Starter Story

How We Started And Grew A Branding Agency To $40K/Month

$40,000
revenue/mo
3
Founders
3
Employees
product
OrangeBall Creative
from Minneapolis
started February 2012
$40,000
revenue/mo
3
Founders
3
Employees
4.29M
alexa rank
93
followers
72
followers
platform
blog

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hello! My name is Beau Nordby, and I am one of three partners who launched OrangeBall Creative in 2012. I want to thank you for taking the time to read our story. I’m confident you’ll find something of value that will help you.

For entrepreneurs, explaining who they are, what they do, and why their audience should care can be daunting. Putting their business into words and perfecting their elevator pitch is something many business owners struggle to do. And then, using those words to drive sales and convert customers on their website, social media, print, and in-person can be even more challenging. We get it because we see it every day in the work we do with our agency clients.

In 2017, we created Brand Bounce Bootcamp, a set of exercises designed to help owners and entrepreneurs simplify their marketing messages and tell their stories. Using our step-by-step process, Brand Bounce Bootcamp guides businesses in finding the words they’re looking for to connect with prospects, align their teams, and sell their products and services. Through our agency work of designing websites and other print/digital marketing, we know that the right brand message is the foundation of marketing that actually works.

Brand Bounce Bootcamp helps solve these main issues:

  • Simplifying your marketing messages so you can explain to your audience what you do and why they should care.
  • Differentiating yourself from the competition and standing out in a crowded marketplace.
  • Understanding how your audience thinks, what their driving forces are, and how to talk to them.

We’ve seen Brand Bounce Bootcamp create fantastic results for:

  • BUSINESS OWNERS who wear many hats are growing their business, and understand that marketing can help them gain a competitive edge.
  • ENTREPRENEURS are single-handed and hands-on in every part of their business, needing to explain their vision and offering.
  • MARKETING LEADERS who are seeking a new way to communicate their brand’s message clearly to create new and lasting connections.
  • DO-IT-YOURSELFERS who have built a website using Squarespace, Shopify, GoDaddy, etc. and struggle with what words to put on their pages.

Initially, we provided Brand Bounce Bootcamp through facilitated, in-person sessions where we’ve worked one-on-one with hundreds of businesses. Today, we now offer these same Brand Bounce Bootcamp exercises in a downloadable, BIY (Brand It Yourself), online format that any business can use to find the right words to describe themselves. Whether they want to use the exercises in their conference room or at their local coffee shop, Brand Bounce Bootcamp goes where they go along with 17 coaching videos to guide them through each exercise. It’s like having a personal trainer for your brand.

Brand Bounce Bootcamp, in its digital download format, brings “big-agency” tools to small and mid-sized businesses who previously couldn’t afford this kind of marketing help. Our goal at OrangeBall has always been to help level the competitive playing field for businesses of all sizes, and Brand Bounce Bootcamp does that in a powerful way with immediate ROI.

how-we-started-and-grew-a-branding-agency-to-40k-month

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Initially, OrangeBall was an agency that offered print and digital creative. Clients came to us looking for a new logo or website, in need of print materials, or help with their digital advertising. We brought all the experience and expertise we had gained in the video game industry to a whole new set of clients – accounting firms, manufacturers, executive coaches, and a range of other service providers.

Stand up to your inner critic, take the megaphone away from it, and start talking to yourself about all the reasons you can and should go for it!

Over time, we realized that as much as our clients needed designs for websites, logos, and print, they needed one thing even more. At a base level, they were struggling to find the right words to describe their businesses and differentiate themselves from their competitors. They needed help finding the words and creating the messages they needed to drive sales, rally their teams, and grow their businesses.

Brand Bounce Bootcamp evolved from a list of questions we were asking clients when we started their projects. Over time, those questions became tools, and eventually, those tools formed a strategic process designed to walk them start-to-finish through creating their messages. In simplest terms, we developed a step-by-step process to help businesses define who they are and what makes them unique, who their customers are, and how to communicate between the two. The exercises in Brand Bounce Bootcamp evolved from our experience helping small and mid-sized businesses tell their stories.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

In October of 2017, we held our first Brand Bounce Bootcamp, inviting a group of trusted clients and advisors to come in and help us test drive the process. The Bootcamp was a one-day event, and the end results were amazing. One IT company owner told us he had been reminded why he started his business in the first place, and another who had a background in marketing told us this was the simplest, easiest way he had seen to help businesses find their voice.

how-we-started-and-grew-a-branding-agency-to-40k-month Our first facilitated Brand Bounce Bootcamp in 2017

From there, we continued running more Brand Bounce Bootcamps. We’ve been brought in with businesses and their internal teams to help them discover the right words for their organizations and to create aligned mission statements they can share. We’ve not only impacted marketing through Bootcamp, but we’ve also created internal alignment and team-building through the process. That team-building aspect was never the intention of Bootcamp, but it’s been a powerful bonus outcome.

