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About Us

Strategy first, creative second, results always.

STEP 1: Communication planning & strategy

Your partnership with us begins with a purposefully designed communication plan, a blueprint for achieving your goals. It’s the why and the how and the who—the actionable steps that produce real organizational results.

STEP 2: creative assets

Our team develops creative assets that inspire and engage your customers or ignite and motivate your employees. Digital marketing could include social media marketing, search engine optimization, or PPC. Traditional advertising could include radio, print, or outdoor. Most times we use a mix of both. See what we can do.

STEP 3: analysis & results

We deploy, we analyze, and we adapt. Our advertising agency operates on data—transparency, results analysis, and data-based recommendations. If something isn’t working, we’ll tell you. If something is working great, we’ll let you know. If something could work better, we’ll suggest how to get there.

Our story.

Click through the years to see how we started, adapted, and evolved.

  1. The Computer: 2004

    Aaron and Beth Hautala had just received their tax refund. Aaron wanted to invest the money into a fireplace for their red house, Beth insisted on investing in a computer—flexibility and opportunity for the future. Our advertising agency, RedHouseMedia (now Strateligent), was born.
  2. Meet RedHouseMedia: 2004

    We (at that time, Aaron and Beth) announced the launch of the business—making headlines in the business section of the local paper and building relationships with local chambers of commerce. An onsite grand opening event was held in the front porch of our red house in Brainerd, MN—a home office consisting of one computer, monitor, and printer.
  3. Surviving the Great Recession: 2008

    Starting a business just before the Great Recession wiped out many new, small businesses—we weren’t one of them. Collaborating with our community ensured we not only survived, but thrived. Aaron became the president of the local BNI (Business Network International) Chapter and passed a record-breaking $7 million dollars in business referrals within their group.
  4. Celebrating 5-Years: 2009

    Successfully navigating the Great Recession meant growth for us. We added staff, talent, services, and clients. To celebrate, we hosted a five-year anniversary party at our studio in the Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd, MN.
  5. Volunteerism & Making the Impossible, Possible: 2010–2011

    Collaboration with our community served us well during the Great Recession—to give back, we volunteered our talents to one of our local communities—the Cuyuna Lakes Chamber of Commerce. Our pro bono work included an updated logo, fresh website design, and visitor guide, which helped to align with the opening of the new mountain bicycle trails being built in the area.
  6. A Sauna Story: 2011

    Growing up on the Mesabi Iron Range, the sauna experience was important to Aaron. He teamed up with author Michael Nordskog to photograph and share the stories of saunas from across the upper Midwest and Finland. Their book, The Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods Finnish Tradition, won a 2011 Minnesota Book Award from the Midwest Independent Publishers Association and the 2012 David Stanley Gebhard Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.
  7. Awards to Analytics: 2004-2012

    Throughout our first ten years, we were recognized with many American Advertising (Addy) Awards, including Silver, Gold, and Best of Show. Recognition was nice, but our first priority was ensuring our work accomplished our clients’ goals. We stopped entering advertising awards and invested the same amount of time in understanding analytics, metrics, and conversions in a developing digital landscape. Strategic. Intelligent.
  8. Evolving the business: 2015

    Our business was evolving—starting with the logo. We replaced the “house” with our first initial representing the heart of what we do—create ideas and solve problems.
  9. Volunteering to Improve Communities: 2015

    Aaron, as volunteer president of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, donated his time, as well as offering Strateligent’s services to build the Cuyuna brand—brand building, storytelling, press releases, speaking opportunities. The first part of that was getting the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area (and an image photographed by Aaron) featured on the 2015 Minnesota State Parks vehicle permit.
  10. Cuyuna Destination Tourism Development: 2015–Present Day

    Aaron and Strateligent continued to donated their time and talents to help the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew raise $6 million for the Cuyuna mountain bike trails and infrastructure, transforming the region from a former mining town to a nationally-recognized tourist destination. (See our work, here.)
  11. Local and National Spotlight: 2011-2018

    Our work and leadership started getting some well-deserved attention.

