Clarity. Purpose. Continuity. Direction.

Are these words you would use to express your organization's marketing efforts?

If not, you’re not alone. Because regardless of their size, scope or objectives, many well-run businesses and nonprofits struggle to get their arms around marketing strategy and execution. In the absence of an overarching plan, marketing defaults to a series of loosely connected projects rather than a carefully implemented plan grounded in strategic thinking. It becomes more about hitting advertising deadlines and less about long-term, intentional positioning. Where no marketing framework exists, business owners, VPs, marketing managers and creative team members often feel like they’re having the same conversations time and time again, yielding little marketing traction.

If this sounds familiar, you're in the right place.

The Process

We begin most of our client engagements with a simple question: “What prompted your interest in this project?” Because we want to understand how this project fits into the overarching strategy. And where no strategy exists – where no marketing methodology drives the plan – we bring a framework to the table to start the process of intentional alignment for better long-term results.

That’s because we don’t think about what we do as “just a project delivery service.” Rather, we believe our engagements are opportunities to improve our clients’ marketing strategy and execution…to give them clarity, purpose, continuity and direction.

North Star’s three-phase marketing alignment process:

 

Strategy

Strategy

The Discovery Process is all about the “why” behind the “what.” This methodology helps us avoid assumptions and gets us deeper into the positioning conversation. What we learn in this phase enables us to execute creative projects with a higher degree of effectiveness. It helps us speak to specific target audiences rather than broadcast one-size-fits-all messages. Simply put, strategy sets the direction for every subsequent marketing effort.

Creative Services

Creative Services

Nearly every marketing initiative translates into some form of tangible communications – a logo, a website, print collateral, direct mail piece, social media post, etc. Building on the Strategy phase, North Star’s in-house creative and technical services teams are well equipped to support a broad range of marketing projects, aligning the look, feel, message and functionality with the overarching plan.

Execution

Execution

Knocking down a punch list of projects isn’t marketing – it’s “meeting deadlines.” Implementing an informed strategic plan over time is marketing. Phase three of our process is all about execution – coming alongside our clients to help them implement the plan. We flow their online and traditional marketing initiatives into a web-based marketing calendar that tracks promotions, projects, tasks and budgets. This real-time platform fosters clarity and accountability.

Services

Services Framework

Whether you’re considering outsourcing a single project or engaging a long-term strategic partner for ongoing marketing support, North Star can help.

Single Projects
Many of our projects focus on a single deliverable – logo design, web development, brochure layout, search engine optimization, pay-per-click management, etc. However, even though we’re contributing to only one part of the marketing plan, we think carefully about how our project fits into and impacts the overarching strategy. Click through the services menu to learn more about our marketing project capabilities.

Retained Services
For our clients who want ongoing, fully integrated marketing alignment, we start by developing a strategic plan for their marketing. This often includes shoring up their marketing infrastructure (brand, web, print). We then develop a marketing mix that makes sense for them and flow the plan into a shared, web-based marketing calendar that drives execution. This service model is often implemented on a retainer basis, giving us a regular allotment of time each month to work on the account.

One Team
Marketing projects are handled by full-time North Star team members. We are not a decentralized, hub-and-spoke firm that depends primarily on freelancers to get our clients’ work done. We are a full-time team of marketing, creative and technical services professionals who collaborate closely on every project.

Brand Identity

NSM-OverviewIcon-BrandA brand is more than just a logo. And “branding” is more than using consistent colors and fonts. Your brand identity embodies the persona of your organization; it sets the tone for your marketing strategy; it sets expectations and makes promises. Your name, your logo, your tagline, your colors, your typography should all work together to clearly establish a position in your market that is uniquely and authentically you.

Think about it. How many times will your brand be used and seen over the next 10 years? How many website impressions, email signatures, advertisements, brochures and business cards will pass in front of prospective customers and referral sources? The numbers are staggering. So it makes sense to get it right up front.

Are you happy with your branding? Do you have three or four different logos, “slightly off” color schemes, inconsistent email signatures or a tagline with no teeth? Do you have a Brand Standards Guide that keeps your branding consistent and professional across your organization? If not, perhaps we should talk.

...........................................................................................................................................................................................

