The Dialogue with Robert Berlin

This feature is a question-and-answer session with a new Blount County Chamber member. So here we go with our 104th installment visiting with Robert Berlin, a video marketing specialist & photographer with Open Roads Media.
 
Tell me about Open Roads Media? I love using video and professional-quality photography to help small business owners provide customers with the information they need to make good buying choices.
 
So, what do you do? I create video and photo products that attract new customers, convert prospects into leads, close sales more quickly and generate repeat business. These videos and photos are used on websites, digital advertising, social media and on displays in stores.
 
How did you get started? I've been working in corporate America as a digital marketing strategist while doing side projects for the past four years. Recently I decided to make the leap of faith and turn Open Roads Media into a full-time venture.
 
What is your background? I first fell in love with photography while still in high school at Heritage High School and studied photojournalism first at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, then at Texas Tech University before joining the US Army where I served as a photojournalist with the 25th Infantry Division (Light) in Hawaii. Following my military service I continued working as a photojournalist in Alaska, Montana and earned a Master's Degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I returned home to Maryville in 2014.
 
Who is your mentor? My parents were serial entrepreneurs. Watching my father build businesses during the Permian Basin (Texas) Oil Boom of the 80s and my mother and stepfather build their business here in East Tennessee, I learned from them how rewarding small business ownership could be. Let's be honest, though: I also learned how bloody hard it can be, too. Along the way, I've been unbelievably fortunate to encounter dozens of people who shared their passions for life with me and inspired me to follow my own path.
 
Describe your customers. My ideal customers are aware they need high-quality video and photo to compete in the new digital marketplace. They may be unsure how to use video effectively, but they're willing to engage in a discussion to find video solutions to their current sales challenges.
 
What environments impact the business environment you work in? Right now our society is drowning in digital media content and the rate of technological change is staggering. Small business owners are struggling to keep up with all these challenges and, frankly, it's overwhelming. Additionally, it is harder and harder to know what is true and what is not true in the digital world. In this case, small business owners are fighting through the digital noise to communicate with their customers in a way that is genuine and meaningful.
 
Name three things you wish you knew when you started. 1) Stick with what you love and the rest falls into place. 2) Surround yourself with good people and magic happens regularly. 3) Hard times just happen. Get through them and carry on.
 
What do you enjoy about video? I have so many adventures in this job it's impossible to describe them all. One day I'm hiking trails in the National Park. The next I'm on a Dragon Boat Race. The day after that I'm shooting a how-to video for a technological gadget. And I cap the week off flying in an experimental aircraft someone took five years to build themselves. I absolutely love the diversity of my life, but what makes it all meaningful is the connections I get to have with people who are building their dreams. It is a tremendous honor to be included in their journey, and I only hope my talents can help them achieve their dreams.
 
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