I’m proud of my professional history and have outlined the experiences that have shaped my career.
1.0 Creating a Foundation
I was fortunate to find a role early in my career where I could learn advanced marketing techniques in a real-world environment. In 1997 a friend called me excited about a new opportunity he had landed at a software company. He told me “you will learn computers and never look back” which proved to be a very real statement.
Marketing Coordinator for Avantext Inc (1997 – 2001)
In my initial professional role at Avantext, I started as a Business Development Representative (BDR), tasked with contacting aircraft repair facilities to remind them of the importance of renewing their CD-ROM subscriptions.
Avantext offered a unique CD-ROM subscription service tailored to the aviation industry, facilitating the distribution of digitized documents from the FAA to mechanics in need of the latest service bulletins for aircraft maintenance.
Business: Digital media subscription service
Location: Reading, PA
As I was making phone calls, I noticed the desktop computer I was using had a licensed version of Adobe Photoshop. I located the tutorials and began teaching myself the basics of the application and within two months’ time, I was creating graphics that caught the eye of the CEO and was immediately promoted to the marketing department as a marketing assistant.
From that point forward I would be responsible for CD-ROM packaging, magazine ads, tradeshow booth graphics, website graphics, and a lot of direct mailers. If it had the company logo or a graphic, I was now responsible for the production.
Avantext is where I learned the basics of marketing and business graphic design. I was in a constant state of developing my professional skills, attending traditional artwork classes to learn more about shading and illustration, and taking on business grammar courses to hone my copywriting skills. I was doing everything I could to ramp up my design and business communication skills.
The owner of the company took a special interest in me and sent me to Dale Carnegie’s 12-week course on “How to Win Friends and Influence People“. This would be the start of a professional development journey that still continues today.
Owner of Pagoda Media (2001 – 2011)
In 2001 I launched an agency called Pagoda Media that stood as a pioneer as a digital marketing agency, setting itself apart by being the first in the Reading, PA area to seamlessly integrate print design and website development within one team.
Business: Digital media agency
Industry: Marketing services
Location: Reading, PA
Our collective comprised the finest graphic designers, illustrators, developers, and digital marketing consultants in the local area at that time. Renowned for our website expertise, we developed Flash websites that epitomized this graphic-intensive era, featuring flash animation, music, visuals, and online store components. It was a thrilling period to be at the forefront of website design.
Specializing in logo design and product packaging, Pagoda Media achieved a milestone by creating the Hedonism beer packaging for Legacy Brewing Company. The design not only garnered national attention but also played a pivotal role in the company gaining viral recognition in an era when the term “going viral” had not yet become a household phrase.
My tenure at Pagoda Media involved active mentorship of emerging designers and developers. This commitment led to an invitation from Penn State College to participate in panel discussions, where I shared insights and advice with aspiring digital marketing students eager to embark on their entrepreneurial journeys.
The invaluable experience at Pagoda Media played a crucial role in shaping my project management and soft skills, which remain integral to my professional skill set today. It provided an in-depth understanding of agency operations and efficiency and most importantly, how to work with clients.
SEO Project Manager for Web Talent Marketing (2011 – 2012)
In 2011, I transitioned my business to Web Talent Marketing, stepping into an innovative dual-level office nestled in downtown Lancaster, PA. The vibrant atmosphere, complete with a dog-friendly environment and an indoor putting green, reflected the agency’s commitment to creativity and collaboration.
Business: Digital Marketing Agency
Services: SEO, PPC, Website Design
Location: Lancaster, PA
Working with top-tier clients and under the leadership of Oliver Feakins and Mike Cannarelli, Web Talent Marketing was truly ahead of it’s time and considered an advanced SEO agency in 2011. This provided an invaluable opportunity to deep dive into the inner workings of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
My tenure at Web Talent Marketing served as a profound learning experience in the foundational elements of SEO. Working on large-scale projects, I gained insights into advanced concepts related to crawling, indexability, and their impact on search result rankings. The exposure led to training in keyword research, link-building strategies, and the intricacies of technical SEO site audits, complemented by analytics and reporting.
This experience not only broadened my skill set but also provided a solid foundation for navigating the increasing difficult landscape of SEO as it would continue to evolve.
2.0 Building Marketing Departments
The journey of establishing, managing, and eventually selling my agency business equipped me with a unique skill set which I used to steer my career in a distinctive direction compared to many peers. This transformative experience wasn’t just about running a business; it was a continuous learning process that involved leveraging my digital marketing skills to continue my professional trajectory. This meant embracing challenges that lay beyond my comfort zone, ultimately refining me into a more versatile and adept professional.
In my next roles, I ventured in-house, tasked with creating and nurturing marketing departments across industries including automotive, direct mail, and IT services. This shift afforded me a valuable perspective from the other side of the table as I was now responsible for procuring digital marketing services rather than selling them.
Business Development Center Manager Savage Auto Group (2012 – 2013)
My experience at Savage Auto Group was a journey that began with the challenge of establishing an entirely new Internet marketing department. Entrusted with the keys to an empty building, I was given the mandate to leverage all necessary resources in crafting a fresh perspective on how the automotive industry could harness the power of the internet to drive sales for the dealership group.
