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Meet Nancy Gerstein of Creative Marketing Associates in Northfield

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nancy Gerstein.

Nancy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Creative Marketing Associates began in a coffee shop. While sharing a slice of cheesecake one night in 2004, Marcie Lance and I imagined the audacious idea of starting a marketing business. It seemed like a good plan: Marcie had significant top agency and broadcast experience and I had owned and sold my own agency a few years prior. One overconfident handshake later, and we were officially business partners.

Between the two of us, we had an army of business resources – prospects, freelancers, market knowledge, and skills. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were blessed with believing that anything was possible. (In fact, we still do!) One of our favorite motivational truisms coined by Marcie is “We’re in Chicago. If you’re good, there’s plenty of business for all of us.”

Marcie was right. Here we are 13 years later, with a solid list of powerful and diverse clients, an outstanding and dedicated staff, an office, and the excitement of a new adventure in marketing. Every. Single. Day.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
One of the first of many obstacles we’ve encountered – and those in business with friends or family can attest to this – is the challenge of maintaining strong, open, and honest communication between partners. Back at the coffee shop, we made a pact that our friendship comes first. In the start-up, there’s no structure or history, and it took numerous trials and errors to learn how to run the business and still remain friends. 

Another obstacle in our business is staying focused on our priorities. With so many things to do and only so much time to do them, it’s easy to mindlessly bounce from task to task. We’re always re-prioritizing assignments and checking-in with our staff to decide what’s important today.

Please tell us about Creative Marketing Associates.
CMA provides comprehensive support for clients in all aspects of marketing and public relations including branding, media coverage, social media strategy and implementation, content, website, blog and article writing, design, cause marketing initiatives, and new product launches.

Our team’s mission is to create heady, stimulating and provocative ideas for our clients. Ideas that make headlines and capture attention so brands stand out and Get Noticed ®.

What makes us different than the rest? Our team is dedicated to the three powerful pillars of our company: be persistent, courageous, and inquisitive. We’re perpetually on a quest to deliver excellent work. We never forget that it takes real courage and tenacity to do what we do, and we stay curious, creative, and open-minded on how to get a job done. This is the heart of our business and it’s driven the evolution of our firm.

Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts or changes, trends?
I’ve been in marketing for many years and have never seen so many trend shifts and changes as I’ve seen in the last five. There’s a surge in places where an audience can see or read your message – websites, social platforms, broadcast outlets, podcasts, print publications, and specialized groups. Every day we see a new channel, program, messaging service, or site popping up on the radar. We’re on high alert for these daily changes in our industry.

Another big shift in marketing has been hyper-marketing, the personalization of a brand to its target. Everything from Coca-Cola cans to personalized Nike shoes, digital customization has transitioned into a story that marketing firms are selling individuals. For most businesses, it makes their brand more specific and individual. This is especially true on social media.

As part of that personalization shift, we’re starting to see a lot more brand blogs with companies taking control of their content. Topics like company updates, customer stories, featured guest posts, and relevant business trends allow marketers to connect with customers by showing the human side of doing business with them, all while having the interactions take place on platforms they control.

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Creative Marketing Associates

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