Kristin Marquet is the owner of the New York-based PR firm, Creative Development Agency where she works with startup fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands. She is also the owner of FemFounder.co, an online community and design studio where female entrepreneurs can find tips and tricks on PR, social media marketing, branding, and list building.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I started my business out of necessity, as I was being laid off from my corporate job during the financial crisis. For the first few months after I lost my job, I did freelance work, built a portfolio, and made connections within the industry. Then, after I built a solid client base (after about ten months), I turned my freelance business into a full-service PR agency which is now Creative Development Agency.
Tell us about your business.
I launched my first business, the PR firm Creative Development Agency, in 2009 with three freelance clients. Within the first year, I had built my client base to 24 clients and scaled to six-figures, so I needed to hire help. Currently, we only work with 10-15 clients at any given time, so we can provide the best client service possible.
Due to the overwhelming requests for a DIY PR program, I launched the community FemFounder.co where female entrepreneurs can learn how to get PR for their businesses without spending thousands of dollars on hiring a firm. We are also going to offer a DIY PR program called The PR Academy, which is launching later this summer 2017.
As part of The PR Academy, students will have access to media software that provides them with the right media to contacts, editorial calendars, pitch preferences, etc. The PR Academy is essentially a one-stop shop for everything related to PR.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Yes, actually. We would like to offer all LadyBossBlogger readers access to our free PR course accessible here.
We also offer a five-step framework that teaches entrepreneurs how to build an online six-figure business this year, called “Keeping Your Pipeline Full”. It’s accessible here.
Creative Development Agency has won the Best Boutique PR Agency in Manhattan from The Manhattan Project for the last three years. It’s very exciting.
I also hold a master’s degree in marketing/PR from New York University, as well as lecture there occasionally.
Where is your business based?
We are based in New York City. We only have one office. I don’t intend to open another location any time soon. I love being right in the heart of Manhattan.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Since I had very limited funds and bootstrapped the operation, I designed a website on WordPress, wrote the copy, and created all of my social media accounts. I also did PR outreach to get my name out there a bit. I landed coverage on Entrepreneur.com and Inc.com in the first few months. It was exciting, actually.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
It’s been tricky to maintain a constant flow of clients, but we’ve done it.
For Creative Development Agency, I’ve primarily relied on referrals, search engine optimization, and publicity, while FemFounder has been strictly Pinterest and Instagram marketing. I know, it’s crazy!
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
My largest challenge was maintaining a consistent flow of clients. One month I may only bill $5k, while the next may have been $50k – there was no continuity! That’s the problem with most service-based businesses!
How did you overcome these challenges?
Once I decided to focus on only 10 to 15 clients at a time, I’ve been able to set consistent revenue goals as well as work with brands that I really believe in and value. I actually teach this framework in the free “Keep Your Pipeline Full” guide (that I mentioned above).
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Knowing that I don’t want to get a full-time job, and also so that I can be at home often when we have our first child in the near future.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
That’s a great question. I’m glad you asked that.
On the agency-side (CreativeDevelopmentAgency.com), it’s so easy to be a commodity. So, the thing that I try to show prospective clients is that: I am honest, transparent, and only work with brands that I believe I can help. I don’t take on any brand because I need the money. It’s all about client service here! I also wrote a book on small business PR called, Squash Your Competition and Dominate Your Marketplace: 55 Easy Tips to Generate Big Publicity for Your Startup or Small Business Today.
On the community side (FemFounder.co), I’ve developed a PR course that will help entrepreneurs go from point A to point B without spending thousands of dollars on hiring a PR firm as well as the media software IP.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
You can’t be everything to everyone! You need to be specific! Pick a niche.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
If you’re bootstrapping your business, don’t hire a big agency to manage your marketing. Learn how to do it yourself or hire contractors with the skill set you need, because it will be much more cost effective in the end.
If you have the resources readily available, then you can hire an agency to manage what you need.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
I use Asana for project management, deadlines, to-do lists, and Google Documents for everything else.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
One of the best books I’ve read ever is The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. It’s a must-read for any entrepreneur.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
Currently, I am learning about search engine optimization because Google changes its algorithm every other day. It’s an important part of my marketing strategy, and I’d like to be somewhat literate in the practice.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My goal is to launch The PR Academy and software program within the next few months. I plan to achieve this goal by holding weekly webinars, putting students through my free course, and holding giveaways.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @FemFounder, @Design_and_Branding
Facebook Group www.facebook.com/groups/femfounder
Websites www.CreativeDevelopmentAgency.com, www.FemFounder.co
Hashtags #femfounder #femfounders