(who I called Nonnie) noticed a lack of quality preschool and daycare centers in the growing community of a small Chicago suburb of Western Springs.
So at all of 50 years old, she and a friend opened up Grand Avenue Preschool and Daycare. It started with one room and quickly grew to five rooms, and then two locations, then three. It became a major part of the community, organizing the annual 4th of July parade and other community events. It’s been around long enough that the first students are now sending their kids to preschool there.
Eventually (and with a lot of persistence), the family convinced her to retire and she sold the business to my parents, who still own it today. It’s where I went to preschool and had daycare. It paid for the roof over my head, the food at the table, the clothing on my back and my college education. That business was central to my life growing up.
I start with this because I feel it’s important to establish the lens through which I’ve viewed my work since I first started in marketing, managing a content marketing/reputation/social media service for small-to-midsized businesses. Every day was working with people like Nonnie and like my parents, which is probably why I thrived so much in the client-facing aspects of my roles. It just felt more important than anything else I was doing.
I came to realize through my work with hundreds of clients across all kinds of businesses large and small that the most rewarding part of my work came from really getting to know my clients and their businesses and serving them more so than their campaigns. It was about understanding what their long-term goals were and finding ways to achieve that over some arbitrary ad metric.
And you know what: I found my clients enjoyed this better too. A random phone call to ask about business and the family vacation last week got a much better response than any report I ever sent.
It wasn’t about numbers, it’s about people. Not just for my clients, but my clients’ customers as well.
It’s this principle that led to the birth of Marion Relationship Marketing. To put people first, to solve their problem rather than sell your solution, to make them feel valued as a person rather than revenue. It’s how Nonnie worked and how she would expect me to work.
I called her Nonnie because it was the closest I could get to saying Nonna (the Italian word for Grandmother) as a child.
Her real name is Marion. And she is what drives my work and how I serve my clients every single day.
“Lane is an absolute rock star. He built my website in record time and came up with an amazing digital marketing strategy. It’s clear that Lane genuinely cares about you and your business. He listens and gives solid advice tailored to your industry. No matter how busy he is, he always makes you feel like you are his only client. I’m amazed at how Lane never stops coming up with fresh, new ideas. He’s truly an integral part of my team. If you’re smart, he’ll be part of yours too!”
Owner, David R. French, PLLC
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