Out Of Home Today is the leading source for news and information on the out of home industry.

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OOH Today’s Champion- Andrea Messimer Henley

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OOH Today will highlight people from every facet of Outdoor Advertising, recognizing a Champion in the Industry.  OOHT share the faces and stories behind the names about those who add personal touches while Championing OOH as a great medium.  Human contact is still an important part of Out Of Home.  Outdoor is an Industry where the people behind a company, are as important as the company itself.  OOHT will introduce some one new every few days.  Feel free to provide a nomination.

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Andrea Messimer Henley, has over 20 years in the Outdoor Advertising Industry wearing multiple hats in the sales and agency side.  Through her strong work ethic, superior empathy, listening skills, and social media contributions and network, Andrea has established herself as an Industry Expert. After a earning a degree in Broadcast Media, Andrea began her OOH trek with Adams Outdoor in Michigan. Following stints with Clear Channel and Outfront, she starting a OOH Consultancy which led to her most recent position at Wilkins Media.  Andrea is a strong, family first woman, married to Jim Henley and has a daughter, Emma.

OOH Today’s William (Bill) Board met with Andrea and discussed her OOH life.

BB:  How did you start in Out Of Home?

AMH:  One of my first jobs out of college, I was hired as a sales representative for RICOH copy machines. I sold a copier to Adams Outdoor in Jackson, Michigan. They liked my features and benefits presentation so, much they offered me a job.  The creativity in Advertising was intriguing, specifically OOH and it’s larger than life presence. Enjoying selling and leaving the bidding wars with 9-10 competing copier companies behind, I joined Adams Outdoor. At Adams, I learned very quickly that businesses needed to advertise.  How and where advertisers invested those dollars, was up to me to find solutions to fit their needs, with a simple and creative message.  Applying the same skills learned from my copier sales training to advertising sales proved successful. The addiction for me started after collaborating with the customers. We literally would draw a rough sketch of the concept on a piece of paper. I loved the process and watching it develop. The exciting part was driving by to see it on the street larger than life, knowing I am one of the few people that knew it started with a conversation and a piece of paper. I felt so proud to be part of assisting in the decision making process.  By listening and truly understanding their needs, I realized I had a talent for creating content that mirrored the message they wanted to convey publicly in order to increase sales and traffic.

listening and understanding needs… I realized… a talent for creating content that mirrored the message

BB:  So the collaboration of advertiser with the Out of Home medium and its process captured you for over 16 years. Anything else kept you in the Industry?

AMH:  I guess I never realized you could get out? All kidding aside, once I experienced the adrenal rush of closing sales, I knew that this was more than a job for me. It was the start of a career.  Meeting with clients, I learned intimate details of how their business operated.  I decided if I was going to be part of this industry long term, it would be a good idea for me to know all the facets of the business and industry.

I observed my Father’s work ethic while growing up in the grocery business, he knew how to run every department of our Supermarkets, from the Grocery, Bakery, Meat, Deli, Frozen Foods, Cashier, Bagger, and Custodial, all while managing a few hundred employees and the department heads.  One day, I saw my Dad bagging groceries, he was smiling and chatting with the customer’s, he thoroughly enjoyed it. I said “Dad, if you are the owner of the store, why are you bagging groceries?”   He said, “It keeps me involved with the customers and the opportunity to thank them for their business personally.” “Besides that”, as he winked at me,” I am also the highest paid bagger”.  Impressed by his answer, I learned a life lesson in that moment.  I was so proud of the community and culture he and my uncle created.

BB:  In your role at Wilkins you wear a number of ‘different hats’ while managing many phases of OOH. What are the challenges of new business development?

AMH:  With 20 year’s experience on the vendor side, I was always curious and intrigued with the buying side of the business.  The unbiased perspective of OOH buying agencies allows the customer’s needs to be the priority. I truly believe that should be the core of any business.  The challenges I face, are the same challenges everyone is experiencing, attention spans have become shorter, and decision makers have become harder to reach. I rely on my creative side to figure out new ways and also past techniques that have been successful to gain attention, get appointments and close business.

BB:  Speaking about gaining attention, you have developed a strong leadership persona in the OOH Community through social media. Was this a planned strategy on your part?

AHH:  The term that we use to measure the success of an advertising campaign as you know is “KPI”.  It also stands for Key Person of Influence, and that is what I have aspired to become.  I called Dave Westburg-(OOH Today notes: Dave Westburg is publisher of  Billboard Insider) about a year ago and told him I wanted to buy a billboard as an investment. During that conversation he asked me about my background and said you have a great story. May I interview you? I said of course, I would love to give back to the industry.   The article was a hit. I was humbled and honored by the interest and outpouring of support. I had people reach out to me and say, I am not giving up because of you.  Some of the women said, I am glad to see a woman who has been successful in a male dominated industry.  The feedback was really inspiring to me. When I heard things like it’s a good old boys network, I said it’s going to be OK, first of all there is a dynamic woman, named Nancy Fletcher at the top steering this ship… And besides, I can hang with the guys, play golf, pool and shoot whiskey too. HA!

