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Ask The Creatives! – Spark Centre

Marketing is essential for any business, even more so for startups. In the early stages of business, some startups to get so wrapped up in the logistics of business, like finances, product development and team building, that they overlook marketing as an equally fundamental part of early business. Marketing supports customer outreach and sales, not to mention establishes your company’s identity and differentiates your startup from others.
Marketing is multi-faceted, and often it leads to more questions than strategies. At Spark Centre, our talented and knowledgeable Marketing team has compiled and answered some of the most often-asked marketing questions to give startups a head start.


Creativity and innovation are two words that often get interchanged. Do you think they are the same? Or do you think they are two different things?

Kristina Svana HeadshotKRISTINA SVANA, MARKETING DIRECTOR: Creativity and innovation  have their own unique definitions. Creativity is the flow of thoughts and exciting new ideas, whereas innovation is executing those new ideas or solutions. Although different, creativity and innovation complement each other quite well. For one, you cannot be innovative without being creative. Putting creative ideas into action is innovation, and it’s what we employ and foster in our entrepreneurial community here at Spark Centre.



What are the most important things to remember when creating your company logo?

Melanie Marler Headshot

MELANIE MARLER, DESIGN LEAD: Keep it simple, classic and bold. Remember, your logo doesn’t need to tell the whole story of what your company does – that’s what your website is for! Stay away from trends as they are passing fads and will age your brand quickly. Make sure your logo stands out amongst your competition and can stand the test of time.



Why are events vital for business marketing?

KAILEE SOMERS, EVENTS SPECIALIST: Events are key in business marketing because they provide intimate and personalized opportunities to increase brand and product awareness, generate leads, and introduce new products and services to target audiences. Whether you’re considering trade shows, conferences, seminars, networking events, product launches or experiential marketing activations, there is a wide range of event types and formats that can be tailored to specific needs. If your business is not ready to host your own events, take advantage of current events to network and build awareness about your company.



What is one myth about Public Relations?

Melissa Nowakowski HeadshotMELISSA NOWAKOWSKI, COMMUNICATIONS & PR SPECIALIST:                         Oh gosh, there are so many, but if I had to choose only one, it would be that media coverage will guarantee sales. That myth stems from many misunderstandings about what public relations is and what it’s not. PR is not advertising. They often work closely together, but they are not the same.

Public Relations is designed to increase awareness about your company (or, in times of crisis, to protect and manage your company’s reputation) and to build trust and a positive relationship between your company and the public through engaging and valuable stories. It’s perfectly ok to be optimistic that public relations will increase sales or leads, but what’s more important — not just in the short term but for the longevity of your company as well — is how the public views your company and product now and moving forward. 



What is the top mistake you see startups make regarding web design?

JASPER DAVIS, DESIGN SPECIALIST: I’d have to say a big mistake that startups make is not making their web presence a priority. If you want to market, you need a website. First impressions are important, and likely the first thing any potential customer does after learning about your product or service is look you up on the web. An unprofessional website can leave a long-lasting negative impression of your company, whereas a captivating

website can legitimize your company to a customer on the fence. Don’t just throw anything up on your website.  It’s imperative to have a professionally made website with a clear call to action and concise, well-written copy that explains your product/service. Think of your website as an elevator pitch that is always pitching.



What is the top mistake you see startups make with branding?

Melanie Marler HeadshotMELANIE: Making branding a “when I have the budget” scenario or afterthought. First impressions are everything, and coming out of the gate with a solid brand foundation is very important. Hire a professional and lean on the advice they give you. It’s easier, cheaper and less time-consuming to do it right the first time!



Post-pandemic, many businesses are hosting hybrid events — in-person events with the option to attend virtually. What are the most important things to consider when choosing an online event platform or seeking a location for in-person events?

KAILEE: First, when choosing a location for an event (in-person or virtual), you will want to ensure the physical space or virtual platform fits your needs and will help you accomplish your event goals. For in-person events – will the space comfortably fit your attendees? Do you want the venue to lend to creating a specific experience? On the virtual side – do you want a platform that encourages your audience to interact and join the conversation? Do you need it to be capable of replicating specific environments (i.e. networking,

private sessions, expo areas, etc.)? Secondly, it’s essential to consider your audience and the attendee or user experience. We all lead busy lives and appreciate when things are simple and straightforward, whether it’s an event location that is easily accessed or an online platform with a simple registration process and user-friendly interface.



What are a few things to remember when writing content for your website?

Melissa Nowakowski HeadshotMELISSA: The most important thing is to keep your audience in mind. Every line and word needs to inform your audience or entice them to react, so what you say and how you say it (and how long it takes you to drive home a point) matters. Online readers are accustomed to short blocks of text that stir a response, so break up long paragraphs into smaller ones to keep their interest and drive home only the most important messages.

Also, be conscious of to whom your website is speaking. Are you talking to consumers? To other businesses? To software developers? Doctors? Avoid using jargon, complex grammar, or very technical language unless you are speaking to a very niche or specialized audience. A good rule of thumb is assuming that your online audience reads at a High School level to drive home your point in easy-to-understand language.



With the rise of artificial intelligence-driven algorithms and predictive analysis tools, some startups feel that the need for marketing has diminished. What do you think?

JASPER: I would argue that the need for marketing has increased with the rise of artificial intelligence-driven algorithms and predictive analysis. Sales are essential for any business and even more so for startups. Every start-up has competitors, and those competitors have access to the same tools, so an effective sales strategy needs to be more than just targeting the right people; you need to differentiate your product and send the right message.

Making your product or service stand out is more difficult than ever. Consumers have arguably more choices than ever when it comes to products and services they need, which means that differentiation is key to the successful sales strategy of any start-up. That is why an effective marketing strategy is a key to building trust with your consumers to convert awareness into sales. 



In what ways do Spark Centre’s marketing team support startups and entrepreneurs with tech and innovation? 

Kristina Svana Headshot


KRISTINA: Spark Centre’s marketing team supports startups and entrepreneurs in every facet of design and communications. We use a creative and innovative approach to the projects we work on with our clients to ensure they put their best foot forward when presenting their businesses.



Click here to meet Spark Centre’s Marketing Team or visit Creative Spark to find out how the Marketing Team can solve your Marketing needs!


Spark Centre
Helping innovative companies start, grow and succeed. Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre is one of eighteen not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) that form part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). The centre works to improve competitiveness and visibility of Durham Region and Northumberland County as a world-class innovation cluster. Spark Centre works with clients to develop individualized plans for success. We connect start-ups to business and research networks, learning tools, business coaching, mentorship, and access to funding and investment.

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