How Charlene Dance Launched Her Own Marketing Agency And Made Her Employer Her First Client
By most standards, Charlene Dance had a coveted executive position. Up until recently, she was the Global Marketing Director for Strength of Nature Global LLC, where she oversaw a portfolio of some 14 hair brands, including all the ones you love such as African Pride, Pro-Life, Elasta QP, and Soft & Beautiful.
With more than 15 years of experience under her belt, Dance recently leaped into entrepreneurship, launching her own marketing agency, The Montage Agency. The agency is dedicated to the multicultural space and is already off to a big start –Dance’s old employer is now her client.
Dance started her career in another sector. She had been a Social Worker, working with disenfranchised African-American women who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Her career switch has proven fruitful, and now out on her own, she’s ready to rise even higher. She told MadameNoire how she plans to make this happen.
MadameNoire (MN): What prompted your leap into entrepreneurship?
Charlene Dance (CD): I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit so when my former company began restructuring, I thought it was the perfect time to take a leap and put into action all of the ideas I had been contemplating for years.
MN: What was the most challenging part about making this decision?
CD: The most challenging part about becoming an entrepreneur is the switch from being in-house to becoming an outside entity–it comes with a new pathway of obstacles and hurdles to achieve the end goal. Also, I now have a full set of team members and employees who are relying on me to make it work.
MN: What makes your agency stand out from the rest?
CD: The Montage Agency has completely innovated the way traditional agencies operate. We work with talented contract employees based on their laser focused skills and experience. Often times in agencies, one account executive works on any project or client the agency brings onto the roster without regard to that executive’s skill, talent, or interest which can lead to lackluster results. Therefore, The Montage Agency partners with the best and brightest marketers and strategists for each and every client and campaign.
MN: How did you land your old employer as your first client?
CD: My former employer was restructuring and I knew I was ready to shift roles a bit, so I took the opportunity to pitch them as a client. Thankfully, I had a strong track record of success working with and creating their brands for almost a decade which gave me a strong case to pitch my services as an outside contractor. I made sure they knew it would be a win-win for all.
MN: What has been your most important business lesson?
CD: My most important business lesson is that it’s all about relationships. The stronger your relationships are in any field, the wider your pathway to success will be. Keep in touch, follow up, and always strive to maintain relationships with people in your industry.
MN: How do you find new clients?
CD: Many of my clients knew me while I was still with my former employer so they were excited to hear that I was starting an agency. Going back to having strong relationships, these connections I forged along the way helped me have clients knocking on my door before even having a website.
MN: What has been the most surprising thing about being a business owner?
CD: There are so many steps to starting a legitimate business and many things that are unforeseen. I’ve been most surprised at how many different aspects of the business that you have to maintain all at once–from our company’s social media, payroll, taxes, all the way to proposal creation. It’s safe to say we have our hands full!
MN: What are your goals for 2017?
CD: My goal for this year is to make The Montage Agency a household name when it comes to targeted marketing. I want us to create as many partnerships with all the agencies, media, and influencers I have worked with in the past. We want to be the go-to agency for any company looking to reach the African-American audience!