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The Value Of A Solid Brand Strategy: An Interview with Marilyn Trent

In this interview we talk with Marilyn Trent, her business which has the goal of integrating the creative and marketing process with clients interactions.

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6 minutes

    By Tiffany

    Tiffany studied Language and Economics, and now likes to write about business topics and conduct interviews with interesting people. She spends her free time looking after her plants and with her dog.

    With the goal of integrating the creative and marketing process with clients interactions, Marilyn Trent set up her own business, Trent Creative, in 1992. Although COVID-19 has been a challenge, the agency is adapting to the ‘new normal’ and continues to be successful. Today, Mailbutler has the chance to learn more about her and to ask her for some useful tips that all companies can follow!

    Hi Marilyn, nice to meet you! It is a pleasure to have the chance to learn more about you. How did your journey as an entrepreneur and business owner start?

    I have a Fine Arts degree but I started as a freelance designer in 1992 because my first job was in an ad agency. My mission was to get the creative process more integrated with the marketing and client interactions. In typical ad agencies, back then, it was extremely segmented.

    What do you mean by that? Why was it very segmented?

    The account executive would work with the client, then would work with the marketing department and then the job would be given to the creative department. I felt that if it was more collaborative, you would get a better product that would better resonate with the client’s target audience. The message would be more compelling.

    Creativity is problem solving. People are solving problems every day in their jobs. Creativity is critical thinking and designers do more than design, they are solving visual communication problems and if they get a weak concept, they will produce a weak product. It’s a bit deep but that was my reasoning.

    You are absolutely right! Then, why did you decide to set up Trent Creative? And what are the main services your company offers?

    I started Trent Creative so I would work directly with the client. What I found out was that I was a good account executive so my company grew and I began hiring more people.

    The main services my company offers are:

    • Branding
    • Logos and Corporate Identities
    • Print & Digital Media
    • Animation
    • Social Media Marketing
    • Website design 

    Wow! A lot of different things. Could you explain to us which growth implementation strategies you use that translate into increased brand awareness, a powerful online presence, and marketing materials that ultimately improve your client’s bottom line?

    Growth Implementation Strategies can vary depending on the client's needs:

    1. It starts with an audit and discovery to identify the client and their position in the marketplace, their competitors and their value proposition.

    1. It can begin with branding (define their unique identifier to go-to-market) setting the foundation for the go-to-market growth strategies. To create a powerful online presence the company may need:
      • A new logo
      • A new or updated website
      • Updated graphics 
      • Social media assets
      • New print material, ie. product sheets, white papers, brochures, marketing flyers, etc.

    1. Go-to-market could be: 
      • Content strategy for a new campaign
      • LinkedIn strategy
      • White papers
      • Newsletter drip campaign
      • Google ads
      • Account-based marketing

    It sounds really interesting and useful! Is there a regular request you receive from different companies? 

    Our requests vary. We have a diverse set of skills. We specialize in creativity at every level. Not just the visual creativity. We have retainers that have repeatable requests such as monthly newsletters, weekly social media posts and campaigns. We also do work for the Downtown Detroit Partnership who manage downtown Detroit events and we create way finding and information graphics.

    And how can organizations improve their marketing strategies? What do they have to take into account the most? 

    They need to go from an audit of all of their communications (written & visual) and compare it to their competitors. They need to have a foundation of a solid brand strategy and a strong and compelling visual brand image.

    Then they can take their brand and messaging to market without the guesswork of “Is my message not resonating?” “Is the visual representation of the highest quality?” “Are my marketing materials professional?”

    Good tip, thanks! And you founded Trent Creative in 1992, what would you say that you have learned during those years? Now, do you think that you should have done something differently?

    Great question. I have thought about that lately. I would have learned more about marketing strategy and would have hired a marketing director. I would have charged more for my services as my company grew. Having said that my agency has won over 15 awards in 8 years and we are still in business, even after COVID-19.

    Wow, that is impressive! What is the secret behind your success and popularity? 

    I care about my clients and want them to be successful with the best possible creative products and solutions to move their brand forward for the purpose of increasing sales revenue. My background and training were in graphic design and creativity so that gives me a different perspective.

    I am also very much involved in my community and serve on 2 boards: The Vice Chair of the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce and a Board Member of City of Rochester Downtown Development Authority. 

    I believe in Corporate Social Responsibility and am the founder of the Rochester Pollinators to help save the Monarch butterfly and the local pollinators in our area: I am an environmentalist and care deeply about the planet. I give away milkweed plants and sell native plants to restore them to the Michigan landscapes one business and resident at a time. We are planting pollinator gardens at our local library and municipal park.

    It’s great to hear that! There should be more people actively saving our wonderful nature!

    What would you recommend to those young people who want to start their own business?

    This is a good time for a young entrepreneur to start a business. My advice would be 3 things: (I am addressing the business-to-business space)

    1. Identify the market that you are working in and define the need that you are filling
      • How are you different? How can you not get lost in the crowd?

    1. Start with a few customers and build your business by accomplishing a solid ROI (Return On Investment) with them so you can show your value to new customers
      • If you can receive referrals because of a client's success with your company, that is the best reward and will grow a solid business 

    1. Learn how to run a business from a leadership perspective
      • A company can only grow as much as the leader grows
      • Leadership skills are paramount to how successful a company will become
      • If you are at the top of the mountain by yourself, that’s not leadership—leaders empower those they lead and don’t leave them behind
      • Leadership is learned so don’t despair

    Thank you for those helpful tips! Then, I would like to know how you have integrated Mailbutler into your daily work.

    I really like 3 features of Mailbutler. 

    1. Scheduled emails, I work at odd hours so I like to make it look like I am not insane if an email goes out at midnight, for instance. I also know that many business owners are always on and I don’t want them to respond at midnight.

    1. I use Undo Send a lot so I can reread what I wrote and make changes. Many times I do. There had been so many times that I clicked send too fast and I wish I had not as there were typos or errors. Also, this may sound odd but when you hit send, there is a moment of uncertainty and being able to unsend in a split second is amazing. You can read it from the recipient's point of view. I don’t know why but there must be something deep and psychological there. (Undo Send is now offered as a standalone plugin which you can download for free.)

    1. Seeing if the email was read. I like that feature also.

    It’s great to know how Mailbutler improves your email communication and I hope it continues doing so. Thank you again for this interesting interview! I wish you all the best, Marilyn.

    Did you read the last interview, where we had the chance to talk to Billy Goldberg? If not, keep reading this interesting article "The Importance Of Communication".

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      26 Jun 2020

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