Think Tank Produces Creative Ideas

CRAVE Symposium 2010. What a day! We began in the morning at 10am and went until 4pm — 80 women business owners who want to boost their business and their bottom line. Several groups of mentors were teamed together in PR/Marketing, Business Toolkit (money), Branding, and Business Model categories to offer up ideas for six different businesses and where to take them next.

I was so lucky to be teamed with Jenn Donogh from Ovaleye Web Solution in the PR/Online marketing as mentors for three very different businesses. Jenn does a great job and offers the perspective from online marketing — including blogs, FB, etc. We started with Minx, a branding company that’s just launched in the last six months, even though the principals have a number of years experience. What we determined — it’s harder to brand your own company than it is for clients. Companies need to:

 1. Determine their strengths and what they do better than their competition.

2. Identify the target market they want to go after.

3. Determine how they can help solve the problems of the companies within their target market. 

 Minx takes a lighter hearted approach to branding that works for clothing companies.

Different company, different issues. Gwendolyn Allis is a company that creates the cutest aprons you’ve ever seen. The owner designs and sews them herself, and as an actress in New York who’s recently moved back to Seattle, she has a lot of great connections in NYC, but not so many in Seattle. Her issues were quite different:

 1. Identify what you like best about the company.

2. Pursue the collaboration angle with the Alzheimer’s Association here, since the company honors the owners’ grandmother who had Alzheimer’s.

3. Create a more efficient website where customers could actually buy online. (Actually, we determined that needed to be done first before anything else, like finding outside manufacturers). A lot of potential here once the website is organized.

Want to feel sexy? Our final company was Belle Boudoir, a photography business that features boudoir photos in a tasteful, sexy way that’s not too risque. As the owner said, these are beautiful photos you wouldn’t be ashamed to show your mother. She gets a lot of business from her primary business of wedding photography, but is launching the new business with her own studio, logo and look. Again, it’s a matter of:

1. Identifying what sets you apart from your competition (own studio, in house makeup expert, etc).

2. Partnerships with lingerie businesses (which she was already kind of doing, but not getting proper credit from the lingerie businesses),

3. Deals and discounts.

 4. Taking full advantage of the trade and wedding shows she already attends, as well as contacting wedding customers and others in an e-newsletter format announcing the new launch.

Heads spinning. The heads of the business owners who were ‘think tanked’ had to be spinning with ideas and feedback. There were so many ideas, and people at our tables who have their own businesses also threw out their ideas based on their experiences with similar issues. We reported back at the end of the day, and all agreed — what a tremendous amount of creativity, energy and ideas that were generated in just one session.

Hats off to Melody and Jess of CRAVE, who set up the day, the businesses and the mentors. I hope everyone else got as much out of the day as I did. But what I like best is the philosophy that we are NOT each other’s competition, but our own personal network. We are collaborators, and it’s okay to share information and partner with each other on projects. Giving back and building up others is a much more satisfying way to do business, and I thank CRAVE for pulling it all together!




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