The History of BadCat Digital


January, 2019

Have you ever wondered how BadCat got started? Or how it got its name? Wonder no more because the truth all comes out today! We sat down with the original BadCat, Michelle Henderson, to discuss how she got started and what keeps her going each day (hint: it probably partially involves your favorite beverage).

Why did you decide to start BadCat? How did you go about it?

I moved to St. Cloud to get married, but I was still working in Minneapolis. I ended up doing the drive every day and it became really overwhelming. I started looking around a bit for a local job but I just wasn’t finding anything. I just thought “Well, let’s give it a shot and see how it goes.” I spoke with my husband and I set a goal to have a certain income level for the business within 6 months. We just tightened our belts and did it. I hit that income level in 4 months and never looked back.


Where did the name come from?

My husband is allergic, so I no longer have this cat, but I had a cat named Ebbie. She was a rescue and an absolutely beautiful black cat with these celadon green eyes. She was also a terrible cat—very badly behaved. I quilt, and she would often get into my quilting room and mess it up. She would just destroy my supplies. At the time, I ran a little Etsy shop for some quilting things and I called it BadCat Quilts. When I started a business, I thought to myself, “I wonder if the domain name is available for BadCat Digital.” When it was, I thought, “Okay! Well that’s the name then.” So it’s named for Ebbie, the world’s worst cat.


Why do you love digital marketing?

I really love the challenge of it. I love the concept of trying to do a lot with very little. There’s a problem-solving element to it that I really like. And one of the things I really love about digital is that it’s an even playing field. Production values for TV, radio, print, and billboard advertising can be quite a burden for new businesses. One of the best things about digital is that it has a lower barrier to entry. You can have a fabulous website and a strong presence on social media and Google without the same kind of monetary investment that you need to advertise on a lot of traditional channels.

“we really focus a lot on education—both on educating the community, educating the staff, educating our clients, and educating the school districts.”

What is one of the biggest challenges of digital marketing?

I think one of the biggest challenges of digital marketing is that there tends to be a lot of misinformation out there. One of the challenges I’ve run into is that a lot of people have engaged in digital marketing either on their own or with another company. We’re in an industry where there isn’t a whole lot of third-party verification or certification. There are things out there that business owners can use but it requires a lot of education and the learning curve is quite high. When people have felt taken advantage of, it’s a challenge to try to determine if they were. I fight that a lot and one of the ways that BadCat tries to do that is through some really transparent and authentic communication with our clients. We work hard to build strong relationships with our clients so that they feel confident and comfortable with what’s happening. And we really focus a lot on education—both on educating the community, educating the staff, educating our clients, and educating the school districts.


What’s your favorite part of running a business? How is it rewarding?

My favorite part about running a business is honestly the people that work for me. I absolutely love finding amazing people and watching them grow and gain confidence in an industry they maybe hadn’t thought about working in before. I love training people and being able to grow a team. I love watching it develop. When somebody new comes on, how does that change the team dynamic? What can we all do together to be better? And honestly, I didn’t really think that I would have staff. When I started BadCat, I thought it was going to be me in my yoga pants in the basement of my house working 20 hours a week and watching Gossip Girl on Netflix, but that is not what it turned into and I’m so thrilled.


Do you enjoy being involved in the community?

I absolutely love St. Cloud. I grew up in a town called Eau Claire in Wisconsin. It’s actually a similar size and felt really similar to St. Cloud—a college town. I never really felt at home when I was in the Metro, and then I got to St. Cloud and it just felt like home. The amazing thing to me about this community is that when you give to this community, it gives back and really welcomes you and embraces you. I just love that. I’ve really enjoyed getting connected in St. Cloud. I think it’s important that we show our gratitude to the community, because that’s the only way that we’re all going to grow together.


What is your best digital marketing tip?

My best digital marketing tip is to make your site attractive to Google. By far the least expensive, longest-term investment that you can make in the health of a website is to make sure Google can read it correctly and that you’re ranking as well as you can. Whether or not you decide to pay long-term for Search Engine Optimization work, you should allow your site to be found. It’s amazing that we all have this tool that we use where we can find products and services, and it’s just mind-boggling to me when businesses don’t take advantage of that.


Is innovation important to you?

I think innovative thinking is really important. To me, new technology and tools are just that—tools. They’re execution dependent. They’re really only as good as the way that you use them. There’s courage in innovation.


What keeps you going each day (other than the obvious, coffee)?

Yes, caffeine! But really, the staff. I know that at this point it’s not just me in my yoga pants in my basement anymore, and if I fail then other people will be hurt by that. So not only is it the staff, but this concept that when I get up in the morning, I am doing something that hopefully makes other people’s lives better, provides jobs, provides a place for people to be and celebrate who they are, and provides our clients some peace of mind and return on their investment to improve their businesses. When I’m down or frustrated or really in the weeds, I take a deep breath and think about that because that’s what gets you up and keeps you going.


What is digital marketing for the fearless?

Digital marketing for the fearless means that the best way to market anything is for that thing to be what it is. As a business, being who you are and allowing that to shine is really really difficult because it means that some people are going to like you and some people aren’t. And you have to be okay with saying that some people aren’t going to be happy with what you’re doing, because unless you can say that, then you’re not anything. Businesses that try to be everything to everybody often fail at that. In order to stand out in a market you have to have a personality.


So, if you’re looking to work with BadCat, be prepared for some conversation about that because the only way to stand out in a crowd is to be yourself.


Like what you read? BadCat is even better in person.