If you are a woman entrepreneur, marketing strategy and branding is most likely at the center of your growth plan. Being a woman entrepreneur means wearing many hats: learning marketing and branding skills are just a few of them.
There are so many business opportunities for women, and it is still an untapped market in terms of the amount of investment that goes into women's businesses. So get ready. The world is changing fast. Black women are the fastest-growing small business entrepreneurs in the U.S. There is no more exciting time to start your business. It can be more fun and rewarding than working for a company where you disagree with the management and values.
- A Different Marketing Approach
- From Circular Economy To A Start-Up
- A Company With Many Cultures
- Values Before Profit
- Insights For Entrepreneurs
The Women Businesses’ Untapped Investor Market
Did you know that women control $20 trillion in annual spending globally and make 85% of purchasing decisions? As a result, women are a critical target for advertisers. Like many other industries, the advertising industry is still largely dominated by men.
The 3% movement has brought awareness to the lack of women creative directors in the advertising industry. Thanks to their lobbying, women now count for 29% of creative directors compared to 3% a few years ago. Some of the biggest companies are now going through big transformations to embrace gender balance in power positions.
As the world continues to evolve, the place of women in the creative and advertising industry is advancing. The lack of gender equity and access to powerful jobs for women has led to a wave of talented female leaders to take an entrepreneur’s life independently and for good reasons. Data shows that businesses with at least one female founder tend to perform 63% better than companies without. Data has also shown that women tend to have less access to money spent on suppliers.
Across the globe, women continue to earn, on average, less than 1% of the money spent on suppliers by large corporations and governments. Our coalition of global partners, government allies, corporate members, and women business owners are integral to bridging that gap.” – Elizabeth Vazquez, WEConnect International CEO & Co-Founder .
A Different Kind of Marketing Strategy and Branding Agency
Three women in Singapore decided to make the most of this opportunity. They created Lime Agency, a different type of marketing strategy and branding agency. The company is on a mission to do good as well as delivering impeccable work. The team decided to put their values before profit. One thing leading to another, from marketing expertise to serial entrepreneurs, the company is now bringing a series of marketing strategy, branding, and growth tools to support entrepreneurs with their communications needs.
To learn more about how Lime Agency is making marketing strategies and branding accessible to all, we are talking with Hui Ting Lee, creative director and one of the three co-founders of Lime Agency. Five years ago, she co-founded Lime Agency with Rigmor Berthier and Cecile Gauthier. They did not stop there. Last year, the serial entrepreneurs launched Just-Startup, a growing branding and marketing strategy resource platform to support entrepreneurs in growing their business.
To learn more about the work of Lime Agency and its impact, we have asked Hui Ting Lee a series of questions to Hui Ting Lee, to understand how these three entrepreneurs decided to transform the marketing world.
For full disclosure, Lime Agency worked on the redesign of our website beyourchange.co. We love their mission and work and they have been a great supporter of our mission too.
From Circular Economy To A Successful Marketing Strategy And Branding Start-Up
A Belief To Democratize Marketing: The start of Lime Agency
We started the agency believing that all companies, big or small, should have access to quality branding and marketing. I am proud to report that the Lime Agency is the first certified women-owned business in Singapore and capitalizes on converting e-waste into valuable business solutions.
How Did You All Meet?
We met while working in a previous agency. Despite our cultural differences and age gaps, we got along well from day one. Working closely together across multiple projects, we discovered a shared love for quality work and, at the same time, ethical and social values. The 3 of us have always been able to complement each other’s skills very well. We are pretty good listeners and are always up for a good challenge on our projects. We slowly discovered how fun work could be when we do it together as a team! After all, if you are going to spend more than 8 hours every day working, why not make it a positive experience?
After some time, we were split into different teams working on different projects. Eventually, each of us decided to leave our previous jobs due to different personal reasons. When we discovered that we were leaving, we started talking about perhaps doing something together next. We loved working together. We knew we were good at what we did. And we were confident there was a need in the market for the kind of agency we want to run: a purpose-driven creative agency.
A Multicultural Company and A Mutual Love For Marketing Strategy, Branding, Communication and Creativity.
The three founders are from three different countries. They speak three different languages.
How were your different backgrounds an asset to the company?
The fact that we come from different cultural backgrounds added a unique cultural richness to the agency. It enables us to look at things from different perspectives. Also, it allowed us to understand different clients and their position and needs. It also opened the door for us to create a positive atmosphere to attract various cultures to the agency in terms of recruitment. And not to mention, all the lunch breaks we have had where we learn about so many different things; Ramadan recipes, Indian crafts, Scandinavian Christmas, the Spanish royal family, Pokemon insights, Serial killers, Korean dramas… to name a few! In the company with our team, we speak English, Mandarin, Malay, French, Spanish, Norwegian and Japanese.
What makes Lime Agency different from any other marketing strategy and communication agency?
At Lime Agency, we prioritize our values before profit, and we keep that promise. If a company whose values we don’t align with contact us to do a project, we tend to say: “No, thank you “politely.
Values Before Profit
At Lime Agency, we prioritize our values before profit.
Our mission is to provide quality marketing and branding services to any company, big or small.
We have a "Robin Hood" business model, meaning that we offer our services at a subsidized rate when we work with Social Enterprises or Charities.
You can read learn more about our impact with a newly published report here. 🙂
What Are The Values You Are Leading With?
For one, we have respect for: our clients, employees, partners, suppliers and the entire planet. For example, if someone has taken the time to write a long email to us, we always try to reply as soon as possible or at least say, “Thank you.”
