If you’re active in AMA, you’ve probably had a chance to meet our current President, JJ Giese, at a local event. But if you haven’t—or, if you’re just curious to learn more about his background and why he’s so passionate about AMA—here’s your chance!

JJ is an experienced sales and marketing professional, currently with Thysse, a brand design and print company based in Oregon. Prior to Thysse, JJ worked at Econoprint/Powderkeg as a Corporate Sales Consultant. In terms of education, he graduated from the Marketing Associate’s program at Madison Area Technical College. I caught up with JJ to learn more about his experience with AMA, what led him to become President, and what he loves about his current job at Thysse and about marketing!

How long have you been President of AMA Madison and what do you enjoy most about this position?

My term as President follows the AMA program year, which is July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. I enjoy the opportunity to meet like-minded people and getting to know them over time the most. Due to the network of people I’ve met through the AMA, I feel as though I could refer at least one or two great people or organizations for just about any marketing-related topic or need.

Did you have other position(s) at AMA Madison before? If so, which one did you enjoy the most?

I started as a “Membership Acquisition” volunteer in 2013, then took on the VP of Membership role in 2015. I began the leadership track as President-Elect in 2017-2018 and am currently President for 2018-2019.

My favorite role is that of President. All the roles have been rewarding in their own way, but I find the greatest enjoyment in watching the rest of the board advance in their roles as leaders. Every board member this year was new or took on a different role for this program year. While that sounds like a challenge, I think everyone was up for their challenge. The entire board has advanced in its ability to lead. While this is great for the AMA, I am excited for each of them and their current and future employers as their experiences are applied in their careers.

If you had to say in one sentence what you value most in the AMA Madison chapter, what would it be?

My involvement with AMA Madison has afforded me an opportunity to develop my leadership skills while establishing a reliable network of like-minded individuals sure to benefit me personally and professionally for many years.

I understand you also served on the Board of Directors for the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce. What did you like most about it?

I was on the Board of Directors for five years, having served as President in 2016. The Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce is fortunate to have an exceptional staff and membership base. I live just outside Oregon and work in Oregon at Thysse. I grew up in a very small town. Oregon is growing rapidly, but it still has a small-town feel in many ways. It’s a great place to live, work, and play. My involvement on the board helped me meet a lot of local business leaders and get to know them personally. That experience has helped me find an even greater appreciation for the community in which my wife and I are raising our three kids.

Describe your job at Thysse. What are your main duties?

My role largely involves working with marketers in a business development capacity, and I have a hand in Thysse’s marketing. Thysse is a printing company that also employs architects, which makes our realm rather interesting because of the thought leadership from our creative team.

I can help supply chain managers incorporate products we produce into their processes by establishing fulfillment programs driven by web-based storefront portals. We design, manufacture, and install in-store graphics for multi-location businesses, such as retail chains. We work through blueprints and carry a brand’s image consistently through wayfinding displays, and brand facilities in many other ways from wall murals to dimensional displays, etc. We even design, fabricate, and install locker rooms for college athletics. No two days are ever the same, for sure. We have been growing at an aggressive, yet responsible pace for several years in a row.

How would you describe your previous experience in Econoprint as a Corporate Sales Consultant, and what did you enjoy most about it?

When I started at Econoprint, I had just received a diploma from MATC from their printing program. I wanted to run a press and started as a press room assistant, then production coordinator, then mailing services supervisor, customer service rep, and then corporate sales consultant. They were very good at training and I’ll always appreciate the opportunities given to me early in my career.

I eventually became more interested in the marketing initiatives driving the projects I was managing, so I went back to school and earned an associate degree in Marketing in 2014. This experience helped me “learn how to learn” again, and I found I was able to help my clients strategize, and not just be involved in the execution of their projects.

In your opinion, what are the positive and negative aspects of a career in selling?

I am rather competitive, so I work hard to help my clients win. If they win in the marketplace, I win because I’m rewarded with a business relationship and future work. I like helping the individual people I work with, whether that means helping them gain the ROI they need or make them a hero to their manager. There is also great reward when I see a project start to come through our finishing department after I have been working on it for a long time.

As with any type of selling role, there are always going to be challenges. Many people have a negative connotation for any salesperson, justified or not. Every now and again, I meet one of them.

Why were you drawn to marketing as a career?

My Dad ran a small printing press when I was young, so I spent a lot of time hanging around with him and learning the trade. He passed away when I was 12, and I eventually felt compelled to carry his legacy forward. Over time, I became less interested in how to apply an image to paper and more interested in the purpose of the message that was going on the paper. Eventually, the distribution logistics, ROI of the effort, audience and consumption of the information, and other logistics became an obsession!

What advice would you give to someone that wants to start in the marketing field?

  • Learn to communicate effectively. Even the best ideas will not be heard if they’re not understood.
  • Always be present. Focus. Listen.
  • Continue to learn. Today’s master will be tomorrow’s fool without tomorrow’s education. Technology changes rapidly, and time goes by quickly.
  • Surround yourself with smart people and keep in touch.
  • If you say you’re going to do something, do it, every time.
  • Make sure you’re focusing on a role in marketing that cannot be automated by machines.
  • Read books that align with your career goals. Get recommendations from your network. You’ll understand them better.

Thanks, JJ, for sharing some great details about your experience with AMA, your professional career, and marketing in general! Be sure to say hello to JJ at our next event!

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