Finding the things that matterDec 23, 2014 07:44PM ● By Kerigan Butt
Social Stylate is, from left to right, Kelly Hockenberry, co-founders Carroll Ivy Laurence and Lauren Golt, and Sydney Sullivan.
(Editor's note: This article first appeared in our Winter 2014 edition.)
By Richard L. Gaw
In the world of work, there are some days when you just have to leave the office and go play with Superman.
Recently, Carroll Ivy Laurence and Lauren Golt disappeared for a day into the world of comic books. As the co-founders of Social Stylate, a local marketing firm they began together in 2011, Laurence and Golt often find themselves chained to a seemingly never-ending carousel ride of client meetings, event planning, campaign pitches and brainstorming sessions, so when they received an invitation by their client Olga Ganoudis Designs to attend the Comic-Con convention at the Javits Center in New York City, it was just the creative elixir they needed.
They saw people dressed up in costumes, portraying heroes and villains and characters that reminded them of childhood. Outside the convention hall, the New York City streets were teeming with stories, styles and ideas, all wrapped in a grand collage that offered a new way of seeing things. Afterward, while waiting for the train back to Delaware, Laurence and Golt sat a cafe overlooking the bustle of Grand Central Station and thought, "We need to do this more. This helps us do what we do, better. We need to get out of our environment and into the flow of the world."
With these one-day adventures firmly in their creative kit bag, Social Stylate -- the collective energy and imagination of Laurence and Golt bring to a company's marketing plan -- is defined simply by the fact that they color outside the lines. It's seen in the many marketing and public relations initiatives they have developed for nearly 20 businesses, both here in Delaware and now for national companies. Working with staff members Kelly Hockenberry and Sydney Sullivan, Laurence and Golt provide a wide array of services, including website design, social media networking opportunities and management, such as developing blogs and online promotional content; search engine optimization; e-mail marketing; event planning, print advertising campaigns and overall marketing guidance.
"It begins with conversation between Carroll and me, and slowly, we begin to see our ideas come to fruition," Golt said. "Carroll has a different way of thinking than I do, and we have different resources to go for inspiration. It ends up becoming a whole plethora of ideas."
"Between all of us, we have a different eye," Laurence said. "It's not always common when you can get four women with different ideas who get along so well together, and share ideas so freely."
It may have been preordained that Laurence and Golt would someday form their own company. They worked together for years at a shape wear merchandising company, where they found that their ideas clicked. Golt then went on to QVC, where she further honed her skills for the company's online marketing team.
All along, she kept in touch with Laurence, who, through her long experience in retail and design -- including working for Michael Kors in New York City -- had begun to develop working relationships with several local clothing and accessory stores.
"Lauren would call me from time to time and tell me that she wanted to begin her own company, and then I realized I had a lot of contacts in the area, so between our different skill sets, we decided that we would begin a company together," Laurence said.
Since they first opened the doors to the business, Social Stylate has counted among its clients Houppette, Janssen's Market, Olga Ganoudis Designs, the Wilmington Country Store and Union Park Automotive, as well as several other Delaware-based businesses. They also count among their clients Scotch Naturals, an eco-friendly maker of nail polish.
"The national clients see what we can do for them," Laurence said. "It's taking what we do to an entirely new level. We're at the point where we're bursting at the seams, but we really want to keep our company at the boutique level."
When they first began Social Stylate, Laurence and Golt found that many of their clients didn't have the time to manage their own marketing while also keeping up with the demands of operating their business.
"It seemed like a lot of the local businesses had spent a thousand dollars five years ago to do a website, and really had no time to optimize it because they were busy running their business," Golt said. "I don't think that a lot of them thought that having an online presence would boost their sales."
"They needed to develop a professional presence and manage their marketing," Laurence said. "It's exciting to see the results of what we do. Now they get a chance to see that they have followers on Facebook. It's great to be able to help our clients enhance that entrepreneurial spirit."
In a world of nebulous definitions, the term "marketing" is often an open-ended one, but for Social Stylate, it's about bringing the heart of a business to the many mediums it can use to share the message of who they are, what they do and how they do it.
"Marketing should be an extension of who the company is," Laurence said. "If a client doesn't have a brand sheet that describes who they are and what they stand for, we identify that for them. In the beginning, especially with social media, we do the analysis of who visits their website, who they are and where they live. What are they interested in? We have to find out what works for these clients, and tie it into the company's messaging."
It's one thing to measure the effectiveness of a marketing campaign by counting how many eyeballs see a company's Facebook page, visit its website or buy a product online, but for Social Stylate, that's only half of what they provide.
“It's not just about another handbag,” Laurence said. “It's about finding out the message of what our clients really want to say with their company, and how they want to express it. It's listening to their needs. It's encouraging them to talk. It's coming up with new ideas. It's finding the things that matter to them.”
To learn more about Social Stylate, visit www.socialstylate.com.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected].