Marketing company puts focus on small business, non-profits

A new small-town business is aiming to help other local businesses succeed.

Together, Steve Patten and Chris Jensen recently started UpStream, a marketing company to target small business and non-profit organizations. Patten and Jensen write newsletter press releases, and television and radio scripts. They also design Web sites and assist with other advertising techniques like social networking and viral marketing.

“We really to want to help bolster local area business, and then also non-profits,” Patten said.

Patten and Jensen are looking to take the tools of many large promotional companies in the Twin Cities and make them available to small local businesses.

“We feel very confident that we can produce the same high quality materials for local business and local non-profit organizations,” Jensen said.

Patten and Jensen said they saw the need for a company that provided a conglomeration of creative tools in one business.

Rather than charging customers for continual maintenance and upkeep, Jensen and Patten plan to educate their customers. Unlike some promotional companies, UpSteam will teach clients to maintain things like Web sites, newsletters, social networking sites and blogs.

“We’ve really come to the conclusion that what’s best for us in the business of UpStream is the same thing that’s best for our clients,” Patten said. “We want their business to grow and they want their business to grow.”

Jensen said customers will save money and have more independence if they learn to do such updates on their own.

“That way they’re more invested in the product that they have,” Jensen said.

Jensen said they rely on the input of their customers from start to finish when producing marketing materials.

Patten described the business as a one-stop shop for all these promotional ventures. UpStream doesn’t have an official storefront, as they typically travel to meet with business oweners. They plan to serve the Austin, Albert Lea and Owatonna communities.

The idea for a business venture sparked when Patten and Jensen volunteered together at Faith Baptist Church in Albert Lea, the church both men attend regularly. They began discussing the possibility of producing promotional materials for churches and other services organizations. Then they realized this could be a business venture that also serves small businesses.

The two saw it as filling a niche in the community by providing a unique set of promotional tools to the community.

“There seems to be a vacuum in terms of those tools that have been further developed in the last decade or so for our general area,” Jensen said.

“We had this idea, and we kind of saw: Here’s the need, here’s how we can fill that need,” Patten added.

Patten, who lives in Albert Lea, was involved with a community leadership class with Riverland Community College and the Albert Lea-Freeborn Chamber of Commerce. He read a book about discovering your strengths, and the book said most people don’t have an opportunity to do what they do best.

Patten, formerly the youth program coordinator at the Albert Lea YMCA, has previously designed Web sites. Jensen taught English for 15 years, and he most recently taught at the area learning center last year. He has experience writing press releases, and he’s written for television and radio before.

“Our skill set is such that we think we have a really strong partnership developed,” said Jensen, who lives in the Austin area.

After the two came up with the business idea, it took the two about a year for the two to open the business after the initial idea. They officially opened Jan. 1, but have spent much of the past few months doing work to build their portfolio to use as an example for potential customers.

For more about UpStream and view samples of their work, visit www.takeitupstream.com.