Web Development

NSM-OverviewIcon-WebIn an age when most of your target customers carry the Internet in their pockets, expectations of websites have never been higher. Your prospective customers are on a self-guided tour of the web, skimming sites that might be relevant and pausing longer in places where they find valuable information. That’s why it pays to start your web project by thinking through the various types of users who will be engaging your site. Because it’s not about what you want to tell them…it’s about what they want to know.

Of course, understanding your audience is only the starting point. The design, functionality, content management systems and technical support behind your website are important, too – not just during the build, but long after the site has been live and managing traffic.

You know people make decisions about the quality of your products, services and team based on what they see online. So, what does your website say about your brand? If you need to establish a new site or revamp one that’s feeling a bit tired, we’d be delighted to start the conversation.

...........................................................................................................................................................................................

Print Collateral

NSM-OverviewIcon-PrintThe web may be the landing pad for most marketing initiatives, but many organizations have found that print is simply not going away. From business cards to brochures, sell sheets to posters, info packets to catalogs, print is alive and well. Most of our clients find that they need to round out their marketing infrastructure with some form of brand-aligned print collateral.

In our experience, companies and nonprofits need far less collateral than they used to. With real-time information available online, it makes no sense to overdo it in print. But, whenever you have face-to-face interaction, there’s room for print – a business card, a brochure, a view book, an information packet. The feel of paper, the clarity of the images, the tangible expression of the brand all add up to a classy, timeless link in the chain of communications that connect the prospect to the buying decision.

We do an awful lot of web development, so when a good print piece comes along, our designers love to roll up their sleeves, break out the Pantone color guides and anticipate the smell of fresh ink. We can conceptualize, write, design, and manage the printing for your next print collateral project, so give us a call to talk it over.

...........................................................................................................................................................................................

Online Marketing

NSM-OverviewIcon-OnlineThis is the web-based component of your marketing mix. Search engine optimization. Pay-per-click advertising. Remarketing. Content marketing. Blogging. Press release distribution. Banner ads. Social media.

For our online marketing clients, we employ a balance of organic search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising through Google, Facebook and other outlets (also called “paid search”). Our aim is to determine the keyword mix that makes sense for you, then deploy a geo-targeted campaign that focuses on your target audience. Your brand shows up in front of prospective customers who are intentionally looking for what you offer. And best of all, it’s measurable.

The list of online marketing strategies goes on and on. Figuring out which inbound strategies to use can be time-consuming, confusing and just plain frustrating. North Star can help you evaluate the options, establish a budget and implement a strategy that has measurable ROI. Give us a call if you’re interested in raising your profile online.

...........................................................................................................................................................................................

Traditional Advertising

NSM-OverviewIcon-TraditionalThis is the offline part of your marketing mix. Direct mail, billboards, print advertising, trade shows, television and radio. Some organizations would like to think “traditional advertising” is outdated and irrelevant, but for most businesses and nonprofits, an effective marketing mix is incomplete without this part of the strategy. Online alone is simply not enough. Prospective customers need to see your brand in multiple places and from multiple angles for the “big idea” to sink in.

A word of caution, however, for those companies who have engaged traditional advertising for many years: it’s easy to fall into the habit of “obligatory advertising.” That looks like this: “Well, we do what we’ve always done and spend money on the same things we’ve always spent money on. Everybody in the industry does it.” That’s a formula for wasted marketing dollars.

If your marketing mix is scattered, incoherent, habitual or sporadic, let’s talk. Chances are you can reallocate some dollars to be more effective.

...........................................................................................................................................................................................

Marketing Calendar

NSM-OverviewIcon-Calendar2Your marketing strategy is only as good as your capacity to execute the plan. This is where so many organizations lose their way. They drive marketing initiatives from their inboxes, whiteboards and PowerPoint slide decks rather than from a singular, web-based expression of the plan. Rarely is the information shared in real-time across the team. No one would know where to look if the CEO said, “Show me the marketing plan you’re implementing.”

North Star’s approach to execution is all about clarity and visibility. Our web-based marketing calendar platform provides a comprehensive overview of the promotions, projects, tasks and budgets that drive your marketing plan. It’s where the strategy moves off the page and into action. It’s real, it’s in motion, it’s transparent and it’s accountable.

If you’re ready to move your marketing plan out of the realm of theory and into reality, let’s talk about setting up a marketing calendar for your team.

