Suzan McDowell always envisioned the ‘fabulous-ness’ and success of her own marketing company.
As the CEO of Circle of One Marketing, a minority-owned, full-service advertising and marketing agency, her expertise lies in connecting clients with the emerging African-American and Caribbean markets.
Throughout the years, McDowell, of Miami Shores, has set groundbreaking standards on reinventing and redesigning the science of marketing.
Born in the tropical country of Jamaica to divorced parents, McDowell was destined for success.
Her father, Dr. Gladstone McDowell, is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and holds a degree in dentistry. He has been in private practice for more than 50 years.
Her mother, June McDowell, is a Texas native and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has a degree in linguistics.
The third of four siblings, McDowell, always managed to stand out. Growing up in San Antonio, Tx., allowed her to bask in her Jamaican culture, adapt to her new surroundings, and embody what it is to be a “true Jamerican.”
“It’s great! I have the best of both worlds,” she told the South Florida Times.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising from the University of Texas in Austin. After graduating from UT, she decided to take a different route.
“As an advertising major, after graduating, the ‘thing’ to do was to go work for an ad agency and end up on Madison Avenue,” she said.
Instead, she began working as a salesperson for a local magazine in Austin. She was later promised a job as a real estate public relations person, but the job fell through. Soon afterward, she relocated to Los Angeles, where she remained for a few years and worked with the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner, doing sales. Ultimately, she decided to move to Miami to be closer to her family.
McDowell, who is in her 40s, got her first gig in Miami doing sales for New Miami magazine, which was a business-to-business publication. It did not take too long for others to see the magic she brought to the table. Her persistence, determination and lively spirit illuminated her work.
She was soon recruited to WHQT “HOT 105’’ FM. It was the perfect job. She fit the demographic of the radio station’s target audience, and the position allowed her to sharpen her skills.
She was a sales executive for HOT 105 for 12 years. In 1995, she gave birth to her beautiful daughter, Sydney, who is currently 12 years old. The life-changing experience of motherhood propelled McDowell to explore new heights and more challenges in her career and community.
In 2003, she decided to step up and really invest her time, heart and soul into building her own company.
“It was admittedly the hardest decision I ever made…to just leave HOT after so many years and decide to branch out on my own. … It was just tough,” she said.
The journey was not always pleasant. In the early stages of the business, there was an instance where a past client owed her tens of thousands of dollars, and by the completion of the project; the client was unable to compensate the company due to its own internal mishaps.
“It was hard…I learned a lot and was forced to learn so much quickly. I was stuck with hard costs and had to find a way to rectify the situation in order to save my reputation,” she said.
But through the tribulations, she held onto her dedication to be creative, resourceful and diverse. She named the company Circle of One Marketing because she wanted something that represented her belief that the ‘universe’ will work if you work it.
“My church home is The Universal Truth Center, a metaphysical church, Bible-based for thinkers. As a truth student we learn that, ‘there is only One power in the Universe, God the
Omnipotent.’ That is where the ‘One’ comes from,” she said.
With belief comes growth, and Circle of One continues to grow as time progresses.
This month, Circle of One will launch a new social marketing division headed by Melissa Dunn. The vision for this new venture is to create social change through marketing, which
would involve focus groups, brand management based on behavior-specific issues, outreach to stakeholders, influencers, community buy-ins, pre- and post-testing of messages, plus measured outcomes.
The division would work specifically on non-profit, governmental and social issue-oriented projects.
“The ultimate goal of any social marketing campaign is to influence behavior and inspire action,” said Dunn, the newly promoted social marketing director. “As well as marketing services, we look forward to creating campaigns that mobilize the community and motivate people to improve their quality of life.”
Dunn joined Circle of One Marketing in 2006 as the project manager for the state of Florida’s Medicaid Reform initiative in Broward County. She has six years of experience as the director of community Health Initiatives and Health Systems for the American Cancer Society’s New York City office.
Dunn plans to identify specific areas in the community in which she can make a positive impact, especially within the healthcare industry. She said she plans to utilize her skills and do what she loves through marketing. The division seeks to strengthen the link between nonprofit and profit-based entities.
“I’m excited about the possibilities of this division. The outcomes of social marketing are very measurable and concrete. And the success of each campaign is so clear,” she said.
The company’s current social marketing clients include ACS Government Healthcare, The Children’s Trust, University of Miami’s Institute for Women’s Health, The Alliance for Digital
Equality, the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Network and more.
The company handled public relations for the chamber’s annual gala, Doing Business in Paradise, which took place on Dec. 7, 2007.
The new social marketing division’s upcoming initiative is the Children’s Trust Heart Gallery.
McDowell said Circle of One Marketing has the drive and the vision to expand beyond Miami-Dade County.
“It’s all very possible…All it takes is a good team, great projects, great work and knowledge that all of it is possible,” McDowell said. “Our future plans are to get bigger and better.”
Photo: Suzan McDowell