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Meet Dan Gershenson of Caliber Brand Strategy and Content Marketing in Lakeview

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dan Gershenson.

Dan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
No kidding, I think I knew that I wanted to be a writer in the 2nd grade. Our school had a Career Day and this parent came in from an advertising agency and showed us his work on the McDonald’s account. I thought it was pretty cool that he got to be creative and come up with ideas like that for a job. Many times, I still feel that way.

Fast forward to college where, at the end of my Sophomore year, my advisor told me I had to declare a major if I wanted to graduate in 4 years. I had taken one Advertising class up to that point, so I said, “Advertising.” Luckily, that worked out as that’s what I ended up doing for a living, working my way up as Copywriter and Creative Director at some different advertising agencies in Chicago.

While I’ve worked in Chicago for most of my career, I spent seven years in south Florida where I ran an advertising agency with two other partners. Upon moving back here (yes, I missed it that much), I took some freelance work writing blogs for a couple clients and working part-time at an agency. Then another client came on board who needed ongoing writing. Then another. And so on.

I realized that maybe there was a business in doing this, so, with my wife’s encouragement (she came up with the name Caliber), I plunged back into entrepreneurship and opened Caliber Brand Strategy + Content Marketing.

Our firm comes to the rescue of service-based businesses with tiny or non-existent Marketing Departments that have no time, no internal resources or both to keep the train of high-quality content moving down the tracks in a compelling voice for their brand. All wrapped around a strong strategy and marketing system for success.

Has it been a smooth road?
Entrepreneurship is never a smooth road. The idea that you somehow have all of this freedom just because you’re a business owner is an illusion. You have to work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. There’s the day-to-day work you’re doing, there may be some management of others, there’s the account service interaction that people usually underestimate and on top of all that, you have to be your new business development person.

So I think that balance is a constant challenge that doesn’t go away (not to mention when you add becoming a parent to the mix). But I’ve learned to delegate and trust others not only for my health and sanity but because it’s important as our business scales up.

Every time I’ve made a mistake as an entrepreneur, particularly in my first years at it, I had the good sense to write it down and what I’d do differently. I have a book written from all those experiences that I plan on finally publishing. I get so tired of these “how I made my millions” business books. Mine’s going to be more of a “how I messed up when I started out and can help prevent you from making the same mistakes” business book.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Caliber Brand Strategy + Content Marketing – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Caliber Brand Strategy + Content Marketing is my company and I’ve been in business for 5 years now. Our specialty, by far, is in helping service-based companies tell their story online and offline in a way that feels ownable to them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a company of 1 person or 300 people – what they all have in common is that there’s typically one person entrusted to somehow “figure it all out” when it comes to Marketing while everybody around them is suggesting this or that social media tactic. Their heads are spinning and what they really need in that moment is someone who is highly experienced at a more reasonable investment.

So we don’t just create a customized plan for those companies. We create all of their content too. Anything that can be written, we can produce on their behalf at a very conversational level – blogs, brochures, E-newsletters, you name it. We also shoot video within that family of content. Finally, we use a marketing system that’s been tested and proven for over two decades. I think that adds up to an incredibly rare combination and gives that tiny Marketing Department of one person the secret weapon behind the scenes they’ve been looking for.

My proudest moment comes when a client refers to me as their “Marketing Director” or “Chief Marketing Officer.” I love that. It makes me feel like I’m a seamless part of their team they can trust.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
If you leave Chicago once, as I have, you realize that there are several things that you might’ve taken for granted, like the food. You can’t get a good Italian Beef easily just anywhere, for one thing! One of my favorite things to do I actually did just a few weeks ago when we went to Millennium Park for a concert – and I’m sitting out there near a Goose Island beer tent, sipping on a 312 in the middle of a perfect Summer night with my family, listening to a concert for free. It doesn’t get much better than that. I find myself having those memories-in-the-making all the time in our city because of the cultural options we have.

The diversity of our food, our museums, our music, our theater…it’s a spectacular combination here. And it surely is not a bad place to be a major sports fan either.

The thing I like least by far is the traffic. Forget the Winter months. I’ll deal with years and years of windchill but there’s nothing more frustrating to me than the Kennedy. It’s my nemesis. I get how it jams up during rush hour but sometimes it slows to a mind-numbing crawl at the oddest times of day. When you’re trying to get anywhere in the suburbs, sometimes the hardest part of your trip is just getting out of the city.

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