Chisholm Mingo Group, Inc.
My path into the advertising industry has been
an unconventional one. I attended Hampton University and majored
in Psychology. My aim when I entered Hampton was to become
a Psychologist. After my sophomore year, I joined the Army
ROTC program. Primarily because I wasn't sure what I wanted
to do after school and figured by becoming an Army officer
I would have a guaranteed job, get to travel, and learn some
valuable skills. Upon graduation, I was commissioned as a
Lieutenant and had a three-year active duty commitment.
My plan was to do my three years and make a
move to the private sector. I had absolutely no idea what
I would do, but I was definitely going to 'make my move'.
A strange thing happened after a year in Korea and another
at Ft. Dix, NJ, I started liking what I was doing. Nearly
seven years later, after living in Oklahoma and Germany, I
had learned a lot about people, life and myself. I feel blessed
for what the experience has taught me.
I decided to leave the military in 1994 and
linked up with a headhunter who specialized in placing junior
military officers. I knew I had developed some marketable
skills, but still wasn't sure what industry or career path
to pursue. I like to talk, so I did well in interviews with
companies offering sales positions, but my Army experience
taught me how to be a manager. Sales or management, I couldn't
decide. So...I went for the money.
My first job after the Army was as a production
manager at a major manufacturer of printed circuit boards.
I had 35 people who visually inspected finished circuit boards
all day. They looked at circuit boards...and I looked at them
look at circuit boards. The money was good...real good, but
after a year I had to go. I don't know if you remember the
Dunkin Donuts commercial featuring the line "time to make
the donuts", but that's exactly how I felt. Following nine
years of active Army service, the boredom was killing me.
After a year in the private sector, I no longer
had the label of being a 'junior military officer', and it
was difficult to revisit some of the opportunities offered
during that first job search, but I knew that sales was a
better place for me to be.
I got a job with Reuben Donnelly, a Dunn & Bradstreet
company. At the time, they were the sales organization that
represented telephone company yellow pages sales in the New
York area and in other markets around the country. That...was
a fun job. Commissions were high, company car, they had no
competition in the market, and they treated their sales people
very, very well.
The thing that was most helpful in doing yellow
pages sales was that very few industries could use yellow
pages alone and be successful. Therefore, for me to succeed
I had no choice but to learn and understand how to give businesses
advice on all aspects of trying to get & keep customers.
While at Donnelly, I read about a man named
Andrew Morrison in Black Enterprise magazine. Andrew had a
marketing company called Nia Direct that specialized in targeted
direct response advertising. I called Andrew for about three
months because I wanted to get him to buy advertising in the
Business-to-Business yellow pages. I finally got an appointment
after about the 25th call. Unfortunately, he didn't buy anything.
However, about eight months later, Andrew called and told
me he was expanding his company and asked me to come interview.
It was the best no-sale of my life.
I joined Nia Direct in January 1998. As one
of 10 employees [8 in NY, 2 in ATL] in a small African American
owned agency you got an opportunity to do a lot of stuff.
From formulating strategy to ad design to sales to buying
mailing lists to making copies to defrosting the refrigerator.
During my time at Nia, I also went back to school to earn
my MBA. The beauty of working at Nia Direct was that my role
was to bring in business selling direct mail programs and
servicing two major existing clients. In other words, my schedule
was what ever I wanted it to be. That may sound like fun,
but to be successful, I had to put in a lot of hours.
I left Nia Direct in October 1999, and joined
The Chisholm-Mingo Group. Strangely, my introduction to the
company came from a friend whose cousin worked here. What
is strange about it is that her job in sales came from an
introduction to my cousin who worked at Merck pharmaceuticals.
At Chisholm-Mingo I work or have worked on the
US Army, US Navy, and US Postal Service accounts. After eight
months with the agency, I was promoted to Account Supervisor,
and became the lead person on the US Postal Service account.
The thing I believe was most instrumental in getting the promotion
was my willingness to do the 'dirty' work.
Advertising is all about research. Learning
as much as possible about the client/product, the industry,
and the target is the foundation for building an effective
message. Learning to gather, digest, and analyze large volumes
of information quickly is an invaluable skill that can make
your job easier. I've also learned one of the biggest obstacles
to analyzing data and developing a message is understanding
that your own personal feelings & ideas can't be allowed to
influence how you evaluate a situation. Let your understanding
of the research be your guide.
The best advice I can give to someone wanting
to enter the advertising field is to read as much as you can
about the industry and its trends. Information is everywhere,
grab it, learn it, and where it fits...apply it. Ask questions,
and be clear about what you want to achieve. The advertising/marketing
business has many disciplines. It's good to know something
about all of them, but focus on what you want to do whether
it is creative, account services, media, or research.