Interview with Lois K. Geller, President, Lois Geller Marketing Group
Tell us about your business.
We work with large corporations and help them build relationships with their prospects and customers. We create communications that sound like they’re coming from a real human being, and we use that brand voice on the websites we create, the emails we deploy, the direct mail, and the advertising. Since we’re direct marketing specialists, all of our programs are measurable and we monitor response and ROI.
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
Maybe I was always supposed to be business owner, as I didn’t get along very well in corporate America. I worked for many years as marketing director for many publishing companies, including Meredith Corporation (Better Homes & Gardens), and Random House. Then I fell in love with the agency side of the business, and was President of AC& R Direct (Saatchi & Saatchi) and J.Walter Thompson Direct (in Canada), as well as several others.
I liked the positions I had, but never quite understood the politics, and always expressed my own opinion about how we could make our clients successful. I never conformed well to the “company” way of doing presentations, or the 9 to 5 deal. Sometimes, I’d take my staff off to an afternoon “away” from the building ( to a museum, casino, restaurant). I liked to do things my way…and so being an entrepreneur should have been in the cards for me, way before I did it.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
Years ago I worked on the Olympic Coin Campaign which was a huge undertaking in one year. I did the creative for ads, radio, direct response television, etc. It was a hectic challenge, and my boss at the time, a brilliant direct marketing guru named Larry Chait told me this: “Lois, just take one effort at a time, and get it done. Each day try to do one more thing than you did the previous day, and then on the 7th day…just gloat about all you accomplished” I still do that today.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
My greatest accomplishment is probably all of the direct marketing books I’ve written that have been translated in many languages and used in colleges, and by many many companies . I never even thought to write a book, until one year on my birthday, my mom sent me a spiral bound notebook. On the cover she’d neatly lettered the words: Direct Marketing By Lois K. Geller. In the first page of the notebook, she wrote, “isn’t it time?” So, I wrote: Response! The Complete Guide to Profitable Direct Marketing.
The books themselves are not my greatest accomplishment, but all the courses I taught at New York University (using the books) and the amazing students that came out of them…are!
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
Many years ago I was president of Geller Direct at TBWA (a large NY agency), and one day I was eating at Hamburger Heaven in the building and feeling kind of blue. A stranger asked me what was wrong. I proceeded to tell him about this client, and that I needed to do better work for another one, and I bent his ear for an hour. He asked me why I stayed in my job, and I told him about my son, and that I was a single mom, and my expenses, orthodontia work, and so on.
He said it sounds like you should be working your way and in your own business. Maybe you should quit. Stupid idea, I thought, especially having such a great job. The following week though, I did quit. He changed everything for me, because my first business started in my apartment, grew rather large…and we’ve been successful for over 20 years now.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
I guess the one thing I have learned is that I never think of my company as a small business. I headed up large corporations, and I’m still the same person. So, I think of us as the best and the brightest…and there’s never a client too big for us to manage well.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you succeed?
Our resources are our clients and our friends. Relationships mean everything to us, and most of our business comes to us through referrals.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
Over the next year, I am writing a new book, and that always accelerates our company’s growth.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I do a lot of public speaking about marketing subjects, now the social media, and I would encourage your readers to do the same. It is an easy way to meet new people, organize your thoughts and become a leader in your area.
How can our readers find you online?
Our website is: http://www.loisgellermarketinggroup.com My blogs are: http://www.joyofdirectmarketing.com and http://www.realestaterelish.com I’m on twitter: loisgeller, Facebook: loisgeller, and LinkedIn too. My creative director has a very interesting and fun blog: http://www.gutsofaburglar.com