Julie Dion is president of Dion Marketing, specializing in amusement, hospitality, retail and destination marketing. Her company has won numerous awards.
Tell me about your background, your education and career. How did you select this line of work?
I grew up when there were only a few ways to consume media, and that was not that long ago! There were only four TV broadcast stations, including PBS; radio; out-of-home billboards; and print ads. These were the only ways that companies could advertise. As long as I can remember, I was drawn to print ads in my dad’s Time magazines and to TV commercials that influenced what cereal I wanted my mom to buy. If Mikey from the Life Cereal commercial likes it, why wouldn’t I? I am even one of those geeks who watch the Super Bowl just for the TV commercials.
I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism with a concentration in advertising. My vision for myself was to become a copywriter creating clever jingles and ad campaigns at a large ad agency representing big national brands.
While my career path didn’t turn out exactly like my limited vision was after college graduation, I did pursue a career in advertising and marketing. Fast forward over 30 years later, I have never looked back and have never regretted my decision! Working throughout the years with local, regional and even global companies and organizations with specific challenges and goals that we’ve had the opportunity to help has been very rewarding, far beyond my imagination.
What brought you to the First Coast?
My love for the beach is just as strong as my love for advertising. I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina but always wanted to live near the water. My parents paid for my college education but were not interested in paying out-of-state tuition. Lucky for me, a couple of years after graduating college, one of my friends moved to Florida, and she needed a roommate. So, voila, I packed up and moved to Jacksonville!
Tell me about Dion Marketing and what services it provides.
Dion Marketing helps businesses grow by helping them define their goals and develop a marketing plan to achieve those goals through strategic marketing tactics that we then manage, including email marketing, social media, digital and traditional advertising, public relations, branding and graphic design.
What do you like best about what you do?
I love being able to provide my staff with a career path that gives them the opportunity to do what they love doing and seeing them thrive whether it is writing a blog, creating a post, coming up with a new strategy or designing a new logo. As a company, I love getting positive results for our clients and achieving their marketing goals. It’s what I live for.
Dion Marketing recently won the 2023 Best of Florida Marketing Award, a very significant achievement! What qualities do you believe propelled your company to the top?
Thank you. We are so honored to get the 2023 Best of Florida Marketing Firm award! Because the Best of Florida award is somewhat based on public votes, that tells me that people do think of us as one of Florida’s best marketing firms! Providing our clients with consistent efforts with positive results is something I am very proud of, and this award helps solidify this.
You’ve won some other significant awards, as well; five from the World Waterpark Association. Tell me about these awards and any other achievements you would like readers to know about.
The World Waterpark Association recognizes companies annually for marketing efforts. This year, we won five World Waterpark Association awards for client Daytona Lagoon, including Best YouTube Campaign, Best Billboard, Best Brochure, Best Print Ad and Best Poster. We’ve won 14 marketing awards from the World Waterpark Association since 2017 for our waterpark clients.
One of the biggest achievements so far for Dion Marketing was getting certified as a WOSB, which is a Woman-Owned Small Business, by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The certification process is quite daunting, so getting that status can be rewarding since the SBA must set aside at least 5% of all contracting dollars for women-owned businesses each year. We’ve secured a couple of good marketing projects, including a digital advertising campaign for the U.S. Army, that we would not have had the opportunity to get without the WOSB certification.
Tell me about your team.
I love my team! They are young, hard-working and fun to be around. They understand like me that we are not saving lives here at Dion Marketing, but we can certainly whip up a good tagline! The team is comprised of all women. It wasn’t designed that way — it just happened. We’ve had men work for us in the past, but the longer we are in business, the more we have become an established woman-owned and women-operated business.
Most new hires start in our marketing coordinator role and work their way up from there. Kellee Zimmerman started as a marketing coordinator in 2016 and is now our senior account director, overseeing key accounts as well as ongoing employee training. Serena Bass is our senior designer who has been with Dion Marketing just as long. She started in 2016 as a part-time graphic designer. Other team members also have been given growth opportunities to be promoted. The number of our team members has fluctuated throughout the years from six to 11 people, depending on not only the number of clients but also how extensive the services are that we are contracted to provide.
What do you like best about living here on the First Coast?
What don’t I love about living here on the First Coast? I’d say the water. Whether swimming in the ocean, boating on the Intracoastal, enjoying sunsets over the marsh or exploring so many areas along the St. John’s River, it was the water that brought me and has kept me here. As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Water is the driving force of all nature.”