Thursday, 25 July 2013 15:04

The Man Behind the Marketing: The Story of Fingerpaint

By Patricia Older | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — It was the talk of the town this past spring—what was going on behind those newspapered windows of the former Borders Bookstore—was there going to be a fresh foods market? Or a bunch of retail shops on the lower level and apartments above? Maybe an Apple store had finally decided to locate in the Spa City.

Obviously, from recent accounts as being one of the area’s fastest growing companies, a lot of creativity was going on behind those windows as Ed Mitzen’s full-service advertising and marketing agency, Fingerpaint, prepared to expand operations and move into the open space storefront at the corner of Division Street and Broadway. 

According to the Business Review, Fingerpaint is the second fastest growing company in upstate New York, ranked by five-year percent changes in revenue between 2008 and 2012. The area surveyed includes Saratoga, Albany, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren and Washington counties.

Since 2008, Fingerpaint had an almost 1,400 percent increase in revenue, earning $9.5 million in 2012. When the company first started, they had seven employees; at the end of 2012, 68; and at the time of this article, 82. 

“A lot of our employees came to us out of networking,” explained Mitzen, who admits he likes to surround himself with people “who are smarter than [him].” He added, ”As we started to grow, people started seeking us out—we have people who are local, some are college grads and some are from major cities who relocated here to work with us.”

As for the rapid growth of the company, Mitzen credits the employees’ dedication and creativity, as well as diving right into digital work when he started the company. 

“We are a full service marketing and advertising agency,” said Mitzen, noting the company recently acquired Cotton Hill, a 25-year-old video and audio production firm in Albany. Fingerpaint has worked with Cotton Hill for the last four years and acquisition of the company will allow the company to produce videos for television and marketing campaigns in-house now. 

“It is a nice marriage of skills,” continued Mitzen, who once studied to be a doctor. “We now have [video production] in-house and hope to elevate to larger, more full-scale initiatives.” 

He noted that the former owner of the company and the four employees would be staying on. 

“They are really nice people and that is needed—they have the same beliefs and values as [Fingerpaint],” said Mitzen. 

Continuing, Mitzen said the building on Broadway was perfect for the company.

“It has been empty for a couple of years now,” said Mitzen. “And the owner was thinking he would have to maybe open retail shops on the first floor and apartments on the second, but because we like the open floor plan and there are no offices, it was perfect for us.” 

In fact, said Danielle Saladino-Evans, it is Fingerpaint’s working environment that sets them and their work apart. 

“The culture makes us different and the way we work together,” said Saladino-Evans, who is part of corporate communications. “There are no titles, no offices, no egos and the end product speaks for itself.” 

Even the company’s name is different, alluding to creative adventures. 

“It goes to the carefree time of childhood—when we are children, it is a unique and interesting time,” said Saladino-Evans. “There are no titles, no egos and everything is an open environment.” 

Mitzen noted that Fingerpaint’s move to Broadway is also good for the Spa City. For example, he said, the company allows non-profits to use the parking lot for fundraising on the weekends when the office is closed (during the week, it is limited to Fingerpaint employees only, during office hours,) and with 80 additional people working downtown, it brings in additional revenue. 

“There are 80 people going out to lunch, shopping and spending money downtown,” said Mitzen. 

The company also works with a lot of non-profits helping with their marketing campaigns, including Saratoga WarHorse and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. They hope to up their pro-bono work and donations as well. 

“We have just hired someone to spearhead corporate giving and philanthropy,” added Mitzen. 

With 20 active clients, such as GE, Glens Falls Hospital and Emma Willard School, Mitzen said he is especially proud of the work they just did for the girl’s boarding school. 

“It is beautiful work, we had to remarket and rebrand their marketing interest,” continued Mitzen. “We did and used a responsive design so it would work on any size screen.”

 Explaining that the multiple screen design was done to target the school’s potential client base—parents of young girls, as well as the young girls themselves, Mitzen said Emma Willard has seen an increase in their online applications. 

“There is a lot of research to understand the frame of mind of who the client wants to target and creating a dialogue and then the final product—a lot of different people had to pull together to make that work,” said Mitzen, adding that everyone at Fingerpaint contributes in one way or another to a marketing campaign. “We have a very collaborative atmosphere. Everyone owns stock in the company—it fosters a feeling to care about the company.” 

Noting that he is “cautiously optimistic” about Fingerpaint’s future, Mitzen said the company is successful because of its employees. 

“I have been very fortunate because I have been surrounded by some really talented people,” said Mitzen. “Because I started the company, I get credit; I am surrounded by an army of people who are smart and creative.” 

With a 10-year lease, Mitzen says he hopes for Fingerpaint to continue to be an important part of Saratoga.

“We are dedicated to the community and we will continue to embrace that dedication,” said Mitzen.

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