How do you motivate people to visit your business? How can you secure customer loyalty or gain new customers? What media is best for advertising?
Questions like these run through every business owner's mind as they ponder how to market their company - along with the thousands of other details involved in running a business. Whether or not the methods are effective, many companies rely on the same promotions year after year - simply because the business owner lacks a fresh approach to interest consumers.
Lake Oswego resident Margaux Rathbun offers solutions to these marketing dilemmas.
Equipped with unflappable determination and charming originality, Rathbun has founded Margaux Inc., a boutique marketing and promotions agency. Rathbun has made it her mission to create the right mix of cost-efficient advertising to generate interest and increase sales volume for her clients. She brings a fresh approach to the age-old issues of marketing and promoting a business.
Rathbun provides advertising, marketing and event planning services to local businesses, primarily in the health, beauty and fashion industries.
She admits to always being ambitious.
'I had my first business when I was 8 years old,' she said. 'I set up a stand outside my home in Mountain Park and sold popcorn and told fortunes.'
Her talent for finding a unique angle in the 'value added' category comes naturally.
Rathbun, a 2000 graduate of Lake Oswego High School, was a member of DECA, a club that gives students experience running a business. At 18, she and two classmates developed JAM Jewelry, a business that sold handmade jewelry. The students were so successful in creating/marketing their products that Nordstrom sold the line to its stores.
'We'd have trunk shows at Nordstrom. It was a huge success,' she said.
Rathbun continued as an entrepreneur as a student at Kent State University with the development of personalized greeting cards for sororities and fraternities.
After earning a bachelor's degree from Kent State in fashion merchandising, Rathbun worked at Nike and ClearChannel Radio, but didn't feel she was answering her calling. She founded Margaux Inc. last June, in spite of much doubt from friends and would-be advisors.
'People told me I was too young, that I didn't have enough experience and that advertising was a male-driven industry,' she said. 'Somebody even said to me 'Why don't you get a real job?' I kept reminding myself that this is what I went to school for; I am prepared for this, so let's go do it.'
In the beginning, she had no clients or financial backing, just a stack of business cards and ambition. The first few months were naturally difficult, and she relied heavily on trial and error.
'I didn't want to be a traditional agency. I want to see my clients' businesses grow and feel accountable for what happens,' Rathbun said.
In Rathbun's eight months in business, she has executed grand openings and fashion events for Shoefly shoe retailer in the Pearl District and Bridgeport Village, and Lavish salon in the Pearl District, to name a few. She has placed clients' products in Portland Fashion Week, AM Northwest, the Z100 Buckhead Show, Bella Donna Magazine, Skorch Magazine and The Tigard Times. Rathbun has been featured on Portland Picks.
'I love to do events,' she said. 'More than just a sale, an event gets customers involved in the business. They experience the services and products, rather than just shop, as you can do at any grand opening.'
As passionate as Rathbun is about fashion, she is equally passionate about encouraging others to follow their dreams, a valuable asset for one whose business is spurring people into action. Her suggestion? Dream big.
'You can do whatever you want to do,' she said. 'If you stay true to yourself and your passion, success will follow.
'Never, never, never, never give up.'