Founded in 2003, the original plan was for Venture to be a resource where clients could find help with small design projects and media relation plans. What happened from there has been a whirlwind.
Apparently our attention to detail, eye for good design, and common-sense marketing approach was just what clients needed. Today, the sky is the limit as we partner with clients willing to step out, or “Venture” if you will, into a bold new world where customers are waiting to be motivated.
As for the Venture staff, let’s just say our collective experiences led us to exactly where we need to be. Degrees in public relations, marketing and finance pepper our resumes. Stints with Southern Living, the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel and other just as challenging stops along the way have helped us shape Venture into the marketing firm it is now.
And that’s just the management staff. Add in our go-to designers, favorite production crew, web tech friends, photographers and other outsources, there’s no wonder we are the preeminent advertising agency in Northeast Alabama.
Heather R. Rickles is co-founder and owner of Venture Marketing Group. Heather oversees every project Venture undertakes. She is directly involved in coordinating research, creative concepting, and implementation. She works closely with clients to make sure projects are timely and productive. Heather is a talented writer and an experienced radio/film advertising producer.
Heather’s career began in the mid-1990s as a media relations specialist for the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel. After her tenure in Montgomery, she oversaw marketing efforts for the Auburn/Opelika Convention and Visitors Bureau and Gadsden’s Center for Cultural Arts. She then joined RealtyBid International to oversee their nationwide media relations efforts. She and business partner, the late Julie Waldrup, founded Venture Marketing Group in 2003.
Heather’s experience includes managing branding campaigns, overseeing major special events, developing extensive media relations programs, leading focus groups for non-profit organizations, writing and designing countless collateral pieces, and directing complete public relations/marketing programs. In recent years, Heather has been instrumental in helping clients embrace the digital age by introducing strong online components to their marketing mix, including search engine marketing, digital banner advertising, social media campaigns, pre-roll video and more.
Heather is a 1994 summa cum laude graduate of Auburn University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations with concentrations in marketing and journalism. Born in Virginia, Heather was raised in Alabama and graduated from Southside High School in 1990. Since returning to Gadsden in 1998, her community involvement efforts have included serving as a Gadsden Service Guild Board Member, Gadsden Regional Medical Center Women’s Advisory Board Member, Big Brothers/ Big Sisters Board Member, serving as an Adult Education volunteer, a Big Brothers/ Big Sisters mentor, and a member of the First Friday Forum, Gadsden/Etowah Chamber of Commerce, Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, and Twelfth Street Baptist Church.
Susan Day is creative director at Venture Marketing Group. She oversees all aspects of design, from concepting campaigns with other Venture staff members, to making sure the appearance and message of the final product meets the standards set forth by Venture and the client. This includes newspaper ads, magazine ads, digital ads, brochures, rack cards, direct mail pieces, billboards, digital billboards, other signage, posters, and long-format special publications.
Susan is a 1993 graduate of The University of Alabama where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with a major in advertising and minors in marketing and English. Susan then served as a marketing research analyst, marketing research associate, and marketing and promotions specialist for Southern Progress Corporation. She worked directly with Southern Living, Coastal Living, Cooking Light, and Southern Accents magazines. She also worked directly with programs like The Southern Living Idea House, The Southern Living/Lowe’s Home and Garden Show, and The Southern Living Cooking School Program. From there she served as Marketing Director for Rite Way Service, Inc., a $90-million Birmingham-based company with operations in 13 states.
Susan has served as president of the Birmingham Chapter of the American Marketing Association and served as a board member of the Birmingham Chapter of Executive Women International. She is an alumni of the Gadsden Service Guild and an active member of Rainbow Presbyterian Church. Susan has been with Venture Marketing since 2007.
Amy Hill is the media manager/budget analyst for Venture Marketing Group. Amy has been with Venture since 2009. Her responsibilities at Venture include negotiating and purchasing time with various media outlets for Venture clientele. As Venture’s primary media buyer, Amy evaluates factors based on, but not limited to, station formats, pricing rates, and demographics, geographic, and psychographics data relating to the client’s particular product or service objectives. As a experienced budget analyst, Amy performs a full range of professional budgetary duties required to plan and organize client campaigns.
Amy’s career began in the late 1990s in the world of finance. She worked in various positions during her ten-year career in banking. Amy is a summa cum laude graduate of Jacksonville State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in finance. Since moving to Gadsden in 1996, Amy has served on the board of the Gadsden Service Guild and Junior Achievement. She has been a M.A.N.N.A. Volunteer for many years and is an active member of the First Baptist Church of Gadsden.
Whitney Alexander is the account manager for Venture Marketing Group. Whitney’s position at Venture involves being a liaison between clients and our design team in order to produce top quality marketing materials which include, but are not limited to, print ads, digital ads, brochures, folders, rack cards, and billboard artwork. Whitney also helps promote and organize promotional events for Venture clients such as receptions and production shoots. Whitney manages several search engine marketing campaigns and contributes to various social media campaigns. She is the newest member of the Venture Marketing team, beginning her tenure in October 2016.
Whitney is a 2008 graduate of The University of Alabama where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in public relations and political science and was a member of The Honors College. Whitney worked as a public relations specialist for an outdoor lighting company in Louisville, KY, and she has also worked as a social media coordinator for a Christian author.
While living in Gadsden, Whitney has become active at First Baptist Church, where her husband serves as senior pastor. She leads women’s Bible studies and has served on several church committees. Whitney has served on The Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolutions Committee and The Alabama Baptist Convention’s Committee on Boards and Commissions and currently serves on the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Leadership Council. Whitney also volunteers for United Way of Etowah County and is a member of the Gadsden Service Guild.