At the ripe age of six years old, Michelle Wheeler learned about the world of marketing through her mother, Terrie Wheeler, founder of PSM Marketing. Michelle would spend evenings stapling her mother’s proposals, assembling presentation packets, and learning the lingo of marketing for professional services firms. When asked what her mom did for work, young Michelle would proudly proclaim, “Strategical Marketing!”
“Michelle was always there with me throughout the founding of Professional Services Marketing. She was always around, helping me with little projects” says Terrie.
As Michelle grew older, marketing fell out of the picture. Instead, she discovered a passion for social justice work, public health, and LGBTQ adcovacy as she entered high school.
“I was really positively affected by my educators growing up, and I really looked up to a lot of the teachers in my life,” says Michelle. “So, for a long time I thought I was going to be a English teacher.”
Her path changed in college when she realized her passion for working with nonprofits and social justice initiatives directly intersected with the world of marketing. Courses like Digital Rhetoric and New Media Literacies, Marketing, Mass Media, and Public Speaking gave her English degree a marketing-heavy spin. Throughout college, Michelle picked up her work with PSM as a project manager.
Following in the entrepreneurial spirit of her mother, Michelle decided to start her own business, Spectrum Design and Marketing, immediately after graduating from St. Olaf College.
“I decided the focus of Spectrum would be providing accessible marketing services to small businesses and nonprofits. I’ve grown up around marketing my whole life, but I’d always been much more involved and engaged with nonprofit and social justice work. I wanted to define my own niche and focus on client work that fed my soul.”
Obviously, it has paid off. Once Michelle developed her own niche and gained some recognition with her own brand, Terrie and her business partner, Kristy Gusick, invited Michelle to join PSM Marketing as a junior partner.
“I didn’t just step into this role because I’m Terrie’s daughter. I worked really hard independently to create my own career path that happened to align with PSM, so it made sense to merge,” says Michelle. “I wanted to be intentional about creating my own space within PSM. I wanted to ensure I had created a niche that was unique to me and my passions.”
The uniqueness Michelle brought to PSM developed into the perfect triad.
Michelle focuses on small businesses, contractors, and nonprofits. Terrie’s niche is law firms and legal marketing, and Kristy has a knack for the financial industry, working with accountants and financial advisors.
“We’ve fallen into a great natural rhythm working with each other. Together, I think the three of us just work really well and compliment each other quite beautifully,” says Michelle.
Now, Michelle has joined PSM’s leadership as Terrie and Kristy’s third partner (having worked her way up from professional proposal binder, project manager, and junior partner). Her ability to climb the ladder while following in the footsteps of the family business has given Michelle a deep appreciation for working with her mom.
“I really look up to my mom. She has such a powerful intuition and solid business sense, but even more than that she has strong morals.”
Furthermore, it has given Michelle a new appreciation for her ability to have a family while owning a business.
“As an expectant mother, it has definitely made me value PSM that much more because we have that level of flexibility that is necessary to make having a child possible. I’m really thankful for that.”
Michelle is excited to grow her family, while continuing to grow PSM.
“My future plans with PSM are to continue growing my client base and developing my niches. I see myself continuing to work with small businesses and nonprofits. That’s the work that really feeds my soul.”