Talking shop with Dana Hukel of BOLD Marketing

Monday, August 29, 2011
Dana Hukel is president of BOLD Marketing in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

Dana Hukel took a bold step when she started her own business, BOLD Marketing, in her basement. After spending several years in health care marketing, she serves many health care clients in her business as well as other local companies and not-for-profit organizations. Her business and staff continue to expand, at a time when many other businesses are scaling back.

Q: What inspired you to start your own business, BOLD Marketing?

A: I always knew owning my own business was a direction I was headed. The key was first learning from some experts in the field and getting the ethical and moral base to survive in a tough business environment without ever compromising that base. Second, I had to learn patience and develop faith that when the time was right, God would provide the avenue.

Q: What's the best thing and the worst thing about owning your own business?

A: The best thing and the worst thing are the same -- the ability to survive or fail. This becomes a powerful motivator to make good business decisions. Also, the people who choose to take ownership in something you started, and work just as hard to move it forward, are ever inspiring to me. Everyone at BOLD is great. I can't imagine a better group of professionals to spend my day with than those who choose to wear pink.

Q: How did hot pink come to be BOLD's signature color?

A: To be honest, I wasn't a big fan of hot pink in the everyday sense, but something about the name BOLD required somewhat of a bold color. It just fit and has become a clear brand image for our company. If I am in a meeting without wearing pink, someone notices and comments. That's brand power.

Q: You've added several new employees to your company. What's driving your expansion right now, particularly during a time when many businesses are cutting back or putting off expanding?

A: As with any business, you have to put in the time to earn trust. We spent the last three years earning that trust from the community, the business sector and our clients. We pride ourselves on developing grass roots marketing plans that involve all aspects of a business, from the employees who work there, to the owner, to BOLD as their marketing team. This collaborative spirit helps move organizations in the same direction. When a business has all parties moving together toward a common goal, the results come with it. Also, we help our clients make tough decisions by being honest with them. It isn't always the most pleasant of meetings, but in the end, the client knows we are truly looking after the image of their company and how we can drive business to it. Most importantly, I wake up every day and look to God in amazement that he has paved the path for this business.

Q: Over the years you've worked with several health care-related companies. What attracted you to this particular field?

A: I started right out of college in the health care field as a wellness coordinator for companies. From there, I grew to learn the business side of health care as well as the need for educating the public on their health care options. While each business sector has its own unique qualities, health care is an entirely different animal when it comes to marketing. Health care marketing allows you to get on an emotional level with consumers; very few businesses provide that direct connection with individuals.

Q: What are some current marketing trends you really like and some you don't?

A: I see the power of social media every day for businesses. It isn't a new theory -- networking and word-of-mouth marketing have been a key part of the marketing business model for years. It has just transformed to be more of a social tactic. And from a budget perspective, it is very cost-effective for businesses. There really isn't a trend that I don't like because innovation in any field is good. However, it ultimately comes down to whether that particular trend is the right marketing tactic for a business. Not everything works across the board.

Q: What's the biggest marketing mistake you see businesses making?

A: Actually, I see two. The first is for companies to place marketing and operations under the same person. Not only are you forcing a single person to encompass two very different brains, but operations always takes precedence, leaving self-promotion to the back burner. Businesses need to have an operations person focused on cost-containment, daily activities, personnel, etc. while the marketing person is focused on establishing business for the future. The second mistake is to not have a defined plan that the business follows and one that is specifically aligned with the organization's goals for growth.

Q: One of BOLD Marketing's clients is the United Way of Southeast Missouri, which kicked off its annual fundraising campaign last week. What makes working with not-for-profit clients different from traditional businesses?

A: In one sense, it is still a business so marketing decisions continue to be aimed at broadening awareness, driving traffic, gaining support, moving the organization forward. In the other sense, there is a deeper commitment that we make on a personal level to "walk the talk" as Nancy Jernigan says. I think the general public expects greater accountability from nonprofits and it is our responsibility to live up to the marketing messages ourselves because we are truly an extension of that organization. And I would be remiss not to add that it is important to help those in need, and United Way is one of those organizations that uses donated funds to reduce disparities. Please give to the United Way campaign.

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