When Erin Minsart and Jamie Malone of Green Bay met at Concordia University while working on their MBAs, little did they know they would become not only friends, but also business partners.
Malone had worked as an independent contractor for about five years and was ready to grow her business. Minsart, who had about 17 years of business experience, had a broad background that meshed perfectly.
“I was working full time, and Jamie and I talked about working together. She was at a stage where she couldn’t grow unless she expanded, so she said, ‘When you’re ready, I’m ready,’” Minsart said.
From 2012 on, they discussed how they could forge a new business model. Malone had existing clients and Minsart had skills in other areas and capital. Minsart also knew that it was a good idea to get advice, and having learned about a variety of resources while at Concordia, contacted the Green Bay SCORE chapter.
“I went to SCORE because I wanted to have an objective sounding board to ask questions," Minsart said. "I wanted to know if this was just a dream or if it was possible. The mentoring made me ask hard questions about the business plan.”
In addition, she dug into online resources from the Small Business Administration and SCORE websites so she had access to business plan templates. Minsart and Malone came up with a name that fit their vision, and Fresh Digital Marketing, LLC (freshdigitalmarketing.com) was launched in May 2017.
“We knew that the market was ready for something new and wanted the name to reflect that,” Minsart said. “The ‘fresh’ came from what we knew was a better way to help people with results-driven marketing.”
The business was developed with two specific services in mind — training small business owners to do their own social media and marketing and offering a number of packages that allowed businesses to turn over parts or all of the function to Fresh Digital.
“This makes us different from most marketing agencies. We can either do it or help you do it yourself,” Minsart said.
The training aspect has been part of their marketing strategy to get the word out about their business and give back to the community. They have done training for SCORE clients, and did a six-week series at the Brown County Library called, “Modern Marketing in a Digital World.” The sessions covered website design, social media, blogging, search engine optimization, email marketing and pay-per-click advertising.
They also have published articles on best practices and presented at Rising Tide's Tuesdays Together, a group of creatives and entrepreneurs focused on community and collaboration instead of competition.
“I love Rising Tide," Minsart said. "Jamie and I have both done our time in corporate America and it’s so refreshing to have a group like this that is so empowering and supportive. Many times, you can feel like an island as a small business owner, and this group is designed to break that barrier and lift everyone up.”
This also translates to an optimistic and upbeat interaction with clients. Minsart says they understand the importance of relationships and flexibility. To provide the best possible service for clients, they have a network of independent contractors they can call in when they are too busy or a different expertise is needed. Although the competition in their field is great, they believe they can offer something fresh.
“Bigger agencies often have the same solutions for everybody,” Minstart said. “We personalize and listen. When our customers are successful, we feel successful. We are your partner, and I call Jamie ‘the digital ninja’ for her ability to analyze keywords — she is really good at it.”
Another asset is their capability to help clients develop a marketing strategy, something Minsart says is the No. 1 issue at which businesses fail. Owners know they should have a strategy, but it becomes overwhelming so they don’t do it. For Fresh Digital, that often means more business.
“Some entrepreneurs think they just want to know more, but when they get the information, they find out it’s too much to do, and we have a new client,” Minsart said.
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.