Her ‘Ensemble’ creates sweet marketing music: Kristina Murto grows business in challenging economic times
Her years of civic engagement and philanthropy in local organizations have included the Lakeville Area Arts Center, Lakeville Art Festival, the Minnesota Valley Humane Society and Feed My Starving Children.
Each year, Murto has hosted the Lakeville Area Chamber of Commerce Toys for Tots event and has a multi-year record of hosting the chamber’s most successful annual food drive.
Many of her favorite causes are those organizations dedicated to helping children and animals because she said they capture a “soft spot” in her heart.
“I believe it’s not enough to just take the passive support route, but rather throw ourselves whole-heartily into a cause,” she said.
Born in Hastings, Murto has lived in Eureka Township just south of Lakeville with husband Mitch Murto since 1987.
Murto’s graphic design, marketing, brand and website development career spans more than 24 years. While many thought she was “crazy” to start her own business in 2008 because of the economic uncertainty, Murto called it “the most rewarding venture” of her life.
“I wake up – sometimes way too early – excited to tackle a new adventure,” she said. “I’ve met so many incredible people along the way that I would never had the opportunity to meet if I hadn’t taken a chance on myself.”
Ensemble Creative & Marketing caters to small- to medium-sized businesses that may lack the internal resources of a marketing department.
“We specialize in branding, design and messaging and helping clients position their product or service to customers, whether it’s business to business or business to consumer,” Murto said. “Our client list is composed of a wide variety of business models from manufacturers to the trades industry to companies needing a custom website. Simply stated, through proper marketing, we provide their business credibility.”
Murto said she likes having a business in Dakota County because it is important to her to keep local ties.
“I’m most comfortable in the culture of Dakota County,” she said. “Of course that’s an entirely different vibe than working in St. Paul, Minneapolis or even Bloomington.”
She considers her business’ growth and out-of-the-box success — despite the faltering economy — has been her most significant accomplishment.
“During the recent recession, we were fortunate to continue to expand our client list and portfolio of work,” she said. “That was an environment that many in my field and other industries didn’t see coming, including me, and sadly many didn’t survive.”
A consummate professional, Murto believes in hard work, treating people fairly and having compassion for others.
“When we established our business in Lakeville over eight years ago, there was a desire to be part of the community in which I live,” she said. “That reckoning translates into fully embracing and the support of community undertakings such as volunteering our time or talents to help nonprofits or those in need.”
Over the past few years, her industry has gone through significant changes.
For over 20 years, her background was in creating advertising and printed marketing materials that included catalogs and print advertising.
“During 2008, we realized that there was a tremendous shift away from traditional print,” she said. “Many companies moved their marketing dollars to their web presence and we needed to accommodate that shift. Fortunately, our skill sets and experience translate well to the internet and today roughly 60 percent of our revenues come from client web development.”
Looking ahead, Murto said the most significant opportunity for her business is found in the client relationships they have nurtured over the years and that span numerous projects.
“Fortunately, during this past year we’ve been approached by businesses that have since become clients primarily because, first, we are local and second, we have a reputation of being a one-stop shop that produces great work and results for our clients,” she said. “There is great opportunity in nurturing those relationships.”
She also credits her success to the many colleagues who have taken her under their wing and believed in her even when she lacked the confidence to believe in herself.
“I’ve taken away many valuable insights that I still apply to business today,” she said. “My continued goal is to mentor when I can and hopefully make a profound impact on someone’s career and life.”