Here’s how Sherri Goodall went from cemetery worker to DTLR and top corporate marketing expert

Photo source: Sherri Goodall
Photo courtesy of Sherri Goodall

Switching from one career path to a completely unrelated one may be challenging for some, but Baltimore-based marketing expert Sherri Goodall managed to make a calculated transition into her new calling. After her father died, Goodall worked as a cemetarian for three years before she decided to follow her dream of helping others and become a community outreach manager for Downtown Locker Room, a leading urban apparel retailer.

Now in her 10th year with DTLR, Goodall has experienced amazing success as a corporate social figure. She has involved several entertainers and star NFL and NBA athletes with helping the youth in various events, including rapper J. Cole, the Atlanta Falcons’ Jonathan Babineaux, and former Atlanta Hawks player Josh Smith. She has also propelled over 60 percent of DTLR employees into getting involved in community service programs, which take place in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Charlotte, St. Louis, and Baltimore.

Goodall spoke with rolling out to tell us why and how she went from a life revolving around graves and funerals to working with celebrities on bettering the lives of underprivileged youth. Goodall also discussed her new ventures, including going into business for herself using her marketing expertise.

How she got into the cemetery business:

I fell into working at the cemetery because at the time, I had lost my father, and I was self-employed at the time and I was going through the steps of being in business, but I wasn’t actually making money. And I realized I had to get a job, and my cousin was working in a cemetery. She actually was working for the funeral home properties and she said, “I’m getting ready to transition and start working in the actual cemetery and I need people to come help.” I knew nothing about cemeteries, but when I got there, I was there for three years. It was one of the best jobs I’d ever had, and you know why? Because I was able to connect with people at a time when they lost someone. I knew how they felt.

Why she left the cemetery to become a community outreach manager:

When I left the cemetery, it really was a blessing in disguise. I was inspired by helping other people and I always wanted to be able to do something bigger but, you know, who has Oprah’s pocketbook to do all the things she can do? And then a friend recommended me to apply for the job at DTLR, and it was a perfect fit, and I’ve been here ever since. I always joke around and say it’s like being able to help a whole bunch of people using other people’s money, and it is. DTLR affords us and me the opportunity to reach out and do things all over the country and help people out in so many different ways, all under the brand of DTLR. I wake up and I’m ready to get to work every day.

Her new Internet marketing business, Details Virtual Solutions LLC

For Details Virtual Solutions, I really want to be the go-to spot and the expert on really helping companies that are already up and running — not so much new businesses, but small businesses. And learning how to pick up that Marketing 201 that I was talking about, and really work it to the point of its best level for them.

There’s so many platforms out there, I think a lot of people are overwhelmed by it and they don’t really know where to begin. And you don’t have to be everywhere, you have to be where it’s important and relevant to your consumer. Everybody doesn’t have to be on Pinterest, but they might need to be on Facebook and vice versa, or on Snapchat. Now, some of the presidential candidates are using Snapchat to communicate with people. So what I want to do is help people figure out where it’s relevant to them to be engaged on the Internet marketing platform.

I’ve worked with chef Jason Ellis, who is a celebrity chef based in Atlanta, and DJ Quicksilva, who is an international DJ based out of D.C. I’ve been working a lot with Unruly Productions on their website and behind the scenes with their analytics and things like that. And then I have another client in D.C. who has a talk radio show that we started about … it’s been about two years now. I helped her grow her numbers. And now they actually are about to go live and move over from a streaming show to an FM channel. So, with that work that we’ve done, that was able to help her to transition and really start pulling in sponsorship, and she’s probably going to get picked up for syndication soon.

How social media makes marketing easier:

Honestly, I love that [social media] allows instant access. I think that it makes everything move very fast. It excites me. I love how you can go online and say “hey, do you like this color, do you like this style?” and someone says “no,” and you go back to the drawing board with your team and say “no, they don’t like this, we need to move this, this and that,” and you come out with a product that people want to buy. When you look at t.v. shows where people can come out and do fashion design and the very next day, because it was voted on and people liked it, it’s in the store and you can go buy it and wear it. Amazing!

Tips on transitioning from one career to a new one:

Remember those tests in school where they say “which one of these doesn’t fit?” and you have to pick the one that doesn’t fall into the category? If you look at my résumé, working at a cemetery is that thing.

So when I transitioned into the job that I’m in now, I took that same part of connecting with people and meeting them where they are and trying to connect our brand, our business to where they are. If you’re transitioning from one career to the next, you have to look for the common thread in yourself that’s going to connect you to that next career. How do you transition that character trait, that quality about you, that work ethic to the next thing?

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