A pastor-turned-tattoo artist shows how small businesses can make their mark

Part 4 of the Small Business Revolution series

By Amanda Brinkman – Guest Writer
Wed, 2016-11-30 12:27

[This is the fourth in a series of articles from Amanda Brinkman. Click here to read the previous article.]

A good idea is a good idea. Right out of the gate, some small businesses have a plan and a market and are successful from the start. That’s what happened when Matt Haynes saw a great market opportunity and opened Filament Tattoo, debuting a clean, high-quality tattoo and piercing shop in the rural community of downtown Wabash, Indiana.

Like that of many Minnesota entrepreneurs, the story that led to Matt opening Filament is unique: a pastor for 15 years, he needed a new challenge. He left the pulpit, grew out an impressive beard, quit covering up his tattoos and opened his business. With a knack for marketing and a love for connecting with people, Matt instantly found a market and following with Filament.

As Matt frequently explains, people who come in for tattoos are often celebrating or commemorating a major event. In these moments, the former pastor is able to connect with customers and learn their stories, often finding deeper connection in those conversations than when he was in a church. But the success of Filament won’t come in those interactions with Wabashians alone; it will come in expanding their base. As natural of a marketer as Matt is, he lacked some of the basic staples that are crucial to expanding any small business.

View the full Small Business Revolution episode about Matt’s business here, and check out the tips below to see how you can apply some of Matt’s learnings to your own operations.

1. Showcase your finest work — and your people.

With few other options in the region, Filament naturally attracted customers who were already used to getting tattoos. Yet Filament lacked a website where his artists could show off not only their creations, but also their compelling stories. We put Matt’s story front and center on a new website, complete with professional photography, bios of his artists and options for those looking for art beyond the traditional tattoo design. Your team is your differentiator in many businesses, so be sure to showcase them and their work.

2. Don’t just talk at your audience. Truly engage.

It isn’t enough to have a website and a social media profile. Today, small businesses need to not only connect with their customers, but to engage with them in meaningful ways. We helped Matt develop a Facebook Family page, inviting customers and friends to join and learn more about the business. Today, Filament has more than 10,000 followers and Matt regularly updates the feed with specials and discounts — and even conducts live events to keep the audience engaged and in real-time conversation.

3. Be yourself and don’t forget to leverage your own strengths.

I often say that most small business owners didn’t go into business because they love marketing — they did it because they’re passionate about running the business itself. But there are rare people like Matt who are just so naturally good at it. We encouraged him to continue to be himself, to use his gifts as a preacher and storyteller to share the inspiring narrative of his life and of his business. In order to empower Matt to take that storytelling to an all new level, we gave Matt his own professional camera, to capture video and photos about what he does every day, thereby continuing to market his business and being true to himself.

How can you infuse more of yourself into your business, leveraging your strengths and passions? Doing what you love is a big part of ensuring that success will come your way — show that passion to add your personality to your brand.

Amanda Brinkman is Chief Brand and Communications Officer at Deluxe Corporation, which provides marketing and business services to millions of small businesses and financial institutions. Amanda helped create the “Small Business Revolution,” a movement to highlight the importance of small businesses, while awarding a $500,000 revitalization to deserving small towns.