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Meet John Maver and Cappy Popp of Thought Labs in Reading

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Maver and Cappy Popp.

Thanks for sharing your story with us John and Cappy. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
We met in a post-graduate class at Boston University 20 years ago and both ended up working as software developers at NuMega Technologies, a debugging software company.

We became best friends, and when Facebook announced that they were going to release their application platform, we saw this as a great opportunity to use our skills in the new world of social media.

We created several successful Facebook applications, once of which had over 4 million users. We used our experience to write a detailed technical book called Essential Facebook Application Development. It was a rewarding, but difficult effort, since Facebook often changed how things worked as we were writing about it.

Then, Facebook started to be positioned to businesses as a platform where they could reach their customers. We built custom applications for brands such as Men’s Health and the New England Journal of Medicine. We also created some of the first Facebook business pages for companies like Kelly Services, Fitness Together, Chaco Shoes, and many branches of US military academies, such as West Point.

We really enjoyed doing this work, connecting businesses with their customers, and transitioned into a full service digital marketing agency. We love being a boutique agency because it means that we get to devote ourselves fully to a few clients that we choose, and really have a real impact on their business.

Over the years, we have worked with a lot of different types of clients, from local companies like Everbridge to large multinationals like HP Enterprise. We have built great long-term relationships with our clients, functioning as part of their team and helping to guide them through the many evolutions of digital marketing.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Part of the fun and challenge of working with technology is that it changes so fast. That means that we have to constantly be watching trends in digital marketing and social media, and how people and companies are using them. That way, we can figure out the latest best practices and how and why they work.

One of the biggest transitions was the decline of organic reach in social media. This meant we had to develop a new understanding of how targeted digital advertising could help companies continue to engage with their existing and potential customers. We invested a lot of time and effort into getting good at this early on, which has really paid off for our clients.

Another critical change was the rise of Inbound Marketing, where the quality of the content that companies were creating really started to matter. We became certified both in the methodology and the marketing platforms so that we could ensure that our clients would be at the forefront of this new world.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Thought Labs – what should we know?
We are very proud of Thought Labs – it is 100% a result of our blood, sweat, and tears. As a boutique digital marketing company, it has allowed us to use our strengths in technical understanding and customer focus to really shine. We each get a chance to work on our passions – Cappy in data analytics and John in creative campaigns.

We specialize in helping businesses connect with their customers through digital marketing. It is a huge universe, and most companies benefit from our experience and guidance on what to focus on and how to get the best results.

We have been very successful in creating vibrant communities with a strong set of brand advocates, and using digital advertising to target and reach their most valuable demographics. We are very proud of the work we did with AVG, building their community from just 300 to over 3.5 million members, and driving tens of thousands of product downloads.

We stand out in the marketplace because of our technical experience – we work hard to understand why things work and then apply that knowledge to each client’s unique situation.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
For the most part, our clients deserve the most credit for our success. They see us as partners and have developed great long-term relationships with us. They recommend us to other business units within their companies and to friends and colleagues at other companies. We have developed real friendships with many of our clients.

Cappy, as the more social one of the two of us, has also built a great personal network of colleagues. These friends also offer advice and referrals, and help us to get additional insights into the industry.

We also received great business guidance from John’s father over the years, who ran a strategic consulting company and helped advise us during some of the biggest transitions.

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