    For Aaron:
    2011 Top 40 under 40—Prairie Business Magazine
    2014 Outstanding Alumni Award—Central Lakes College
    2018 Bike Advocate of the Year—Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota

    For RedHouseMedia:
    2014 TeleChoice Award, First Place for Complete Marketing Campaign— NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association

    And as a result of our work, for the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails:
    2017 Bike Tourism Destination Award—PlacesforBikes

  12. Introducing Strateligent: 2018

    We announced our new business name: Strateligent (pronounced stra•teh•luh•jent).

    As we took on clients across the country, we desired a name that would break through the clutter and become a national trademark. We were no longer in a “red house” and the word “media” no longer reflected who we had become and where we started: the intersection of where strategy meets intelligent. Ensuring every story is purposefully told with the intention of changing hearts and impacting minds.

  13. Capitalizing on Remote Work: 2020–Present Day

    COVID-19 changed the way businesses worked—including ours. Like many others, we shifted to remote work early in the pandemic—and we still are. We’ve found that working remotely has increased productivity and built stronger personal relationships—we continue to achieve corporate excellence for our clients even while working differently.
  14. Drone Photography & Videography: 2020

    Strateligent earned a certification in drone video and photography to further strengthen their in-house capture, edit, and video mastering. One of our Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area drone photos, captured by drone operator Cory Johnson, was featured in the Star Tribune, alongside an article written by Aaron.
  15. Expanding Our Digital Toolbox: 2021–Present Day

    As the advertising landscape continues to change, so do we (adaptable is one of our values). We expanded our digital services and partnered with an industry-leading digital vendor—allowing us to do what we do best (communicate, create need, persuade thought) while our digital partner does what they do best (help us target the right consumer, at the right time, at the right frequency). Our digital strategy also includes measuring campaign effectiveness by tracking clicks and conversions—ensuring goals are accomplished.

Client Testimonials

“Strateligent was able to take my vision and transform it into instructional material and sales collateral that is clear, informational, and visually stunning. I’m thrilled with the end result. We’re now able to provide teachers with even more useful tools and classroom resources to create a culture of inclusion, improve students’ mental health, and prevent school violence.”

—Ben Rudrud, founder of RIPL

“Our values are the heartbeat of everything we do—they are used in everything from job descriptions and onboarding materials to social media and patient interactions. And Strateligent not only helped us define those, but they did it by making us part of the process. They aren’t a typical agency that would just put us in a generalized healthcare box and say, ‘This is what you are. This is what you believe. This is what you feel.’”

—Gretchen Youngren, executive director of development and communications, Samaritan Healthcare, Moses Lake, WA

“Strateligent’s public relations expertise and their ability to switch gears quickly helped us communicate critical COVID-19 safety information, quickly. The airport staff had more time to focus on implementing cleaning and other safety precautions, and we could keep our community informed of our efforts to ensure safe air travel. Strateligent’s communication assistance undoubtedly helped get ticket sales back up after the initial shutdowns.”

—Steven Wright, director of Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport

“Over the years, Strateligent has successfully transformed the narrative so that people see Lake Mille Lacs for more than just walleye fishing. Our long-standing relationship makes it easy for us to work together, strategize, and continue to position the area as a top destination for outdoor recreation.”

—Tina Chapman, executive director of Mille Lacs Area Tourism Council, Garrison, MN

“The entire Strateligent team feels like an extension of our marketing department. Aaron and Cory are fantastic to work with on videos and are extremely skilled at what they do. We are always impressed with the results and we receive compliments on our videos and commercials. The stroke video (sponsored through a MN Department of Health grant) had many moving parts and was a fun project for all staff involved. MDH is certain to be impressed with the angles and drone footage captured, overall content, and video quality for use statewide.”

— Diane Meyer, marketing and communications manager, Glacial Ridge Health System, Glenwood, MN

“Rebranding during a pandemic presented many obstacles for us, however Strateligent readily removed many of these obstacles by being accessible to our team through Zoom. The process was seamless! We completed over 30 hours of individual meetings with staff via Zoom, as well as many additional meetings with our Executive Team. Strateligent led us through a process of redefining who we are. It was fun, very creative, and authentic to our area. Aaron and his team provided extraordinary support all while working remotely.  Our outcomes have been tremendous! Thank you, Strateligent!”

