Today’s client spotlight is Dana Freker Doody with The Expo Group.
Dana is the Vice President of Communications for a local Trade Show Company and to say she wears more than just one hat is an understatement. In fact, I know personally that there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes of a trade show and what most people see as a 3-4 day (or more) event, literally takes months and months of preparation. That being said, I know Dana is the one who keeps communications flowing when the operations and service teams are working 20-hour days!
With that, I’ll let Dana tell you more about her role in this tight-knit family business she works for… and we all love those family owned businesses don’t we!
Q: Who is The Expo Group and what is your role there?
I’m Vice President of Communications for The Expo Group, a company that produces trade shows and events for associations and corporations across the nation. We also design, fabricate and install exhibits. My role includes public relations, lots of marketing, advertising, social media, internal communications, some industry relations and creative client services, too.
Q: What’s the best thing about your job?
Three words that explain why I enjoy my job are flexibility, autonomy and variety. The Expo Group is a family owned-company that has kept the spirit of entrepreneurship, servant leadership and innovation alive since we were founded over 25 years ago. So if I have an idea to make something better or create a new way of servicing our clientele, I can run with it. It’s also very nice not to have to run every tweet and Facebook post past a slew of managers.
Q: What are some things you wish you had known going into your line of work?
There is not one single business professional in America who can escape numbers, creative like me included. I always advise young people to take more business courses at college, even if they want to be an artist, because they may end up in business for themselves before they realize it. Tying initiatives to business and revenue goals is very important for ourselves and our clients, and the growing importance of data analysis is making marketers smarter but it means a lot of spreadsheets. Trade show exhibitors in particular need to look at their data. How many leads did they get at a show? How many stress balls did they hand out with their logo on them? How many follow-up calls did they make after the trade show? How much did their exhibit and booth space cost compared to how much money they made from the leads? Answering all these questions can help people make better decisions about their marketing and exhibit programs.
Q: What knowledge have you gained outside of your current position that you feel has helped with your role?
My background in journalism, with small local newspapers in particular, gives me a unique view on how trade show organizers should be treating their attendees, exhibitors, speakers and other stakeholders as parts of one big community. It’s also been a boon for my employer because I apply those journalism skills to our social media marketing and producing all the content required today to communicate with customers and prospects. We like to give our community valuable info in our email newsletter, on our website and at educational events we put on just for them. Working with me on all these efforts is Todd Carruth, who has a radio/TV background, so we have a good mix of content pouring out of our department. We were on Twitter and YouTube very early in the game, and we keep up a steady blog and flow of info on LinkedIn and Facebook, which is important when you are not the behemoth market leader. We have yet to conquer Vine and Instagram, but we have our spots saved there. www.theexpogroup.com/e/Blog
Q: In what ways does your company use graphics and print products?
Our company produces large-format graphics for trade shows and exhibits internally but we turn to JPT Graphics for our small-format printing. We love the service we get from this family-run business right here in our city. We just had Fred run off a printed card for a direct mail campaign we are really excited about. In it, we are using a bit of psychology and asking our prospective clients to get out of their comfort zone – the end goal being they should change their current provider to work with us! This piece gives instructions for what to do with the box we also sent, complete with stickers decorating the exterior, that contains… chocolate-covered ants. Yes, I ate an ant to be a good role model and get out of my own comfort zone. We had success with another direct mail piece one year ago, and in looking at the data in comparison to email marketing we can see it has a big impact. But we also have social media, email and website components to this campaign: theexpogroup.com/rethinkchange
Q: What’s your favorite memory from working on a design or promotion?
Working in marketing in a world of marketers is quite fun on one hand, ’cause we can do edgy stuff like send people ants, but we always have to remember everyone is watching and paying attention to the details. When we are at a trade show, we know everything has to be right on target with colors, messaging and little things like the tchotchkes we order to give out. We want to be remembered – for the right reasons. I think that’s where common sense comes in to play. Even small companies can make a big impact if they use common sense and rely on their partners. The designers at JPT are great at making sure colors are correct, your logo looks good and more because they are driven to be your partner, not just a print vendor.
Q: We’ve talked a lot about your work life but can you tell us a little about what you do when you aren’t working?
I never talk about work-life balance because it’s all life! I enjoy my work, but it’s just part of my life. I enjoy being a mom to my 10-year-old sports nut son the most. I slice oranges, give pep talks, unknot baseball cleats and throw a wicked spiral. Raising him, especially as a toddler, is the most creatively taxing thing I have ever achieved, even considering my line of work.