The role of an advocate is to promote the interests of a person, place or cause. Supportive and steadfast, these champions are responsible for sharing their passion and vision with the world and beckoning others to join them. Should there be an advocate for the digital signage industry, I would say that Geri Wolff, the President and CEO of Market Works International, Inc. fits the bill perfectly. Honing a unique perspective at the nexus of the industry, connecting people, finding solutions and providing information is surely her calling.
Geri’s positive and proactive attitude is a likely explanation for her career path’s series of fortunate events. During her forty years of experience in the marketing arena, Geri acted as Vice President, Marketing at Carnival Cruise Lines after impressing the company with her work as Senior Vice President of the agency responsible for its account. In a similar fashion, in early 2006 Geri was introduced to digital signage by taking a client to GlobalShop where she met a contact who subsequently introduced her to Exponation show management, the company behind what was then Digital Retailing Expo. After a meeting to discuss strategy, show management invited her to tackle communications challenges in preparation for the 2007 show and she enthusiastically joined the team.
Having grown up in the marketing and advertising realm, Geri spent many years as a buyer of time and space, allocating the dollars that clients were investing in traditional media. With the advent of digital signage, Geri was immediately excited by the possibilities of an interactive medium capable of being at specific points of sale and delivering tailored and targeted messages.
Geri’s special position with Exponation shielded her from corporate ladder or glass ceiling-type situations that women may experience in other industries. Though the initial number of females in the space was slim, Geri never considered her gender to be an issue. “I was aware of it,” she noted, “like white noise in the background. But if you pay too much attention to these things then work does not get done. And I’m a get it done kind of person.”
When asked about the increase of women in the industry, Geri reasoned that the space began with a lot of technologists, a field that women are not typically directed to. Women thus entered digital signage as marketers and educators who mentored each other as the industry started to grow. Today, females are finding positions within the technological side as well, a testament to the evolution of the realm.
“The current health of the industry is reflected in part by the exponential growth of Digital Signage Expo. It is the place where the who’s who gather to meet, the newest technology is introduced and attendees have access to a wealth of educational sessions,” said Geri. The topic of education is of extreme importance to Geri, who believes that once people have a better understanding of what the space is capable of, a vision can be shared and a critical mass attained in order for digital signage to become a mainstream alternative.
“Education is so critical to this industry,” stated Geri. “That’s why the DSE is important and why the Digital Signage Federation (for which Geri serves as Director of Marketing, Communication and Membership) has made education a cornerstone of the benefits the organization provides to its members.” Geri even published a whitepaper several years ago to address the idea that mobile technology would make digital signage irrelevant. “We need to understand where we are coming from in order to borrow solutions used by other media when faced with similar issues, and then use this information to determine where we are headed. The growth potential of the industry is phenomenal and only limited by our ability to understand and innovate.” The whitepaper is entitled “The Secrets of Selling DOOH Advertising to Advertisers and Agencies: Short-term revenue solutions” and can be found here.
To facilitate the education process, Geri recommends that newcomers to the industry have a vision and follow their hearts. “Don’t limit yourself in any way,” she said. “It’s not so much that others place limits on you that hampers your success, it’s when you accept these that your growth is stunted.” She also advises women to join the DSF for learning and networking purposes. “One of the keys to success in any career is who you know and becoming active in the DSF is a great way to become connected and open doors.”
As our conversation came to an end, Geri had most certainly ignited a spark that made me eager to explore the digital signage space in greater depth. So what is it exactly that makes her such a fantastic spokesperson? “I can’t tell you how much I enjoy what I do,” she replied. “Every day I meet phenomenal people, learn new things and operate in an open and friendly environment – which is unique to this industry. I’m truly blessed to work in such a place.”
Geri Wolff, founder, President & CEO of Market Works International, a business development and strategic marketing firm, has been active in the digital signage industry for eight years. As an independent consultant to the digital signage industry, she is retained both by Exponation, LLC, which produces DSE, and the Digital Signage Federation in a marketing and communications capacity. Market Works, headquartered in the US also has an affiliate office in Europe and specializes in helping clients develop their businesses to achieve greater profitability through innovative marketing programs and enhanced visibility among their target audiences.
Ms. Wolff can be reached at email@example.com. For more information see www.market-works.com