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Tarrytown's MSM DesignZ's Mario Mirabella On Starting And Expanding A Business

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For small businesses, every new customer or client is considered a big win. Landing 10 new accounts in a single year may seem like a dream—but local advertising and design agency MSM DesignZ did just that this year. And, it doesn’t even have a sales team. How did the company pull it off? By sticking with a smart growth strategy, according to the Tarrytown firm’s CEO and Executive Creative Director, Mario Mirabella.

When he started the firm as a freelancer in 1999, Mirabella had no formal training in advertising and design. It was a passion and hobby of his, and Mirabella used his business background (various positions that exposed him to scheduling, payroll, hiring, inventory, operations/purchasing, software testing, product development, and branding) to help in launching his entrepreneurial venture. “All of my past positions and experiences gave me a strong foundation to start my own business,” he says. “I am a natural leader and always achieved supervisor roles in previous positions. Plus, design and advertising came naturally to me.”


Group shot with White Plains Business Improvement District.
 

What has also come naturally to him is the knack for bringing on new business. MSM DesignZ—which provides web design and development, graphic and print design, social management and branding and search engine optimization services—has worked with local companies like the White Plains BID, Mount Vernon‘s MacQuesten Development, and Pelham‘s Kinetic Sports Club as well as large organizations like Kellogg’s, the New York Rangers, and Sheraton Hotels. Over the last few months, the company added 10 new accounts in the social, search engine optimization, design and web divisions, including Mrs. Bloom’s Mobile, Posh Pretzels, and Sofrito White Plains, among others. The work MSM DesignZ will perform for these new clients ranges from creating and redesigning websites to developing e-commerce capabilities, managing social media, and developing print and advertising campaigns. 

The company also recently opened a second location and has been beefing up its staff with new hires.


MSM with the First Bank of Greenwich, for whom they won an international creative award.
 

So what’s Mirabella’s strategy? “I am a bit unconventional,” he admits. “I do not set monthly goals. I rely on building a solid reputation and taking advantage of opportunities that come my way. Networking and word of mouth is key.

“I’m always very natural, and I try to be honest when landing new clients,” he adds. “I never try to sell them anything they wouldn’t need. I really do believe that once a person trusts you and know that you are sincere, the rest is easy.”

Mirabella advises staying away from these top-three mistakes when seeking out new business:

1. Not listening to the client. “Some salespeople have their own agenda. This will only create an unhappy client if you do get the deal,” he explains.

2. Being too aggressive. “If [the companies you are pitching to] are serious and understand the importance [of the work you are doing for them], then there should be no need to chase them,” Mirabella says. “I would never call a prospect several times a week. You will build an annoying reputation more than anything. Let the client take in all of your information and even allow them to shop around. I am always confident to be measured up against my competition.

3. Being their best friend until the contract is signed, and then disappearing. “That is no way to build trust and a long-term relationship,” he cautions.

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