As our business has shifted at NCI over the past year and a half, a by-product of the dramatic decline in the resale home market, we’ve spent a significant amount of time thinking about what is unique and different about our company.

DigitalSherpa.jpgThe immediate answer is the commitment that our people make to our customers and to their own local businesses. This commitment is so deep and strong in our culture that even as we’ve had to cut back resources across the board in our organization, we’ve been able to maintain our product and our service quality.

Our business is incredibly diverse and highly local. We have more than a thousand people interacting with more than 25,000 customers every month, providing print and internet marketing solutions.

We produce media, clearly. But as we examined what was truly different about our company, we realized that we have been able to establish skills, systems and processes to create, manage and distribute all kinds of different content for our customers.

This is different than a traditional media paradigm. We’ve focused on using technology to make the repetitive parts of our processes less expensive, allowing us to maintain a high human touch in those parts that need expertise and judgment.

As we looked at the opportunities for growth in the future, we realized that our ability to leverage these skills to the advantage of our customers had potentially even greater value with the explosion of the social web.

sherpa_logo FINAL.jpgThis week, we are launching our first commercial service providing customers with customized and individual content creation, management and distribution service.

We are calling it CommunitySherpa. It is a turn-key social media marketing service for the multi-family industry. The service, which is provided at a fixed monthly cost, provides for web development, content creation, content management and distribution, and social network maintenance. You can learn more about it at the CommunitySherpa web site.

CommunitySherpa is the first of a series of internet marketing services, focused on content creation and management, that we intend to launch through our DigitalSherpa Operations division.

We’re looking forward to providing this suite of services to the marketplaces we serve. We believe it plays to the remarkable strengths of our business. And, we believe that these services will be able to deliver a new kind of Internet marketing to our customers, who will benefit in their Google PageRank from fresh and relevant content; in their connections with their current customers in the development of their social network; and in the expansion of their pool of prospects in the broad array of connections that their own network brings to bear.

At the very least, we’ll be worth watching while we head down this path.

A special thank you to everyone at NCI who has worked so hard and so fervently to create the operating and technical infrastructure to support this initiative. The skills that we’ve learned will benefit us in many ways for a very long time.

And for loyal readers of this blog, you can say you read it here first.  We’ll be issuing a formal announcement and debuting the service on the floor of the National Apartment Association Conference in Las Vegas later this week.