Meet the Expert: Stephanie Hofhenke

I found my passion is blending my tech brain with my imagination to find creative solutions for small business owners.
— Stephanie Hofhenke

Today, we're excited to be featuring Stephanie Hofhenke! Stephanie started her company StringMarketing where she helps small businesses and non-profits to create marketing and branding strategies. Stephanie has worked with a lot of dietitians such as Chere Bork MS, RDN and Jen Haugen RDN, LD. Her integration of technology and design, and her dedication to personalizing each client's brand is what drives Stephanie's business. Join us to learn more about how Stephanie's passion for marketing started, and why she loves working with dietitians! 

How did you get started in web design and branding?   

My education was focused on technology and computer systems, but when I joined the workforce, I naturally gravitated toward working with people! I worked in sales and found my niche helping small business owners find solutions for growing their businesses. I loved it. As my career progressed, I had the pleasure of working with and learning from a few brilliant designers.   

I found my passion is blending my tech brain with my imagination to find creative solutions for small business owners.

What's your niche area of practice? What would you say makes you business special? 

I offer expertise and passion for both the technical side of the work, and the creative design. In a partnership, I am able to help design and create the products and websites, and then develop them and bring them to life. I’m a creative techie!

I create websites and branding packages that offer my clients a cohesive message and look. I also offer on-going, all-inclusive support. My clients benefit from my wide range of skills and expertise such as website maintenance, newsletter creation, printed and digital marketing pieces, social media images, and more.

For example, Melissa Dobbins, whose website I had the pleasure to redesign. Since then, I have worked with her on projects to make sure all of her materials are branded, and that she has the technology needed to grow her audience. Her newsletter sign up on her home page offers a digital download of Melissa’s “Sound Science Toolkit.” This is a custom piece that I had tons of fun creating.

Who is your ideal client?   

My ideal client is a small business owner or non-profit organization, in the field of dietetics or related field such as life/wellness coaching and fitness.  I work with people looking for a partner to help them with marketing and technology. Ideally, I like to find clients that want to partner for the long term, relying on me for their technology and marketing advice and services. 

You work with a lot of dietitians. What makes them great clientele? 

I love to work with dietitians because they are in the business of helping people for the long term.  The dietitians I have worked with are the hardest working, kindest and most driven individuals I know. They continually inspire me. 

Take for instance my client, Chere Bork- an amazing woman and business owner. I had the pleasure of redesigning her logo and website a couple years ago. Chere, as a Law of Attraction Facilitator, gives registered dietitian nutritionists a boost of confidence to live the lives they have always wanted – with no regrets allowed. As a small business owner it is important that she spend her time focused on her clients. She has limited time to focus on technology and design. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Chere and being her technology and branding support person. One example of our collaboration is Abundant Mondays.It has been one of the most enjoyable projects I have had the pleasure to work on. Sign up, you will love the weekly inspiration! 

What is one thing is critical for dietitians to have on their website?  

Don’t be overly wordy, use bullet points and be direct. Dietitians are wonderfully detail oriented, and I love that!  However, this often causes them to want to have lots of written information on their websites.  It is helpful if they keep in mind their ideal client, and then speak directly to the client using as few words as possible.

The rule of thumb for website content… “less is more.”  Your web visitor is meeting you for the very first time. They don’t need to know the life story of your business right away. It’s too much. Give them a taste that captures their interest, just enough to get them to take the next step. 

What advice would you give a dietitian who wants to build his/her own website?  

I would encourage them to talk to a few web designers first. Get quotes and see what they offer.  There are so many options out there for custom and semi-custom websites and branding. Many are surprised at the very reasonable prices for branding and websites.

What are some of the benefits of choosing a web designer than trying to do it on your own? 

  1. Consistent Brand Identity: A professional designer can create a cohesive look for all of your marketing materials, from business cards to social media.  Brands that are consistent are memorable, and that attracts customers. Jen Haugen has a thriving blog, and recently released her first book “The Mom’s Guide to a Nourishing Garden.” Jen had a vision for her website, book cover, and logo . We worked out a solution that fit her budget while still getting a completely custom product, AND she had brand consistency with fonts and colors. 
  2. More visitors become customers: Good designers know the latest about visitor behaviors, calls to action and effective design.  When working with a designer you’re not just getting a pretty branding look, you’re getting expertise on how to sell your business.  
  3. Distinction from your Competitors: Your business is unique and your customers need to know this.  If you use an out of the box design, you will not differentiate yourself in the market place. A designer will create a unique, coherent visual message that will get your ideal client to work with you. 
  4. Objective Perspective: You are the expert on your own business, but you may not be an expert on web design. Sometimes there needs to be a compromise between what you want and what works for the web. Quality web design also comes from the experience of knowing how to translate ideas into web pages. 
  5. Cost effective/ Time saving for the long term: Every business owner today needs to be agile, and have the tools at hand to make adjustments when needed.  When working with a designer you can create a website that is expandable and flexible- something that DIY website builders cannot offer. 

What change do you hope to see or are excited about in the field of web design? 

In the grand scheme of things, web design is pretty new. The web is like the wild west, endless territory to explore! 

The most exciting piece for me is that that dedicated web designers and developers are always looking for better ways to do things. It is a strong community and we are always creating new ways to deliver better products for our customers, and we openly share this with each other.  It really is a field in which we are rethinking how business can be done, and I am proud to be a part of it. 

Thanks, Stephanie!

Parts of this interview have been shortened and edited.