This week Vivid Minds Vivid Futures interviews Ingrid Rothe, a Brand Marketing Strategist and Principal, Vivid Thinking. For Ingrid, marketing is not about selling products or services; rather, it’s about telling brand stories with heart and forging emotional connections with your brand. Ingrid is a co-founder of Vivid Minds Vivid Futures.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Sydney and lived there until my early thirties. My father was a teacher and, when I was three, he took up a job teaching at the Butterworth RAAF base in Malaysia, where we lived for three years. After that, we moved back to Sydney and I went to a few different schools, including some schools that my father taught at. After graduating from Baulkham Hills High school, I went on to Sydney University to study arts, predominantly history and English. During my time there, I got involved in a social economics club called AIESEC where I found that I had a love of business. Up until becoming incredibly involved in that group I had planned on being a teacher.
So how did you translate an arts degree into a marketing career?
I graduated from Sydney University during the ‘recession we had to have’. At that time it was very hard to find work. However, I was also studying marketing at TAFE with a focus on public relations. In the interest of being able to pay rent, I ended up doing a short secretarial course and got a job with a global reinsurance firm, where I quickly learnt I didn’t want a career in reinsurance. I then used my now transferable skills to gain work in the sales and marketing department of Hewlett-Packard. After several years I progresses to Marcomms Manager for the Enterprise Division Australia/New Zealand. I went to Lucent Technologies for a corporate communications position, which I felt at the time was a gap in my CV. My next career move was to Fujitsu PC Asia Pacific – at that time focused solely on the Lifebook product, which I launched into the Australian market. In 2003 I moved to Armidale after the hustle and bustle of Sydney got too much and accepted a job at the University of New England as the Director of Marketing and Public Affairs.
What got you involved in Vivid Minds Vivid Futures?
I was fortunate enough to be approached by Focus Magazine New England a number of years ago to do a monthly ‘Business Minds’ column where I interviewed a local business owner, which was something I really enjoyed. Shortly after it shut down, I approached a group of like-minded business leaders in their respective fields and proposed we continue as an online publication, and it went from there. I really didn’t want that avenue for businesses to get their name out there to be lost to our region.
What do you enjoy most about writing for Vivid Minds Vivid Futures?
I love hearing the stories of other businesses and the people who run them. I think I am a sticky beak, so I love to find out about the owners, and how they came to running their own business. I’m also really interested in meeting new people, discovering businesses I may not otherwise have gotten to know, and finding new businesses that are only just starting up. I really enjoy the networking side of things.
What does Vivid Thinking do?
Vivid Thinking is a brand strategy and marketing company. Our core focus is helping businesses get their brand thinking right, to uniquely differentiate themselves through their brand story. We work with our clients to get the most out of their brand, from helping them to understand who they are as a brand, right through to delivering on marketing execution to help them get their name out there, gain cut through against their competitors and to achieve measurable results for their business objectives.
When did you start your business?
After nearly 10 years at UNE and having successfully rebranded the university to the branding you see today, as well as a short stint as the Acting Chief Development Officer, it became clear it was time for a career change. I met my husband, Methuen, at a winery tour where some friends introduced us in around 2004. We got married in 2010 and welcomed our daughter later that year. I had always wanted to have my own business, and I realised I could take the knowledge I had gained in the corporate world and apply that to micro and small to medium businesses. I quickly picked up some clients by word of mouth, and then in February 2013 I officially launched my business.
What have been some of your challenges in starting a business?
Invoicing and anything to do with the financial side. I guess like most small businesses I’m a specialist in my field, and a painfully slow learner in things outside my area of expertise.
What do you like most about running your own business?
As a director of marketing, it was more about people management, up down and sideways, and less about marketing. I really enjoy developing brand and marketing strategy and working with small businesses to execute their plans. With corporate you can put a lot of work into something that you are really proud of, but it gets shoved in a draw and never seen again. But with small business, they are invested in benefiting from the work they have engaged. And you get to really partner with them through their marketing journey. I get to make a real difference and see that work come to fruition.
What advice would you give a business just starting out?
Get a bookkeeper straight away. Find someone already successful in business and get their advice or input on your business. In effect, find yourself a mentor, someone you can trust and bounce your ideas off.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the work most days. I enjoy working with my clients and finding out what they want to achieve and helping them get there. I really love doing work that’s going to make a difference. Additionally, Vivid Minds Vivid Futures allows me to meet interesting and inspiring people, all with unique stories to tell.
What is your secret for success?
You need to be able to roll with the punches. All small business owners are going to have bad days – you just have to keep going. If you are inspired by what you do, then there’s nothing better than working in your specialist field. I’ve found that networking is a really important part of my business momentum. I’m an active member of Business New England’s women’s networking group, WiNG, and the business networking group, BNI All Seasons. Both have provided me with unique opportunities that have helped me grow my business.
What’s next for Vivid Thinking?
We are going through a significant growth spurt, so I’m focused on streamlining our internal processes and on-boarding the right people with specialist skills and some different perspectives. This is a pretty exciting time, and I am looking forward to employing new skills to help my clients achieve more.