Angie Eckman - June/July Cover Story
Someone You Should Know
In every community there are people working behind the scenes, on the sidelines and in the trenches making their world go around. Angie Eckman is one of those people. She's the chamber member revamping a website and writing a mission. She's the dedicated professional hitting the streets with coupons and fliers. She's the liaison between a neighborhood restaurant and schools and small businesses. She's the cheerleader for her clients, community organizations and culture. She's the person everyone can count on. She's the wise consultant for advice, the friend you turn to, the member of the committee who goes above and beyond what is asked of her. Not often in the spotlight, Angie's passion is showcasing others, bringing different parts of the community together and helping people make their dreams come true.
First She Saw the Soup Cans
Not many people are blessed with knowing exactly what they want to do from the time they are children. An exceptionally bright child, Angie had a precocious curiosity that led directly to her profession. When her mother, Beverly Viator strolled her down the aisles of the grocery store, she was not barraged with requests for sugary cereals or candy. Instead, Beverly faced a different inquisition. “Why is the Campbell’s soup label red?” Angie asked. “Why does it have that little gold seal? Why are the letters different from others? Do people in other countries eat Campbell’s soup? Who is Tony the Tiger? He isn’t a scary tiger. What is his job?” At the time, Beverly was not surprised by these questions. After all, Angie was speaking at 8 months and singing the alphabet at 10 months. It was her father who translated the nature of her curiosity to a prediction when he overheard Angie ask, “Do people buy cereal for the taste or the games on the box? Do different people prefer the ones with the crossroad puzzle more than the tic tack toe game?” He told Beverly, “She’s going to go into marketing.”
When it was time for college, Angie remembered her father’s premonition. She remained curious about the nature of branding and consumer behavior. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications with a minor in psychology. During her college years, Angie waited tables to help with expenses. Ever the hyper-observant sponge, she gleaned a supplementary education in marketing from those years of food service. “You would never realize how much you can learn by waiting tables,” Angie said. “A good waitress knows the importance of being attentive. You have to read people’s personalities when you don’t know them.” Enticing customers into national brand restaurants would come to occupy much of Angie’s career.
The Atlanta version of Friends.
Angie worked her way through a few post-college marketing jobs in Lafayette when a group of friends suggested they all move to a bigger market together. “We felt like we had so much to offer. We wanted to expand and learn more.” One of the group had moved to Atlanta for a job and when the rest of the entourage visited, they fell in love with the city. So, like an Atlanta-version of Friends, complete with Jason Eckman, the Ross to Angie’s Rachel, they made the leap and pursued life in the city.
Through positions with Domino’s and IHOP Angie immersed herself in the behind the scenes efforts that go into marketing pizzas and pancakes. She experienced the difference between corporate marketing and franchise efforts. She learned the importance of backing up a marketing message with a good product, delivered well. Traveling to stores in her regions, Angie handed out fliers and coupons and connected local restaurants to businesses and civic organizations. She bussed tables and poured drinks when her campaign brought in more business than anticipated. She hustled tirelessly and proved herself time and again to be a dependable, energetic force and asset to the companies she worked for.
For Angie, the most rewarding part of her job came unexpectedly. When she attended a district meeting after an intense marketing campaign, she watched from the back of the room as area managers received sales awards. After the meeting, one manager walked up to her asking, “Are you Angie?” He threw his arms around her and thanked her saying, “You have no idea how grateful I am. You’ve helped my career. I thought I was going to lose my job. My sales were poor. I got a bonus check for the first time. I was afraid I was going to lose my home. Your direct mail campaign saved my marriage,” he confessed. It was a truly gratifying moment in her career. “I never realized how much I could impact the lives of others. I never thought it would be that way.”
