Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dordt Alumni in Design: Paul Ten Haken

My post-Dordt journey started in 2000 after graduating with a graphic design degree. I moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and worked for two dot-com startups right out of the gate. Two years and two failed ventures later, I had learned some valuable lessons about life, business ethics, and how to unsuccessfully run a small business.

I took a job with an interactive development shop called Electric Pulp as a project manager and absolutely loved it. It was here that I decided the online space was my ideal fit. I ended up getting my MBA realizing that I was moving away from design and more into the “business” of marketing. It was also during that time I moved into the healthcare marketing field, anxious for the opportunity to combine online/offline strategy into a cohesive effort.

After spending three years at Sanford Health managing their online efforts, I realized there was a significant lack of knowledge in the marketplace on how businesses could effectively utilize the web. A gaping void existed in our marketplace for an online strategy firm. After much prayer and consideration, I started Click Rain, Inc. — an online marketing firm – and have never looked back.
Click Rain helps organizations understand digital strategies and how to properly apply them to their core business. We like to say we help businesses market smarter. Traditional media is dying a slow death. That’s not a biased statement from an online marketing guy… it’s fact. Unfortunately, many businesses are slow to respond to this technographic shift. Our services – things like web development, search engine marketing, social media strategies, email, and mobile technologies – provide tangible ROI that demonstrate the value of a polished online game. That sounds really “salesy”, I suppose. But that’s what makes online marketing so great – the trackable, traceable nature of it.

Click Rain does a lot of work in the political arena and is currently entrenched in several heated races for 2010, including a U.S. Senate race in Kentucky that is getting national attention. We’re also doing work in financial services, healthcare, and hospitality, to name a few. You can view some of our client work here.

While my graphic design chops are pretty rusty, I do break them out on occasion when duty calls. I designed the Click Rain identity, but have since relied on the much more talented design skills of my team for our interactive design work. My day is spent more on the operations of a small business, business development functions, and managing the online strategies for our larger client accounts.

While I wasn’t sure where my graphic design degree would take me in 2000, I am thankful to have a design background when dealing with my staff and clients. I am also appreciative of the moral base instilled during my time at Dordt, which has helped me through some difficult business choices and created the foundation for my decision-making framework today.

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