CAROL PILON OSBORNE: VP-marketing, Cox Target Media

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When Carol Pilon Osborne headed to business school after several years as an account exec in Tampa Bay, Fla., she was looking for experience that would help catapult her into a position of authority.

Ten years after arriving at Cox Enterprises' Cox Target Media as ad manager for its Val-Pak division, Ms. Osborne, 38, has found her "power slot."

In August, Ms. Osborne assumed the new post of VP-marketing for Cox Target Media, the cooperative direct-mail company that sends coupons and samples to more than 70 million households via its branded divisions, Cox Consumer Sampling, Val-Pak, Carol Wright and See Them Grow.

The executive says she joined Cox Target Media "based on the fact that there was going to be so much opportunity to use all the marketing functions.

"I wasn't just going to concentrate on branding and nothing else or advertising and nothing else," she says.

While she began marketing to franchise members for Val-Pak as an ad manager, Ms. Osborne has expanded the company's marketing reach as it added brands and began pulling together parts of the company that used to run separately, says William Disbrow, president of Cox Target Media.

"I learned marketing partially through her eyes," he says.

Ms. Osborne's customers are both advertisers and consumers, and her marketing responsibilities include everything from PR and national advertising to marketing research and sales incentive programs.

While a marketing analyst for Val-Pak, Ms. Osborne moved marketing research up a notch by implementing regular consumer surveys and establishing a customer advisory board for advertisers.

Research feedback on brand awareness, usage, packaging, advertising and customer satisfaction are details Ms. Osborne still looks for when making marketing decisions.

"It's important to find a very simple way to communicate what the various brands are to every audience that needs to know whether it's small businesses, huge companies like P&G or the consumer who's the end user," she says.

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