  • Brand Identity

    NSM-OverviewIcon-BrandA brand is more than just a logo. And “branding” is more than using consistent colors and fonts. Your brand identity embodies the persona of your organization; it sets the tone for your marketing strategy; it sets expectations and makes promises. Your name, your logo, your tagline, your colors, your typography should all work together to clearly establish a position in your market that is uniquely and authentically you.

    Think about it. How many times will your brand be used and seen over the next 10 years? How many website impressions, email signatures, advertisements, brochures and business cards will pass in front of prospective customers and referral sources? The numbers are staggering. So it makes sense to get it right up front.

    Are you happy with your branding? Do you have three or four different logos, “slightly off” color schemes, inconsistent email signatures or a tagline with no teeth? Do you have a Brand Standards Guide that keeps your branding consistent and professional across your organization? If not, perhaps we should talk.

    ...........................................................................................................................................................................................

  • Web Development

    NSM-OverviewIcon-WebIn an age when most of your target customers carry the Internet in their pockets, expectations of websites have never been higher. Your prospective customers are on a self-guided tour of the web, skimming sites that might be relevant and pausing longer in places where they find valuable information. That’s why it pays to start your web project by thinking through the various types of users who will be engaging your site. Because it’s not about what you want to tell them…it’s about what they want to know.

    Of course, understanding your audience is only the starting point. The design, functionality, content management systems and technical support behind your website are important, too – not just during the build, but long after the site has been live and managing traffic.

    You know people make decisions about the quality of your products, services and team based on what they see online. So, what does your website say about your brand? If you need to establish a new site or revamp one that’s feeling a bit tired, we’d be delighted to start the conversation.

    ...........................................................................................................................................................................................

  • Print Collateral

    NSM-OverviewIcon-PrintThe web may be the landing pad for most marketing initiatives, but many organizations have found that print is simply not going away. From business cards to brochures, sell sheets to posters, info packets to catalogs, print is alive and well. Most of our clients find that they need to round out their marketing infrastructure with some form of brand-aligned print collateral.

    In our experience, companies and nonprofits need far less collateral than they used to. With real-time information available online, it makes no sense to overdo it in print. But, whenever you have face-to-face interaction, there’s room for print – a business card, a brochure, a view book, an information packet. The feel of paper, the clarity of the images, the tangible expression of the brand all add up to a classy, timeless link in the chain of communications that connect the prospect to the buying decision.

    We do an awful lot of web development, so when a good print piece comes along, our designers love to roll up their sleeves, break out the Pantone color guides and anticipate the smell of fresh ink. We can conceptualize, write, design, and manage the printing for your next print collateral project, so give us a call to talk it over.

    ...........................................................................................................................................................................................

  • Online Marketing

    NSM-OverviewIcon-OnlineThis is the web-based component of your marketing mix. Search engine optimization. Pay-per-click advertising. Remarketing. Content marketing. Blogging. Press release distribution. Banner ads. Social media.

    For our online marketing clients, we employ a balance of organic search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising through Google, Facebook and other outlets (also called “paid search”). Our aim is to determine the keyword mix that makes sense for you, then deploy a geo-targeted campaign that focuses on your target audience. Your brand shows up in front of prospective customers who are intentionally looking for what you offer. And best of all, it’s measurable.

    The list of online marketing strategies goes on and on. Figuring out which inbound strategies to use can be time-consuming, confusing and just plain frustrating. North Star can help you evaluate the options, establish a budget and implement a strategy that has measurable ROI. Give us a call if you’re interested in raising your profile online.

    ...........................................................................................................................................................................................

  • Traditional Advertising

    NSM-OverviewIcon-TraditionalThis is the offline part of your marketing mix. Direct mail, billboards, print advertising, trade shows, television and radio. Some organizations would like to think “traditional advertising” is outdated and irrelevant, but for most businesses and nonprofits, an effective marketing mix is incomplete without this part of the strategy. Online alone is simply not enough. Prospective customers need to see your brand in multiple places and from multiple angles for the “big idea” to sink in.

    A word of caution, however, for those companies who have engaged traditional advertising for many years: it’s easy to fall into the habit of “obligatory advertising.” That looks like this: “Well, we do what we’ve always done and spend money on the same things we’ve always spent money on. Everybody in the industry does it.” That’s a formula for wasted marketing dollars.

