Written by: Shakia Artson
Who else pivoted from their traditional 9-5 into small business due to COVID-19 and the ongoing effects of this never-ending pandemic? My heart sincerely goes out to the many brands who’ve had to close their doors during these unpredictable times. While we feel genuine empathy for those who’ve loss revenue, this blog will shine light on a small businesses’ journey hiring help and maintaining growth during this time. Below I’ll speak on my personal path and offer insight on what to look for when seeking out professional branding services.
My main challenge: with great growth comes higher demand, which forces me to either hire help or miss out on potential revenue.
Since I’m not a fan of losing money, I saw it necessary to hire a professional marketing agent. This designer will help optimize my website and boost overall brand recognition. Creating relevant marketing strategy and building an optimized landing page will definitely help boost sales. Today, I’ll be taking you all down the rabbit hole with me, as we:
Learn more about my business’ background and brand needs.
Why I’m suddenly looking for a marketing expert?
What attributes should this branding agency have?
How I compiled a list of and narrowed down my top contenders?
Choosing Iris Designs and transforming my brand’s presence.
As a well-educated black woman from Brooklyn, I’m at the age (27) where creating a legacy is more and more important to me every day. So, what imprint will I leave on the world? Since 2020, I’ve been operating my own publishing and copywriting business and prior to publishing my first book, I knew that I needed help redesigning my website. Kickin it Productions LLC is a digital media agency that publishes books, produces videos, and provides ghost writing/copywriting services to both individual and organizational entities.
What I’ve learned during this time? The services I’m providing won’t grow my business if people don’t know that they exist. I can spend hours building marketing calendars and creating content, but how will I actively share this with my consumer? I can write 1,000 novels, but I won’t be able to sustain my business, if people don’t read them. How do I compete with Facebook, Tik Tok, viral sensations, funny cat memes, and large machines with a lot more resources than me?
Since I’m not selling a traditional good, people must trust me before they choose to invest in my book or services. This means that it’s imperative for me to build genuine community with the tribe of consumers I’m marketing to. Once I realized that I needed to obtain a long-lasting investment from my potential customers, I immediately began searching for a designer who could optimize my website and make it more professional. I knew that I needed to create a space where my clients can easily interact with me and learn more about my company’s offerings.
I’m not a professional coder or web designer, so I’ll want to hire an advanced expert in this field. My hope is to find someone with ample experience in both digital and diverse spaces. At the time, my website was more of a personal blog, but in an effort to align with my brand, this needed to transition into a production hub. I want a redesign because my website isn’t up-to-par and has a low bounce rate.
A global pandemic has confirmed the fact that technology is no longer “the future,” but needs to be fully embraced now in the present. Having a digital footprint is necessary in today’s world and will bring us steps closer to success. So, let’s go on this journey together.
What are the most important aspects of my potential branding agent?
Versatility - Is this person going to grow my business? Do they have experience working with different types of clients/specialties? For example, my brand is very mission-focused; will they be able to showcase my generous nature and ensure my site runs smoothly?
Functionality – Can customers quickly connect with me? Will leads be easily converted after navigating to my landing page? Will clients be able to accomplish tasks on my site in a streamlined way?
Compliance & Security – In the age of high fraudulent activity, I need to ensure my client’s data is kept safe. Also, am I meeting federal laws and regulations when accessing and storing client’s data via this platform? I.e., are cookies being properly used and terms of service fully visible?
Price & Sustainability – Is the marketer competitively priced in relation to what they have to offer vs their competitors? Even so, can I sustain this and is it positively impacting my business’ bottom line?
Transition & Storage - Since I’ve already had a website for five years, how will hiring this person enhance what I already have. Similarly, how will they help me convert new leads, and safely store their data?
All of the above questions led me on a search for a brand executive that could help me transition into the next phase of my journey—selling my debut publication on my personal website.
Even during a pandemic or algorithm change, what can help people remember me? Having a website that captivates them and remaining on brand at all times. Let’s locate someone who can help identify what my brand represents and teach me how to remain consistent in everchanging digital spaces.
How did I locate a skillful yet affordable marketing expert without leaving my house?
One of my websites is hosted by Wix.com, which I do enjoy using, because it’s very responsive. While editing a few site settings, a pop-up window appeared asking, “Do you want to hire an expert?” Well, yes, I do because I can admit that I need help. I was prompted to fill out a very short questionnaire and was told that I’d be matched with a web designer shortly.
To my surprise, Wix forwarded my intake answers to over a dozen individuals. Becoming overwhelmed with the volume of follow-up I received, I knew that I needed to narrow down my options to 2-3 viable choices. How do I make the final decision? I based my top three designers off of their business’ websites/logos, testimonials from previous clients, and their first initial message to me.
Taking all of this into consideration, I quickly settled on Iris Designs branding agency, because her website showcased other women of color and the business is owned/operated by a black woman. Also, pictures of her previous work/designs were proudly showcased on her website. While going through her site, I found that she was able to showcase black women in such a powerful and beautiful way. This means that she’s confident in her abilities, can relate to my brand story, and will be able to provide relevant expertise.
Hiring Iris Designs & First Impressions:
After letting Iris Designs know that I was interested in their services, I was immediately emailed a consultation questionnaire. The survey was so thorough and detailed, which further built my confidence in this agency. Once my questionnaire was completed and video consultation booked, I became one-step closer to meeting Carla Iris of Iris Designs.
About less than a week later, Carla and I were finally able to meet on zoom to discuss my brand needs/expectations. She really used this first meeting to teach me so much about not only her services, but the branding process as a whole. It was such an informative meeting, and I appreciated the fact that she came prepared with ideas and mock designs. I immediately felt seen and important, because she took the time to learn about my brand prior to our first face-to-face.
Upon confirmation of our contract, Carla made it very clear that she was here to support me and help build my business. There was never a time that I felt unaware of the steps she was taking to revamp my site. Also, included in her pricing are weekly zoom check-in meetings, which were very beneficial to me. The constant communication was an effective way to keep me in the loop.
Lastly, her creative mind coupled with her extensive branding knowledge makes her the most relatable professional I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Her enhanced capabilities help to truly capture a person's essence through design. The fact that her business is also very mission-focused reeled me in because she genuinely wants to see others succeed.
Her communal gestures are especially seen at the end of a client’s time with Iris Designs. During our last project meeting she had prepared an exit packet for my reference. This document included my brand’s archetype description, text font, color scheme, and various other marketing information. Not only did she put her all into my project while we were working together, but she also wants to ensure that I have the tools necessary to stay on brand (thereafter).
Well, it’s been almost a year since I first hired Iris Designs and my business has grown immensely. My first published book became a best-seller and my website’s numbers continue to rise. My engagement rates are up across all of my digital platforms because I’ve been able to use the tools given to me in an effort to practice consistency.
Written and Edited by: Shakia Artson