Businesswoman Makes Strides in Marketing

Businesswoman Makes Strides in Marketing
October 07, 2002 St. Charles County Business Record
By: Colleen McKernan Dilthey

When 29-year-old Lauren Kolbe graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in political science, she had no idea that she would own her own business/marketing firm a few years later.

Kolbe recently announced the opening of her new firm, Kolbeco Marketing Resources in O’Fallon. She has been in the marketing game for eight years, beginning her first job out of college at a small manufacturing company called Henges Manufacturing.

She said that as the Henges marketing director with a limited budget, she learned to be creative.

“I have learned to be creative with very small budgets,” Kolbe said. “I do a lot of very low-cost, very grass-roots outreach-type campaigns that I think a lot of larger agencies don’t necessarily focus on.”

Because of internal problems, Henges found itself out of business in 2000. With a desire to stick with marketing, Kolbe partnered with a friend to create The Davis Group that same year.

The Davis Group was formed to help small businesses with their marketing efforts. The company provided marketing for small businesses throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area.

A few months ago, Kolbe and her partner decided that they wanted to go into business individually. She said that it was an amicable split and that the two are still good friends. When The Davis Group dissolved, Kolbe and her partner each kept their own clients and went out on their own.

“It is just exciting for me actually have the company on my own, my name on the door,” Kolbe explained. “What really prompted me to go on my own was the whole idea and sense of being able to be in control of my own career and my own destiny.”

Although Kolbe is running a one-woman show right now, she said that she works with a network of companies that help her with things that she cannot do herself. She said that because of the connections that she has made with individuals and companies, she is able to act as a full-service firm.

Kolbeco specializes in low-cost, grass-roots marketing and public relations campaigns. Kolbe targets herself to small businesses that need extra help with things that they do not have the time to do on their own. Specifically, Kolbeco handles direct mailings, e-mail and fax campaigns, telemarketing and more.

Kolbe said that she encourages her clients to get involved with groups and organizations that will allow them to have added exposure. As a member of the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce, alumni board member of the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles and a board member of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Marketing Association, Kolbe has networked and made a lot of business connections.

“I encourage my clients to get involved in groups where they would heighten their exposure in their community and with their target audiences,” Kolbe explained. “A lot of my clients write articles and submit them to various publications within their industry. Anything that can heighten the community awareness of the company, of the services, in a very low-cost effective way.”

Currently, Kolbeco has six active clients. Kolbe’s client base has grown because of referrals from clients and friends who work in the marketing industry.

Because her services are inexpensive, she said that small-business owners are often surprised at how much they can do on a small budget. She said that when people begin to talk with her about small-business marketing, they realize that they can afford a marketing professional.

“They quickly realize that they can afford to hire me because I don’t have the overhead,” Kolbe explained. “I charge very affordable rates for small businesses. And the things that I implement are very low-cost. They realize ‘Oh my gosh, I can afford this,’ and it ends up working out very well.”