University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Starting out at the Yellow Pages in Madison, Wisconsin, Mike Vandermuss would have never expected to get so far in his marketing career. Vandermuss, who co-founded Omaha Marketing Solutions in 2011, said he got his position by asking questions and building trust.
Omaha Marketing Solutions, which has seven employees in Omaha, works with businesses large and small, in every state.
Vandermuss and his team provide direct mail publications, website design, website development and Search Engine Optimization services. Vandermuss works directly with businesses and oversees all of his team’s projects. That’s where editing comes into his day-to-day work.
“Editing in this field is to do a lot of proofing and working with custom content writers,” Vandermuss said. “Editing their content is very important. It is especially critical to make sure there are no mistakes with our postcards, because once they go to print they’re final.”
The company is just as diligent when it comes to editing its increasing online work. While the company does build custom Facebook pages and ads for a few clients, Vandermuss said he believes that media had ran its course.
“We don’t do a whole lot with social media,” Vandermuss said. “But we have found that it’s an effective way to track what people are viewing and how long they’re on the website. We use this mainly for re-targeting.”
Even though social media didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on his advertising company, Vandermuss believes the internet in general was pivotal for the industry.
“Internet is super important,” Vandermuss said. “When I started out on Yellow Pages, it was completely unaffected by the internet. Online searches today have completely replaced it. That’s why we have SEO, to help businesses create a strong online presence.”
While the quality of its online work and postcards are the main reason customers keep coming back, Omaha Marketing Solutions also has a strong commitment to its customers, Vandermuss said.
“People will listen to you if they like you, but they will keep buying from you if they trust you,” Vandermuss said. “To gain this trust, you have to be honest when there’s mistakes and do exactly what you tell people you are going to do. There were people that didn’t buy from me for a year, but by coming back and staying persistent they felt valued and gave us a chance.”
Once a company gains customer trust, it is just as crucial to be honest, even when it may not benefit the business, he said.
Last year, the company mailed 30,000 postcards to the wrong list of households, which resulted in a loss of $15,000, Vandermuss said.
“It was a tough situation, but I knew I had to call them and be honest about what had happened," Vandermuss said. "The company was appreciative of what we did and (it) made our relationship stronger."
Omaha Marketing Solutions ended up designing that company’s website and campaign in return for the mix up. Vandermuss said he was taught to always put the customers’ needs above his.
“In this field, you need have a good understanding of the client’s need,” Vandermuss said. “Everyone is going to have a custom plan that they need, so the more you learn about them and questions you ask the better your service will be for them. It’s also good to ask questions afterwards to figure out what you could’ve done better.”
Vandermuss thought it was just as important to ask questions, even when he was working at Yellow Pages. He says it's helpful to find a mentor to answer all these questions.
“I surrounded myself with the most important people in that office,” Vandermuss said. “I would ride with them, listen to them and ask them questions. This helped me get ahead by learning from their experiences and mistakes.”
Despite the fact he didn’t go to college for marketing, he always knew that’s what he would end up doing. Vandermuss completed one year at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay doing general studies.
“I can’t picture myself doing anything other than communications and business,” Vandermuss said. “I like dealing with people and the interaction aspect of sales. I’ve always said it’s never about working. If you love what you’re doing, then it will never feel like work.”
A note about the content: This site showcases the final projects of University of Nebraska-Lincoln editing students. Each semester, students pick a journalist or communications professional to profile. This is their work.
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