—Dell Anderson, executive director of Renew, Moses Lake, WA

Meet your team.

Our goal is to accomplish your goals. Our advertising agency is a perfect blend of storytellers, project managers, copywriters, graphic designers, web development wizards, social media gurus, video production specialists, and digital marketing strategists. We have talent in the deep end of creative, strategy, and project management. Not only can we envision it, we’ve built a proven process to deliver it.

Aaron Hautala

PRESIDENT, CREATIVE DIRECTOR

With more than 25 years of positioning organizations and communities front and center, Aaron uses his experience to deliver powerful communication using a proven process he personally developed—including leadership coaching and consulting. Aaron has been recognized internationally for award-winning strategic marketing, public speaking, and community advocacy.

 

Beth Hautala

VICE PRESIDENT

A visionary by nature, Beth has a way of seeing into the future and planning for what has yet to be. From co-founding Strateligent® to publishing her two novels from Penguin Random House/Philomel (her third to be released in 2022 from Penguin Random House/Viking), Beth, together with Aaron, provides the leadership and cultural bedrock behind Strateligent’s vision, mission, and goals.

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Heidi Lake

PROJECT MANAGER

Whether it’s a new or existing project, a wild idea, or a friendly advocate, Heidi is our go-to gal—lead wrangler, question-answerer, and scheduler. With a journalism degree and more than 15 years of media, copywriting, and PR experience, Heidi is also SEO certified and SEM qualified. She ensures our client projects are accomplished as they were intended, on time, on budget, and in good order.

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Jodi Schwen

COPYWRITER / SOCIAL MEDIA SPECIALIST

Words have been Jodi’s passion since she crafted her first story as a child under an evergreen on the shores of Gull Lake. She brings more than 30 years of experience in writing and editing and two degrees in communication to wield her copywriting pen for the Strateligent content development team.

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Steph Swanson

COPYWRITER / DIGITAL SPECIALIST

Steph has a knack for storytelling. Whether it’s informational or motivational, she enjoys writing content that inspires action and sparks change. With experience in copywriting and technical writing, and a degree in marketing communication, Steph is skilled in crafting simple, memorable copy that gets people to think, feel, and act.

 

Cory Johnson

GRAPHIC DESIGNER / VIDEO PRODUCTION SPECIALIST

Cory has always enjoyed art, as well as the creative workings of video game technology. When he discovered that graphic design and digital media combined computers with art, choosing his career became easy. Cory is a licensed drone operator with an exceptional, intuitive ability to render video equipment for good.

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Arden Osborne

GRAPHIC DESIGNER / WEBSITE DESIGN SPECIALIST

Arden’s unique ability is his passion for web design, which began when home computer ownership was on the rise. Since then, he has become a graphic and web design specialist who enjoys employing his skill set to create client projects for both online and traditional platforms.

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Awards & recognition.

  • American Advertising Awards (ADDY): Silver, Gold & Best of Show
  • NTCA (The Rural Broadband Association) TeleChoice National Award – Complete Marketing Campaign
  • Bike Tourism Destination Award, People For Bikes
  • You Made It Happen Award, Cuyuna Lakes Chamber of Commerce
  • Explore Minnesota, Travel Marketing Award of Excellence, Lake Mille Lacs
  • Top 40 Under 40. Prairie Business Magazine – Aaron Hautala
  • Central Lakes College Top 75 Alumni – Aaron Hautala
  • Advocate of the Year – Aaron Hautala, Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew – Presented by The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota
  • Minnesota State Parks and Trails, State Park Decal Photo – Aaron Hautala
  • Minnesota Book of the Year, The Opposite of Cold – photography by Aaron Hautala
  • The Christopher Award, The Ostrich and Other Lost Things – written by Beth Hautala

Our work family.

The Strateligent team is made up of passionate creatives who collaborate to design, produce, and communicate with purpose. We enjoy our work. We enjoy each other. And we like to have fun! Check out our values to see how we improve the future for our clients, our communities, and ourselves.

Values