2018 Women in Print and Promo: Martina G. Alexander, Corporate Image Builders
Martina G. Alexander
Senior Brand Specialist
Corporate Image Builders, a Div. of Mad Hatter Promotions Ltd., Findlay, Ohio
Years of Experience: 14
How she got her start: I originally went to college for small business/hotel management and worked in said field for a few years while still living in Germany, [where I was born and raised]. After moving to the States in 1994, marrying and having two children, I worked in my husband’s business computerizing the office, then started a sales career with a direct marketing company. Even though I enjoyed what I was doing, I agreed to an interview with my current company after receiving a phone call inquiring about my interest in a sales job with it. The promotional industry sparked my interest. I started the same week and am still here. I listened to books on tapes, read articles and industry magazines, and simply tried to learn as much as I could about advertising specialties, branding and marketing with the help of promo items.
Her proudest career achievements: I always loved creating art, but had no idea how wide-ranging graphic and production art could be. Over the years, I learned how to create a visually pleasing, usable digital logo from scratch, or rework an existing logo that doesn’t have these “usable” features yet, so it can be used for a variety of imprint methods.
On working in a traditionally male-dominated industry: I learned early on that in this business, as in most, it’s all about who knows whom, who plays golf with whom and who has drinks with whom. In most instances, I wouldn’t say this is a gender-driven task, but I work a lot with the truck/van/automotive industry, which is very male-dominated. [For a few clients,] I will take our owner with me to the initial meeting, just so there is that male presence. In conversation, you’ll realize quickly who the appropriate person to talk to is. When there is a pricing question or a benefits question, and it’s directly targeted male-to-male, our owner is great about referring it back to me. In doing so, the client builds that trust [based on my] knowledge, not with a gender. It works for us. In most cases, we need only one two-person contact; after that, trust in my capability of being an expert in our industry is established.
Her job advice to women: [Go for it.] This is the perfect career for somebody that needs freedom to juggle home, children, school events and a career. You have all the flexibility in the world to be there for your family and get all the work done on time if you are able to organize and prioritize well.
Her industry mentors: My biggest mentor was and is Richard Tidd, owner of Mad Hatter Promotions Ltd. Everything I learned in this field I learned from him. He was always there to answer any question, and if he didn't have an answer, which happened very rarely, he had a person that did have an answer for me.
Her biggest lesson learned: You can learn so much if you just really listen! (Two ears, one mouth.)
How she maintains a work/life balance: My work and private life are twisted together. I have the freedom to play with my grandson, go shopping with my kids and meet a friend whenever I want—I just have to work a few extra hours at night or get up extra early. I can go on vacation or go back to visit family in Germany whenever I want. I just take my laptop and phone and go. Work isn’t stress to me; work is part of my everyday life, and I’m loving it.
Related story: Print+Promo 2018: A Celebration of the Women in Print and Promo
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.