- Business: Auto Dealership
- Service: Auto Sales
- Location: Shillington, PA
Transitioning from agency-based digital marketing to the automotive sector posed a unique challenge. The automotive industry, notorious for its hesitancy to adopt early technology, viewed the internet with skepticism, considering it a potential threat.
Navigating the competitive and distinct landscape of the automotive industry presented a set of challenges unlike those of a typical service-based business. High-ticket sales, fast-paced operations, and unique industry needs demanded a tailored approach.
My first strategic move was to hire an BDC professional that had previous experience in an automotive call center. In the early stages, we adopted a bootstrap approach, tracking leads on an easel board with a magic marker. Rapid evolution followed as we integrated with the dealership DMS network system, deploying a CRM to manage our lead nurturing process.
Scaling up, we recruited additional team members with call center experience due to the sheer volume of calls and internet-based leads. This allowed us to quickly test different strategies, discarding what didn’t work and keeping high-performing ideas.
Within a remarkable 16-month span, my team set unprecedented records for the conversion of Internet-generated leads to sales within a single month—achievements unseen at both Hyundai and Kia stores.
At the pinnacle of our success, I collaborated directly with Shift Digital and KIA Motors to pioneer a groundbreaking pilot program for dealerships nationwide. This initiative provided a template encompassing website landing pages, social media campaigns, Google Ads, and email marketing—an ambitious venture, particularly in the landscape of 2012.
This opportunity marked a logical progression, considering the milestones already achieved in my career, and added another layer of excitement to my professional journey.
Digital Marketing Manager for Mail Shark (2013 – 2016)
At Mail Shark, I played a pivotal role during a transformative period when the company was rapidly expanding and sought to internalize its digital marketing efforts for enhanced campaign control.
As one of the inaugural employees, I embraced the challenge of acting as the entire marketing team, capitalizing on my extensive SEO and digital marketing skills to contribute to Mail Shark’s meteoric rise.
- Business: Direct Mail
- Services: Marketing Programs
- Location: Mohnton, PA
The journey began with the migration of all operations in-house, starting with the company website. I meticulously crafted a strategic plan that integrating content marketing, link building, and ensuring the alignment of name, address, and phone number (NAP) for optimal results.
During my tenure at Mail Shark, I achieved Google Analytics and Google Ads certification, marking a significant milestone in my career. Tracking and reporting became integral aspects of my role, necessitating an in-depth understanding of Google Analytics goal and conversion tracking. Managing an active Google Ads account with a substantial monthly ad spend budget added another layer of expertise to my skill set.
A highlight of my time at Mail Shark was the virality of one of my blog post concepts, which garnered national attention and significantly increased website traffic for keyword-related terms. This success in content marketing, a long-term strategy, was a source of immense pride. I documented the strategies employed in a comprehensive case study, showcasing the effectiveness of the approach.
As the company experienced rapid growth, a crucial decision point emerged – whether to build an internal team or outsource to a third-party agency. While meteoric growth didn’t guarantee job security, I navigated this juncture in the business, acknowledging the necessity of such decisions for the company’s continued success.
SEO Manager for EZ Marketing (2016 – 2017)
In 2016, when I reconnected with EZ Marketing, the company was undergoing organizational restructuring and actively seeking new talent. During the interview process, I vividly recall being tasked with planning a digital marketing campaign for a fictitious local fence company. By the end of the meeting, I had filled all three of their meeting room whiteboards, showcasing my strategic prowess.
- Business: Digital Agency
- Services: Marketing
- Location: Lancaster, PA
With a significant portfolio of local clients, the emphasis was on helping local client achieve thier goals for ranking for industry terms. This marked the genesis of my development of a comprehensive local SEO package, addressing critical factors such as name/address/phone number/website alignment (NAPW), Google Business profile optimization, and the proper structuring of websites for local search visibility.
Simultaneously, I took on the role of training junior team members, explaining approaches to link building, optimizing on-page content, and modern strategies regarding keyword targeting. The shift involved moving away from outdated metrics, focusing on thematic relevance and topics.
EZ Marketing was my second foray into “agency life,” following my previous experience with Web Talent Marketing. Working in an environment characterized by creativity, collaboration, and a vibrant atmosphere was invigorating. The office, adorned with couches and billiard tables, embodied the dynamic style of a digital marketing agency. It was a rewarding experience collaborating with a group that shared a passion for their work.
A notable achievement during my tenure at EZ Marketing was playing an active role in securing the agency’s largest client to date. I collaborated with the client early in the sales process, defining strategies to increase revenue through the development of a loyalty program app.
This chapter at EZ Marketing significantly influenced my perception of the digital marketing landscape. It underscored the realization that e-commerce was the future, and to stay relevant, I needed to focus on this domain. The agencies best clients were e-commerce websites and what stood out was their understanding of the power of organic search traffic and digital marketing tactics like SEO and paid search.
