April 18, 2014

Read Our Portfolio

Our heartfelt thanks to our clients for their willingness to share the stories of their Brand in Adolescence challenges (challenge in parentheses).
Click on the story to read.

Eastern Dentists Insurance Company (EDIC):
Looking Forward to the Dentists

Brand in Adolescence Issue:  Growing Pains

Challenge: How to update marketing communications and ease the marketing workload on a lean company?

A provider of insurance to dental practices, EDIC had plans to grow by expansion to new geographic regions and by launching a financial services subsidiary. EDIC had no marketing department.The CEO headed all marketing planning and efforts; the COO was in charge of the company newsletter.  As the company grew, however, both of them had less time to devote to these marketing efforts.


During a six-year collaboration, we:

  • Conducted research to help the company understand its key benefits from its policy holders’ point of view and to better understand marketing segments among their policy holder base;
  • Renamed and revamped the company newsletter (On The Cusp) to give it a more updated feel and to include features that highlighted company officials’ excellent relationships with their policy holders;
  • Wrote copy and managed a graphic design firm to produce high quality marketing communications that deepened the relationship between the company and its policy holders, and enticed prospects;
  • Ensured consistency of the company’s key marketing message: positioning EDIC and its subsidiaries as best suited to serve dentists and to advocate for them;
  • Conducted analyses to support our recommendation to eliminate the company’s use of snail mail business reply cards.


In the face of stiff competition, EDIC maintains a 99% policy holder retention rate.

  • EDIC successfully expanded its service territory to include New York and New Jersey.
  • Launched in 2005, the EDFS subsidiary is going strong.
  • EDIC has saved thousands of dollars in production costs and postage by greatly reducing the use of hard copy business reply cards, with no change in marketing communications response.

“Evelyn Starr’s creativity together with her business acumen played a vital role in EDIC’s growth and success. The array of marketing that she produces is both wide in scope and top notch in content. Evelyn would be a valuable asset to any company’s marketing efforts.”

Charles P. Hapcook
DDS President & CEO
Eastern Dentists Insurance Compnay

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Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston:
Should We Run This Ad?

Brand in Adolescence Issue:  Lacks Confidence

Challenge: How do you decide whether to advertise or use other marketing tactics?

Years ago Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston received a request from the local Fireman’s Fund to place advertising in their annual ad book.   No one likes to turn down local safety services, but was this the right use of their limited marketing funds?  At the time ads had been considered on a case by case basis, as opportunities presented themselves.  Further conversation with school officials indicated that some felt their existing tagline failed to resonate with its community and to differentiate the school from others.  Should they run the ad?


With the school’s approval, E. Starr Associates widened the assignment scope to developing guidelines on which marketing vehicles to use and when (not just ads).

We interviewed school administrators, teachers, and parents to understand what they loved about the school, what had attracted them and what they believed the school was trying to achieve.  Using the insights from these interviews, we:

  • Developed an overriding marketing strategy for the school which would create positive buzz among its internal school community (the school’s best advocates!) as well as reach prospective parents and referral sources;
  • Recommended a broader range of more current and less expensive marketing tactics in priority order;
  • Facilitated brainstorming with Solomon Schechter’s External Marketing Committee to develop potential new taglines;
  • Conducted research on the prospective taglines among target parents to provide insight to the committee that would help them select a winner (“Learning & Values for Life”).


The school shifted from reactive to proactive marketing.  During the past five years, Solomon Schechter had a year of stellar enrollment and a few years of solid enrollment.  A new marketing team took the recommendations and created award winning marketing campaigns (three awards for outstanding day school marketing from the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) in 2008 alone!)  Through consistent use, Solomon Schechter has come to own and embody their tagline.  And with all due respect to the Firemen, they didn’t run the ad.

“Evelyn Starr is a thoughtful marketer. She has done several marketing research projects for Solomon Schechter and has been a trusted colleague and friend of the school for several years. The true test of her excellent research and creative problem solving skills: we keep coming back for more. Evelyn is professional, pays attention to detail, and has much wisdom to share. I recommend her highly without any reservation.”

Dan Levine
Director of Recruitment and Marketing
Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston

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The Danforth Museum of Art:
Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Brand in Adolescence Issue:  Identity Crisis

Challenge: How much do location and facility play a role in a Museum brand?

Since 1975 the Danforth Museum of Art has leased its facility from the town of Framingham, a 100-year-old building suffering from decades of maintenance neglect.  The original boiler’s fickle nature caused visitors, art students, and employees to freeze one day and overheat the next.  In addition to an architectural review, The Museum’s administration wanted to canvass their constituents’ views on their physical space and its location before deciding whether to attempt renovation or move.


We worked with an Associate who conducted focus groups among the Museum’s constituencies (artists, visitors, board members, art students), and used the focus group findings to craft an online survey.  With over 500 constituents responding, we:

  • Quantified constituent support for staying in downtown Framingham.
  • Gauged what most attracted visitor and art student traffic to the Museum, and what might be deterring it.
  • Gleaned insights into what features constituents would most want to add or improve should the Museum renovate.


With solid constituent support, the Museum Board decided the Museum should stay in its current space and work with the town of Framingham to fund renovations.  The Museum is putting together a strategic plan to upgrade the space incorporating their constituents’ input.

“It was a pleasure to work with Evelyn Starr, a smart and strategic thinker who worked collaboratively with an associate and Museum staff to craft an online survey that helped the Board of Trustees to make a commitment to the Danforth Building. Her study gauged constituent support in a concise, clearly conceived manner, and we have referred to it often since making the initial decision. Evelyn has since been invited by our Board to review work by other consultants, and her advice has proved invaluable. We recommend her work most highly.”

Katherine French
Danforth Museum of Art

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Private School:  Standing Out in a Sea of Private Schools

Brand in Adolescence Issue:  Identity Crisis

Challenge:  How to decide what to emphasize when marketing a private school?

A new Director of Admission at a private school in the Boston area found that the school’s past marketing materials varied in their messages.  Teachers and administrators heaped advice on the Director about what was important to emphasize.  As the Director fielded prospective inquiries and gave tours, parents’ questions added more items to address to the marketing list.

The Director requested help deciding what aspects of the school’s brand should be featured to differentiate the school and getting consistency in the marketing messages from everyone who was involved in marketing the school.


E. Starr Associates set out to capture the full view of the school’s brand – both internal and external perceptions.

We conducted interviews among each of the school’s constituencies: internal (parents of current students, teachers, administrators, alumni) and external (referral sources in the community such as preschool directors and “lost prospects” – parents of students who were accepted but opted to enroll elsewhere).

Using insights from these interviews we:

  • Identified the aspects of the school most commonly associated with it and those considered its strengths;
  • Conducted a branding workshop among administrators and teachers involved in marketing the school to gain consensus on the top brand attributes that define the school;
  • Delivered a brand summary that could be given to marketing communications partners to get them up to speed quickly on the school’s brand and to help ensure it was represented consistently as desired.


The school has experienced record enrollment since the branding work was completed.  The Director gave the brand summary to a graphic design firm which developed a new logo that the school’s constituencies love and that embodies the defining aspects of the school.  All the school’s marketing materials now have a cohesive message set that administrators and teachers echo when giving tours to prospects.

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