Women in Print and Promo: Beth Marston, Navitor
Navitor, North Mankato, Minn.
Years of experience: 20
How she got her start: I entered the industry through the promotional products sector [as a customer service representative for 3M Promotional Markets]. It was at the height of the pharmaceutical boon when promotional products were used as the primary foray into doctors’ offices and medical organizations. The marketing and sales knowledge I was able to glean from the end-customers and their distributor partners was invaluable. That background helped me understand the formula required for a successful business model where value, in terms of money saved or revenue gained, could be realized by all three parties. … Since then, I have been in about 10 different roles spanning various disciplines. That career path really helped round out my experience and it exposed me to various industry segments and channels.
What she loves most about the industry: The variety of industries that print and promo touches ensures I always satisfy a natural curiosity to learn. Discussions with partners and their customers—everyone from traditional manufacturing to bio-tech start-ups—feeds my appetite for discovery.
An average day: I try to make sure that my days in the office are fewer than days in the customer’s office. That means more travel, but, ultimately, more meaningful relationships. We have lots of collaboration within our team, peer-to-peer. So, if we are not working directly with our customers, we do our best to make sure the ‘customer is in the room’ at our internal meetings. Our goal is to make sure we have more exposure to our customers, their businesses and the markets they are working within. If we are too internalized, we will not be able to adapt as nimbly to our customers’ latest needs and requests.
Her proudest career achievements: I am sentimental about an award I received very early in my career. It was for Customer Service Person of the Year [issued by the SAAGNY Promotional Products Association]. Since it was a designation by the distributors I was working with, it was personal, too. I still have connections with many of those colleagues formed early on.
On working in a traditionally male-dominated industry: The only challenge was to get past a first impression. Once anyone, man or woman, demonstrates their value to a customer, assumptions go away. One challenge that became an opportunity was my first experience “working the booth.” The seasoned reps were happy to have the eager “new girl” out front to field the customer conversations. That opportunity ended up fast-forwarding my career and building my confidence in relationship development—a skill that is evergreen.
Her job advice to women: Don’t even think about it. Seriously, I would advise anyone to be prepared to dig in and become an expert; to learn not only new printing technology that translates into customer savings, but also understand the ways in which businesses of all types use communications to frame their messaging to their constituency. There will never be a “one and done,” but rather, always a new chapter to read.
Who she turns to for career advice: My peers and my family. Thought leaders keep me tuned into industry dynamics and emerging opportunities, while my family keeps me grounded and reminds me that a healthy balance is important.
When she’s off the clock: Most recently, I can be found on a mountain. My family and I have taken up hiking and snowshoeing in Colorado; usually with the family and always accompanied by a dog. Another passion I wish I had more time to pursue is writing, specifically poetry. I guess I could combine these two activities to leave more time for work.
(The following profile appeared in Print+Promo’s “These Women Mean Business” cover story in the May 2017 issue.)