Down to Business: Getting the word out about a business’ or nonprofit’s mission is this media company’s ‘mission’

Business: Paul Gregory Media
Address: 200 E. 5th Ave., Naperville.
Phone/website: 630-686-2600
www.paulgregorymedia.com
Owner: Paul Feith, 53, of Aurora
Years in business: 14 in April

What does your business do? “Digital marketing services is what we do. … We cater to mission-driven organizations, and that can mean for-profit, but 80% of our revenue comes from nonprofit organizations,” Feith said.

“The for-profit, the other 20%, are (also) very mission-driven, whether they are creating or designing products for Third World countries or giving their employees two weeks off a year to do volunteer work. … As long as they are mission-driven, it’s what excites us. It’s what drives us.”

What is mission-driven? “The mission is where you’re serving the underserved population. Low income. Seniors. Disability. Special needs. Minorities. Those things excite us because we know the work that we do matters.”

Why is this important? “In 2015, we filed for a benefits corporation. B-Corp is transparency, community involvement, helping your fellow man. We’ve always been this way. Now, we’re recognized by the state as a benefits corporation. This year, we intend to get certified. That means we are one of 3,000 corporations in the world that are certified and proof that you are transparent, you give benefits to your employees, that you give time off for volunteering, that you really give back to the community.”

How do you prove that? “We do that through time tracking. … 23% of our revenue was in-kind last year and this year we’re tracking at 35.5%. It’s crazy.”

What do you do before? “I did the corporate gig for a while. Always around technology and graphic design. In 2001, the dot com crashed, so I was a stay-at-home dad for five years. Then, I was ready to re-boot my career. I had the entrepreneurial spirit still and I decided on a marketing firm. … After the recession, things got a little easier. Grew staff. There’s 10 of us, four full-time, six regular subs.”

What happens when a company contacts you? “They’re usually specific. They need social media. They need search engine optimization. They need a website or a website refresh. They have an event coming up and they need someone to manage it and promote it.”

How about now with the coronavirus? “With all these events being canceled, some of them are going virtual. So, how do you do that? … We distributed some guidelines. How do you change the meeting just a bit so people remain engaged? … We give them advice on how to conduct an online meeting. … That’s our coronavirus story. … Making sure we’re available for consultation on any technology-related issues or virtual challenges.”

How’s the business doing? “We had our best year last year. … This year, we’re getting recognized for our nonprofit work. We just heard we’re going to be (recognized as) Philanthropic Business of the Year from the West Suburban Philanthropic Network.”

Any challenges? “Technology is always changing. … That’s probably the most challenging part, but also the most exciting.”

What’s the best part of having a business in Naperville? “It’s a richer business community. They have a more engaged chamber of commerce. I joined my second year. … It has been my lifeline. … 60% of my revenue was from the chamber of commerce that first year.”

What’s best about owning a business? “It’s a blessing and curse. I like the freedom and autonomy and flexibility.”

And the curse? “Ultimately, you’re responsible for everything. … Sales. Operations. Then you are responsible for payroll, insurance, HR. … The fact that you don’t have one boss, but every client is your boss. But that hasn’t been a negative for us. They’ve been partners, wonderful to work with.”

What misconceptions do people have? “Branding. It’s one of our core services. Branding is, in essence, all the experience you have with a product or service. … So, that messaging, that essence you can’t see or feel, what is it? What’s the message? All of that has to be defined. The misconception is that’s fluff. … It’s not. It’s needed.”

What advice would you give someone starting a business? “There’s a quote that I love. ‘Don’t do what you love because you might not be good at it. Do what you’re good at.’ … Owning a business is hard. If you’re not afraid of hard work, entrepreneurship is good.”