In 2013, when Cori Kohlmeier was close to completing her business plan for Advantage Marketing, she recognized that she was at a point where she needed more direction as well as help on her financial projections.
Cori knew her industry well. She had been in media since graduating from Wichita State University in 2001. What she needed now was a business advisor that could double as a sounding board for her new business venture.
Using local resources, Cori met initially with a member of the local SCORE chapter for some assistance. There her mentor, a local businessman who was retiring, encouraged her to use the Kansas SBDC. At the Kansas SBDC at Wichita State University (Cori’s alma mater) she began working with Elaine Hanna.
For Cori, Elaine’s help was exactly what she was seeking. “Elaine reviewed the business plan and talked me through changes that needed to be made. She guided me through the financials and estimated projections for the company. Utilizing a software system called ProfitCents she completed the projections for my plan.” After the business plan was finished, Cori identified that she would need additional funding to start the company. “I had a small amount I was going to invest but wanted to make sure we had a secure start. Elaine got me in touch with Fidelity Bank, who along with SCKEDD, was able to give me the business loans I needed.”
After Advantage Marketing launched, Cori continued to use Elaine as her business advisor. “When I was experiencing significant growth early on I met with Elaine to establish the next set of goals and objectives. This included moving locations and adding a business partner,” shared Cori. “The agency has since purchased another agency adding more clients as well as staff, further growing our footprint. Even though Elaine was retiring at the time, she listened and talked me through part of our negotiation.”
Cori appreciated the help and advice. “Elaine really took the time to understand my business and how it worked. She asked questions and offered advice on every situation – which was instrumental in the growth of our company.”
Today Advantage Marketing – with Cori at the helm as the President/ Founder and Amy Hoefer as VicePresident/Partner – continues to thrive in a competitive market. The company employs eight full-time employees, three part-time employees, and subcontractors. The firm has expanded services beyond traditional media buying to include digital marketing, social media management, and website development.
Success has also come in the form of awards for the business. After only one year of business, the Advantage Marketing team was named one of the top ad agencies in Wichita by the Wichita Business Journal. In 2016 Cori was named to the Wichita Business Journal’s 2016 “40 Under 40 Class,” recognizing 40 rising stars making a difference for the Wichita economy and community.
Growth has not slowed for the firm. Recently, Cori oversaw the merger with of Advantage Marketing with another agency. The process grew the footprint of the agency while adding valued clients such as Botanica, Sedgwick County Zoo and Wichita Hyatt.
More about Advantage Marketing
Kansas SBDC Advisors
Elaine Hanna, WSU
Natalie Santonil, WSU