Entrepreneurs often feel they have to do it all themselves and can’t invest in certain activities until the business picks up. An area that tends to suffer is marketing and sales.
This interview shares real experiences that prove how professional support for your branding really boosts business confidence and sales exposure.
We talk to Vistaprint’s North America Marketing Director, Erin Shea, and the owners of the first 3 micro-businesses they selected for a special collaboration called Micro Main Street.
Raise your hand if you’ve never used Vistaprint to help with your business identity!
The company has provided billions of business cards around the World, but did you know their global success has grown to be much more than business cards?
They recently launched Micro Main Street to celebrate small businesses serving the needs of individual communities, by giving them their very own main street, and connect directly with customers.
This initiative kicked off with the LGBTQ community, and we talk to the 3 business-owners who said YES! to this unique opportunity to work with design experts and create consistent, professional and up-to-date marketing tools.
- Linda Hill of Bella Books, Tallahassee, Florida. The company publishes stories that capture the complexity and honor the struggles, hopes and dreams of women who love women.
- Meagan Barfield and Megan Hines of HelloPride, Saint Peters, Missouri. Makers of playful baby onesies that give all families the opportunity to be represented and celebrate their love.
- Carla Lyles of Carla Sue Greeting Cards & Gifts, Houston, Texas. Makers of hand-crafted, witty, and beautiful greeting cards with messages of empowerment, positive representation and self-care.
Q&As with Erin Shea of Vistaprint
Thank you for sharing these collaboration stories with us, could you tell us how Micro Main Street came about?
Our goal is to demonstrate how powerful a brand’s professional look and feel can be, and the confidence a micro-business owner gains when their marketing materials are cohesive. Through Micro Main Street, we’re able to share amazing success stories and the benefits of connecting with your core customer base, with new, professional-looking marketing assets.
How were the first 3 businesses selected to feature in this exciting re- branding initiative?
The project started with the LGBTQ community and the pop-up storefront events in St. Louis in mind. They are a celebration of inspirational micro-businesses who represent the diverse makeup of today’s Main Street. We felt that Bella Books, HelloPride and Carla Sue Greeting Cards & Gifts were wonderful examples of this diverse makeup.
Each business is from a different part of the country and in different stages of their development. From side hustle to established small business, these amazing owners are connected by a passion for supporting the community, and a deep love for creativity and entrepreneurship.
They were selected from a nationwide search and we worked with them to develop new marketing materials that better reflect their unique products and services.
Collaborations like these are fantastic for flourishing new ideas and business growth. How did you react when you heard about taking part in Micro Main Street?
- Bella Books: When Vistaprint reached out with this opportunity, I immediately thought it was a very cool idea. I was excited about upgrading Bella Books brand in such a fun and creative way.
- HelloPride: Vistaprint contacted us through our store. They explained their vision and asked if we were interested. We didn’t think it was real! We love how they help showcase small businesses in their specific community.
- Carla Sue Greeting Cards & Gifts: I received an email from Vistaprint asking if I would be interested in taking part in a pop-up storefront. “DUH! OF COURSE!”. We discussed my business and brand, and about their plans. I was very impressed and I couldn’t believe I had been chosen.
What impact has revamping your brand had on your business?
- Bella Books: It is a little too soon to see the full extent of the impact. We’re still rolling out new branding across all marketing materials. But we’ve already had great feedback on new pieces created, so we can’t wait for our customers to see the rest!
- HelloPride: The biggest impact has been on our confidence. We felt so proud handing out our flyers and stickers at PrideFest in, St Louis. We completely transformed our brand and created a cohesive look across different materials: logo, flyers, thank you cards, stickers, banners and t-shirts. It now looks and feels like a real company with a strong and impactful product.
- Carla Sue Greeting Cards & Gifts: I feel more confident when presenting my product to customers and potential new stores. The brand refresh along with the unified marketing materials has taken the business to the next level – allowing me to walk into any meeting knowing that I’m putting my best foot forward.
How important was it to get professional support to get the branding right?
- Bella Books: It gave us great confidence! As small business-owners we wear many different hats. We can dabble at trying to create logos or promotional materials, but having a team of professionals producing such comprehensive and cohesive work makes all the difference.
- HelloPride: A quality brand elevates the business and builds trust and recognition with clients. Working with professional designers was incredible. Their expertise turned our vision into reality. The new logo looks sleek while still screaming happiness and rainbows. You wouldn’t think the business is run out of our home. To a side hustle trying to make the leap to full-time, that speaks volumes.
- Carla Sue Greeting Cards & Gifts: Getting professional support was so important! I’m still very new to graphic design and this was an amazing opportunity to really help shape my vision.
Any tips for our readers on how to maintain authenticity and build a brand to match it and fit company’s products and mission?
- Bella Books: Think outside the box and don’t be too literal. A company publishing books doesn’t have to have a book in the logo, for example. It can still speak to the essence of your brand and what you have to offer your customers.
- HelloPride: Trust your voice and vision. I now recommend working with professional designers, to convey the message you want and never losing sight of what makes your business unique. Imagine yourself as a client. What would stand out? For us, it’s hand-making each baby onesie and hand-wrapping it with rainbow packaging. Clients may know what they’re buying online, but you could add a memorable unpacking experience, for example.
- Carla Sue Greeting Cards & Gifts: Be patient because it does take time. The more honest and authentic you are with yourself, the more it will spill into your brand. Care for yourself internally and watch your brand flourish externally.
What would you say is the biggest marketing faux-pas businesses tend to fall for?
- Bella Books: Probably oversaturation or pushing too hard. Finding the sweet spot in terms of number of emails sent out, for example, can make all the difference between keeping a loyal customer base and annoying them.
- HelloPride: Neglecting existing clients. It’s easier to attract a returning customer than it is to get a new person’s interest and purchase. Remind your clients of their great experience with your brand. Having a blog or email newsletter is something that we want to implement for our clients soon.
- Carla Sue Greeting Cards & Gifts: Hopping on social media trends not aligned with your brand. Social media is real-time marketing. I was once inspired by everyone using daily quotes to incorporate the same approach for our brand advertisement, but by the time the ad was ready, the quote was outdated.
Collaborating with professional branding services, really boosted the business owners’ confidence, with a knock on effect on their business growth. They have experienced an immediate increase in interest from customers and in two cases the products have made it into new stores, within just a month!
Thank you all for sharing your experiences with Bossbabe readers.
To connect with each of the inspiring businesses featured here: