This week’s Woman in Business Interview with WE Magazine for Women is Heidi Singleton, co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of female led ad agency New Honor Society
This is her story:
Tell us about your business.
New Honor Society is a creative boutique that provides marketing services to local, regional and global brands. We help brands behave less like brands and more like people, so that their marketing becomes a demonstration of who they are, not just what they sell. Think of it as Less Sell, More Soul.
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
For 15 years, my partner, Holly, and I worked in sales promotion, helping brands reach short-term sales goals through incentives or point-of-purchase tactics that would get people to buy one brand over another. And for many years it worked. But as social media became more ubiquitous, consumers had a new expectation for brands –to behave more like people. They’re now making purchase decisions based more on brand values and beliefs. We wanted to create an agency made for a new kind of consumer: one that cares more about a brand’s point-of-view than its point-of-difference. So we launched New Honor Society.
We see the role of marketing not as “how do I get someone to like or buy my brand” rather “how do I make my brand worthy of being liked?
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
Simon Sinak, hands down. Simon was the first to convince marketers of the importance of brand values and beliefs over features and benefits. He encourages brands to define their “why,” or purpose as a means to connect more deeply with consumers.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
By far, it would be the launch of New Honor Society. Seeing a greater role for marketing and establishing a space, culture and process to deliver on it.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
A lot of people will tell you no, but that’s only the first answer.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
What matters most in the marketing industry is the work we do for our clients. No promotional or marketing initiatives can compare to the product we create.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
That this isn’t “my” agency. It belongs to the 40 people who have signed on to be part of it. I’m here to give them a sense of purpose for their work, and the culture and support they need to learn, grow and succeed both personally and professionally. If I based my decisions on what is good for the whole, rather than what’s in it for me, the culture and work benefit tremendously.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
As a creative, I need to constantly stay on top of trends and derive inspiration from other creative leaders so that our work remains fresh and relevant. My go-to sources are Creativity-Online.com, Howdesign.com, Adweek.com and Wired. These resources are less specific to running a business and more focused on the work we create and clients we serve within our business.
Do you have any new projects coming up?
We just launched a campaign called “Bully Hunters” to fight in-game harassment against women. Over 21 million women have been harassed, bullied, threatened or verbally assaulted in game. Bully Hunters started as an elite group of female gamers who came together to disrupt the status quo, forming a vigilante in-game hit squad with one simple mission: to beat bullies at their own game. What started as a small team has become a global tool to connect victims of bullying with elite gamers who can come to their defense in real time.
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
I love live music, and try to see at least one show a month, usually in the rock or alt country genres.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
I hope to double our revenue by 2020, which will give us the financial freedom to invest in new capabilities and grow our presence in the Chicago and San Francisco markets.
You want to write a book on ________
Brand Humanization. How being principled, culturally conscious, empathetic and even a little vulnerable can endear people to brands and benefit both brands and audiences simultaneously. A former client, Max Levchin (co-founder of PayPal and now CEO of Affirm), once said that for-profit companies are more capable of cultural impact and social change that non-profits. He’s absolutely right. Due to their resources and reach, brands have this incredible power to influence perception and behavior of mass audiences. I believe that the brands who use that power for good will be the most successful in the years to come.
What’s the best way for the readers of WE Magazine for Women to connect with you?