Volunteer Profile: Sarah Taylor

Everybody has got their own collection of hopes and dreams. Or maybe some of us have just got one big dream. Either way, we’ve all got dreams. It’s natural.

Some kids dream of being astronauts, while others dream of being superheroes. But in the end, we all fine-tune our dream to be something a little more practical and possibly achievable.

For Sarah Taylor, that fine-tuned dream was to work for Yellow Pages. She achieved it… and went beyond.

There was never a doubt in Sarah’s mind that advertising and marketing was the field for her. After studying just that at Georgian College, Sarah found the right ladder and started her climb from the bottom up. The bottom of that ladder was working in retail.

“On top of being a manager of these retail stores, I was also doing a lot of promotions and public relations work. It was this extra promotional work that started to draw me back towards pursuing a full-time marketing job.”

So, with this in mind, she went back to Georgian College and obtained her marketing diploma. It was after this that she had her first breakthrough into the field: a sales job at Carriage Hills Resort.

“I was selling timeshares there, but,” she said with a tongue-in-cheek air, “I wasn’t the strongest [sales] closer in my early 20s.” As a result of this, they took her out of sales and appointed her to be the new Promotions Coordinator.

As it turned out, this was actually a stroke of luck. “With this position, I met with people and informed them of the resort. So, basically, it was an advertising position with a focus on the PR side.” Already, she was using previously-obtained skills to move forward in her career of choice.

Now, although Sarah loved what she was doing, it still wasn’t what she really wanted to do. “There was a position at Carriage Hills where I would represent the corporate office by doing quality assurances on what was called a sample program at the resort. So, potential buyers would stay for a given period of time, and then afterwards I would try to sell them a trial package.” She wanted this position, so she went and got it. She’s a go-getter, that’s for sure.

She worked in that industry for seven years, doing more public relations, sales, and advertising. From there, she went into the directory industry for advertising.

And this is where the cool part about her childhood dream job at Yellow Pages comes in. After she stopped selling timeshares, she started working for a phone directory company by doing advertising and sales over the phone. From there, she decided it was time for a change of scenery and moved out to western Canada. And can you guess who she started working for? You got it: Yellow Pages.

But, due to an untimely economic recession in 2008 that forced Yellow Pages to lay off hundreds of employees, Sarah’s tenure with her dream company was cut short to a mere two years. So, in 2010, she moved back to Ontario and began her hunt for a new job. With her sturdy connections in the industry, it wasn’t a tough search.

“When I got back to Ontario, Yellow Pages had bought Canpages, and Canpages had bought several phone directory companies,” she said. “I found a job listing for an advertising and sales position for Canpages, and it was actually based out of the office of an old phone directory company I had worked for. So when I walked in, the person interviewing me was somebody I already knew from my previous job in the office. She had my resume in her hand, but when she saw me she just threw it in the air and hired me on the spot.” How’s that for interviewing well?

After that, Sarah worked for Canpages until it got shut down by Yellow Pages in 2012. For the second time in her career, she had been put out of work by her childhood dream company. No wonder they say, “Never meet your heroes.”

But, rather than making her change career paths, this unfortunate event actually turned out to be very fortunate. “It was all over the news when Canpages got shut down,” she said, “and a lot of business owners started to realize that former Yellow Pages employees were out of work.” Instead of having to look for work, several companies started to headhunt Sarah and offer her jobs.

At that point, Sarah’s old friend called her up and asked her for a favour. “Before you sign any contracts,” he said, “go check out ShopBarrie.” So she did, and that changed everything.

“Never in all my years of advertising and helping businesses promote themselves had I seen anything out there like what ShopBarrie was offering,” said Sarah. She applied immediately and was hired.

As its website describes, ShopBarrie “is an online directory serving the Barrie, Ontario area that features the most comprehensive business and community information in the area.” In other words, Sarah had found the perfect job where she could unite all her past marketing and directory experience.

“In short, it’s basically an online store within an online mall for local businesses only,” Sarah explained.