    If your marketing mix is scattered, incoherent, habitual or sporadic, let’s talk. Chances are you can reallocate some dollars to be more effective.

    ...........................................................................................................................................................................................

  • Marketing Calendar

    NSM-OverviewIcon-Calendar2Your marketing strategy is only as good as your capacity to execute the plan. This is where so many organizations lose their way. They drive marketing initiatives from their inboxes, whiteboards and PowerPoint slide decks rather than from a singular, web-based expression of the plan. Rarely is the information shared in real-time across the team. No one would know where to look if the CEO said, “Show me the marketing plan you’re implementing.”

    North Star’s approach to execution is all about clarity and visibility. Our web-based marketing calendar platform provides a comprehensive overview of the promotions, projects, tasks and budgets that drive your marketing plan. It’s where the strategy moves off the page and into action. It’s real, it’s in motion, it’s transparent and it’s accountable.

    If you’re ready to move your marketing plan out of the realm of theory and into reality, let’s talk about setting up a marketing calendar for your team.

Portfolio

Culture

We talk a lot about culture at North Star, specifically, our core values: character, attitude, aptitude and fit. These guiding principles impact how we hire, how we serve our clients and how we interact with each other. Yes, North Star Marketing is a group of talented, full-time consulting, creative, technical and project support professionals. But we’re more than that. We’re parents, coaches, counselors, hobbyists, sons, daughters and friends. And we believe one of the greatest joys of work is creating relationships that matter. That’s why we make culture a priority.

Andy Lynch

Marketing Consultant, Principal

With the ink barely dry on his college diploma, Andy started North Star Marketing in 2000, converting a corner of his parents’ basement into a makeshift office. The idea was simple: help businesses communicate more effectively. Not much has changed since then. Yes, North Star has a few more people (who do not work from Andy’s parents’ basement), and the range of services has evolved substantially, but the “big idea” is still the same: use our God-given creative talents to help our clients advance their missions through developing communications that are clear, attractive, reliable and timely. When not tending to NSM “stuff,” Andy’s usually busy doing something with these folks.

Rob McDorman

Creative Director

Rob is one of those rare people who is good at lots of things…like soccer, photography, theology, eating gummy worms, etc. He has a unique gift for envisioning a brand and, before it’s even been designed, seeing how it will be implemented on a website, a billboard, a direct mail piece and a bumper sticker (or, for our clients in the Northeast, “bumpah stickah”). He’s the best foosballer at North Star (for now…), an optimistic gardener and a way above-average husband and father. Spend a day on a photo shoot with him, and you’ll see why North Star and our clients are blessed to have this guy on the team.

Marketing Strategist

Could this be you?

The Marketing Strategist is tasked with client communication, account management, vendor communication, strategic plan development (to include conducting research, making marketing recommendations and creating media plans) and developing account opportunities.

Read more about this position.

Sarah Koudelka

Project Manager

Sarah is the epitome of the “duck on the water” analogy. Gliding across the water, it looks effortless. Just below the surface, however, the feet are paddling like crazy. That’s Sarah. She manages the push and pull of projects, keeping our workflow on time and on target. Without her, we’d pretty much all pack up and go home, because she takes care of scheduling. She’s also a mom with two remarkable young’ns. In fact, we have already signed contracts for both of them to work at North Star when they grow up…and they’re not even in kindergarten yet.

Ryan Cardwell

Senior Developer

Have you ever seen a programmer sing karaoke? If so, it wasn’t Ryan. While he’s not necessarily the “out-in-front” kind of guy, he’s been doing an awful lot behind the scenes since 2002 to make the tech stuff happen when it’s showtime. His remarkable knowledge of web technologies is staggering. And he likes cats. And he married up. Now, isn’t that a lethal combination?

Clark Morgan

Online Marketing Director

We actually have video footage of this guy staring at his screen without blinking for 6 hours. We posted it to YouTube, but it went viral and crashed their servers. The good news for North Star’s online marketing clients is he’s working on strategic planning for their accounts. With a strong background in direct marketing and lead generation, Clark’s considerable expertise enables him to speak to both traditional and inbound strategies. When he’s not knee-deep in Google Analytics, you can likely find Clark on the receiving end of round house kicks and knuckle sandwiches from his black-belt teenage daughter.

