Marketing expert wants to showcase WV in best light - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Marketing expert wants to showcase WV in best light

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Photo courtesy of Justin Seibert Photo courtesy of Justin Seibert
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When Justin Seibert left West Virginia to attend college in Nashville, he didn’t necessarily have intentions of returning.

When his sister moved to California, he had just graduated, so he followed and moved west to try a career in comedy.

California may not have brought him any comedic relief, but it provided Seibert with his wife, Kristin, two children and a reason to move back to Wheeling to start a marketing company.

“We looked all over the country — Denver, Raleigh, Nashville,” Seibert said of his family’s decision to settle somewhere. “I said, ‘we’ll give it three years,’ and if she wasn’t happy we’d leave.”

After trading in the west coast for the West Virginia hills in 2006, the couple fell in love with the idea of providing jobs and making a home where Seibert’s family already lived.

Seibert started a business, Direct Online Marketing, and became heavily involved in the community.

“We need to take advantage of the gas boom,” Seibert said. “If I could reach out, the two working groups we want to go after would be telecommuters and families.”

Seibert said he would also like to bring telecommuters with families to the area.

“If you get a critical mass of talented people in one area, good things are going to happen,” he said.

Seibert explained how he’s seen some people with a connection to the Mountain State that is unexplainable; they aren’t from here but they see the opportunities.

“The person more bullish in Wheeling than anyone I’ve ever known is not from here; he came here and said this was the best place he could live,” Seibert said.

Business influence

Seibert uses his skillset to build programs for companies all over the globe.

Seibert achieved a global ranking, being selected a Top 25 Pay Per Click Most Influential Expert by Hanapin July 22 for the third year in a row.

Seibert’s company is West Virginia’s oldest and largest Internet marketing agency that offers search engine strategies, social media marketing, display advertising and online reputation management to clients around the world.

Other certifications and awards include being selected as a Google Partner, Bing Ads Accredited Professional, a West Virginia Executive Magazine Young Gun and The State Journal’s Generation Next: 40 Under 40. He speaks at conferences throughout the Americas and has been featured in publications like Advertising Age, Search Engine Strategies magazine and Successful Dealer.

Seibert serves on a number of boards and committees, including the Oglebay Institute, the West Virginia Early Childhood Planning Task Force and the West Virginia Northern Community College Foundation. He also was approved by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to serve on the West Virginia District Export Council.

Making the state appealing

Seibert said when it comes to his children, he has thought of the decisions they might ultimately be left with about their futures once they are older. He said if his children make the same decision he did to leave West Virginia to better themselves, he would be more than willing to accept it.

“Selfishly, I want them back here,” he added. “Wheeling is a tremendous place. Look at the amount of non-profits; we have a good symphony, tremendous park system.”

One of the things Seibert is glad to contribute to the area is providing jobs via his company.

“The common trend is so many people would like to return if there were more jobs,” he said.

Changing perceptions

Seibert said he often gets angry when he hears people ask others why someone would move to West Virginia.

“It kills the perception, and I don’t know how to change that,” he said.

After a get-away trip to Providence, Rhode Island, Seibert said he found other states have the same ideas. He said maybe there isn’t anything extremely special about Rhode Island, but if there’s a mentality that a state is great — maybe it could be.

“We have such a great state, we have so many things going for it,” he said. “(You’re) not stuck in traffic, not that there aren’t great things in those other places, but I have no plans of leaving and I’m excited to be here.”

Seibert said he often hears people questioning if Wheeling is the right size — should it be bigger? Smaller?

“I think you can grow a lot and not lose that touch, lose what makes us West Virginia,” he said.

Seibert is among the many others who have experienced, once beyond the Mountain State’s borders, people in other parts of the country don’t even realize Roanoke and Richmond are not part of West Virginia.

“Outside of this immediate region, the truth is, nobody knows anything about us,” he said. “We have a true opportunity to get the word out, tell the world what West Virginia is and make that anything we want.”