Tigard couples Lunabean enterprise has answers for local companies

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Allison and Jeremy Schubert, and 2-year-old Eleanor relax in their small Tigard office. The couple train local businesses how to use Facebook and Twitter, and help them manage their social media presence.When Allison and Jeremy Schubert got started 15 years ago, all they wanted to do was beat that last level of Jetforce Gemini.

The year was 1999, and the two recent college graduates were stuck on a level of the Nintendo video game.

At the same time, they were learning how to build their own website.

The Tigard couple started Lunabean, a video game website dedicated to getting people through those difficult levels.

“We thought we would practice our web-building by putting up solutions we ran into,” said Jeremy, now 36.

The couple started to experiment with their website, using social media tools of the time, such as chat rooms and message boards.

“We had a webcam where people could see our fishtank,” said his wife Allison.

In time, they added more and more guides for games, and eventually had a fanbase, she said. “Suddenly, you are competing with IGN and Gamespot, and we realized what we were doing was working.”

They soon began helping friends manage their own websites.

“We realized it wasn’t gaming we liked so much, as it was the marketing online and showing people how to do that,” Allision said.

The couple branched out, doing more work with companies, prompting them last month to launch Lunabean Media Online, a library of training videos, eBooks, webinars and marketing materials posted online for clients looking to get the upper hand in the changing face of social media.

“Social media is kind of a dirty word now,” Allison said. “Everyone is a social media expert now.”

Jeremy said he and his wife watched as several small businesses struggled to gain a foothold in the fast moving world of social media, which prompted them to start Lunabean Media Online.

“There are too many ‘social media gurus’ out there who say they will do a business' Facebook or Twitter posts for them, but they don’t have the same passion for what you are doing as you do,” Allison said. “What needs to happen is that they need to have someone from within the business who can do it — someone who gets it.”

The couple trains businesses on how to use tools like Facebook and Twitter, which are quickly becoming necessary for small businesses, the Schuberts said.

“It’s a new world,” Allison added. “Most businesses need to be on social media. Consumers just demand it. And if you are not, then your competition is, and you are that much farther behind.”

Along with the training, the online library offers reminders for businesses and helps them understand new products or changes in social media.

“The idea of a ‘retweet’ is confusing to people, so we made a video explaining that,” Allison said. “It gives them tools to reference and build confidence.”

Understanding sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Pintrest are important, Jeremy said.

“We used to write ‘how to’ guides on how to navigate a ‘Zelda’ game, and now we write ‘how to’ guides for how to navigate the world of social media,” he noted.

The Schuberts said beyond anything else, customers today are looking for a relationship with their local businesses.

“It’s not just about a transaction anymore,” Jeremy said. “It’s the way you talk to them online that is important.”

In the same way Facebook and Twitter have allowed people to stay connected, consumers are expecting similar results from local businesses. “The Internet brought us together, and people are expecting that now with brands as well,” Allison said.

“People say they don’t want to be marketed to. But what they mean is that they don’t want to be talked down to,” Jeremy added.

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