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About Me

Decades of Experience and Three Reinventions Along the Way

I Faced a Few Pivot or Perish Moments in My Career

Like many people, I had a nice corporate career for many years, but my desire to be my own boss increased every year I was an employee. So after my first child was born, I left my sales job and long commute behind and started a marketing company.

Shortly after I started the marketing company, I was given the opportunity to become a partner in a global marketing database start-up and I jumped at the chance.

I headed the sales effort and during my five years with this organization, sales increased from tens of thousands of dollars per year to multi-millions.

We supported global direct mail campaigns by cleansing global datasets.  In those days it was not uncommon for catalog and magazine companies to mail hundreds of thousands and in some cases millions of pieces of mail.

After five years, I decided it was time to move on and opened my own global marketing company. We had the honor of selling lists and managing databases for some of the world’s most well-known brands including Chanel, Dell, DHL, Forbes, Macy’s, National Geographic, Neiman Marcus, Time Magazine and many more.

I opened my doors in late 2000 and business was growing nicely. We focused on list acquisition and service bureau work to support mailing efforts, just as I had done at my previous company.

Then September 11th happened.  Shortly after that tragic day, anthrax was found in US mail sent to the capitol and global direct mail came to a screeching halt overnight.

Clients cancelled huge orders and revenue dropped like a rock.

It was a pivot or perish moment. I needed to do something fast to save my company.

We had developed a deep knowledge of address cleansing and database building, so I pivoted the company to focus on data acquisition, data analysis, and data quality. The services were basically the same as we had been offering, but the value proposition to our clients was different.  I pivoted the focus of the company to working with database marketing companies and not as many mail houses.

One day in 2009 while visiting National Geographic with the sales rep assigned to the account, I noticed that the large iconic photos that hung in the lobby had been replaced by large screens scrolling a series of iconic photos.

I said to sales rep, “It’s over. National Geographic is getting out of direct mail.” She told me I was crazy, and they would always be a mega direct mailer to support sales of their magazine.

On the train ride home, I could not stop thinking about those screens. I joined Facebook the very next day.

I remember looking at it, thinking Facebook was stupid – which was because I did not understand it.   I closed it and barely looked at it again for 6 years!

My prediction was right and the size of the orders we received from the mega publisher started reducing in 2009 and continued a to decline rapidly over the next few years.  Today, National Geographic goes by the name Nat Geo. They are a digital content creator and more known for their channel and streaming service than for the magazine.

Fast forward to 2015 and I had no choice but to learn Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn marketing at a minimum. 

It was my second Pivot or Perish Moment.

At that time, I was in the data business and privacy laws in the European Union and elsewhere were changing making it too complicated and costly to continue to build databases.  No one was renting lists and revenue was plummeting.

For me, it was a “do” or “die” situation and I chose to “do”.  It was overwhelming and stressful at times, but I made it through to the other side.

The good news is that the combination of my extensive marketing background and some formal training, enabled me to transition to digital marketing.

But it wasn’t without its challenges. 

Not fully understanding how to turn the lingo into action was the hardest part for me.   I had lots of questions.

Experts at that time were advising people to “Just put yourself out there.”  My question was, “Where exactly is out there?”  I was equally baffled by the “Find Your Peeps” advice.  I had no clue as to where “The Peeps” were or how to reach them. The most perplexing of all was the “Find Your Voice” advice.  I knew how to find decision makers but had no clue how to even start finding my voice.

I felt lost, but I stuck with it. I invested in myself and took some good training courses to fast track my transition to digital. By 2016 I was producing results for my new social media marketing clients.

I realized that I had jumped the divide and landed safely in the digital world when I was invited to speak on the topic of social media marketing at The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship and the Small Business Administration’s SCORE events in my area.

Maybe you can relate to my story.  You find social media marketing overwhelming, confusing, and it has not worked for you. This can be especially stressful when you are an executive at a company where employees rely on leadership to keep the company strong and growing.

The truth is social media marketing and advertising is much easier than you may think.  Once you understand the 3 key criteria for good social media marketing of Know, Like, and Trust AND know which advertising options to select on which platform, you are off and running.

If you have read this far, you might be having one of those Pivot or Perish Moments right now.  You might be losing customers to the competition or desperately need a steady flow of regular customers but do not know how to use social media to find customers.  You want to be in the newsfeed but find Facebook ads overwhelming.

We can help and the best thing you can do right now is schedule a free consultation with me. 

Just fill out the form below and you will be redirected to my calendar where you can select a date and time that works for you.  Then I’ll ask 3 short questions so I can gather some information before our meeting, so you get the most out of our time together.

I hope to speak with you soon.

Client Reviews

I have known Sheila for over 15 years, I have always found her to be straightforward, honest and professional. Sheila has always been easy to work with, knowledgeable, pleasant, and has a fantastic personality that allows her to engage with peers and customers in the best way possible
Ed Conrad
CMS
As President of the Board of Trustees for the Women's Center for Entrepreneurship, I have asked Sheila to speak to groups of entrepreneurs with an evaluation of their social media marketing materials. She always received stellar reviews.
Alyce Hackett
LifeStyle Resources
Sheila Donovan's Marketing Accelerated course is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn more about digital marketing. She walks you through each phase of the digital marketing process, showing exactly what to do and how to do it
Michelle Lowery
ML Online Services
Taking Sheila’s digital, social media marketing courses has opened up a world of possibilities. From conceiving and building a website, to writing content and creating videos, Sheila’s advice is spot on
Mark Zazeela
The eCommerce Guy
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