Tammy (Voeller) Blumhagen took business classes in high school at Wolford, and attended the University of North Dakota for a year, but she believes her experiences in sales were the real-life education she needed to give her the insight and knowledge to start her own advertising agency a few years back.
She had experience in sales, but no experience in advertising when Rugby native Chuck Peterson hired her to work for KBMY/KMCY, the ABC television affiliate for Bismarck and Minot. She became an account executive, selling advertising for the TV stations. Later she was promoted to sales manager.
About a year after that, Reiten Television (CBS) hired her to work at its Bismarck and Dickinson locations.
“I really liked sales and working with people,” Tammy says. “When I went into television advertising sales it started really clicking. It wasn’t just about selling, it was about the right message at the right time to bring people in.”
She learned to figure all the aspects of advertising: how to put together a package based on total cost, cost per person reached, how many ads to place, and the time of day to air the ads.
By 2007 Tammy felt confident enough about her abilities to start her own advertising agency, and she founded Bluprint Media in Bismarck. She worked with local businesses, helping them with their advertising and marketing efforts. She negotiated rates, coordinated her clients’ print and television advertising and did the legwork necessary to get her clients’ message out.
In her business she used several different kinds of software to help her clients, but found much of it unsatisfactory since it didn’t really fit her small agency.
“I was looking for a software to help my clients,” she said. “It was either very expensive with many bells and whistles that I didn’t need, or I had to pay a monthly licensing fee.” Some programs had confusing spreadsheets or weren’t compatible with her computer. “There was nothing for a small agency,” Tammy said.
One day she was visiting with a friend, Mary Jo Van Horn, who, like Tammy, owned a small advertising business. They discussed the lack of appropriate software. Together they decided they could probably design a better product.
“I said ‘Why don’t we develop our own?'” Tammy remembered. Mary Jo agreed it was worth a shot. “A fifteen minute conversation turned into a company,” Tammy said.
So, in August 2009, BluHorn Solutions TM, LLC was launched.
Tammy and Mary Jo told their programmers,”We want media planning and buying software that works the way we work. That gets the job done and is easy to use from anywhere.” And that’s what they got, according to Tammy. She says their web-based software is secure and affordable and does the job with speed and ease.
Advertising agencies and in-house marketing organizations across the United States can license BluHorn’s product to research, analyze, and plan all of their media buys for TV, radio, cable, print and outdoor advertising. In some ways it is a do-it-yourself on-line advertising agency.
Since the software is web-based, clients can access it right on the internet, Tammy said. “They don’t have to download it, just go right to the site. Clients can be using it within an hour of signing up, whereas some other systems can take a week,” she said.
“We also work with colleges and universities to bring the software into their course studies to give students real life experience,” she added. “I work with my business partner in the planning of the software development, testing of the software, sales of the software, budgeting, marketing, public relations and day-to-day operations.”
Owning one business and co-owning another keeps Tammy on the go, but she tries to make her family a priority. She and her husband, Bill Blumhagen, are the parents of two sons, Braydon, 12, and Benjamin, 9. “One of my goals is to spend more time with my husband and boys,” she said. Another goal is to pass her work ethic along to her children.
She learned the importance of family growing up on a farm south of Wolford. Her parents, Sheldon and Janet Voeller, taught her honesty and hard work were keys to a successful life. Free time was spent riding horseback with her cousins, Melissa Pederson and Renae Purrington. Some of her favorite memories are just hanging out together at the farm with her brother, Dexter (deceased), and sister, Holly Dockter.
She doesn’t make it back to the Wolford area very often, but occasionally her extended family will meet at the Knox Legion Hall or the Knox City Park for a get-together. “Usually my parents come down to Bismarck to catch up with us,” she said.
Any spare time is spent with her immediate family or close friends, or golfing, reading, or just spending time in the outdoors.
Tammy graduated from Wolford High School in 1990 and remembers well playing basketball for the Wolford Wolves, winning the Cando Invitational Tournament, and qualifying for the regional tourney. “A lot can be done with heart and determination, no matter how big or small a team you have,” she said.
She was intrigued and challenged by Jan Repnow, her high school business teacher. Deb Zavada, her fifth grade teacher, was a favorite. “And my aunt, Shirley (Pederson), taught me the gift of listening,” she said, a skill that is imperative in her line of work.
After leaving UND, she worked at the Heart of America Medical Center for a while, then moved to Fargo where she worked at a shoe store and for Cable One selling satellite dishes. “I seemed to connect well with sales,” she said, “and then Chuck gave me a chance.”
She was determined not to waste that opportunity and tried to accumulate all the knowledge and skill she could. “I knew nothing about advertising, media, commercials, or software until I experienced it with the positions I held at different companies. Business ideas and work excited me but I had no idea this was the direction I would go.”
Tammy continues to work hard expanding her knowledge and helping Bluprint Media and BluHorn Solutions grow. “I’m excited to have had the opportunity to create a product that will help other companies succeed in helping their clients succeed,” she says. “Working and talking with business owners around the United States gives me a real heads up and understanding of what they need and are looking for in a product. That sets our company apart from our competition, because as owners (of advertising agencies) we are on the front lines.”
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