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TV Fanatic Helps Networks Build Their Brands Robin Fisher Roffer's Big Fish Marketing takes TV out of the box and onto multimedia platforms.

By Janet Holloway

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a child, Robin Fisher Roffer loved TV. She remembers a time before her parents' separation when she would take her small, black-and-white Sony TV to the laundromat and watch her favorite programs while her mother did the laundry. "It made me feel safe. I could see the entire world in this little box," Roffer says. By age 6, her parents had separated, and she and her sister moved with their father to Cleveland, where he was in the advertising business. "TV was also babysitter to my sister and me for many years. It's no wonder I chose to be in the media business," she says.

Roffer, who was close to her father, attended the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa for three reasons: "My father's WATTS line didn't go further south; it was affordable; and my father was a huge football fan." After graduation, she stayed in the South, working in retail, radio and the newspaper business, eventually becoming manager of creative services for Turner Network Television and director of affiliate advertising and promotions for CNN Headline News, TNT and TBS.

By 1994, Roffer had relocated to Los Angeles and founded Big Fish Marketing Inc. Now, she and her management team, along with resources from Fishnet in Los Angeles and Little Pond Productions in Atlanta, which are part of Big Fish Marketing, develop and produce brand-building marketing plans, websites and promotional campaigns for TV networks and the entertainment industry. Roffer's branding strategies drive audiences to Big Fish clients' networks and programs and create a strong emotional attachment to the brand.

An expert at taking her clients into the global marketplace, Roffer, 45, has produced TV promotions and websites for AOL, Turner Networks, Oxygen, AT&T and the Hallmark Channel, and helped build CNN into one of TV's most recognized news sources.

Roffer and her husband, Steven, who had been in the dot-com business when they met, run the company with 10 associates on the management team and 40 to 50 freelancers--designers, computer technicians, writers, printers, legal experts and more. The company reported gross sales of more than $10 million over the past three years.

With all her creative projects, Roffer finds writing the most interesting. "When I'm writing a book, especially, I'm discovering myself. The process of writing teaches me what I need to know at a time when I'm facing a growth state in the business." Her first book, Make a Name for Yourself: Eight Steps Every Woman Needs to Create a Personal Brand Strategy for Success, written in 2001, emphasizes her cardinal rule: Branding success is based on authenticity, clarity and consistency.

"I try to help my clients--the big fish--uncover and promote who they really are: their special talents and strengths, what they have to work with. And, today, you need to do that on multiple platforms: the internet, cable, TV, all media," says Roffer. "It's a matter of telling your greatest story--not being grandiose about it--but being true to yourself."

Inspired by her experience as president of the only Jewish sorority on the UA campus years ago, she's currently writing A Fearless Fish Out of Water: How to Succeed When You're the Only One Like You. "Women need to build their confidence and market themselves as their own best asset," Roffer says. "They can learn to do this graciously, without being egotistical or aggressive. I always advise women clients to stay close to their core values and tell the truth. If you don't brand yourself, someone else will do it for you."

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