Many people often ask me how I became interested marketing, especially when they discover my college degree is actually in Elementary Education. To answer this I have to flashback to 2009.

While teaching I became engaged and began looking for discount wedding items to no avail. This gave me the idea for a consignment bridal shop. I come from a family of entrepreneurs so starting up a business wasn’t a foreign concept to me. With my fiancé’s blessing, I took a leap of faith and opened the doors to “I Do” On A Dime, a consignment bridal boutique for the budget-minded bride.

As with any new small business, I had a shoe-string budget and salesmen constantly approaching me with their pitches about how advertising with their company was the best way to spend my hard earned money. Billboards, TV, radio, print ads… you name it. Everyone wanted my money and that type of advertising doesn’t come cheap and it’s often a shotgun blast style of marketing. I couldn’t afford to be tossing money at advertising campaigns and just hoping for the best.

Heather Dudley, Owner
“I Do” On a Dime Bridal Consignment Boutique
August 2012

Here I was with this tiny little marketing budget and wondering to myself…
Which marketing tactics are my best option?
If I spend the money is it going to make me money?

I was so torn. I knew I needed to do it, but how? What was the right answer? Stress ensued!

I began asking the various salesmen one question in particular… “How do I know it’s working?”

Of course, this was usually followed by the typical politician style answer of vague facts about how many readers they had per week or the average amount of traffic, blah, blah, blah…

Those vague statistics weren’t good enough for me to freely throw money out and hope for the best. I NEEDED to know the marketing I did was actually going to work. I needed to see the results!

I guess you can say this is where the obsession started.
Oh, man! I wanted to know everything. I love a good challenge and this was one I was ready to take on!

I began questioning things like…
Who is my customer?
Where are they most likely to hear about my store?
Why do they want to buy from me?
What do they most need from me?
How can I reach the most potential customers in the most effective way?

I wasn’t concerned with marketing to every person in Texas. After all, Farmer John doesn’t much care about buying tea lights and a wedding gown. I wanted to spread the word specifically to the people who needed my services.

Keep in mind, this was three years before Facebook went public and became the mega-giant it is today. Before multiple social media outlets, smart phones and apps. And before I had developed any concept of what digital marketing truly was.

My obsession with reaching my clientele grew as the years went on and I gradually learned the answers to my questions. This lead me to better focus how I reached out to future customers…. better suited customers. I was attracting people who needed what I had to offer.

I later sold my little bridal shop, but my curiosity for all things digital marketing couldn’t be tamed. Soon after, I went on to handle the marketing for three small businesses within my family. I worked for a local marketing agency and then for Heart of Texas Goodwill, as Director of Marketing and Communications. It was within these two positions that I really honed in on my skills.

In April of 2018, I took another leap of faith yet again and “went rogue” (as I like to call it) to pursue my true passion of helping other business owners. This is when I began Marketing Bonfire. 

So why the obsession?

I love being able to engage with potential customers on a broader but more targeted scale. This takes the customer/business relationship to a new level – a more personal level. I like the idea of customers feeling like they truly know about a business before they ever step foot in the door. I enjoy learning about different marketing tactics and executing them.

My true passion is helping fellow business owners.

I think this goes back to my years as a teacher. The educator mindset has transgressed over into the world of small business. You know the old quote from George Bernard Shaw, “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.”

Digital marketing can seem like rocket science to someone not familiar with all the various aspects or for someone who simply just doesn’t have the time to commit to it. Now that I have learned what’s most effective, I want to guide others down the best path for them. When running a small business, you’re an expert in that specific field. You shouldn’t have to stress over your marketing. Let an expert handle it.

To learn more or to inquire about services, visit www.marketingbonfire.com

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