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Leaving Your Comfort Zone: Oak Arbor Marketing

Leaving Your Comfort Zone: Oak Arbor Marketing

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Leaving Your Comfort Zone: Oak Arbor Marketing

No one succeeds on their own. Even the most famous business leaders, the ones whose names are synonymous with their companies, are supported by a team of workers and, more importantly, a strong network of connections that helps them thrive.

To Morgan K. Johnston, the owner of Oak Arbor Marketing, building those connections is the only way anyone survives as an entrepreneur.

Oak Arbor Marketing Startup Story

“Networking is so, so important. Many people think that when they start a business, clients will automatically flock to them,” Johnston said. “This rarely happens, so be sure to identify who your ideal client is and where you can find them. Consistently meeting and building relationships with people is a great way to extend your company’s visibility.”

Johnston founded Oak Arbor Marketing in 2017 after spending years working in the tech marketing sector. Much of her work at the time involved interviewing sales teams and generating case studies of their experiences, as well as organizing digital marketing campaigns and events.

She said she loved conducting interviews and decided to start her own company so she could focus on that aspect of marketing.

Oak Arbor was originally a video production company. Johnston holds a degree in communication, through which she first learned the value of video as an effective communication tool. She was also able to shadow a video shoot at her day job.

Prior to starting her own company, she honed her skills by creating videos for nonprofit companies.

Her first paying client came from a local Chamber of Commerce event. Johnston cold contacted the organization with a pitch about filming its annual Fall Harvest Festival and making a promotional video.

From there, the business grew and expanded its focus to content marketing.

“I began noticing that many small businesses knew they needed content but didn’t know how to create it, who it was for, and where to distribute it,” Johnston said. I now work with small—and medium-sized businesses and startups on content creation, including video, written content, podcasting, and content marketing. I help businesses create brand awareness online through content and take over the process for my clients so they can focus on other business-critical tasks.”

Johnston said that the mix of content creation and marketing is what sets Oak Arbor Marketing apart from other firms. She doesn’t just help companies spread their message; she also helps create and curate the content and develops a strategy to make it successful.

That evolution from video production to marketing is one of her proudest accomplishments, she said.

“Many marketing companies are focused on getting as many clients through the door as possible and don’t provide a tailored experience,” Johnston said. “Everything I provide my clients is based on my growing expertise and what will work best for their business. Integrity is everything.”

Her success didn’t come easily, though.

Johnston relocated from North Carolina to the Pacific Northwest in 2022, and said the experience showed how limited her network was.

“I’d lived in the same state my whole life. This meant that my entire network was concentrated in one area. Before moving, I was also very shy when it came to networking,” Johnston said.“ The move brought me out of my comfort zone and made me realize how important it is to constantly network and meet new people. I had to build this skill set to grow my business in a new location.”

Getting uncomfortable is part of running a business, though, and it’s not something that ever truly goes away.

Johnston said she’s still finding opportunities to build her confidence in that regard.

“Walking into a room where you don’t know anyone and have little shared experience can be very intimidating,” Johnston said.

She said platforms like LinkedIn have been invaluable to growing the company and that she’s been able to connect with people she would otherwise never have met.

Her growing comfort with networking is also a business asset, she said.

“When managing our client base, it can be easy to get busy and forget to market ourselves. If you run a marketing company but don’t have enough time to market your business, you’re doing a huge disservice to yourself,” Johnston said. “When people see you successfully marketing your company, it helps build credibility. They’ll be intrigued and want to learn more.”

In the same way that Johnston is improving her personal marketing abilities, she said entrepreneurs should also focus on expanding the skills that serve their business. There’s always opportunities for more growth.

“If you start a business, you should already have a baseline skillset, but we should always strive to get better at our craft,” Johnston said. “Read books, watch YouTube videos, and take courses as a form of continuing education in your industry.”

There are plenty of digital resources available but a trip to the bookstore or library can also yield some useful lessons as well.

Johnston said two books that have served her well were Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog because it “details the highs and lows of entrepreneurship and building a company from the ground up” and Influence by Robert Cialdini, which examines consumer behavior psychology strategies to use in marketing.

Johnston’s journey as an entrepreneur is far from over – she’s got a long list of clients, and Oak Arbor Marketing has received coverage in multiple industry publications, but her recipe for success says there’s always room to grow.

She’s already started on her journey, but someone looking to replicate it should take stock of their abilities and shortcomings and face those challenges head-on.

Your Turn

Morgan’s journey with Oak Arbor Marketing demonstrates that it’s normal to feel uncomfortable when running a business, but embracing that discomfort is essential for success. If you’re facing something uncomfortable that is stopping you from starting your own business, take the next step by identifying it and putting together a plan to overcome it. Share your experiences and the actions you plan to take in the comments below.

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Leaving Your Comfort Zone: Oak Arbor Marketing

Leaving Your Comfort Zone: Oak Arbor Marketing

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