Happy Medium, Des Moines

Katie (Stocking) Patterson never expected to be the head of a company, but when she was working as an account executive for a local TV station a client sought out her help with their advertising. Seeing a need for honest marketing help amongst Iowa businesses, Katie created her own agency—Happy Medium—to cater to the needs of other clients like the one she became a consultant for.

The Des Moines, Iowa business is an interactive advertising agency that specializes in digital services. Happy Medium personnel are skilled in search engine optimization, building websites, social media implementation, search engine marketing, media buying, and both traditional and digital print design.

“We stay focused on doing honest and really great work,” Katie says. “We really do want to be the best in our industry, so whatever that looks like is what we will continue to stay focused on.”

Since its opening in February 2011, Happy Medium has continued to grow at a rapid pace. Katie is confident in saying that her agency is now a multimillion dollar revenue company. Initially, she had not planned on having any employees at all, but has since expanded her office to a staff of 15 full-time employees.

When Katie was first thinking about creating her own business, her husband, then in commercial lending, recommended taking some classes at America’s SBDC Iowa (SBDC) to help make her idea into a concrete business plan.

Jan Owens Bruene, business counselor at America’s SBDC for Mid Iowa, was able to help Katie by setting her up to take the Smart Start courses offered by the center. Through those, Katie created a business plan and gained a better understanding of basic business principles.

“That class helped me to learn how to write a business plan and to see the value of why that is such a great starting point,” says Katie.

Knowing plenty about her own business idea and what she needed to do to accommodate clients’ needs had Katie feeling very confident about her advertising agency, but getting some advice about business logistics through Jan’s counseling was helpful to Katie as a business owner.

“As I got started with my business it was nice to feel like I had someone to reach out to, outside of my own personal relationships,” Katie says. “I had someone who could help me see things more black and white.”

At Happy Medium, all employees are called team members and are granted Friday afternoons off, offered unlimited vacation days, and are highly encouraged to spend their time learning a new skill or doing something they’re passionate about.

“Team members tell me they don’t feel like this is work, but rather something they really want to contribute to,” Katie says. “Creating a place where people actually enjoy what they’re doing every day is such a win for me.”

Each quarter, the Happy Medium office shuts down for a day and spends time with a non-profit organization in the community. The day is called HM Gives Back and involves the entire Happy Medium team. The company’s philanthropic efforts also are implemented in a campaign for a non-profit organization each year. This year the agency has designed the Winefest website and all of its marketing at no cost.

“Every team member is encouraged to give back on their own time,” Katie says. “We’ll give them time, funding, whatever they need to do that.”

Katie loves the idea of supporting the Des Moines area through community service work, but she also stays heavily involved through many different metro area boards. Her participation with the Bravo Board, Des Moines Performing Arts Board, Impact Missions Board, and Winefest Board really show her commitment to the community. Happy Medium is also involved with the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce as well as the Downtown Community Chamber.

Katie has recommended the SBDC and its many services to professionals looking into starting their own businesses. If she is ever in need of any other business assistance, Katie will not hesitate to contact the SBDC again.

To learn more about this Des Moines, Iowa interactive advertising agency and the services it offers, visit its website at www.itsahappymedium.com or follow it on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ItsaHappyMedium.

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