ThoughtLab grants boost spirits of local organizations and businesses during uncertain times
ThoughtLab, a Salt Lake City-based marketing agency, announced that it has given three Summit County and one Salt Lake City-based organization something to smile about during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Hugo Coffee Roasters, Park Silly Sunday Market and Sewing for Lives, all based in Park City, and the Utah Arts Alliance, will receive grants of $12,500 each to beef up their digital marketing, said Gary Marcoccia, ThoughtLab’s director of marketing.
These organizations were selected, in part, for positively impacting their communities, Marcoccia said.
Hugo Coffee Roasters gives back 10% of profits to animal rescues in Utah. The Park Silly Sunday Market has provided a marketplace for more than 500 vendors in the past couple of years. And Sewing For Lives donates handsewn masks that cover and preserve the longevity of the medical-grade masks of healthcare workers, facilities and first responders.
Utah Arts Alliance, which is in Salt Lake City, serves individuals and creative groups in the arts consignment marketplaces.
“We knew if we could help them, they could help their members or vendors,” he said.
The idea for the grants came right as the state began initiating coronavirus protocols, according to Marcoccia.
“When all of this started, ThoughtLab thought about how we could help the community,” he said. “After a couple of brainstorms, we came up with the idea to provide some digital marketing services to Utah-based small businesses and organizations who could pay it forward.”
ThoughtLab received more than 40 applications for the grant and narrowed the list down to 10 finalists, Marcoccia said.
“Everyone in the company came together and gave their input about who we thought should get these grants, and the 18 of us in the company came to a consensus for these four,” he said.
The grant came at the right time for Park Silly Sunday Market, a weekly summer open-air festival on Main Street that canceled its 2020 season, said executive director Kate McChesney.
The market usually brings upwards of 200,000 people to shop from more than 200 local vendors, artists, musicians and nonprofits over the course of a single summer, she said.
“Typically that means these vendors have a constant way to sustain themselves when they are at Park Silly,” McChesney said. “So when we announced our postponement of this year’s Park Silly Sunday Market the first thing we realized was how much we affect those vendors.”
ThoughtLab and the grant will help the market create a vendor directory on the Park Silly Sunday Market website.
“We will create a kicker page for vendors who were committed to this year and the vendors that participated in the past two years, as well as all the nonprofits and musicians that we worked with,” McChesney said. “We’re looking at probably 500 to 600 vendors, and each will be highlighted with a photo, their contact information and websites.”
The market will then promote the page through digital, broadcast and print media, which is something a little different for McChesney.
“Because Park Silly has grown organically, we haven’t don’t a whole lot of marketing in the past few years,” she said. “This is a totally new dynamic.”
The website will launch on June 7, the day Park Silly was scheduled to open this year, McChesney said.
“It was awesome that there was a grant available that would help us get the directory up and running and then push it out to the masses,” she said. “For us it was absolutely a sign that we made the right decision to put the community’s health first by closing this year’s market, and it showed that someone was also looking out for us.”
The grant fell into place with Hugo Coffee Roaster’s 2020-21 business plan to increase her direct-to-consumer online sales, said founder and owner Claudia McMullin.
“Since my business was susceptible to the cash-flow ups and downs to being a vendor and supplier in a tourist-based market, I always had four months of tight cash flow because of the two shoulder seasons,” McMullin said. “So to overcome that, my business plan was to grow the online sales up to 50%.”
The COVID-19 protocols, which went into effect on March 15, didn’t help McMullin with her plans, she said.
“By the time we woke up, we had lost 95 percent of our wholesale customers that included hotels, restaurants, resorts, cafes, coffee shops, colleges and the Overstock.com and Adobe corporate headquarters, because they had all shut down,” McMullin said. “So we had to figure out what to do because we had zero revenue coming in but still had expenses to pay.”
McMullin began working to push online sales of Hugo Coffee’s product on its website, hugo.coffee.
“If the people who ordered online were located in the Park City and Snyderville Basin area, I would deliver to their door, and if they weren’t local, we’d ship,” she said. “Other than that, our only direct-to-consumer channel was through Amazon.”
So, McMullin is thrilled to work with ThoughtLab, which specializes in digital marketing.
“ThoughtLab will do an audit on our brand and website, and once they complete that, they will come back to me and my team with suggestions for the next step,” she said. “That will help so much, because I’m a reformed lawyer who can sell. I’m not a digital marketer. I don’t know anything about digital marketing.”
Although Park Silly, Hugo, Sewing for Lives and Utah Arts Alliance received the grant, all 40 of the organizations and businesses who applied will still get a 30-minute ThoughtLab phone consultation, Marcoccia said.
“We will talk about what they need help with and we’ll put together an audit for them that will help them with those issues,” he said. “It’s our way to say thanks for showing interest and applying.”
For information, visit thoughtlab.com.
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Jonathan Kolon will honor Park City and mark the trials the country has gone through with COVID-19 when he releases his new song “This Highway Ends” on April 30.