Tyler Olson

Project Manager

This North Star project manager is one part philosopher (“It’s not the arrow, it’s the indian…”), one part amateur golfer (reference the golf shoes at the office and the weekend score card in the 70’s), one part aspiring photographer (note the ever-changing wallpaper on his Mac), one part neat-freak (you won’t find a paperclip out of place on his desk) and one part humorist (“How does he keep a straight face?”). There’s a lot going on here, which is what makes Tyler such a strong project manager. He moves from project to project, conversation to conversation with an easy-going style that works like a trusty seven iron.

Micah Fox

Development

“Has anyone seen Micah?” We love it when Micah’s not at the office. Because it means he’s out working with current and prospective clients on new projects (and, contrary to popular speculation…NOT on the golf course). Chances are if you call North Star about a new project, you’ll speak with Micah along the way. Having worked with a wide range of clients on hundreds of projects, he does an excellent job guiding the engagement process through the scoping phase and into production. Micah also does a mean impersonation of Barney Fife. He frequently reminds us that his “whole body is a weapon,” and it’s illegal for him to put his hands in his pockets without a concealed carry permit. There it is.

Developer

Could this be you?

This position works to develop custom, often complex WordPress-based solutions along with general PHP framework-based solutions. In addition, they will aid sales staff, account managers, and others in requirements gathering, web project planning, and general technical questions. Provides leadership in finding/developing new technologies and methods to advance the company’s web offerings. Aids other developers with system design and implementation. Performs server maintenance and monitoring.

Read More about this position.

 

Bryan Ickes

Senior Creative

Bryan is our resident designer/theologian/botanist/philosopher/musician. He works full-time from Tampa, Florida (where he wraps himself in a goose down jacket when temperatures hit the low 60s), but he’s as much a part of the team as our Burlington-based folks. Bryan is fluent in designing brand, web, print, online and traditional marketing. He also played bass in the now defunct band, “Quiet Roaming Tanks.” (The group fell apart over disagreements around the use of the cowbell.) He and his wife have three delightful children who have pretty much cornered the market on cuteness.

Kyle Smith

Senior Designer

Kyle currently holds the record for the tallest guy at North Star. But don’t let the “gentle giant” exterior fool you. Inside, he’s a branding grizzly, web design monster, a print powerhouse. Give him a kickoff meeting and a creative brief, and get out of the way. When he’s not manhandling a Mac, you’ll find Kyle and his wife hiking, paddling or camping…outdoorsy stuff. In fact, some days he even wears hiking boots to the office in anticipation of getting outdoors.

Jordan Southern

Developer

Send an email to captain.awesome@northstarmarketing.com, and it will go straight to Jordan’s inbox. In fact, Jordan has so many admirers that Google reports indicate nearly 1% of all web traffic last month was related to his social media following. Perhaps that’s because of his above-average WordPress integration skills and outstanding customer support. Sign on with North Star Marketing, and you’ll be a Captain Awesome fan, too.

Online Marketing Support

Could this be you?

The Marketing Support position is a full-time, on-site role, working with our Online Marketing Director, Copywriter, Project Managers, Account Managers, Designers and Programmers. Candidates who are not strong writers and do not possess a strong understanding of SEO need not apply, as this role requires extensive writing and SEO strategy implementation. Click the link below to get a few specifics on the job and to tell us more about you.

Read more about this position.

 

Matt Gordon

Creative

Every business needs a Matt. He’s the guy who can step into any design project and do what it takes to get it across the finish line. All you have to do is ask, and he’s on it. From website graphics to print file finishing to illustration (and even sculpture), Matt’s unique skill set helps our projects move forward. And, if you happen to speak Urdu, (Pakistan’s national language), dial his extension and strike up a conversation.

Shannon Melrose

Marketing Support

Local listings for SEO? Child’s play. Content alignment? Easy-peasy. Editorial calendar strategy? A walk in the park. Blog post writing? Consider it done. Shannon Melrose is the next-generation marketer. She’s got “digital native” savvy, a fearless drive for learning new technologies, solid writing skills, an easy-going personality and a way-above-average work ethic. You want her working on your stuff. Because when she has a goal to hit, she will find a way to make it happen. For these reasons and more, we’re blessed to have her on the North Star team.

