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Winter Park Marketing Firm Celebrates Longevity with Expansion

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Being longstanding should not mean you’re standing still. As Winter Park-based entrepreneur Matt Certo approaches his 30th year as a local business leader, his company, Findsome & Winmore, parent company of the32789, is introducing a new venture focused on addressing the marketing challenges of colleges and universities.

Certo launched his first business in 1995 while attending Rollins College. He constructed websites as the sole employee of his web development company, WebSolvers. His first client was Rollins College, but word-of-mouth led to more business and the addition of a staff.

The WebSolvers contact list would grow to include ad agencies looking to increase their clients’ web presence; however, what started as a boon for the business would later threaten sustainability as agencies began to offer their own web development solutions. The added competition to an already crowded field inspired Certo and his stakeholders to develop additional services for existing customers while staging a full rebranding effort to attract new clients. WebSolvers made its formal debut as a marketing agency in 2015 as Findsome & Winmore. The name change references its mission to help clients find and win more customers by raising their profile.

The pivot not only proved successful, it also showed Certo that it was possible to diversify without skimping on quality and customer service. In 2020, after Winter Park lost its only city newspaper, the Winter Park Observer, Certo decided to fill the gap by enlisting company resources to launch a hyperlocal news source. “Candidly speaking, I felt our community needed it,” he said of the32789. “I felt there was a void that needed to be filled, certainly during COVID when we started.” Now in its fifth year of covering news, events, and businesses throughout Winter Park, the32789 produces its weekly newsletter for a growing list of subscribers while reaching a wider audience through social media posts. “Its impact on our agency has been positive in the sense that it has brought us much closer to the community,” Certo said.

Findsome & Winmore currently serves a diverse client base that includes Arnold Palmer Invitational, Exploria Resorts, Eagle Roofing Products, and Orlando Health. Success has inspired Certo and his team to launch a new endeavor that brings their company full circle by focusing on the needs of the higher education sector. Institutional Knowledge helps colleges and universities grow their brands to gain the attention of prospective students, attract new faculty members, engage alumni, and reach key donors. The higher education marketing agency will also assist with website development, campus films, and social media strategy.

Here, Certo recalls the early years, elaborates on the latest expansion, and touches on the next step.

Matt Certo, CEO and Principal of Findsome & Winmore

What made you want to start a marketing firm? I was really drawn to the power of the Internet when I was a freshman at Rollins and saw the wave coming. While online marketing was not as prevalent at the time, it was apparent to me that it was going to be the future.

What are the difficulties in marketing your own burgeoning marketing firm? As an agency owner, you’re always looking for clients that are the right fit in terms of culture, values, and personality. It takes time and energy to find the clients that we think we can best serve and truly help.

What is the most important component of a successful marketing campaign? I’m not sure there’s one silver bullet. It starts with a brand that knows who it is and who it’s trying to serve with some degree of specificity. Beyond that, it’s a blend of creativity, emotion, empathy, and generosity in order to create lasting customer connections and brand relationships.

What is the most impactful change you have noticed in your industry since you began? Over the last 30 years, mobile phones and social media have changed everything, and they present both problems and opportunities. We’re a society that pays a great deal of attention to our cell phones and marketers need to have a deep understanding of that dynamic in order to offer solutions that stand out.

What did owning/managing the business teach you about yourself? Any business owner or leader that does something for any length of time will encounter both ups and downs. This endeavor has shown me that I can be patient, resilient, and persistent but that can’t happen without a very strong and dedicated team of which I am fortunate to be a part.

Why are you choosing to add another component to F&W with Institutional Knowledge? Our roots are in higher education given our start in a Rollins College dorm room, building a website for an institution seeking to tell its story in a new medium. Over that time, we’ve had the chance to work with a number of colleges and universities, and to develop some industry-specific views and tactics that are unique in their focus. One of those, a tool we call Binocular, is a data-driven comparative engine that uses artificial intelligence to help institutions understand what their strengths are, and where those strengths can raise their level of competitiveness. It’s something that schools must approach thoughtfully, and we’d like to bring those tools to institutions around the country.

Are the basics of branding different for the higher education sector than other industries? In some respects, no. You still have the basics of connecting customers with the offerings of a brand in a way that is resource efficient. That said, the needs of higher education brands are unique, especially in an era where high school graduates and their parents are questioning the value of college itself. Like any industry, the dimensions of these circumstances are both unique and complex.

What do you envision for the future of Findsome & Winmore? We will continue to grow and evolve to meet the changing landscape and needs of our clients. As much as things will inevitably change, success will require us to hold true to our values, our culture, and our mission of helping clients find and win new customers.

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