HAYVN 'hotseat' provides marketing support for entrepreneurs – Westfair Online

Many small businesses lack a marketing department. Among some self-employed entrepreneurs, marketing often feels like a distraction from doing the work they really want to be doing: getting down to business for their clients and customers.
The exception to that trend is marketers themselves, which makes the monthly Marketing Hotseat held for members of HAYVN coworking spaces a unique opportunity for all involved. The HAYVN coworking community offers both physical office space and a community program designed to help businesses owners strengthen their businesses together, and once a month the members of HAYVN with a marketing background offer their services and insight to a fellow member who has a marketing problem.
Recently, Mark Alex Maidique sat in the hotseat — on this occasion, a comfortable couch in one of HAYVN’s cozy meeting rooms in Darien — to chart a new course for his architecture firm after rebranding.
“My company name was Maidique Design and Build, and a couple other iterations,” he explained to the four HAYVN members with marketing backgrounds who joined the meeting. “But my name is always hard to spell and hard to remember and maybe even a little too fancy for the kind of stuff that I wanted to do.”
Maidique was struck with sudden inspiration over the past summer while riding his bike and liked both the sound of “Bridger” as a name as well as the concept of “bridging” gaps and divides, and soon adopted Bridger Architecture Approvals & Development as his brand.
Maidique showed up to the hotseat meeting with stickers, pens, and business cards featuring the new name and his cheekily named website, weareBAAD.com. What he wasn’t sure about was how to position himself in the local market when his work is focused much more on renovations that emphasize improving function, rather than producing the sort of look popular in architecture magazines.
Over the course of an hour, the marketers Marie Protomastro Patel, Keith Reynolds, Lisa Miniter and Melisa Holek helped Maidique realize a number of steps he could take to better focus his business, and ways to emphasize his ability to get variances approved by zoning boards in communities like Darien, Westport, Greenwich and New Canaan.
Protomastro Patel, who is both the director of marketing at the engineering, surveying and planning firm Redniss & Mead and the founder and owner of Girl on the Ball Solutions, is familiar with some of the challenges in Maidique’s industry. Patel is also one of the organizers of the Hotseat sessions.
“We offer it as a benefit to the members of HAYVN, kind of a value add,” she said. “There are a number of marketers that are part of the HAYVN community in addition to individual business owners.”
Protomastro Patel explained that the hotseats evolved out of marketing “mastermind” sessions held over Zoom at the height of the pandemic when marketers “used to meet virtually once a week and we developed our own hot seat where we were helping each other with our marketing challenges.”
The resulting brainstorming sessions were energizing and enjoyable, but after the economy began moving again the marketers found themselves too busy for their regular sessions, until Felicia Rubenstein, HAYVN’s founder, suggested opening it up to members of the coworking space at large.
“Sometimes we go through a marketing exercise, which uncovers some things about their ideal customer or if we can provide them with a conduit to come up with more defined messaging or value propositions,” Protomastro Patel said of typical sessions.
According to Protomastro Patel, the sessions are useful for everybody involved. The solutions are typically actionable for the person in the hot seat, and the marketers not only get to practice their problem solving but also show potential clients how they can help them moving forward.
But, Protomastro Patel noted, this presented a unique opportunity for the person in the hot seat if they are contemplating hiring a marketer. Opportunities to hear so many perspectives, and to feel out so many potential people to work with are rare, but also exactly the sort of networking opportunity a community-oriented coworking space like HAYVN is built on.
“It’s truly beneficial in this day and age because there’s so much emphasis on digital that we forget about the personal,” Protomastro Patel added. “Small businesses are built on relationships and this is a way to build that.”
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