Sarah thrived at ShopBarrie. She went on to work there for a total of six years, with four of those years being spent in charge of the brand. It was after this experience that Sarah began to feel she was ready to start her own business. So, immediately after leaving ShopBarrie, she founded Taylor Media Promotions, which has grown into a top-tier SEO & social media marketing company.

“So, with Taylor Media, I get local businesses set up on all the different online platforms that they need to be on, such as Facebook, Instagram, etc.,” said Sarah. “Most businesses think they just need to be on Google and then that’s it; they think if they have their website on there with their name and phone number then they’re good, but that’s not enough for Google, it has to be done correctly. So I help them get all their products and services on there properly, because, if you don’t have that, you’re not doing yourself any justice; you’re not going to get found in the algorithm.”

And then, once she gets their businesses set up, Sarah also does social media marketing and social media management and advertising. Fox’s Bakery is one example of a business that Sarah manages social media for. She has 23 other clients as well.

Sarah’s been expanding the business, too. She’s got a whole team behind her now, complete with a graphics department and others. To ensure that her customers’ visions are constantly being carried out, she meets with her clients every month and plans their marketing strategies. Throw in her unflagging determination and hard work, and Sarah is managing to steadily stay ahead of the competition.

And even while she’s not managing the social media accounts for one of her 24 clients, Sarah is certainly not idle. In addition to managing Taylor Media, Sarah is also a Director Consultant for BNI Ontario Central North and volunteers on the Board of Directors for the Barrie Chamber of Commerce. Currently in her third directorial term with the Chamber, she’s now serving as the Chair of Membership.

“I volunteered at the chamber because I wanted to be able to connect local businesses together. Years ago, the chamber looked a lot different than it does now, and I wanted to help improve it. And now I’m proud to say the chamber has come a long way in the past five years that I’ve been on the board.”

Her position with the Chamber also gives her invaluable perks. For Sarah, the greatest of these is having the privilege to be involved with the annual Barrie Santa Claus parade. She’s been chairing the planning committee for the past five years.

“The Santa Claus Parade is my baby,” she said with a laugh. “It really is my pride and joy. When it comes to the parade, not even Mother Nature messes with me.”

This remark sparked my curiosity and I had to ask what she meant by it. As it turns out, after the 2019 parade, Sarah gave Mother Nature a very specific weather request for the next year.

“I told her, ‘Next year I want it to be sunny during the day and I want there to be fluffy white snowflakes during the parade.’ I also asked for minus 5 degrees Celsius weather,” she said.

Lo and behold, even though Covid-19 prevented the parade from taking place, Sarah’s weather request was answered to a T. But just because she couldn’t organize a parade, Sarah wasn’t going to let the pandemic stop the spirit of Christmas. Instead of a parade, the chamber put on what was called The Santa Tour.

“With the Santa Tour, Santa travelled around Barrie to a bunch of local businesses. So, instead of the businesses buying a float like they would normally do, they would buy a Santa Tour stop. We recorded Santa’s trip around Barrie and his adventures with all these businesses. We shared each of these tour stops on social media through November and December, and then we created a final wrap up video with community partners and shared it on Christmas Eve.”

Sarah also shared a heartwarming story about Santa encountering a little boy outside of Fox’s Bakery.

“We came out of the bakery and there was this little boy who was probably about two and-a-half or three walking up to the store. And right then, Santa opens the door and the boy’s face was indescribable. He just shouted, “SANTA!!” and freaked right out. And right then and there, all I could think was, ‘This is why I do the Santa Claus Parade.’ If that doesn’t flawlessly describe the spirit of Christmas, then nothing does.

To sum up her career in a nutshell, I asked Sarah if she could provide one piece of advice to any aspiring young advertisers and/or marketers out there that might be reading this. Without a moment’s hesitation, she said, “Listen more than you talk.”

“You got two ears and only one mouth,” she explained. “So use them proportionately.”

Enough said. From humbly working retail in her 20s, to owning her own marketing business today, Sarah Taylor’s career story of determination, service, and drive is certainly one that’s worth listening to and learning from.

Written by Peter Wilson


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