Grand Rapids Young Professional Moves from Marketing Life Sciences to Launching PR, Design Firm

After six years of working as the West Michigan Science & Technology Initiative marketing director, Kim Bode, a high-energy 29-year-old, decided it was time to build the business she started as a side job in 2005. True to form, Bode didn’t waste any time once she decided to launch834 Design & Marketing as a full-time business: She left WMSTI on November 19 and dove into the new job the same day.

“I launched right into it,” Bode says. “I took a deep breath and kept going.”

Bode decided to go full-time with the business after she got so busy working it part-time she had to turn clients away.

The company offers marketing strategy, advertising, public relations, graphic design, event planning and sales training through custom training programs. Bode brought on her former communications professor, Ann Byars, as the firm’s writer.

Although Bode’s degree is in communications and public relations, seven years ago she learned graphic design and used the talent for WMSTI. Now she says that the ability to offer that service in-house saves her clients money because it’s less expensive than outsourcing.

“A lot of companies I work with haven’t done marketing before, so I help them understand that it’s a return on investment and can drive sales and lure potential customers,” she notes. “We’re very virtual. We go to where the client is. We really do become part of their team and help them realize their goals.”

Bode, who says she’s been working with clients 40-plus hours a week since day one, plans to establish an office space in the next 18 months and add a marketing assistant within eight months.

“I’m really loving everything I’m doing right now,” she says. “It’s been so busy and there’s so much going on.”

Source: Rapid Growth Media, Deborah Johnson Wood, November 2009

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