When it was time for Ross and Rachel to come home, now married, Angie found a place in a very different market. She was hired by UL’s Alumni Association after impressing them with her experience and portfolio. She remembered the moment she accepted the job. The Alumni President, Robert Trahan, gave her a hug and said, “Welcome home.” Angie loved her work with the Association. “It was fun,” she said. “We had a great team. We spent a lot of time together. There were many nights and weekends. The people I worked with were my friends.” But Angie found herself continuing to read marketing and advertising trade magazines. Her passion for that field remained so she returned to restaurant marketing with positions at Dominos, Whataburger and a family-owned chain of restaurants in Destin, Florida.
In Destin Angie stretched her marketing muscles, free of the constraints of corporate policies. “Any ideas I had, I could run with,” she said. She immersed herself in social media, posting pictures of the beach and gaining such a following that she became a sort of Gulf Coast concierge. She increased her ability to target to a variety of markets in the tourist region. “You had your snow birds, the spring break crowds, summer tourists and slow, down times,” she said. But commuting from Destin to Lafayette began to take its toll and Angie decided it was time to come home, again.
“I always wanted to own my own marketing or advertising business but I wasn’t sure when and how,” she said. Back in Lafayette Angie knew it was time to make it real and ADWORX was born. She built a website, got business cards, developed a business plan and recruited some of her past employers for a healthy, beginning list of clients.
It’s the impact she has on people’s lives that continues to be the best part of her work. When Angie sits down with a new client, they are often in crisis mode. “People don’t usually hire a marketing person when their business is doing well. When they come to me, they’re wondering if they did the right thing, if their dream of a successful business will come true.” That’s where Angie’s optimism and experience comes in. “I listen to what they’ve tried, what’s worked and not worked, what their hopes are. I ask questions and take notes and bring them new ideas and remind them of markets they haven’t tapped into.” By the end of the meeting Angie sees spirits lifted and hope restored. Clients are excited about the passion that brought them to their business in the first place. And when their sales start to return, they begin to see that their dream is still possible.
Driven and curious since she was a small child, Angie credits her optimism and work ethic with her parents. “The foundation I was given as a child is what made me what I am today,” she said. “My mom was always my best friend. She spoke to me like an adult. I idolized her.” Angie remembers her father telling her, “You can’t force your ideas on others, but you can motivate them and inspire them.” Angie kept those words of wisdom with her, from the man who saw a marketing professional in her when she was just five years old. Her mother remembers an exceptionally bright child with an insatiable curiosity. Her success is no surprise to Beverly, who also called her daughter, her “best friend forever.”
“She’s doing exactly what she loves to do,” she said. It doesn’t get much better than that.
A Pleasure to do Business With
“A joy to work with. Very professional. Enthusiastic. Energetic. A good friend and colleague.” These are the words spoken about Angie by her clients and peers including Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter and fellow Youngsville Chamber member J.D. Morein. Angie’s constant smile and optimism help her to champion not only the organizations she’s involved in but also the needs and goals of her clients. “You have to be like a cheerleader for them. You have to give them encouragement and motivation.”
Angie brings the unique combination of professionalism and pleasant disposition to her extensive community involvement. She is a member of the Youngsville and Broussard Chambers of Commerce and on the board of directors of the Better Business Bureau, creating a seven-year strategic plan called Vision 2020 for the Youngsville Chamber.
“She goes above and beyond the call of duty,” Jeremy Hildago, a fellow Chamber member said, “You can count on her for advice. If you need something, it will be done and it will done right.” She doesn’t make false promises.
“I think that if you want to see change, you have to be the change,” Angie said. “If you say you want something done and you’re willing to do the work, you gain respect and it makes all the difference.”
“When you’re in her presence you feel like you’re being taken care of,” Sharene Gott of the Better Business Bureau said, “and taken care of by an expert who knows what she’s talking about and is excited and happy to be working for you. She has a huge, joyful presence that comes with knowledge and experience. It’s like a gift that she gives you.”
June/July Cover - Angie Eckman, Lafayette, LA
Story by Nicole LaCour