Everything I Know I Learned at 21

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Earlier this year, I stood in front of my entire team; a handpicked, strong team of talented and dedicated individuals. As the agency turned 21, we talked about goals for the company and brainstormed how to make 2017 the best year we've had yet. As I looked around the room at the faces I had gathered, I knew there was no better team I wanted to travel this journey with.

1996 was an entirely different time. We focused on marketing for TV, radio, billboards, direct mail and, of course, the Yellow Pages. To think these tactics are just a small portion of the marketing tools in our arsenal is mind-boggling. Today, we combine many of these traditional tactics with a heavy mix of digital marketing – responsive websites, social media, SEO, pay-per-click, and more. The Internet has completely changed the way we do business and reach our customers/clients. The pace is faster, and we have risen to the challenge to stay ahead of the curve. We're constantly learning, but the one thing that remains constant, no matter what tactics we use, is that brand always wins!

Before graduating from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, I had a course that has always stuck with me along this journey: Services Marketing. In that class, I fell in love with the challenges of marketing the intangible. Professional services face an interesting conundrum in marketing: with a product, people can see, touch and compare; with a service, people must be convinced that your services are excellent and will not know if they have had a great experience until after the job is done. This challenge was attractive to me, and for the past 21 years, our firm has focused on providing first class marketing and brand management services.

I’ve been blessed to have created and sustained a niche client-base since establishing the company – professional services. Although we've worked with products, restaurants, events, venues, and other non-service based companies, we have truly found our value in marketing professional services. From my first major client, Palm Mortuary, that we worked with for nearly 10 years, to the amazing clients we work with today, we have been eager to assist the professional service community.

No ride is complete without the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Like most people in business prior to 2008, I enjoyed the immense growth of our company and our business. For 12 years, I built a company I loved and put my heart and soul into it. Overnight, the economy crashed, and the joy of the ride came to a screeching halt – I wasn't sure CIM Marketing Partners would survive those years. But we persevered and rebuilt.

After 21 years in business, what have I learned? I now know that I will never stop learning. Every experience – the good ones and the terrible ones – have taught me how to be a better entrepreneur. I understand that while business hours are important, the work I put in after hours has been some of the most rewarding. Organizations like the American Marketing Association, Legal Marketing Association and Leadership Las Vegas gave me the knowledge I needed to learn and helped me build a powerful network I could tap into in times of need.

Everyone has to reinvent themselves in order to survive. Change and adaptation are the keys to a successful future. We see it every day, in our friends, family, and in nature all around us. We have to be open to change, and then have the courage and tenacity to DO IT!

Your team is essential. Every step of the way, I’ve been blessed to have a strong team around me. One that shared in my vision, and was committed to helping me achieve it. I wake up every day and my career feels like a day of play and joy, and I am honored to have this team by my side. When you have a team around you that adapts with you as the industry changes and is willing to develop themselves professionally to be able to keep up with the demand of your clients, success happens.

And finally, I’ve learned that you can’t predict the future. We all know that’s not an option, but it bears repeating. You can work hard to prepare yourself for what may come, but you never know what’s coming until it actually gets to your door. So, stay flexible and move strategically. Reacting to tough times with strength is the best indication that you – and your company and team – will make it through those times.

While scrolling through social media recently, I found a quote I absolutely love: “You don’t get paid for the hours, you get paid for the value you bring to the hours.” It is the value of the hours that I have brought to my family, my team, my clients, and my community that have made these past 21 years worth it. I am grateful to have been trusted to build a company that builds other businesses. And I cannot wait to see what the future holds – it’s been a great ride and there is so much more adventure ahead.

Created in Las Vegas. Serving Las Vegas. Respected in Las Vegas. CIM hit 21, and I'm all in.

~Darcy k. Neighbors