Under 40: Nicole Merkle, Proforma CNR Marketing
Nicole Merkle, 32
Proforma CNR Marketing, Dayton, Ohio
Print is a family affair for Nicole Merkle. Her father, Ron Muzechuk, launched Proforma CNR Marketing 20 years ago. Having grown up in the industry, Merkle suspected that she would eventually join the business, but not without forging her own path and gaining other experiences first. She attended The Ohio State University, where she majored in marketing. It wasn’t until several sales and marketing roles and seven years later when she joined the Proforma franchise.
“It allowed me to see the other side of business,” Merkle said of that time. “With that experience, I now have a better understanding of our customers’ pain points and needs.” Nicole serves as a co-owner of Proforma CNR Marketing, alongside her dad, and helped propel company sales to more than a million dollars, earning the duo a spot in Proforma’s Million Dollar Club.
Why she loves the industry: I love seeing the end result of a project we have been working on. It can be as small as a business card that we designed or thousands of foam sticks lighting up a college basketball arena. The satisfaction of our projects coming to life and the customer being happy never get old.
Age roadblocks and advantages: One of the advantages is that many customers have millennials in buying positions. They might be right out of college or a few years out, so they gravitate toward someone closer to their age when looking for fresh ideas, etc. Also, it can be easier to find common interests in helping to build a relationship. However, this can also be a disadvantage. When having higher-level sales meetings, you have to be well-prepared and be ready to show your experience, as it might take more to prove yourself and your ability to handle the project.
Her biggest career influence: I wouldn’t have the knowledge and success I have today without my father being there along the way. Seeing his success over the years and gaining knowledge from him have been invaluable. Also, the Proforma family is truly something special. From the support center team to other Proforma owners, everyone offers their help and support with anything that comes your way.
Her most meaningful business accomplishment: In 2017, we hit $1 million in sales and joined Proforma’s Million Dollar Club. We have doubled our sales the past few years, and $1 million in sales was a goal I set from day one. Time to set a new goal!
Her differentiating factor: I think it is important to keep personal connections with our customers. Although how we communicate with customers, whether through text or Facebook Messenger, email, etc., might always be changing, having relationships is so important. When something happens with an order and they can make one call and we take care of it—it makes all the difference. That is so much easier for the customer than waiting on hold on a 1-800 number or chatting on a website.
Our customers really do want a one-stop shop for all their needs, and trusting us to be that resource comes with time and building that relationship. People do business with those they know, like and trust, and that is something that stands so true in our industry. Relationships will overcome anything that technology or another form of competition can do.
What she does for fun: I have played tennis since I was 8 years old, and I still play competitively today. I enjoy being active and spending time with my family and friends.