Small business owners wear many different hats. They are managers, maintenance staff, custodians, receptionists, community liaison, and human resources, as well as being experts in their own field. Is it any wonder, then, that some things occasionally fall through the cracks? For many small business owners, that item is the finer points of marketing and advertising.
The Loft Creative Solutions was established to help small businesses with their marketing needs.
“We would have someone who would come in and say, ‘Hey, we need our truck wrapped,’ but they didn’t have a logo or a design. They didn’t even have business cards, they didn’t have anything,” says Marshall Clevenger, the founder of The Loft.
In response to the perceived need, Clevenger and Creative Director Billie Walbert, his metaphorical right hand, created The Loft to meet all of a small business’ marketing and advertising needs under one roof at cost-effective rates.
“If you want social media, we can do that,” Clevenger says. “If you want us to now print that logo so you can get it on your storefront, we can do that. If you want it on your vehicle, we can do that. For a small business owner, you can just walk through the door and we’ll do our best to take care of you. If you want shirts we can do it. Business cards, we can facilitate that. We can use whoever they want. If they want to use Bowen Printing or TCP, or whatever the case may be, we just facilitate where they get it all done.”
Business owners who use The Loft also have direct access to other local businesses that can service the needs of a small business owner or entrepreneur.
As someone who’s been in business for himself for more than 20 years, he recognized that with a little ingenuity, marketing venues like Facebook would be more accessible to the little guy.
“If you just scaled this for small businesses, you’d be very busy and it would be profitable,” Clevenger says.
Everything that comes from The Loft is as unique as the companies that use their services, keeping in mind each company’s brand and goals. They also employ freelancers who are skilled at all manners of graphic design and creative content. However, even with so many options available, Clevenger and Walbert keep the price point low for the benefit of small business owners.
Many of the businesses that take advantage of The Loft’s services are start-ups.
“There are many entrepreneurs who are just getting started,” Clevenger says. “There’s a lot of variety of companies that come through and they need something done.”
When a new client emails or calls The Loft, Walbert sets up a time to meet with the business owner for a creative meeting with every member of the team that will be involved in the marketing process for that particular client, including freelancers who will help with the project.
“We sit down with the business owner to figure out what they need. It’s always a fun meeting,” Clevenger says. “We don’t charge for that first meeting, but we just try to make sure they’re on the right path.”
Step by step through the creative design process the business owner remains in control. That remains true whether that is just social media management, or whether they want to add other services to the basic package, like apparel or website development.
“What we do is a very basic concept,” Clevenger says. “We’ll use platforms designed for a small business owner to use.”
The Loft doesn’t retain any rights over the work once everything is done.
“Once we have everything designed for them, it’s theirs. We give them access to everything.” Clevenger says. “At the end of the day, when we’re done with it, it’s on a platform built for them to use. We don’t have to touch it again if they don’t want us to.”
After the initial set-up work is done, The Loft can help maintain the business’ online presence. One of their services is managing social media, which can be as simple as making eight posts a month or as complicated as designing artwork to go along with the posts.
Although Clevenger was the visionary for the company’s concept, it was Walbert, with her expertise and special touch, who made The Loft into a viable construct.
“I enjoy the engagement you can see and how things grow and figuring out the analytics — seeing what works and what doesn’t,” Walbert says.
The best part for her, though, is having direct involvement with the various business owners.
“My favorite part is putting together the packages for them. Getting to know them, figuring out what they need, making it unique and cohesive for that particular business,” Walbert explains. “A lot of it is just fun, especially when you hear back from the business owners.”
What’s more, she’s good at it, and her clients appreciate her work.
“The feedback that we get is that they’re loving it, they are getting engagements. Their audience is growing and their page is growing,” she says.
She also offers a talk show, available on their website and on Facebook, that features local business owners.
The Loft offers a wide array of services for local small business owners to network online and with each other, all of which are designed to make out-of-the-box marketing and advertising, both in print and online, work at full capacity.
“It’s really nice working with local businesses and making Facebook and social networking sites actually network,” Clevenger says.