BB:  Recognizing it is a male dominated business and you can ‘hang with the guys’; females are a growing segment in OOH, but still one which appears to fall short in numbers and opportunity. Are there any issues you came up against or are fighting today?

AMH:  Passion for sales, creativity and the advertising industry; has always been the driving force for me. I wasn’t out to prove anything, because I am a woman. I honestly get along well with men and I like working with most of them. There are always challenges with any profession, it’s not the situation that defines us, it’s how we handle it. I enjoy what I am doing and I decided years ago that no one can change that or stop me from being successful, except me.  I think more women should be part of this Industry, its fun, rewarding and keeps evolving. You absolutely can be successful and stand-out. You have to believe in yourself first. In a world full of vanilla ice cream, women are the sprinkles.

In a world full of vanilla ice cream, women are the sprinkles. 

BB:  What have you done for OOH you are most proud?

AMH:  I am most proud of the fact that I stuck with it.  The best part is happening right now… I didn’t set out to win awards, plaques, sales contests, the front parking spot, but as a result of my efforts, I was earned those awards through the years.  I am proud of those accomplishments. The thing I care about the most is for my daughter to know that she can do anything she sets her mind to, because her MOM did.

BB:  Tell us about your ‘Ah HA! Moment’ in OOH?

AMH:  There are a few moments that kept me going, a hand written message from Kevin Gleason congratulating me on a great job. Selling consecutive #100 GRP poster showing’s to Taco Bell after a year of calling on them. I finally saw it pay off!  Clients supporting and telling me that I am the best they have ever worked with, their words not mine.  Now it’s time to give back And that is exactly what I am going to do.

BB:  Your future is giving back, what is the future of OOH?  Do you have a prediction?

AMH:   During the past year I have spent a lot of time interviewing customers & agencies, they all said they would increase spend for DOOH if they had the ability to purchase it similar to a Broadcast Schedule.  The standard for the majority of DOOH units is currently, scheduling up to 8 advertisers per face,  display time of 6-8 seconds (varies per location) on a 64 second loop. There is a pivot happening with ad dollars.  Operators are missing opportunities to increase current ad spending and new opportunities to increase revenues.  The ability to select time slots, weekly, hourly, day parts, as well as seasonal combined with Geopath audience measurement, needs to be implemented.  My other prediction, is the real-estate billboards are located on, will be just as valuable, if not more valuable, than advertising revenue. As smart cities, digital/mobile technology and internet of things continues to evolve, the physical structures value will increase too.

There is a pivot happening with ad dollars.

BB: Is there anyone you most admire or credit to providing significant influence in your Outdoor career?

AMH: My husband is my rock & my number one fan. He has coached me over the past 10 years and helped me write all of the articles. He’s wiped my tears when this industry has broken my heart.  He said, “Get up and keep going, you are a rock star, you are throwing 100 MPH fast balls and you don’t even see it.”  Within the industry I will only mention first names, Nancy, Phil, Kevin, John R, Kym, Brent, Denny, Jim, Jodi.

BB:  Here’s a magic wand, change 3 things in OOH Industry today.

AMH:  The current way digital units are being presented and sold.  Don’t overlook or devalue static locations they still have a lot of value, collaborate and join efforts with experts that can provide value and additional revenue, such as experiential marketing.

BB:  What is missing in the OOH Community? What is your solution?

AMH:  I observe the same advertisers year over year on the same locations.  Its important to develop and introduce new customers to the industry to keep the industry pipeline full. It blows my mind how many businesses aren’t utilizing OOH.  That just means we have more opportunities and work to do.

  1. More industry personalities, writing posting, blogging, podcasts.
  2.  Videos displaying executions on behalf of the industry.
  3. One unified, turnkey, user friendly; complete programmatic platform.  It should be as easy as posting a Facebook message or purchasing items on Amazon.

I think the biggest misconception I face, is people want to put me in a box and label it ‘Sales’.  I proudly started in sales; I have evolved and become an entrepreneur, as well as a business owner who has many interests.  I am constantly learning and discovering new opportunities that can provide value to businesses as well as our Industry.

There are many diversions that exist in today’s society and work place; gender inequality, harassment, discrimination, mergers and acquisitions.  I have faced them all. I will not allow any of them to stand in the way of MY success.  Don’t ever compromise yourself!  Instead, believe in your talent and ability.  You will rise to the top. Nothing should ever stop you with hard work and determination. Visualize what you want and the path to get there. You will find the background noise becomes silent when you are in tune with who you are and what you want in life.

BB: Great visiting with you Andrea.

AMH: Thank you Bill.

Contact Andrea at-  andreamessimer@gmail.com

LinkedIn at- Andrea Messimer Henley Profile

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