Stephanie Riel, of RielDeal Marketing: “Ask Questions”

by Jerome Knyszewski
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Stephanie Riel RielDeal Marketing

Founder and CEO of RielDeal Marketing Stephanie Riel leads the boutique marketing firm based in Scottsdale toward further growth and success. She “has worked with brands across a variety of industries including technology, ecommerce, health and wellness, real estate, retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG).”

Before RielDeal Marketing, Stephanie Riel has gained a decade’s worth of experience in “digital marketing, branding, and automation.” She also relies on her diverse background to “partner with small to mid-sized businesses across the United States,” aligning sales and marketing efforts to achieve great results.

Stephanie Riel and RielDiel Marketing have “helped clients across industries meet and exceed their marketing and business goals.” The RielDeal team have found success “developing data-driven marketing campaigns and email marketing strategies,” as well as “sales CRM automation, brand positioning, paid advertising,” and many more.

Also prior to RielDeal Marketing, Stephanie Riel worked as a technology communications manager at McKesson. At the company, she headed Digital Workplace Communications, and liaised between the company and the corporate marketing and communications team.

Stephanie Riel also worked as the Director of Public Relations and Social Media as well as the Community Engagement Manager at Scott’s Marketplace. She was also the Creative Director for Loud Rumor before then.

Check out more interviews with brand strategists here.

In 2019, I left my corporate job to focus on my business full-time and I’ve not looked back. Stephanie Riel, RielDeal Marketing

Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Stephanie Riel: I’m a brand strategist and digital marketer who got my start in the industry in 2008, while still in college. I discovered marketing via courses for my Business degree and immediately fell in love. Problem was, I was nearing the end of my college time and knew I didn’t want to change my major to learn the “book version” of marketing, so I started my consulting firm to get as much real-life marketing experience as possible before graduating. I leveraged that freelance work to land my first full-time job — and every job after. I’ve worked in corporate environments and in startups, with franchise systems, Fortune 6 companies and family-owned small businesses. Intentionally seeking out a diverse collection of brand and business-types to soak up as much experience as possible. I lived the “side hustle” life for over 9 years, navigating the demands of a full-time job — working for someone else by day, then transitioning to working on my business and servicing client needs on nights and weekends. In 2019, I left my corporate job to focus on my business full-time and I’ve not looked back.

Jerome Knyszewski: What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

Stephanie Riel: Following years of watching my father in his own entrepreneurial journey and the admiration that went along with that, I knew from a young age I eventually wanted to own my own business. The question was more of what kind of business, and when I would get started. The initial “aha” moment really came about for me in college as a Journalism major in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. During my undergraduate career I had completed seven journalism internships, but wasn’t convinced a job in journalism was for me. When my senior year hit, I took my first marketing course and fell in love with the field as it was the perfect mix of storytelling and creativity, psychology (a la consumer behavior) and data. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in marketing but with no formal training at the time, it was important for me to find a way to build that experience. So, I started taking on marketing project work, leveraging my storytelling background to build up real-world marketing experience. Along the way, RielDeal Marketing was born.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Stephanie Riel: Navigating the “side hustle” life as a recent college graduate was challenging. I learned some valuable lessons about time management early-on which were extremely helpful to me in juggling the demands of my first full-time job, and a budding freelance career. There were many long nights and extra hours, including weekends where I was focused on my business while friends were socializing and having fun. While it was a tough balance at the time, I didn’t consider giving up. I made a commitment to my employer and my clients to complete a specific job. The pride of accomplishment and thirst of expanded learning kept me engaged and focused on the long-term goal; that this situation was temporary and it was a small price to pay to get where I wanted to be.

I have no doubt that my grit and resilience is directly connected to the success of the business over the years.

Jerome Knyszewski: So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Stephanie Riel: I am thrilled with the evolution of my business to date. Since leaving Corporate America in January 2019 to focus on the business full-time, RielDeal Marketing has experienced great success. The business is growing and profitable, even despite 2020 being one of the most difficult years for small businesses that I can remember. We have been able to hire and expand our service offerings as well. I am so grateful for all of the lessons and the journey that has led us to this point. I have no doubt that my grit and resilience is directly connected to the success of the business over the years.

Seek input from your team on topics such as company processes, tools and culture. Stephanie Riel

Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

Stephanie Riel: From my experience the area of running a company that is most underestimated is the importance of identifying, documenting and establishing processes up front. Managing a team requires an incredible amount of commitment — both in time and efforts. This is often overlooked at the start of a business, allowing employees or other personnel freer reign. However, as the business grows and scale over time — those key processes for a business can get lost. It is much easier to identify and document your processes at the start than to go back and try to document or train staff of procedures later.

Jerome Knyszewski: Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Stephanie Riel:

  1. You and your team will make mistakes. Allow them. — Mistakes are part of being human. So unless you’re working with robots, mistakes will be made. By creating a culture that embraces failure and mistakes, you open the team up for better communication and more team empowerment (instead of fear). This attitude can enhance team morale and overall culture of your organization, too!
  2. Your journey is unique. — Business ownership and leadership is a wild ride and no two journeys are exactly alike. That is okay. You can find inspiration from fellow founders along the way without crippling your growth by harping on comparison between others. Your business journey is as unique as you are…and that’s an incredibly empowering thing.
  3. All eyes are always on you. — From how you engage via the company Slack to how you present yourself to customers or clients. Even to how you manage your work/life balance. Your team is watching you. As a leader, your team will look to you to take a cue on what’s accepted and what isn’t so it is important to act accordingly and consistently.
  4. Self-awareness is critical. — Take time for personal reflection and get real honest with yourself to identify what you’re good at and where your skillset falls flat. Self-awareness is a critical skill in this evaluation process. With awareness you can better identify your weaknesses so you can hire those out. Not great at invoicing and expenses or keeping meetings organized? Hiring an assistant or a bookkeeper early on can set you and your whole company up for better success.
  5. Ask your team questions. And listen! — Feedback is a powerful tool. Seek input from your team on topics such as company processes, tools and culture. Then, apply that feedback into action within the business. Not only will this effort give you real input on what’s working internally from the people who are closest to those aspects each day, but it can also help your team feel more valued. And valued employees are happy, more satisfied employees. Asking for input, acknowledging the input given and using that feedback to improve company processes can give your employees a sense of ownership of their respective roles. Having a vested stake and feeling valued and heard can also help create more dedicated employees who champion for your business outside of work hours.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Stephanie Riel: Follow me and RielDeal Marketing on our Instagram

You can also find me on LinkedIn, and link up with us on our Facebook.

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!



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