Profession/Title: Director of Marketing, ista North America; in February 2011, was one of only four EXHIBITOR Magazine 13th Annual All-Star Award Recipients, honoring the individual accomplishments of exhibit and event managers worldwide.
Hometown: West Monroe
Now resides in: Fleming Island, Fla.
Degree: B.G.S., Tech; M.S., corporate communications, Southern Miss.
Family: Married to “the wonderful Jeff Boyd,” son Connor (13), daughter Lauren Elizabeth (11); parents Linda and Bill Nelson, West Monroe.
Why did you choose Louisiana Tech? I love to tell this story! The Nelson children were Bulldogs from birth! I love to exaggerate and say that instead of the infant bracelets in the hospital, we wore dog collars!! I don’t ever remember not being a Bulldog. My parents have always been strong Tech supporters. I can remember them coming home from football games when I was very, very young and bringing me those red and blue pom-poms! OH…was there anything greater than those Tech pom-poms to a seven-year-old? We even had a Tech Hall in our house with awards and recognition of my parents’ contributions to Tech. My three brothers attended Tech and pledged fraternities and I followed right behind. I never even considered other options and I have NEVER regretted it!
Share a couple of your favorite memories of Tech: From sorority (Delta Gamma) and fraternity life (Sigma Nu – Order of the White Rose) to student government and Regal Blues dance team, I had an exciting life on the Tech campus!
I think my favorite memory was of my graduation. My father was awarded the Tower Medallion Award the year I graduated. He was invited to sit on stage for graduation and as I crossed the platform to receive my diploma, Dr. Reneau passed the diploma to my dad who did the actual presentation. That was an amazing moment.
In 15 seconds or less, how do you explain your job? I create opportunities for sales through creative marketing efforts in all mediums. (That’s 4.2 seconds by my stopwatch!)
Talk about your career path and future professional plans: I don’t think I have ever wanted to do anything but be creative. When I was young, my aunt worked for an ad agency in Monroe. I loved the fantasies and emotions that she could create through advertising. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school that I realized that while I loved the creativity, I also was enough like my dad to love business. Louisiana Tech gave me the opportunity to pursue a love of both business and communications through the Bachelor of General Studies degree. Getting a Master’s in Corporate Communications from Southern Miss helped me to fine tune my skills and opened doors to some amazing opportunities.
After spending time in sales with BellSouth Advertising, I was blessed to land a job as a marketing director for a small company in Jacksonville. I wore every marketing hat imaginable! It was the perfect training ground for me. I learned a little about everything “marketing” and because I was willing to listen and learn; many others were willing to help me grow. Working with that small company for seven years really revealed that while I always thought I wanted to work for Fortune 500 companies, I would have more opportunity to wear more hats as a one-woman, in-house agency in a smaller company.
As my career continued, I always looked for jobs where I could be the entire marketing team, developing every aspect of the marketing campaign—how to package it, sell it, advertise and promote it—whatever ”IT” was! And with every job, I’ve kept learning new skills, new software, taking more responsibility and adding more proficiency to my resume.
The future looks exciting! I am beginning the process of earning a Certified Marketing Executive (CME) certification and hope to follow that with a Certified Trade Show Manager (CTSM) designation. I have been selected for the EXHIBITOR Magazine’s Advisory board for this year and look forward to growing so much more through networking with leaders of my industry.
What’s a “day in the life” like for you? Because I may be traveling to a show or may be in my Jacksonville office, no two days are the same and I wake up looking forward to each! Right now I am working with our East Coast sales team and marketing energy management services in 22 states. I have 17 trade shows coming up in the next six months and for each show there is a full marketing campaign.
Many days may start off by working with the VP of sales and a sales executive to discuss a trade show and special promotions needed in their area. This could be legislation-driven, product-driven or price-driven. I’ll then produce a full-blown campaign with the show at the peak of the promotion. Along with ordering all of the needs for our booth space, such as carpeting and electricity, there is shipping to coordinate, as well. (Some of my shows fall in three different states on the same day so I have different sized booths heading in many directions all at the same time!) Once the trade show basics are taken care of, I’ll develop the marketing message for the show floor. This may be the signage in the booth or the giveaways and booth dressing that fits the show theme. I’ll develop and schedule production for my direct mail pieces, my social media commentary, my digital messages and my advertising pieces. THEN I have to produce each piece! And then there is the lead tracking and post-show marketing to plan…we won’t even go there! My days are exhaustingly filled with creativity and excitement!
