Paula Dyba, VP of marketing, creative director, Terry Bicycles

Marketing is more like staying steady on a unicycle while juggling than simply riding a bike. It requires balancing creativity with customer insights, and Dyba knows how to do just that. During her agency days, she helped lead the import launch of then unfamiliar car manufacturer Hyundai Motor America and overcame concerns associated with buying a Korean vehicle.  And as VP of marketing and creative director for women’s cycling company Terry Bicycles, she’s pioneered new e-commerce, product, and catalog merchandising strategies, contributing to more than 50% retail revenue growth.

Marketing strategy: My approach is customer-centric…. [At] Terry Bicycles, we’re totally focused on female cyclists, and we’ve built relationships with our customers who absolutely love us and evangelize our products. At the beginning, we knew there was demand in the market, but the supply chain was stuck. Bike shops just weren’t ready for a “woman’s section” 20 years ago. So, we invented our own marketing channel and went direct to the customer via catalog. It was an instant success and we’ve built the brand, customer by customer, ever since. We put the customer experience ahead of everything we do, and have built a reputation for being the problem solvers for female cyclists. 

Winning ways: Celebrating our 30th anniversary with a 14% increase in retail sales — and only a 4% increase in spending. 

Defining moment: I bought a bicycle. It was at a time when I was working in New York for a big advertising agency pitching car accounts. In between pitches, I went into a bike shop in upstate New York, bought a bike, and the salesperson sold me a Terry saddle. I’d never heard of the company but turns out it was right down the road. I met the owner, Georgena Terry, and I asked her why I’d never heard of her company. She said she didn’t have a marketing person. I left advertising that moment. I felt [like] I’d found a marketer’s dream. Terry was the first women-specific bike company at a time when women-specific products were not around in cycling, nor really anywhere else. Shifting careers completely from agency to client, from multimillion ad budgets to nearly zero, from cars to bicycles was a huge step and the defining moment for me as a marketer.

Trend watching: For us as direct marketers, our customers’ move to mobile is something we’re not only watching, but also putting tons of time and energy into. It’s changing everything about the way we interact individually, as families, as marketers, and as retail businesses. The challenges of presenting a brand in a completely new and super-small format, figuring out how to market in this new arena, and simplifying the buying process is only going to grow and require new tools and new ways of engaging with our customers.

Marketing staff must-have: First, the ability to write well; and second, creative enthusiasm/curiosity. One is pretty easy to evaluate and the other much harder. Both traits are critical in an innovative business environment where customer relationships, engagement, and product development are necessities.

Advice to young marketers: Find a product category that absorbs you. Find the best company in that category and get yourself in the door at whatever level you can.

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