When Michigan Creative came on the scene in 2010, it was amid a surge of startup growth. “It was a really good time to start, and a really good place. The community was really supportive,” says founder Brian Town. They knew from the beginning that they wanted to stay connected to that community and working out of places like The Technological Innovation Center and The NEO Center, gave them the chance to do that. Brian credits those places as some of the reasons they’ve been so successful. “It helped us meet people and meet clients.”
And while they’ve now been around for about five years, Michigan Creative is constantly evolving. Their services are constantly changing based on demand. “We’re always saying that once we get here or there, we’ll be good,” says Brian, “But actually, if we’re there, we’re in trouble.” It’s more important to Brian and his team to be reinventing themselves. “The things that offer value are always changing.”
It’s this attitude that took Michigan Creative from a small startup that wasn’t really sure what they were going to do, to a “marketing department” that has worked with companies ranging from credit unions to restaurants. They offer all the services of a marketing department and so much more. They not only produce videos, but show companies what to do with them once they have them.They design websites that work for the client, websites that act like a marketing machine for the clients. And, they offer design and branding, and so much more. They are always working to get to the next level and expand their services.
Doing this though, means not always simply focusing on what they can do, but what they can’t do as well. “We learned the hard way what we can’t do,” says Brian, “And we can’t do everything.” But, what they can do, and what they’ve learned to well, is collaborate. “Why take on projects that are over your head if you can partner,” says Brian. “If we can partner with other companies in Lansing, we can all become bigger and can stretch out past Michigan.”
Surrounding themselves with partnerships and people, according to Brian, has been the number one reason for their success. Building a successful team began when Brian met his partner, Melissa Meschke. He was immediately caught by what a great networker she was. “She took my card and immediately set up a meeting.” Her networking skills have been invaluable to growing the business and Brian says they’ve found more business from networking than anything else. “Hiring her was a huge move in the right direction.”
Since then, they’ve continued to surround themselves with good people. Their main goal has always been keeping those people happy and enjoying their jobs. Brian left the corporate environment, which seemed to exist even in the schools where he worked, to be able to create that kind of environment for himself and his employees. “We want to nurture talented, hard working people that love their work. Then, everything else falls into place.”
Partnerships and a great team have pushed them in the right direction, but a desire to keep growing and trying new things have pushed them to new levels. On top of their successful marketing practices and wide range of (ever-expanding) clients, they are looking to both improve on the services they already offer and continue to add that list. They’ve recently hired four more people in order to prepare themselves to be able to offer new, marketing automation software. The new addition will allow clients the ability to capture leads, track leads, and offer content creation. “We know we do a great job, but we want to be able to help our customers attract leads and business. We can show clients what’s working and what’s not.”
Offering this software is simply a logical choice for Brian, Melissa and the team, as it’s the best way to stay on top of constantly changing marketing trends. “A few years ago, marketing automation didn’t really exist. Social media was completely different. So, the things we offer are always changing…”
And, they’ve even branched out from their bread and butter and into a few completely new (for them) industries. They’ve recently launched Michigan Creative Weddings and jumped into the fashion game with Freshwater Apparel. “It’s a lifestyle brand,” says Brian. “It’s for people that want to have fun in the elements but don’t want to scale a mountain.” With help from Jeff Henry (who played a large part in getting The Runway off the ground) they are manufacturing, sewing and designing right in Lansing and are launching soon.
But no matter what services they offer or who their clients are, Brian says they are always working to make their internal processes quicker and better. Whether it’s expanding their video services, offering mobile optimization, looking at how to produce videos more efficiently and affordably, they are always learning, changing, and growing, not only for themselves, but also for the community. Over time, they expect that their partnerships, collaborations and new endeavors will not only help grow their company, but also the Lansing community.