I was born in Central Illinois in a town called Normal. Although I’d love to say the name is ironic, it’s just that. As a child I grew up idolizing sports icons like Michael Jordan and as complete contrast fell in love with the teachings of Bob Ross. Art became a main creative output as early as grade school, where I would draw Looney Tunes figures free hand for money during recess. As life went on, I stuck to my love of art. I began drawing realistic portraits, painting, and then finally digital art. Once college started I was set on becoming an Accounting major. Math was a strength of mine and I took several accounting classes in High School and enjoyed them. After freshman year, I abandoned that life choice and wanted to stick my childhood passion. Shows like Madmen were just being introduced at that time and the marketing World opened its’ doors to me. From then on I was obsessed with making my own faux advertisements, reading everything I possibly could about how art could be implemented into marketing, and the World of artistic direction in business.
Post college I did everything I could to further my education. I created a company that worked with a non-profit in Uganda to create hand-made jewelry out of recycled paper. We worked with them to help create jobs, provide safe housing in a volatile area, and provide wages for women and men that were unmatched. This venture was everything I could have wished for. I learned Photoshop so I could create my own logo and banners for the work sites. I learned how to create websites and manage them to stay aesthetically pleasing to a target market that wanted just that. Social media management became a necessity as people flocked to the Facebook pages and posted pictures on Twitter. Uganda Beads itself gave me the knowledge, the want, the desire to learn as much as I could about not only marketing but about business development.
As I furthered my career in marketing Uganda Beads became a difficult task to keep running by myself. It is currently on hold but I contain hundreds of items in inventory for when I’m able to stabilize and find that life long dream job I’ve been searching for. Post Uganda Beads, I knew that social media and marketing was where I wanted to establish a career. My first introduction into marketing for another company was half marketing, half sales. I became the Digital Marketing Specialist at the biggest local radio station in town. I knew nothing about sales and wasn’t particularly fond of it at the time. My main job responsibilities were to run and develop a Groupon like business in our area as well as market and help businesses create websites through a website design platform created by Townsquare Media. Seize the deal (the Groupon like program) took off with my inclusion and we had the biggest month and quarter the organization ever had. Through market research I was able to determine that services were the major money makers and when restaurants were featured our numbers spiked drastically. My initial plan that led to the biggest month in the company’s history was to introduce a restaurant week. Every day we had a new restaurant that offered a 50% off coupon. Some were new, some were repeats, but the hype and excitement brought everyone in.
Unfortunately for me, Townsquare Media sold the rights to the station to another company that didn’t push digital marketing the same. Seize the deal no longer existed in the area and the website service was directly tied to Townsquare. I reached out to my previous job (PNC Bank) to see if they had a position open. For a little background of Normal, it’s heavily based on insurance companies (State Farm and Country Companies). If you aren’t able to find a marketing position in either of those, your likelihood of finding one in town is slim to none. With nothing in close proximity to home, I started as a universal banker at PNC Bank. I left on great terms and loved the people I worked with and the general care that PNC had for its’ employees. A few months in a company in town actually contacted me letting me know of a position that was open. Directly after college I applied to Mavidea to be a part-time marketing coordinator on contract because their current coordinator was going on maternity leave. I didn’t have quite the experience they were looking for but they liked me enough to bring me in for another position later on.
The application process was grueling, I believe it was around 3 months of interviews, tests, and lunches before they finally made the decision to hire me. I respect the process they go through no matter how long it took. The hiring process is expensive and turnover can be a major problem for a small business. Eventually I became Mavidea’s newest Internet Marketing Specialist. Specifically, my job responsibilities were SEO related. At first it was difficult to gain the trust of the other marketing members there. There were 2 SEO marketers like myself and 3 website designers. They had all been there forever and were very comfortable with each other and their abilities. I don’t blame them, I’m a perfectionist too. It can be difficult for me to trust someone to do a job as I expect it to be done. Every day I put forth my usual effort, over the top and as precise as possible. Within weeks we became a super close knit group and knew that each of us had each others backs in all capacities. A new segmented market was being marketed and the team wanted me to take control of it entirely. Unions across the United States were seeking SEO and marketing help. A lot of them were very old school at heart when it came to marketing, digital was a whole new World. I was put in charge of a concrete union with over 80 members, an HVAC union in Ohio with 11 members, an HVAC union in Illinois/Kentucky with 7 members, and a crane union in New Jersey. Communication was key for these clients. Trying to ensure that time is a factor and that improvements are coming in due time was difficult. SEO can be a hard sale for someone who is used to referrals, newspaper, TV, radio ads. Each union had different restrictions and different needs so strategies were formed for each. The Ohio union saw great success within the first year. The strategy and end game was to completely own the front page of Google with union members. By owning the top 7-10 spots on an HVAC Google search, the union could set the price point for the area. Near the end of the contract we had secured all 10 spots a specific keyword phrase that dealt with HVAC. It was a task we knew was possible, but not typically plausible. The same happened with the IL/KY union, but their strategy involved the creation of several websites being created for union members. There were multiple members who had no internet presence at all, so it was a ground zero build up.
Success in the union segment was booming, albeit complicated without a typical strategy to develop. Unfortunately for Mavidea and myself, the unions all decided to move on even with the exact goal and successes being met that they required at contract. I was hired mostly for new SEO clients as well as control of the upcoming union clients, so the loss of them was signaling the loss of my position. My superiors told me if they keep dropping they won’t be able to support my position and I am very grateful for their transparency. The stars aligned as I figured I’d be back at PNC yet again. A remodeling company in town was looking for a marketing coordinator.
The shortened version of the story is, Re-Bath of Illinois hired me as soon as I came into my interview with recommendations to the website, tips for their social media, and questions about their post sales process. Since I’ve started at Re-Bath I’ve slowly earned the ability to manage more. It started with SEO and social media, moved to direct mail and email marketing, and has transitioned to running all aspects of marketing minus Television (For no reason other than the owner has a great relationship with our media partners). Our post sales process has changed drastically due to recommendations on being more involved and more transparent with our clients. We had our largest 3rd quarter sales in the history of the company last year, almost doubling projected sales. A brand new referral club was set up to take advantage of the loyalty and trust we’ve built in past and future clients. Over the past year it’s contributed to $90,000 and is starting to bud. A new PPC system was put in place that involves a landing page on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. This system has brought in 37 sales and over $315,000 since it’s creation. Social media has become a staple of the marketing mix with highly specific targeting through Facebook ads and the ability to post installation photos and before/afters. Several local companies produce stock photos that aren’t super realistic, so our before/afters and testimonials have been a huge hit in the area. Before/After pictures and testimonials were started to create a trust and prestige in our segmented markets. General Contractors are untrustworthy to the public and our biggest hurdle is showing what we do, who we are, and that you can trust us to provide you with outstanding service and products. Another aspect of this was the creation of about us pages and information on the owners and workers of Re-Bath. After I conducted marketing research and spoke with several prospective clients and Home Shows, being a local company was of the up-most importance. Showing that we are just that gave us a huge step up on the competition.
Currently I am still employed at Re-Bath of Illinois and am serving on the franchise marketing board. My wife and I aren’t getting any younger and with no children we have the opportunity to move anywhere we’d like. We are currently open to any and all locations but are heavily looking at Colorado, Florida, California, and south-eastern United States.