Next, we scaled the facilitated experience by hosting “group fitness” Bootcamps, where we open the doors to leaders from different businesses for the day. In December of 2018, we hosted an event called The Big Give. 100 entrepreneurs, owners, and nonprofits joined us for a one-day Brand Bounce Bootcamp to strengthen their brands and craft their marketing messages. To add to The Big GIve experience, we partnered with Toys for Tots and collected over 100 toys for children that Christmas.

In 2019, we decided to launch Brand Bounce Bootcamp as a digital, online brand messaging tool. We invested time, energy, and financial resources in the following:

  • Developing the eCommerce website
  • Designing the Training Guide with 17 exercises
  • Recording 17 coaching videos
  • Crafting landing pages
  • Forming a marketing funnel
  • Selecting a CRM to track and nurture leads.
  • Developing a digital ad strategy to drive awareness and traffic

The goal from day one has been simple… We want to get these tools in the hands of as many small to mid-sized businesses as we can, helping them to grow and thrive.

Describe the process of launching the business.

In 2007, the three partners that make up OrangeBall today were running an in-house agency for one of the top companies in the video game industry. As an in-house team in the midwest, we supported a marketing team of 36 brand managers in California, providing packaging, websites, event graphics, online ads, and more. It was an exciting industry to be part of, but at the same time, the economy was in flux, and the gaming industry was going through some major shifts.

Eventually, we knew it was time to start thinking about our exit. After a handful of conversations, we decided we wanted to take the knowledge and expertise we had gained as an in-house agency and bring it to the masses. As the industry shifted, even more, the team we supported in California was let go, and so we waited for our turn. Severance was a good option for us, as it would provide a nice runway to launch a business, but it required some patience.

how-we-started-and-grew-a-branding-agency-to-40k-month The three OrangeBall Creative partners at our first official meeting (in Perkins)

While we waited, we began the process of “inflating” OrangeBall Creative. Over a couple of months, waiting to be laid-off, we started having conversations with future clients so we would be ready to hit the ground running (rolling). We created our website, developed the Story of Bounce, and prepared our sales materials.

As mentioned, we had to wait to be laid-off, so we could use our severance packages to finance OrangeBall until we could secure our first projects. And since our former employer was sinking, they were very generous in giving us our computers, desks, and chairs. Not wanting to take out a loan and start with debt, that was a huge blessing. We kept our overhead low, worked from our home offices, Skyped almost every day, and scheduled in-person meetings several times a month. In the beginning, we were a virtual agency. Two weeks after our severance ended, we were able to take our first paychecks. They weren’t very big, but we were a profitable business, and have been ever since.

We were blessed from the very beginning to have some great mentors who helped guide us through the process of launching the business. From how we presented ourselves to handling day-to-day accounting and legal tasks, we had stellar guides alongside us to help navigate the startup. Those guides have been essential from the start and onward. Keep listening and learning.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

When we launched OrangeBall, we decided that our work should stand on its own. From a marketing perspective, that meant that we’ve grown based on word-of-mouth referrals. As a marketing firm, this may seem counter-intuitive, and it’s not a strategy we’d tell clients to follow, but it has worked well for us. Fortunately, our clients are well-connected, and we’ve been able to grow an agency that now has clients in twenty states. We’ve developed over 100 websites for businesses in all sectors as well as non-profits. And many of those websites are part of a broader marketing strategy that we’ve developed for our clients.

Our business model in that space has been built by onboarding clients with an initial project and then partnering with them on future projects. For example, a client comes to us looking for a website, and down the road, we partner with them on SEO and digital advertising to continue their growth. Long-term relationships, not one-offs, have always been our goal and focus.

The introduction of Brand Bounce Bootcamp as a brand-it-yourself process requires a different marketing perspective. Word-of-mouth is less powerful when it comes to downloadable content, and slows our ability to reach the larger, more global audience we’re seeking. With that in mind, we’ve developed a marketing strategy specific to Brand Bounce Bootcamp that includes social media ad spends on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We are also exploring influencer marketing options to help evangelize Brand Bounce Bootcamp to the masses.

Specific to marketing our Brand Bounce Bootcamp digital solution, here’s a high-level rundown of our funnel:

  1. Our target audience engages with an ad (mainly on Facebook and Instagram).
  2. That takes them to a landing page specific to the ad they clicked on.
  3. The landing page continues the story and reinforces the benefits of Bootcamp.
  4. We offer a test drive to “try before you buy” in exchange for an email address. The test drive provides the download for the first three Bootcamp exercises and the three training videos that walk you through the exercises.
  5. From there, the prospect has two options: Purchase or don’t.
  6. If they purchase, we give them access to the complete Brand Bounce Bootcamp experience and continue to guide them with “coaches check-in” emails to help them get the most out of the process.
  7. If they don’t purchase within 24 hours, we engage with a one-time best offer. Once they visit the promo page, it triggers a countdown timer. Urgency is key. We want the prospect to take action.
  8. If the prospect passes up the offer, we continue to nurture them with follow-up emails focused on delivering value, pointing to how Bootcamp can help, and a lesser, but still attractive, offer.

