About Me

John D Stagner

Business Bio

My background as a small business owner for 15 years gives me a truly unique perspective on business writing. Well, maybe not completely unique, but my experience does separate me from the pack of most business writers – I’ve been where you are.

From startup to marketing, growth, disappointments, and successes, to the final exit, I’ve gone through it. I’ve worn most of the hats, and I know the struggles intimately. My 20 years of experience in B2B and direct to consumer marketing have given me a view from both sides of the fence. I’m an experienced writer and had my own publication for 12 years.

Enough about me for a sec – let’s give credit to the real heroes: During that time span, I was honored to have a wife who had an intense focus on getting the job done, and occasionally readjusting my focus as needed.

Time, our customers, vendors, and a dozen employees helped me discover owning a business. 19 freelance writers and a fantastic editor taught me most of what I know about writing and publishing. To all of them, I am forever grateful for the journey.

The Publishing Business

My first foray into publishing was producing a ‘pre-fab’ publication for five years (meaning all of the content was pre-made). I  cold-called on local businesses for advertising, formatted the layout, took it to the printer, and distributed the final product.

We did well, but the larger advertisers weren’t excited about the format and content we were using. After that contract ended, I created a new publication based on the interests and needs of the advertisers. We began hiring freelance writers to create local human-interest content.

As we grew, we added graphic design and layout employees and grew the publication to five counties and a weekly print run of 17,000 copies. I performed all duties of a small business until I could hire employees as we grew.

At our peak, we had 5 full-time employees, 19 freelance writers and an editor who really took charge of the direction of the paper. We also created a WordPress website and Social Media accounts for the business. I was a regular contributor to the publication and website. We sold the publication in 2012, and it continued until December 2018.

The Sign Business

About 18 months after starting the publishing company, we purchased a small sign company in another town and moved it to my small hometown. We purchased cutting-edge technology and equipment that our competitors in nearby towns didn’t have.

I knew we couldn’t support that equipment purchase locally, but I had read an article at some point in the past about a concept called ‘coopetition’ (cooperation+competition). It was about forming partnerships with competitors for mutual benefit. I went to my competitors and worked out wholesale partnerships with several of them, so they could offer our products to their customers.

We grew the business from $35K to over $200K before selling it in 2014. We expanded several times and ventured into more areas in order to diversify and grow. I created and maintained a website and Social Media accounts for this business as well.

The Franchise Business

In 2005, I purchased a promotional products franchise from a business associate to complement our two other B2B companies. By using our existing customer base as a ready-made market, we became a multi-faceted solution to our customers for most of their local marketing.

Professional Marketing Group, Inc.

The S-Corp we had formed in 2001 served as an umbrella to eventually consolidate our three B2B marketing businesses and helped simplify our mission: To help local businesses grow and promote themselves affordably by providing a variety of B2B services. We did a ton of cross-promotion, and the trifecta was very effective in creating very long-term relationships.

I created a fourth website specifically for that purpose and wrote a weekly column that went out to a mailing list and appeared on the blog, and auto-posted to our Social Media accounts.

Thinking Locally

One of my biggest points of pride was the creation of campaign we called “Think Local,” designed to educate the public and influence them to purchase from locally-owned companies first. We created a logo, a website, Social Media campaigns, incorporated over $10K in promotional products, bumper stickers and in-store marketing materials for local businesses. In addition, we ran regular feature articles in our newspaper to promote the local businesses. By creating a great deal of buzz and partnerships with many local Chambers of Commerce, our six and 12-month marketing and advertising packages were an easy sell.

A Few Bullet-Pointy Things

  • Software: I’m well versed in the Microsoft Office suite of programs. Very proficient at graphic design (primarily CorelDraw), both for commercial printing and for creating technical drawings/reproduction, logos, in-store displays, and signage. Used Adobe InDesign for newspaper layout. I use Adobe Acrobat extensively to create and manipulate pdf files. Mostly, I have gone to SaaS platforms for software, and use several PaaS platforms for Website design, content creation, and email marketing. I’m still a huge fan of WordPress.
  • People/Marketing Skills: Along with our sign company, we operated a self-published weekly newspaper with a weekly print run of 10,000 – 17,000 (seven years), and owned and operated a promotional products franchise (five years, concurrently). Dealt directly with nearly 2,000 business contacts during that period, as well as many vendors.
  • Public Speaking: Got my start with Toastmasters International, and have done many presentations to small groups, ranging from 10 to 250 people.
  • Leadership: Have collaborated with many teams on projects – both as a team member and leader.
  • Writing: Created and maintained a regular blog and newsletter, weekly “From the Editor’ column, and wrote many of the feature stories of human interest in our newspaper. Also completed the copywriting course at AWAI Bootcamp.
  • Websites/Social Media: Have created several WordPress sites in depth, optimized content and cross-promoted them. Had Social Media accounts for each.
  • B2B Sales: I genuinely enjoy meeting people and connecting with them..
  • Other: Proficient/Fluent in Spanish
  • Final Notes: I do not currently have an organized writing or graphic design portfolio, because it has been several years since I sold the companies, along with most of the digital files. I am in the process of re-creating or replacing those so they will be available upon request. It’s a process….

Other Stuff

Relevant to any writing I do on other topics, there are my 15 years as an Industrial Electrician. That time span saw the birth of the widespread use of PLC and other automation technologies. Being a bit of a technical guy, I whole-heartedly grabbed on. I love industrial automation. I passed the Journeyman Electrician exam in 2012.

There you have it – at least the major items. If you’re looking to hire a writer, that’s the purpose of this website and the reason for the lengthy Bio. If you were wanting more of the personal profile, there’s one at my Scribe FB page here, and another at my personal blog, here. They are a bit scant at the moment, but sit tight…