A recent show in New Orleans exceeded expectations (and helped lead to your being named an All-Star Award recipient). Was the key planning? Execution? Bet it wasn’t luck: Oh, no…I don’t believe in luck! And NOTHING was left to chance. It was absolutely, 100%, laser-focus planning, obsessing and execution. I work with an amazing team of creative people who dream with me and are willing to work into the wee hours of the morning for months to think of every detail!
As we prepared for the National Apartment Show, our biggest budgeted show each year, we set our goals high and began to imagine what success would look like. We had several obstacles to overcome—less budget, shorter show hours and a lot of competition. We developed a plan to create an atmosphere of fun and to steal time from all the other vendors at the show--and it worked! Before the show floor even opened, we were the talk of the show because of our client event held the day before, where for 10 hours my show staff of 22 shuttled 165 pre-registered guests from the New Orleans Airport on three different chartered party buses leaving every 30 minutes en route to five different hotels, each 35-50 minutes away. It was amazing!
Our booth stayed packed and our lead generation exceeded all expectations—as well as broke a company record! And the exhibiting industry recognized me with an amazing award for that laser-focused obsession!! I put everything I had into it and it paid off.
What’s been an idea that didn’t work and what can today’s students learn from that: The idea that you should go where the money is. We can’t all be doctors and lawyers and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. We’re wonderfully made to fulfill needs of all types in society. There was a brief period during my college days where I felt like I was supposed to say I wanted to be a lawyer. I was worried about fulfilling someone else’s idea of success. But what I have learned is that finding your passion and gifts, and being waist-deep in your dream, will bring you true wealth!
I left the corporate world and spent six years doing creative services for my church when my children were young. I was paid almost nothing, but it was an absolutely glorious job! It was a small church with a gifted pastor and a small budget. They needed some creative help and I knew God had brought me there for just that purpose. I wore all of the marketing hats as usual. I learned how to film, edit and produce videos. I improved my graphic art skills and learned new web applications. My church grew from less than 100 families to more than 2,000 members while I was on staff. It didn’t grow because of me. It grew because people like me came from all walks of life and shared their gifts. We were the happiest people on the planet and it was the most fulfilling job I have had to date.
How did Tech help prepare you? I had amazing professors who believed in me! I still have a note from Dr. John Price, who taught me Political Science, saying “I want you to figure out what YOU want to do and do it with all that YOU’VE got!” Kay Prince brought English to life and made me a better, more creative writer and is still a dear champion for me today. The way Dr. Reneau made us feel special, and I learned from him that you should never be impressed with your own title. You have an opportunity to touch lives by sharing a smile, a complimentary word, and recognizing people regardless of where the elevator stops for you.
What’s your advice to today’s college students? I have a piece of paper with the Louisiana Tech logo and my father’s handwriting that says,
“There are 3 keys to success:
1. Love the Lord
2. Love the Lord
3. Love the Lord.”
I think that is pretty good advice! But I would also say to trust that the Lord did give you a gift of some type. Dig deep within and think of what brings you joy, then find a way to use that gift to bring others joy—whether it is in a corporate setting or as a hobby. In doing that, you will find the true meaning of happiness and great wealth.
Unfortunately, in this economy, not everyone can give up their day jobs to pursue their primary joy. What would you say to them? I love to sing and perform, but it was apparent that I was never going to support myself as a recording artist or a Broadway star. Today, I have the pleasure of being the featured soloist with a 70-piece band. We perform for fundraisers, opening ceremonies on Memorial Day in the city park, and kick-off the city Christmas Spectacular to thousands in a sold-out performing arts center. I don’t get paid and neither do any of the band members, but we all have a passion for sharing our musical gifts and it brings us such joy. Using your gift may not earn your income, but it can still bring you great wealth.
If I’ve learned one thing in life, it’s…have faith and be who you were meant to be. It will bring you an abundance of joy that exudes for the world to see…and others will recognize that as being truly wealthy