amandaIn 2014, Winona State University alumna Amanda Brinkman was brought on as Chief Brand and Communications Officer for Deluxe to help find a break-through solution to change brand perceptions about the company.

While Deluxe is known by many as one of the top check producers in North America, the 100-year-old company has also evolved to serve as a growth engine for small businesses and financial institutions, so one of Brinkman’s first objectives on the job was to get to know the Deluxe customer base.

“Whenever I start at a new company I like to spend time with the customers,” she said. “I want to understand their pain points and how they make purchase decisions. While I was out meeting with small business owners, I was just so taken with their stories: Why they started their business. What is hard about it. What their children are learning from them. When you hear a small business owner’s story you immediately want to support them.”

And that’s what sparked an idea.

“We could be their champions, we could tell their stories! I was convinced that we could create a movement,” said Brinkman.

And so “Small Business Revolution” was born. The documentary series told the stories (http://smallbusinessrevolution.org/stories/) of 100 small businesses across the country and culminated with a longer-form documentary (http://smallbusinessrevolution.org/documentary/) that focused on the importance of small business to communities, to the country, and to the economy.

Then, what started as an idea to celebrate Deluxe’s centennial became stronger, bigger, better and ultimately a new show – “Small Business Revolution – Main Street.”

“While we were going across the country filming the documentaries, we noticed that nowhere are small businesses struggling more than in our small towns,” Brinkman explained. “It is hard for them to compete.”

So to continue the movement, Deluxe decided to help a small town revitalize its main street and community through its small businesses. The company infused $500,000 into the winning town—Wabash, Ind.—and filmed the transformation in a series featuring Brinkman, her team from Deluxe and Robert Herjavec of Shark Tank.

“I am just so inspired that what started as just an idea became something bigger because everyone around me believed in it and worked hard to make all of this possible,” said Brinkman. “This is truly helping people, and that is an idea I can definitely get behind.”

“Small Business Revolution – Main Street” recently debuted on Hulu. Episodes are available for streaming at http://smallbusinessrevolution.org/main-street-revolution/.

Nominations for a second season—featuring a new small town and another $500,000 investment—were accepted through October 2016.

For Brinkman, this most recent achievement is the latest in a series of impressive career moves. After receiving her degree from WSU in Mass Communications, Brinkman found early success on the advertising agency side of the marketing industry. She worked at McCann Minneapolis and Fallon for a number of years before being recruited to the corporate side. At Fallon she worked on BMW and the BMWFilms as well as a handful of other accounts. She was quickly promoted to the leadership team at the nationally renowned agency.

Brinkman was then recruited by UnitedHealth Group to start their internal marketing agency. She built the team to over 150 people with offices throughout the US and a team in India. She went on to build internal agencies for Allianz, a global financial services firm, and General Mills. This is where she really started to build a reputation for being able to build brands and creativity from the inside out.

Over the years Brinkman has received a number of awards and recognition for her career achievements. She was recently named to the “Real Power 50” by Minnesota Business magazine, an accolade reserved for the most influential members of the business community. She was also named to the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” list in 2009, received a “Woman to Watch” award in 2012 and was featured as our WSU “Distinguished Young Alumni” award recipient in 2011.

Follow Amanda Brinkman on twitter @akbrinkman or instagram @amandakbrinkman as she shares updates from the epicenter of the Small Business Revolution.

For more information, call the WSU Communications Office at 507-457-5024.

 

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Alex Carter

Alex Carter is a Public Relations major with a minor in Marketing who graduates in 2018. She is from Argyle, WI.