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Meet Nicole Conway of Conway Marketing Group

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Conway.

Nicole, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I have worked in marketing for nearly 20 years. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to lead a broad range of marketing disciplines, including marketing strategy, branding, digital marketing, web development, marketing acquisitions, public relations, communications, and event planning. I’ve always been great at building connections and relationships with people, as well as strategy development and implementation. 

Starting my own agency was something I dreamed about since I started my career in Marketing. I actually came up with the name Conway Marketing Group in my early 20s. I quietly saved ideas for the company while gaining experience and expertise from some of the best San Diego companies and mentors in the business. 

Towards the end of 2019, I had been with AMN Healthcare for five years and started to do some introspection on the next right step. While working for AMN was a wonderful experience, I knew starting my company was the best move for my career and my family. My goal was to take all the knowledge I had gained to build a team that can help companies in a variety of industries grow and deliver on their brand promise.

I also wanted to be more present with my family, which meant building a family-friendly company that allows people to do their best work remotely. I envisioned a remote workforce long before this became a trend due to COVID. Our team can deliver exceptional results while also making the most of their personal time, which ultimately enhances productivity and creativity.

My very first client was actually my former employer, AMN Healthcare. Then from there, we built Conway Marketing Group organically, client by client. I have an amazing network of people and have worked hard to build relationships throughout my career. Being able to draw from this network, as well as the networks of our employees, has helped us expand our mission and gain high-quality referrals.

From the beginning, Conway Marketing Group has always been about the group; our group of experts that bring together their expertise from various disciplines, and use their knowledge to help our clients achieve amazing marketing outcomes. We provide customized marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes, ranging from sole proprietors, all the way up to multi-billion dollar companies. 

Instead of completing a project and moving on to the next client, we deliver on the immediate need first and then work closely with our clients to determine the best next steps for their short and long-term marketing goals. Our customized marketing strategies require a great deal of planning and strategy on our part, but the results we deliver for our clients make it all worth it in the end.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I started Conway Marketing Group in January of 2020, just two months before the COVID pandemic started. I had a unique opportunity to ramp up my company and build a client base, all while my husband and three children were home full time due to the lockdowns. 

I very much rely on my village. I can’t do what I do without their help. I have a very supportive spouse, and we also have grandparents that live nearby. During COVID, there was no village, no school, and no activities. I don’t know how we got through that time. It was a blur trying to balance homeschooling and the growing pains of a young company all under one roof.

When I started the company, I originally wanted events to be our main focus, with digital efforts coming second. Then in March 2020, we pivoted from this original strategy and made digital work and online marketing our top priority. Events were put on the back burner in year one, but as it turns out, this change of plans worked out for the best. 

During the lockdown, many companies started relying on online marketing in lieu of their traditional in-person sales efforts, including tradeshows and events. We embraced the chance to pivot alongside our clients and grow together. Thanks to our ability to adapt our original strategy, we have seen tremendous growth in a short period of time. Today, we have over 15 clients across all time zones nationwide, including San Diego proper. 

We’ve built a full service marketing agency that moves brands forward by prioritizing operational efficiency, optimizing lead generation funnel strategies, promoting executive leadership, and measuring market success based on outcomes. Our exceptional solutions compel clients to think differently, position authentically, and innovate to successfully deliver on their brand promise. 

Building a company culture with a remote workforce from all over the country is also a challenge, but we’re succeeding. Now that everybody’s vaccinated and travel is opening back up, we plan to get our team together at least once or twice a year to meet in person. As we grow, our company culture is something that’s always top of mind for me. I always ask, “Are we making sure we hire the right people? How do we make sure they fit with the company and have the same view of client service that we do?”

A remote office has its challenges, but there is also a great deal of opportunity. All the talent in the world doesn’t exist in San Diego proper. We have several San Diego clients, but we offer that same service to nationwide clients, through some of the best talent from across the country.  We don’t have to invest in paying rent for a brick and mortar office; instead we get to invest in our company and in our team members, offering competitive pay, great employee benefits and opportunities for growth and advancement, which ultimately improves our services to benefit our clients.

