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Posted on 02.22.2011

Three Successful Start-Ups With Marketing Strategies That Will Make You Smile

Starting and running a small business is exciting, challenging and rewarding.  It can also be daunting, stressful and exhausting. As the founder of a 23-year-old marketing and PR firm, I recently moderated a panel of three rock star women entrepreneurs and got a dose of inspiration.  The audience at the business breakfast, hosted by The Bank of Nashville at an innovative office suite designed for start up or fledging businesses, loved these women’s unique and ambitious stories about how they started and marketed their successful businesses. First, Beth Chase, a serial entrepreneur, explained how she ventured out of a lucrative job that required constant travel and enriched her pocketbook, but not her quality of life.  She figured out there was plenty of local need for a consulting firm that can help grow businesses through technology…without a full-time technology department on staff.   She funded C3 Consulting personally and quickly brought on several partners, who further fueled the cash flow of the operation.  Beth used her Vanderbilt University and local business contacts to generate word-of-mouth buzz and hundreds of contracts for her multi-million dollar/45+ employees company. Next, Sherry Deutshmann, founder of Letter Logic, discussed how she left a mail and fulfillment business because there wasn’t enough attention paid to the employees.  Her company delivers three million pieces of mail a month and is on track to hit her target of $100 million in annual revenue by 2018.  How has she marketed and grown this enterprise?  By building a culture that focuses on employees first.  In fact, Sherry tells all potential customers, “If you become a client, you must know that you will NOT be first priority to me.” I’m certain they are more than little surprised at that.  “When I explain that I put the team members first — and that respected, appreciated and well-paid employees are happier and more dedicated to the customers’ needs — they get it. They totally get it.”  Sherry pays 100 percent of employee insurance, shares profits and allows children and pets to come to work! Finally, Gina Butler was born an entrepreneur.  She had several micro-businesses as a child and at age 15 bought some mops and brooms and walked a mile to clean houses.  She grew that business and sold it when she got a call from her brother who had stood in line in New York City for more than an hour to get a cupcake.  “These aren’t as good as the ones you and Mom make,” he said, and her idea was born.  She went to three banks, all of which laughed out loud when she told them she wanted to start a cupcake store.  Eventually she got funded and three short years later Gigi’s Cupcakes has 35 franchisees.  Her marketing strategy?  “Well, after I got the money to open the store, I had $33.00 to my name,” she said.  “I couldn’t advertise to let people know I was open, so I stood outside with a sign.”  She says her best marketing strategy is to hire happy people.  “It’s a happy thing to buy a cupcake, and I want people to have a delicious baked good as well as an upbeat, friendly experience.” I started Lovell Communications 23 years ago and it’s been one of the great loves of my life.  I wonder what makes a person have the mindset of an entrepreneur?  Surely, a good idea.  Most definitely, ambition and energy.  What else?  What’s in the DNA of an entrepreneur?

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