also been working in the computer field since he was a teenager. Jonathan started programming using IBM's APL language after hearing someone say, ‘you push a button on the keyboard and the computer spits out an answer.’ Well, of course it happened exactly like that, right? °_°

As a result of his exceptional ability and troubleshooting during his programming sessions, Jonathan was able to produce one of the world's first computer games! Still, Jonathan was told back then that computers would be obsolete the following year, and, of course, that happened, right? Undeterred, Jonathan continued working with the computer systems of the day, later diving right into the Apple, PC DOS/Microsoft DOS, UNIX systems. From here, he showed proficiency and excellent performance with Novell and Windows systems, graduating into higher-end Cisco systems networks.

Jonathan considers that his background is very well-rounded because of his ability to be a ‘technology sponge.’ He has the ability of reading code and/or different programming languages and, most importantly, understanding them! He excels at managing and juggling the responsibilities for several projects at the same time, as well as maintaining extensive vendor contacts with many of his channel relationships ranging over 24 original equipment manufacturers (e.g. SONY, HP, BlackBerry, Toshiba, Lenovo, and more).

Jonathan looks forward to working with Tal Koren and other future members of the Ascended Media organization, as Ascended Media reaches for the stars!

Oh the cat at the beginning? Why, that’s LucyLiu, the Office Manager, of course! She’s a pretty good ‘boss’, but watch out if you leave a warm chair for too long as she is very likely to claim it as her own spot!


All pictures, videos and other media are used with written permission of Ascended Media or their related partners or are available in the public domain (noting copyright and other restrictions, accordingly). No further reproduction or duplication is permitted without contacting the appropriate business(es) directly.

Some pictures have been modified slightly or combined only for the purpose of space limitations.

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