A three part series offering an inside look at the women behind PSM-Marketing, the early days, career perspectives & entrepreneurial challenges. Part one is with Terrie Wheeler, MBC, President and Founder of PSM Marketing, LLC
In 1997, Terrie Wheeler sat in her kitchen-turned-office and made a decision to leave her job as a law firm marketing director and venture out on her own as an entrepreneur.
“I decided rather than finding another job, because I had already worked in three law large, prestigious law firms, I wanted to spread my entrepreneurial wings and start my own business,” Terrie says.
Today, 24 years later, Terrie has created success as the founder and president of PSM Marketing, LLC.
“I really admire the courage it took to leave her stable job and found PSM. That leap of faith has paid dividends, and I’m so proud of her for making such a bold decision so early in her career,” says Michelle Wheeler, Terrie’s daughter and now business partner.
And so, Terrie’s entrepreneurial journey began, and it all started with a name.
“I really wanted to name my business something other than “Wheeler Marketing Consulting. I wanted the name to reflect and summarize what I actually do for my clients,” says Terrie.
The name, Professional Services Marketing Group, while a bit of a mouthful, symbolized Terrie’s livelihood helping law firms, practice areas and individual lawyers develop new clients. She wanted to leverage her 12 years as a law firm marketing director to expand beyond the legal industry, and used her company’s name to begin that expansion.
But, starting a business doesn’t come without its challenges. In the early days, Terrie fielded calls from headhunter’s offering positions she was exceptionally qualified for, but rejected. “I would let them know that I am out of the job market and now own a business that I am growing,” she added. At the time, she was finishing her master’s degree, and had three kids with her husband of 33 years, Jim.
“I knew I needed to have solid processes in place to deliver my services. Marketing professional services can feel nebulous and even intangible, so I had to focus on conveying the ROI of marketing to my clients,” she added.
Knowing her strengths, Terrie powered through. Having spent her career to date in law-firm marketing, she figured she already had a good start.
“I knew that if I could keep lawyers happy, I could work with any type of client – I knew lawyers had a reputation for not always being easy. So, having successful relationships with the lawyers I worked with as an in-house marketing director gave me the confidence I needed to build relationships with other service businesses in banking, financial services, accounting, consulting, technology, engineering, medical services, education, and many more,” she added.
While she has served clients in many industries over the past 24 years, today, over 90% of Terrie’s clients are lawyers and law firms across the country.
“I also learned early on how important it is to have criteria for the clients I chose to work with. I wanted clients who were going to be the best fit for PSM not just generate a lot of revenue. So I came up with my A-Level Client Criteria, and have focused every day since on attracting clients I like, trust, and respect, and where the feeling is mutual,” she said.
“We have the best clients, and that, in part, comes from Terrie’s loyalty and dedication. She will do whatever it takes to make them happy and bring them success. She also extends that same devotion to me, Michelle, and the other marketing consultants that work with us,” said Kristy Gusick, a partner at PSM.
Terrie has held firm to those values and grown as an entrepreneur. Now, with her business partners Kristy and Michelle by her side, PSM Marketing is continuing to add more and more clients, hire more talented marketing professionals to serve on the firm’s client services team, and expand the business. In fact, 2020 was a record year for the company with revenue up over 40%!
“I knew from the very beginning what I wanted to build and knew it was about creating something bigger than myself. Even though it was just me in the beginning, I always envisioned having people who helped support me, and a fabulous team of marketing experts to help me deliver services to our clients,” Terrie added.
And that vision came true.
Over two decades, two wonderful business partners, 80 team members over the years, and five office transitions from different parts of her home, Terrie runs PSM Marketing from her beautiful home office up north, cozied up with the fireplace roaring, reflecting on what has brought her here and where PSM will go in the future.
“What’s that phrase? ‘If you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life,’ right?”
Work or not, PSM Marketing is Terrie’s past and future – and she couldn’t be more proud.