This insight fueled my determination to bring my digital marketing and SEO knowledge directly to an online brand, knowing what I could bring to the table for a business wanting to expanding their e-commerce footprint.
At this juncture in my career, I found immense satisfaction in my work. Empowered by a profound understanding of digital marketing and website production, I embarked on the next phase of my journey, directing my focus towards the dynamic realm of e-commerce.
E-Commerce SEO Manager for Isolator Fitness (2016)
Isolator Fitness, a consumer product company specializing in the production cooler bags and meal portioning containers for fitness enthusiasts. The company had recently undergone a migration from Magento to Shopify Plus, and the transition posed a significant threat to its organic search traffic and revenue. Eager to contribute to this project, I embraced the opportunity.
- Business: Online Store
- Services: Consumer Goods
- Location: Reading, PA
Operating in a hybrid work environment, I spent dedicated hours on-site each week, navigating the production facility and witnessing the initial challenges. The project’s primary focus was resolving the aftermath of the migration and addressing a substantial duplicate content issue that had resulted in over 5,000 indexed pages for an 800-page website.
Beyond the migration, my responsibilities extended to training two junior team members, emphasizing a holistic understanding of e-commerce marketing concepts rather than just software operations. This approach empowered them to make informed decisions beneficial to the company’s overall strategy.
Throughout this experience, I gained invaluable insights into managing large-scale technical SEO concerns through automation, recognizing the necessity of efficient processes when dealing with extensive page updates at scale. I also navigated the consequences of unplanned e-commerce backend adjustments, emphasizing the critical need for communication within the team.
The project afforded me a profound education in the inner workings of both Magento and Shopify Plus. While my sentiments toward Magento remained unchanged, the experience was instrumental in comprehending its SEO and search performance dynamics. Simultaneously, working with the Shopify platform, a relatively new contender at the time, offered fresh perspectives and insights.
Within the span of six months, my team and I orchestrated a remarkable transformation. The once-quiet production floor now bustled with activity, every sewing machine in operation, and locker rooms filled with production workers preparing for their shifts.
Director of Marketing for Critical Design Associates (2017 – 2020)
Critical Design Associates (CDA) represents a team of IT professionals excelling in server virtualization, DevOps, and garnering global recognition as SWIFT banking security experts.
My initial focus involved disconnecting from the agency, transitioning the all digital marketing services in-house. Once completed I would hir and train a team that would lay the groundwork for our corporate lead generation engine.
Business: IT Services
Services: Virtualization and cyber security
Location: Lancaster, PA
After hiring and training BDRs, I would develop a digital marketing sales funnel that integrated LinkedIn messaging, email marketing automation, and phone calls to invite C-level contacts to live events and webinars.
Our system was successful I had to personally attend live events to introduce the company, speakers, and have one-on-on conversations with attendees to learn more about their business. I was extremely proud of my public speaking skills and recorded a video from our Philadelphia event.
As the company expanded, my role evolved to encompass C-level functions, refining public speaking and in-person sales skills. Managing military contracts became a significant responsibility, requiring participation in trade shows, award ceremonies, and the establishment of new business deals.
Learning how to source new talent would be one of my final responsibilities at Critical Design Associates. With this challenge I would learn how to use a proven method for first stage interviews and go on to attend job fairs attract new IT talent from prestigious schools such as Carnegie Mellon and Penn University.
Digital Marketing Director for Crimson Agility (2021 – 2023)
Crimson Agility is team of web developers specializing in Magento and Adobe Commerce websites, boasting an international presence with headquarters in Phoenix, AZ, and employees spanning the United States and Latin America.
As an Adobe Silver partner, the company excels in e-commerce migrations, upgrades, and redesigns for online brands using the Adobe Commerce platform.
- Business: Website Development
- Services: Magento, Adobe Commerce, Big Commerce
- Location: Phoenix, AZ
My role at Crimson Agility was to establish a new digital marketing department that would service the agency’s client base. It would also be my responsibility to work with the dev team to ensure that SEO best practices were implemented during deployments.
Recognizing the company’s developer-centric nature, I started with technical SEO implementation. By collaborating closely with the development team, we developed a technical SEO audit process that is specific to Magento and Adobe Commerce that always seemed to find items that other teams would miss.
Our audit process eventually evolved into a full-scale technical SEO monitoring system that was on part with enterprise level systems such as Botify or Condcutor. This was packaged and sold to clients as on ongoing service. This LinkedIn post describes my reasoning for creating the new program
In 2023, I undertook the responsibility of mastering GA4 and Google Tag Manager, enabling us to provide strategic advice and guide clients through the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4. Because of my self training I was able to lead numerous successful analytics migrations for high traffic websites that relied heavily on Google Analytics data for decision making.
Working with client and helping them address their digital marketing endeavors was a large part of my role at Crimson Agility. This led to a systematic approach to selling tailored digital marketing programs for e-commerce clients. Our process included developing a roadmap for the next 24 months, creating proposals, presentation materials, and offering varying service engagement levels based on client budgets, size, or timelines.