GLEN ELLYN – When you think of the best places for a public relations and marketing firm to hold a meeting, a family bedroom may not come to mind.
However, for Deborah Sheridan, that was the birthplace of her Glen Ellyn-based agency, IVY Marketing Group, which is currently celebrating 25 years in business.
Sheridan, a Glen Ellyn resident, is the agency's founder and president.
Suburban Life reporter Matt La Luz recently spoke with Sheridan about how she got started, why her business has seen such success, and what comes next after 25 years.
La Luz: Tell me a little bit about your background.
Sheridan: I was a journalism major and a minor in radio and television. I started out doing a little bit of work at a radio station doing some writing in Cincinatti while I was in college. Then I moved into account executive work in PR and actually worked on the Wendy's account ... When we came up here, 29 years ago, I worked as a writer for a magazine, DuPage Magazine, which is no longer around. I worked for another agency here in Chicago. That agency was going to merge with another company to focus on the product aspect instead of the service aspect, which was my focus. They decided they didn't want to keep with that focus.
La Luz: When did you decide to start this business? How did you put things together?
Sheridan: I had a fist full of clients – five clients – and each one of the clients was saying, “Debbie, just start your own company." One night I had them here at the house and my husband said, “Debbie, you better get a place outside. I'm tired of people in our bedroom all the time.” I went out and got office space and we grew pretty quickly.
La Luz: Tell me a little more about the IVY approach and the business in general?
Sheridan: We are the sole provider of marketing and PR services. We identify who the market is, what they have to offer, and what is unique about our clients, and then we figure out how to communicate with that market.
La Luz: How has the marketing business changed since you started 25 years ago to now? What differences are there?
Sheridan: In 2006 the marketing world was changing so fast with social media ... It was really a difficult time so we had to completely re-educate ourselves on how to do marketing ... There is so much math and science behind marketing today that we partner when we have a big project with people who have the technology that they can bring to the table.
La Luz: What's your personal philosphy for running a sucessful business?
Sheridan: I'm of the philosophy that you really have to understand the industry you serve in addition to knowing your own trade. Because we're small, we can't be all things to all people. There is a learning curve in all industries. You need to be able to know that learning curve inside and out in order to be the best for your clients.
La Luz: Why do you think your business has been able to last so long?
Sheridan: I've been blessed with great employees. There is a true dedication to our client's success. We get to know them, how they like things done, what they need to do, and we're constantly challenging ourselves to do a better job for our client. It's always about what's the best thing for the client ... that's what keeps you in business.
La Luz: How much longer would you like to keep IVY Marketing Group going? Are you planning on keeping it for the next 25 years?
Sheridan: I have no intentions of retiring. I love this business. I am not going anywhere.