Even though they know they shouldn’t ignore branding and marketing, small companies with limited budgets usually put things like logo design and social media on the back burner — often because small business owners don’t know how to get started with branding, or where to go.
So Eric Sloss and Sarah Mayer have found a way to bring the branding to the small businesses.
UpTo, a small creative marketing firm that provides design and communication services to small businesses and entrepreneurs, will be holding its latest “pop-up” event in Millvale on Monday, after previous pop-up events in Butler, East Liberty and Wilkinsburg.
The company works with local freelancers to provide its services to businesses, and scouts locations identified by economic development organizations such as Downtown-based Neighborhood Allies.
“We know of a lot of services out there, education for small businesses like lectures and seminars,” said Mr. Sloss. “What we do is serve it a la carte, helping neighborhood businesses by raising the awareness of good design and writing services.”
The team will set up shop in Millvale, at 215 North Ave. on Monday, offering appointments for clients from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and will hold a party for participants and the general public on Friday evening.
The UpTo services aren’t free. The reasoning is if a company is getting marketing for free, it’s less likely the owners will learn to carve out a marketing budget in the future.
“They know they need to do something, but need to learn what they should hire out for, how much these things cost,” Ms. Mayer explained.
During the consultation with the companies, they work with them to find a price point they can handle, and make a list of must-haves.
“We want to empower them to take control of their marketing efforts, and give them assets they can use in the future,” Ms. Mayer said.
And UpTo provides branding services to individuals, as well, such as Facebook pages or assistance with blogs and online portfolios.
UpTo got its start as part of Idea Foundry, as one of the Oakland-based incubator’s InterSector Accelerator companies.
“Working with UpTo has shown us that Sarah and Eric are dedicated to building a company that is financially sustainable, creates job and growth opportunities for freelance and creative workers, and has the best interests of communities and small business owners in mind,” said Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, Idea Foundry business manager.
“I grew up with many entrepreneurs; my mom and my grandma owned a hair salon,” Ms. Mayer said. “I didn’t know it then, but it was training to be an entrepreneur.”
She worked at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, which she said gave her an understanding of Main Street business issues.
Mr. Sloss started his career in public relations working for the Mon Valley Initiative, a nonprofit economic development organization based in Homestead. “It really informed me on the ways small businesses and main street communities work,” he said.
Kim Lyons: klyons@post-gazette com or 412-263-1241. Twitter: @SocialKimly.