The Gage of success
She’s nothing if not adaptable. Elizabeth Gage, Artsci’82, has been an actress, an advertising writer, designer, a marketer, and a business builder. These days, she’s an award-wining Internet guru, working in a medium she knew nothing about during her student days at Queen’s.
With an economy in flux these days, no one knows better than Elizabeth Gage the importance of being able to change and adapt. That’s because Elizabeth has been successfully changing and adapting her career for more than 30 years.
These days she’s the president and CEO of PCM Interactive, a Winnipeg-based company specializing in website engineering and advanced performance-based search marketing business. She spends her days studying the equivalent of a computer crystal ball to suss out the next big thing for her clients.
When Elizabeth graduated from Queen’s, the Internet wasn’t widely available, let alone used. An English major, she whetted her communication skills, little knowing how well it would prepare her for the job she would hold more than a quarter century later.
After touring as an actress with the Stratford Festival during the 1984-85 season (where she won a Dora Award as a promising newcomer to the world of Canadian theatre), she exited the stage never to return when she joined Moffat Communications as a Promotions and Marketing Manager.
Next it was on to the Winnipeg Free Press, where as Director of Marketing she designed a multi-media promotional initiative to attract new readers. From there it was a hop, skip and a jump to the Yellow Pages where her company, Prairie Choice Marketing, designed ads and marketing strategies for national Yellow Pages customers that resulted in better return on investment.
Recalls Elizabeth, "I worked on a laptop that cost $10,000, and I usually had about three or four computers going at one time – one designing ads, another sending ads to over 200 publishers all over North America, and another getting approval signoffs from customers."
Soon the Yellow Pages went the way of the buffalo and Elizabeth was back to reinventing her company, this time with the jazzier moniker – PCM Interactive. That meant jumping into the early days of the worldwide web with its inherent challenges.
Elizabeth’s company provides businesses with a soup-to-nuts website marketing service which begins with web site design, which she feels is the jumping-off point from which every successful marketing initiative should spring. “I tell clients their website is their home, it needs to be organized and look good to attract customers and generate leads and sales,” she says.
Elizabeth puts a client’s website through a sophisticated diagnostic tool that measures how the website rates on search engines. It might seem her Queen’s BA would be unnecessary in this techno-savvy world, but not so. Says Elizabeth, “English and communications skills are the most important skill sets to have in business. Choosing the right words to succinctly communicate your vision with passion is tantamount to success in business.”
As for her own business skills, Elizabeth acquired hers by studying entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.
All of her study and hard word has paid off not only in her company’s success, but also in recognition she has received from the business community. In May 2008, Elizabeth won the Overall Excellence – Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Building Business Award, which are presented by the Women Business Owners of Manitoba.
Such honours are most welcome, especially since they help promote awareness of PCM Interactive among young entrepreneurs in Manitoba and throughout Western Canada. Elizabeth says this is crucial to the future of her business, which she says lies catering to the needs of this generation. “Young people or the ‘connected’ generation has never known what it’s like not to be connected,” she notes.
Naturally, serving them will mean changing and adapting to their needs, but that’s a challenge for which Elizabeth is well prepared.