 

Morgan McCarty

Copywriter

Morgan’s mother knew she was different when she cried the first time she ate alphabet soup for lunch. “What’s wrong, honey?” she asked. Between sobs, Morgan said, “Mommy, I just can’t eat these letters…it seems like such a waste!” In that moment Morgan realized that her life would never be the same. She knew there was only one career path for her. She would grow up to be…a copywriter – a unique breed of professional who puts together letters that form words that make sentences that shape ideas that persuade people to buy only the stuff they really need…or, sometimes, wants that feel like needs. So, don’t let her easy-going, laid back interview style fool you. You’re talking to a copywriter with ice in her veins – one who has made her peace with alphabet soup…and stays well supplied, thanks to Amazon Prime.

 

Chris Spires

Developer

Chris writes WordPress code in iambic pentameter. Javascript in haiku. On the side, he’s working on a concerto…written entirely in PHP. Now, you might assume that Chris was an English major, perhaps with a minor in computer science…but he studied mechanical engineering…with an aerospace concentration. Yeah, that’s sort of like rocket science. As if that’s not enough, he codes exclusively on a Mac (to the delight of the NSM design team), furthering his reputation as a true Renaissance man. Perhaps what’s most impressive about Chris, however, is his winsome way of talking tech with non-techies. He listens, evaluates and educates along the way, helping “the rest of us” understand how web applications work. And that’s a big deal when you’re choosing a web development partner.

Misha Frazier

Bookkeeper

Perhaps it’s the orderly stacks of papers and folders on her desk, seated at attention like members of an orchestra. Or maybe it’s the P90-X workout she demands of the printer on a daily basis. It could be her Google-like ability to find anything you need in a matter of seconds. Or maybe you could tell by the cello leaning against the wall in her office, patiently awaiting lessons at the end of the day.

Regardless of how you piece it together, you don’t have to be around Misha Frazier for long to know that she is the uber-bookkeeper. Numbers make her happy. She loves general ledger. All is right in Misha’s world when every penny is posted, every receipt is wrangled and every report is reconciled.

And best of all, for a lady who adores order and precision, Misha has the patience of Job when working with the “creative types” at North Star. (Is that Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G emanating from her office?)

Michelle Prillaman

Client Services

Don’t let the soft-spoken, personable, easy-going phone greeting fool you. When it comes to details…Michelle is cold and calculating…showing no mercy to project punch lists, support requests and scheduling. She’s part psychic, anticipating what needs to happen next. She’s part magician, doing stuff that seems impossible. She’s part air traffic controller, coordinating schedules and keeping us on time. She’s part bento box, keeping everything orderly and in its place. And she likes sci-fi books and movies. Yes, there’s a lot going on here. Perhaps that’s what makes Michelle so good at taking care of the rest of us…and our clients.

Andrei Dumitrascu

Developer

We have a few remote team members at North Star, but Andrei holds the record. He gets a substantial head start on his day…seven hours, in fact. You see, he dials in from Drăgășani, Romania (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drăgășani). Andrei is an accomplished web developer who started programming at 10 years old. In university he studied civil engineering, a career he pursued after finishing school. After a few years, however, he realized that his first love was still programming. So he quit his engineering job and started freelancing. Today, Andrei works full-time with the North Star crew and plays a valuable role for our design and tech teams. When he’s not coding, he’s hanging out with his wife and children (twins!), playing guitar or fishing. When he is coding, he’s doing fantastic work.

Zach Godwin

Online Marketing Support

Zach’s the guy wearing the t-shirt that says, “I’m with the brand.” He’s 1/2 designer, 1/4 code spelunker, 1/2 writer, 1/4 social media manager, 1/2 copy writer, 1/4 videographer…3/4 musician…which makes him essentially three people. As tempting as it is to spread his unique skill set like Nutella across all of our departments, he calls Online Marketing home. That’s where his know-how creates substantial value for North Star clients – by developing and implementing lead-generation strategies for companies, nonprofits and schools. They think Zach’s work on their brands is pretty sweet…sort of like Nutella.

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Contact

Thinking about a marketing project? We’d be happy to discuss it with you. Just fill out the form below. Or, better yet, skip the form and give us a call: 336.229.6610. Thanks!

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