(Dina Barker | Photo by Kristine Thomas)
During a work week, Dina Barker’s responsibilities could include pulling weeds, meeting with clients, packing swag boxes and pouring wine. The variety of her tasks reflect the two Bend businesses she owns with her husband, Duane Barker.
Established in 2016, Brilliance in Branding serves more than 500 clients by providing promotional items varying from baseball caps to water bottles. In 2012, the Barkers planted a vineyard on their five-acre property, and they started selling their wines last year in Central Oregon retail stores, wine and liquor establishments and on website. “I think being in business for myself is incredibly rewarding because every day I get to make decisions on how I want to represent my businesses, the type of work we do and how we operate,” she said.
Her passion for her work propels her to complete her “to do lists” for both businesses. And while the two businesses highlight different products, Dina said they share the common foundation of providing exceptional customer service and high-quality products. “Everything we do is a labor of love,” she said. “We truly love helping others succeed with their business, and we love sharing our story of growing grapes and making wine. Doing something you enjoy every day empowers you to grow your skills and your business.”
Dina shared six things she does to successfully manage her days and her businesses.
Owning two businesses with varying needs requires Dina and Duane to “divide and conquer.”
Dina focuses on the operations of Brilliance in Branding while Duane manages the vineyard and wine sales. “I help him and he helps me and at the end of the day, we talk about what we accomplished and what needs to be done tomorrow,” she said.
They enjoy working together on projects, each lending their unique talents. Duane is more the creative one with a thousand ideas going at once, while she tends to be more practical about an idea’s feasibility and profitability.
Dina is amazed when a client tells her another business failed to return a phone call or email. “I think one of the biggest mistakes any business makes is not providing exceptional customer service,” she said. “Clients want to know you care, and they appreciate a phone call or email to answer their questions. Personal connections are key to successful business relationships.”
Dina shared her clients’ success depends on the work Brilliance and Branding does for them. “We have to make sure we provide exactly what our clients are seeking to market their own business or their client’s business,” she said.
Too often, a business starts with talking about the pricing. “I start by asking questions so I understand what a client needs and how we can meet that need,” she said.
She recently met with a client who showed her a baseball cap with his company’s logo. At first glance, Dina thought the quality looked great, until the man showed her what the actual logo looked like. “He couldn’t understand why his logo couldn’t be on the cap the way it was designed,” she said. “I took the time to answer his questions and explain what would need to be done. He was extremely grateful because he said no one had done that before.”
Hiring the Right Person
Dina said there’s a difference between hiring people to fill a seat and hiring people who are strategically aligned with your company’s vision and goals. “I think it’s important to hire people who can really see the vision of your company and want to help the company to grow,” she said.
Employees who feel valued for their ideas and their work are proud to be part of the team. “Everything we do is all about the details, and our team is amazing the way we support each other and always working to put out product we would be happy to receive,” she added.
Marketing and Sales
Too often in marketing, people start with what they are selling or how it works. “We start with the why,” she said. “With Lava Terrace Cellars, we love sharing our story of what inspired us to grow grapes and what our vision is for sustainable farming.”
For Brilliance in Branding, the why is helping clients select the promotional items to help promote their company or their clients. “We believe in plain communication with clients, educating them about what we do and how we can help achieve their goals in turn empowers them to make the best decision for their need,” she said.
Say Yes and Make it Happen
A client with Brilliance in Branding called Dina to ask if she could assemble and mail 400 boxes to participants in a virtual conference in 2020. The client wanted an assortment of items with the company’s logo. “I had never done anything like that for a client, but I said yes we can because I knew we could,” Dina said. “That one decision has led to numerous projects with other companies wanting similar swag boxes and/or fulfillment services.
Saying no is often easier than figuring out how to tackle a big project. Our philosophy is to provide solutions — it’s my job to figure out how to make it work and be seamless to the client. We are here to make their job easier,” she continued.
The MacGyver Way
Spend a little time with Dina and Duane, and you’ll notice they both have a “MacGyver way” of doing things. In both businesses, they look for creative ways to solve challenges, and neither hesitates to research something, try it and see if it will work. And if it doesn’t, they are on to Plan B.
“We are always thinking about things whether it’s new products or methods to help customers promote their company or new ways to do things in the vineyard,” she said. “Our goal is to always be learning and to do things better than we did the last time.”