All in a Day’s Work: Aaron Hautala
Making the impossible possible (within reason).
Aaron Hautala, co-founder, CEO, and creative director of Strateligent, specializes in making it happen for our clients, our communities, and ourselves. With 25 years of experience, he’s a master of cultivating strategic growth through intelligent design across a multitude of industries, including healthcare, destination tourism, government, education, and manufacturing.
Leading by listening
The Strateligent magic starts with Aaron. His initial consultation with a new client begins with a 30,000-foot view of the organization and its known communication goals. From there, he uses his decades of experience and skills as a certified executive coach to lead stakeholder input sessions that include senior leadership, boards, frontline staff, partners, and even customers, careful not to leave anyone out.
“Solid communication strategy hinges on connecting people and building collaboration across the entire organization,” Aaron explained. “When all stakeholder groups are in alignment, we remove potential blockers and make it much easier to reach the finish line.”
Aaron’s talent for turning seemingly ordinary Q&A sessions into meaningful discussions fosters an environment that brings common ground to the forefront. He has a knack for breaking through the noise that convolutes the underlying message, finding commonalities, and identifying where diverse user groups are saying the same things, differently. This process sets the table for developing a Strategic Communication, Development & Marketing Plan to reach business goals ranging from revenue increases to recruitment pushes to total culture transformations.
Turning complex into simple
As creative director, Aaron takes those important high-level conversations and constructs precise and concise objectives for the creative team. He oversees the creative process from the initial project intake forms to copywriting and design proofs. This proven creative development process allows the content team to timely produce effective creative collateral.
“Clear direction and feedback allow me to execute each project efficiently,” said Steph Swanson, copywriter at Strateligent. “Over the years Aaron has built solid relationships with our clients, and he has a thorough understanding of their business objectives, values, and missions. To me, he feels like an extension of the client themselves, and that is an incredible asset when providing creative direction to writers and designers. Aaron knows what the client wants and needs so by the time the client sees a proof, we’re right where we need to be.”
Making things happen
Aaron’s superpower is seeing the future—or more accurately, seeing what the future could be—for our clients, their businesses, and their customers, and using that vision to develop a strategy for success. We call it future-building. It starts with uncovering opportunities and visualizing future success then pressing on—despite the inevitable obstacles—to make it a reality. And his track record speaks for itself:
- New regulations meant anglers could no longer fish for walleye at the famed walleye lake, Lake Mille Lacs, and a blow to the area’s tourism and economy. Strateligent created a communication plan to reposition the lake as a bass fishing destination, eventually leading to Lake Mille Lacs being recognized as one of the top lakes in the US for smallmouth bass fishing. (Read more about that here.)
- Aaron created a road map for the growth of the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area mountain bicycling system that nearly tripled the trail mileage. His proven process for building economic development around outdoor recreation helped to revitalize the Cuyuna region, recruiting more than 30 new businesses and increasing the annual number of cyclists to 119,000, and a $9,000,000 economic impact each year.
- Samaritan Healthcare in Moses Lake Washington worked closely with Aaron to define their values through carefully led visioning sessions. Over the last seven years, Strateligent crafted campaigns that helped Samaritan more than triple their number of on-staff providers and add seven new medical specialties: Allergy, Behavioral Health, Cardiology, Diabetes Care, Gastroenterology, Neurology, and Pain Management.
- Aaron’s ability to listen, understand and adapt allowed Strateligent to help the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport (BRD) achieve record-breaking ticket sales in 2019. And then by pivoting during COVID, to break the 2019 record in 2022. (Read more about that here.)
While he’s dedicated to Strateligent and our clients, it’s not all work for Aaron. In his free time, you might find him spending time with his family, enjoying a Finnish sauna, or mountain bicycling at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.