Secondly, we keep an open mind. You can never know what people are going through at any one time. We do our best not to judge but instead listen and understand.
Going The Extra Mile
As a rule at Lime Agency, we always go further. We always try to show our partners, employees and clients how we can try to go further. Even with the simplest brochure design, it is possible to think differently and out of the box. This makes even the most boring job quite fun, actually. 🙂
An Activist Company
In our quest to always go further, we also try to drive actions to change the agency industry.
We firmly believe that there are things in this industry that are fundamentally wrong.
One example is the traditional “pitch” or “spec” process. Back in the good ol’ times, agencies worked on “pitches” to win retainer contracts that would allow the agency to pay salaries to the team for 2-3 years. Today, many clients think it’s okay to ask for “pitching” even for the smallest project. In some cases, they even ask agencies to pitch ideas for free. They then select the best idea and award the project normally to the agency quoting the lowest price. This ends up creating/ generating a lot of e-waste.
Bringing A Solution To A Growing Problem: Recycling Digital-Waste
Over the past 5 years of Lime Agency, we have worked on hundreds of branding projects. Each time, we deliver 3 to 4 concepts. Our client will only select 1 or 2 out of the 4. This means that we have accumulated quite a lot of discarded options. Instead of them sitting on our server as e-waste and never seeing the light of day, we thought we could recycle them and present them all. We’d put them in an online catalog for anyone to purchase them at a much lower cost than engaging a big branding agency. E-waste became a gateway for smaller companies to access quality solutions at lower costs. This was how Just Startup (previously Lime Zest) was born.
From Circular Economy To Marketing Strategy And Branding Start-up: Innovation For Good
We love what we do, and we love working together. As simple as that 🙂. Staying close to our belief about companies’ access to quality branding and marketing materials, we created Just Startup for small businesses and entrepreneurs. We realized that at Lime Agency, even with our Robin Hood pricing model, we were still too expensive for some smaller companies or start-ups. On the other hand, we also realize that such companies are more open to learning how to do things themselves, given the right tools and insights, especially using e-waste. Just Startup is the answer to that – quality expertise, with tutorials and guidance on how you can get started with all things marketing.
Always stay true to your values, and in tough times, this is even more important.
Any Business Challenges You Face?
Our greatest challenge is that 24 hours is never enough. We want to do so much, yet there is so little time. To combat this, we rely on our values, our passion and our creativity. We love doing what we do, and we know what we are good at. So we put in our best. We stay true to ourselves every day, and like-minded people continue to work with us because of that.
How Did Covid-19 Impact Your Business?
In the beginning, we had a sudden cancellation of contracts for 3-4 months. This meant that we had to, unfortunately, let go of several talented people. Luckily, they found jobs quite fast afterward (they are very talented).
Working from home was a complete game-changer for us—much of it on a very positive side, especially when considering work efficiency. We did not need to spend time in traffic going back and forth to meetings as all meetings were moved to zoom. This is something that we will probably be holding on to.
Not meeting the team physically was sometimes hard. However, with Phase 2 (in Singapore), we were able to meet once a week to plan and discuss projects.
From Downside To Upside
On another positive note, COVID-19 opened new markets for us. With Lime Agency, we have been working with clients worldwide with ease – New Delhi, Paris, London, Russia, Bali and many more. With Just Startup, we have been organizing many workshops for startups and entrepreneurs, especially on repurposing digital-waste. We were contacted by the Business Association of Vadsø (Rigmor's hometown in the north of Norway) who wanted marketing courses for their members. Without COVID-19, this would never have happened because of Norway and Singapore's distance and time difference. Since everyone is working from home, time and place suddenly did not matter anymore.
Where Does Your Entrepreneurship Spirit Come From?
This isn't easy to pinpoint. I guess we had to trust our instincts a lot. I don’t think any of us thought starting our own company would be the way of things. It was more like we started our own company because we wanted to do things our way and we managed to get our clients and employees on board with the same values!
What Are You Most Excited About for 2021?
I think everyone is waiting for the vaccine so that, on a personal level, we will all be able to travel again and see our families and friends across the globe.
We have to believe that 2021 will be a more positive year. Through tough times, we have all adapted to working differently now, and we learned how to be efficient while still staying connected with people.
We are most excited about Just Startup and its possibilities to entrepreneurs around the globe using e-waste. We are planning to dedicate quite a lot of time to this project this coming year and cannot wait to see how it will turn out. Judging from 2020, I guess some bumps along the road are expected, but we are up for the challenge!
Any Insights You Can Share With Entrepreneurs?
- Stay true to yourself.
- Find purpose in what you do and it will motivate you to go further.
- Ask for help when needed, don't try to do everything yourself.
- Find out where your biggest value-add is and what you would like to do most.
- Set up your workday and work processes so that you don't waste valuable time.
- Interact with your customers whenever you can.
- Build a network of like-minded people.
Always stay true to your values, and in tough times, this is even more important.
How Can We Help?
We need help to spread the word on Just Startup – a branding and marketing resource platform for entrepreneurs that capitalizes on e-waste. We can offer free PRO memberships to your followers for a year, as we are eager to receive feedback on all our courses, templates and materials.
To Learn More
- The first certified women-owned business in Singapore
- leveraging the circular economy in digital services
- Converting e-waste into smart business solutions: Just Startup
- About the Lime Agency and Impact Report 2015-20202