Santa Fe Business Incubator

Success Story:

“Mary Ellen stepped in as part of our team and just ‘got it.’ It was like having our own marketing department. Because of her focused approach, we accomplished all we set out to – and more. We wouldn’t have changed anything.”

Marie Longserre, President and CEO

Merrigan Group Executes Seamless 10-Year Anniversary Campaign for Santa Fe Business Incubator


A decade ago, the Santa Fe Business Incubator (SFBI) was a vision and a plot of land. Since then, it has served 64 businesses and helped create more than 600 jobs. SFBI clients generate approximately $20 million in annual revenue.

SFBI, a nonprofit organization, supports new and growing businesses under one roof with benefits such as training, flexible leases, shared equipment, and networking with fellow entrepreneurs.

As SFBI approached its 10-year anniversary, it planned a year-long celebration. Marie Longserre, president and CEO, envisioned a series of events and outreach to showcase successful clients and thank SFBI’s many supporters. Yet, pulling that off would significantly tax the small staff.

“We knew it would be more work than our staff could manage on top of their regular jobs, and it would be more cost effective to engage an outside expert,” Longserre said.

Telling the Incubator Story

On a colleague’s strong recommendation, Longserre brought in Mary Ellen Merrigan of Merrigan Group LLC dba Connecting Point Communications. Beginning with a blank slate, the two collaborated to map out a plan to reach Longserre’s goals.

SFBI wanted to maximize its outreach to all constituencies, including clients, the community, supporters, volunteers and government entities – all on a nonprofit’s budget.

“Mary Ellen is incredibly creative, open-minded and smart,” Longserre said. “She came up with unique and effective ideas that met our budget. She is a consummate professional, and it was a tremendous relief to work with someone who cares as much as she does.”

Every piece of Merrigan Group’s plan was designed to tell the story of the incubator and its clients:

  • SFBI and its most successful clients were highlighted in a year-long postcard campaign with 10 mailings.
  • A PR plan targeted key media outlets.
  • A well-designed 16-page insert in the New Mexico Business Weekly featured SFBI, clients and other New Mexico incubators. Extra copies continue to serve as a valuable hand-out that tells the incubator’s story.
  • An open house with the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce introduced many to the incubator.
  • The year capped with a celebratory banquet for 300 attendees.

Meeting All Goals – and More

During the 18-month project, Merrigan Group served as an extension of the incubator, keeping every deliverable on schedule and acting as the single point of contact for more than a dozen different vendors.

“Mary Ellen shepherded everything through, delivering exactly when she said she would,” Longserre said. “She was a peer professional that I trusted completely.”

Key to the project, Mary Ellen identified win-win sponsorship opportunities to provide positive exposure to other businesses. Local companies, for example, were able to sponsor congratulatory messages in the Business Weekly special insert. In turn, those sponsorships helped provide SFBI the resources to realize the full range of what it had envisioned from the beginning.

Media coverage included feature stories in the Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico Business Weekly and other area publications. In particular, coverage of the success of current and graduated incubator clients truly reinforced the incubator’s message of nurturing business growth.

The 18-month celebration capped with an elegant banquet to thank supporters, showcase clients and set the stage for the future. Most importantly, SFBI met its specific goals for each target audience.

“Mary Ellen stepped in as part of our team and just ‘got it.’ It was like having our own marketing department,” Longserre said. “Because of her focused approach, we accomplished all we set out to – and more. We wouldn’t have changed anything.”