The Story Of Lois Geller - Owner And President Of Lois Geller Marketing Group
When I was growing up my parents thought it would be “safe” for me to become a teacher. So, I graduated from Boston University with a B.S. Degree in Education.
Getting a teaching job in New York City though was impossible at the time, and I tried working in a “West Side Story” kind of school, but didn’t last. A career placement company put me in an editorial job, working for a biomedical publication, and my boss was great….but he died that summer and I somehow became the Editor. I knew nothing about biomedical equipment or science…but I stayed there for 5 or six years.
What fascinated me most was the marketing of the publications there, and so I moved on and soon went to work at marketing agencies and then promoted up to top jobs, as President of J. Walter Thompson Direct, AC&R Direct (a Saatchi & Saatchi agency) and finally Geller Direct at TBWA.
When the going gets tough…cheeseburgers help.
I never really thought of owning my own agency, but one day I was having a particularly bad day there on Madison Avenue. So, I left my fancy pants office and went downstairs to drown my stress in some comfort food at Hamburger Heaven.
An older man was sitting next to me at the counter. He asked me about my day, and I spilled out my story about three new business pitches in a row, losing sight of my clients’ work, stuck in administration of billings…and so on. I told him how I loved marketing (been teaching it at NYU at nights for years), how I thought agencies should change and focus on clients’ success…and yakked the poor man’s ear off.
He said, “Why don’t you quit and start your own agency?” This hadn’t really occurred to me because I was making a grand salary, had health care benefits, 401K etc. etc.
We talked about it for a long time, and this stranger really helped me to see that what I was doing for a large agency, I could do for myself…just without their great big brand name.
I left the restaurant, took the elevator to the 20th Floor, went to see our Chairman, and quit! Then fear crept into my heart. I was single mother, no real savings, no family wealth…had I done something incredibly impulsive and stupid?
So, in 1992 I started The Lois K. Geller & Co. in my apartment in New York City. I got together my smartest people and hired them as freelancers and then went after some large accounts (after all I still had my fancy suits and my new business ability).
By Friday of that first week, I’d landed Channel 13 (a PBS station) and a month later Polygram Music. I was rocking and rolling and renting apartments on the first floor of my building for media, PR, Creative Group.
In 1997, Charlie Mason of Mason Inc. Advertising invested in our company to become a partner and we moved to great big Madison Avenue offices (right across the street from Burger Heaven). We thrived and worked for American Express, Chase Bank, The Philadelphia Zoo and a host of other clients.
Then in 2004, my Mom became ill in Miami Beach, and after flying back and forth many times each month, I decided I needed to move near her….as she didn’t want any assisted living.
So, I told my staff and many decided they’d come with me. Fortune Small Business Magazine featured our story: "The Right Move". We moved into a marina in Hollywood, Florida. We’ve been there for 6 years, and maintained our New York client base. Then the landlord decided to raise the rent a lot.
Two weeks we moved into our brand new offices at 2028 Harrison St, Hollywood, Fl 33020. We’re on the second floor of an interesting building, and we have a terrace outside our space (so clients can enjoy the Florida sunshine). Our work is fascinating. Much of it has gravitated from catalogs, and advertising to social media and websites.
Our difference has always been that we get results. Those direct marketing courses I taught and the textbooks I wrote always keep us on track. It is exciting still to come to work with new challenges every day from clients who have been with us for many years, and new ones this year.
I always wonder though about the man in the restaurant. I went back there many times to find him again, but didn’t. Maybe he was some kind of a Guardian Angel.
About Lois Karen Geller:
Lois Geller is owner and President of Lois Geller Marketing Group, which was on Madison Ave. for 12 years and is now located in a marina in Hollywood. LGMG is a full service direct response agency founded in 1996 providing their clients with strategic direct marketing programs and execution.
LGMG produces direct marketing programs for a wide range of companies including collectibles, insurance, associations, resorts and retail. Our agency is known for creating unique brand personalities that form long lasting customer relationships.
Lois holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Boston University and is an adjunct professor at New York University, where she leads the Direct Marketing Lecture Series and was named Professor of the Year. She has been a Dale Carnegie instructor and taught the Catalog Marketing Course for new clients and employees at Y&R.
Lois has written many books in the field of Direct Marketing. Lois’ articles are published in many magazines, including Target Marketing Magazine and Today’s Manager and Selling Power and Fortune Small Business.
Lois has appeared on CNN and on CBS radio with Joe Connelly. Monthly she’s on the radio as part of the Jim Blasingame Brain Trust. Lois is on the Board of Directors of the Direct Marketing Idea Exchange and a member of the Direct Marketing Club of New York, the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, the Financial Women’s Association and the Cornell Club. She won the Silver Apple Award for Lifetime Achievement in Direct Marketing, the Echo Award in direct marketing and many RSVP Awards in the U.S. and Canada.
Keynote speaker and guest lecturer, Lois Geller travels the world to speak about branding, direct marketing essentials, customer retention and creative strategies. She has been a guest lecturer and a popular keynote speaker at dozens of direct marketing conventions, in the U.S., Canada, Sweden and Russia. And, two years ago launched the now popular Direct Marketing Boot Camp to teach corporation executives direct marketing essentials.