As you know, we’re big fans of Conway Marketing Group. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about the brand?
Conway Marketing Group is a full-service marketing agency that delivers strategic marketing solutions that connect brands to their purpose. Our services include branding and creative services, website, digital marketing, research, strategic marketing management, content strategy and development, video, social media, and public relations.

What advice would you give entrepreneurs that are looking to start a business?
There’s a very different mindset you need to embrace when you are an entrepreneur. When you are going into the office every day and collecting a paycheck, there is a sense of certainty and comfortability. So when you start your business, you have to be brave. You have to believe in yourself, in your product, and in what you have to offer. Then, you need to figure out how to articulate that to your market. Today, I am in sales and account management just as much as I am in marketing.  

It is also important to realize that you can’t do everything on your own. I remember in the early weeks, I was trying to do all these different tasks that were ultimately distracting me from my mission. So I had to know when to hire an accountant, hire a bookkeeper, and so forth. Don’t be afraid to hire experts to help you with the things that can be outsourced, especially in the early days, so that you can focus on what’s most important.

You also have to know how and when to scale. When do you make the next hire and why? How will they support the clients and the overall company? How do you leverage expert contractors to bring in additional help and expertise? It’s a tricky balance.  

You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to mess up — and that’s okay. You have to ask yourself, “What do I learn from that? How do I recover? How do I do better next time?” 

Do you have any mentors that have inspired you?
Yes. I think having people in your network that support you and help you see things differently is crucial. My husband, Keith, has worked for Vistage Worldwide in San Diego for 13 years running their operations. Vistage is a CEO peer membership organization. So, it is almost as if I have an in-house business coach. He is great when it comes to asking the hard questions, keeping things in perspective, and balancing out my ideas with a dose of realism. 

I’m also close to my former bosses, and many of my former bosses are now my clients — including the first person who hired me into my first Marketing role at 22 years old. I’ve also had a lot of really smart, successful female leaders in my life that have inspired me and mentored me throughout my career.  

I also have a group of five fabulous women that meet monthly via Zoom. We call ourselves the Marketing Mavens. We come from all across the US and range in age from 30s to 50s. Our group is made up of all levels of professionals, including a Senior Manager, Director, two entrepreneurs, a VP, and a CMO. They are among my personal board of directors and dear friends. We can rely on one another for inspiration, encouragement, and unique perspectives. 

The key for any entrepreneur, or any person in business, is to surround yourself with smart, supportive, and honest people who can help you not only build your business, but help you make the next right choice when you need advice and counsel. 

Anything else you want us to know about Conway Marketing Group?
Right now, we’ve got six full-time team members, and we have focused disciplines in account management, digital marketing, design, content, public relations, customer insights, and events. We’ve got our core team, along with a strong network of expert contractors that we can rely on and draw upon. 

Our team members have a wide range of experience across different industries, and our client base is just as diverse. We serve clients in insurance, construction, healthcare, staffing, artificial intelligence, technology, fitness, and more. Our book of business also spans across a wide range of private and public entities, including non-profits and startups, all the way up to multi-billion dollar companies.

That’s been a real value differentiator for our company; we are always learning from other industries and using that knowledge to provide the best solution for each client.

Despite the challenges of this past year, we continue to innovate and help our clients achieve their goals. Our passion is rooted in asking, “what’s next?” and finding joy in what we do. We strive to grow and stretch as a company and encourage this growth for our clients, too. 

At Conway Marketing Group, we lead with integrity, partner with authenticity, innovate through curiosity, and work smart to achieve exceptional results. I’m very thankful for our amazing clients and very grateful for our team that’s trusted in the vision!

We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
I didn’t go to school for marketing. I have an English degree from the University of Texas and originally planned on becoming an English teacher. I got accepted to the Teach for America program right out of college and was going to work at an underprivileged school in Los Angeles. At the same time, I got a job offer for an entry-level marketing role in San Diego at MedImpact Healthcare Systems. I thought, “I’ll try this marketing thing. I can always go back and teach.” It turns out it was the best thing for me. I found I was really good at marketing, and it is my passion.

Like many other parents, I had the opportunity to try teaching firsthand, homeschooling my own children for the first time in 2020 during the pandemic. After that experience, I can confidently say I made the right decision to go into marketing and not to teach!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Headshots: Ashley Bee, Studio Allure Headshots.

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