Throughout the entire funnel, we make it very clear that we offer a 100% money-back promise.

We’ve had good success with this process. To that, we’re still in the early phases of marketing the digital version of Brand Bounce Bootcamp. We continue to test, learn, and adjust every day. The data is telling a story and providing direction.

how-we-started-and-grew-a-branding-agency-to-40k-month Whiteboarding our sales funnel for Brand Bounce Bootcamp

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

With the addition of our downloadable Brand Bounce Bootcamp, we see our business beginning to transition. We are now able to reach a mass audience in a way that is scalable – in a way that our project-based agency work is not. This gives us the ability to create a positive impact for businesses of all sizes, from startups to more mature businesses, helping them dial-in the words they’re using to connect with customers. At the same time, we can use our traditional work to help clients on a more personal level where we’re directly impacting their websites, print, SEO, etc. The combination is perfect.

how-we-started-and-grew-a-branding-agency-to-40k-month

Our plan, long-term, is to take what we’re hearing from our project-based clients and use that to inform us as to what new content we should create. By listening carefully to their marketing challenges and struggles, we’ll know clearly what our next downloadable product should be and where we can make the most impact on our digital customers. We have the vision to create a virtual gym, where you can take classes (like Bootcamp) to make your brand and marketing stronger. We’re excited to continue bringing new content to our raving fans!

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Reflecting for a moment, here are five things we wish we knew when we launched OrangeBall and Brand Bounce Bootcamp that we can see clearly now…

  1. The business you start with today will be different in the future. You will grow, evolve, and change. That’s part of the process! When we launched OrangeBall, our Brand Bounce Bootcamp didn’t exist. Brand messaging and strategy were not part of our core business. Over time, we developed those strengths, and the trajectory of our business changed. Today, we’re still known for website development and logos with Bounce, but we’ve matured in our business and created a whole new approach to branding that is distinctly our own.
  2. Yes, make it your own! Be authentic. When we got started, we modeled our business off of other successful agencies we admired. Over time, as we’ve adapted our offerings to our strengths and what our clients wanted, we’ve created a customer experience and a line of services that are unique to OrangeBall. Today, we’re no longer a copy of those other agencies we looked to in the beginning for direction. Sure, there are similarities, but now our business is driven by our own uncommon services, values, and purpose.
  3. Define your values and purpose early. A lot of things in your business will evolve, but your values and purpose will not. They’re foundational to why you’re doing what you’re doing and will be your north star in creating the culture of tomorrow for your business. Begin defining them on Day 1. When you understand what drives you, and what values drive your business, it will make your decision-making easier and help you measure every day if you’re moving in the direction you want.
  4. Find things you can measure. One of the keys to knowing if you’re making any traction is to have a set of things you can measure. Maybe it’s the number of meetings you’ve had, or possibly a financial goal you’re tracking towards. Even when you’re just getting started, having some goals you can shoot for and then simple ways to track your progress is essential. The items you’re measuring will change over time, but it’s important in the beginning to start somewhere and get into the habit of not only setting goals but also taking stock of your movement. Along those lines, don’t forget to celebrate your wins!
  5. Surround yourself with the right people. The world is full of people who will try to pull you down, tell you your idea is terrible, and keep you from trying something new. Find some good mentors (we have a few great ones) and surround yourself with a circle of people who will cheer for you AND challenge you in a positive way. You don’t need “yes” people in your circle – let them poke holes in your ideas to help make them better. But, make sure they’re people who see big-picture and will lift you up rather than dragging you down.

how-we-started-and-grew-a-branding-agency-to-40k-month

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Podcasts: How I Built This, The Startup, Superpower Success, Goodness Pays Leadership Podcast, The Gary Vee Audio Experience, School of Greatness, The Real Brad Lea Podcast

Books: How Goodness Pays, Think and Grow Rich, Good to Great, Start with Why, Delivering Happiness, Traction, All About Them

Coaching: Good Leadership Enterprises, Keystone Group International, VisionOne High Performance Group

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Silence your inner critic. As much as other people can drag you down, the loudest voice maybe your own. “I’m not good enough. What if this doesn’t work? What if they don’t like me? I should just give up.” That voice is not a reflection of reality; it’s a megaphone for your fears and insecurities. And, it’s wrong.

Stand up to your inner critic, take the megaphone away from it, and start talking to yourself about all the reasons you can and should go for it!

Where can we go to learn more?

-  
Beau Nordby,   Founder of OrangeBall Creative

Want to start your own business?

Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.

We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help others get started.

Interested in sharing your own story? Find out how!

-  
Pat Walls,   Founder of Starter Story

Are you ready to boost your revenue?

Using Klaviyo will open up a massive, untapped sales channel and bring you closer to your customers!

We've interviewed many impressive businesses who swear by the results of the product, including Brumate, Beardbrand, and many more.

Level up your email marketing with Klaviyo!


Leave a comment
Your email address will not be published.

Check out our premium interviews: