Connected | DOYO Live people: Meet Deanna Fusillo

DOYO Live, Youngtown’s digital marketing and interactive design conference is Aug. 2-3. I’m honored to feature some talented, local business owners who are building their brands in the social media world.

Today, it’s Deanna Fusillo of Sassy Girl Media, based in Canfield.

Q. So, what is Sassy Girl Media?

A. Sassy Girl Media is digital marketing company that specializes in social media marketing and web design. I guess that would be the appropriate response, but it really is so much more to me.

Sassy Girl Media is the child of starting a separate business seven years ago as a single mom with no budget. And when I say “no,” I mean that budget was $0.

I started a business as a way to find a balance between providing for my family financially and being present for my boys and their events. Not an easy task. I had to teach myself how to design websites and promote my business organically. That meant that during the evenings and every other free moment I was attending online courses, reading books and blogs and reaching out to my resources for help.

It wasn’t fun and completely overwhelming. What I didn’t realize was that all of that blood, sweat and tears were actually preparing me to create Sassy Girl Media, where I am able to support others who are just like me.

I have small to mid-sized clients who depend on me to do the work for them. I also have another group of clients who are startups and small business owners, and I teach them how to do it for themselves through my program, The Startup Circle.

Q. Webster’s definition for “sassy” is “lively, bold, and full of spirit; cheeky.” How does being sassy translate into the world of marketing, particularly on social media? I would think being “cheeky” on social media could get some people in trouble.

A. Ha! It definitely can. However, there’s balance in everything. I love the definition of “sassy” because it does seem to fit my personality. In the world of social media and marketing I believe it translates into being authentic, transparent and true to yourself.

So many times we want to promote ourselves or our businesses in tones similar to those we’ve seen before. Don’t get me wrong. There is wisdom in watching big brands and their marketing strategies. But there is awesome freedom in breaking those molds and letting our own personalities, or the personality of our brand, come through.

Q. You’re speaking at DOYO Live. We’re still a few months out, but have you landed on a topic?

A. I am so excited to be part of this for the second year. My topic is about women in entrepreneurship, pushing boundaries, and breaking the rules.

I’m speaking about what it’s like being a woman entrepreneur and how in a lot of industries, men are still the majority. Men and women are wired differently, we have different processes and strengths. I’ll be sharing how to recognize those strengths.

The benefit to understanding this is that we learn how to use those strengths to carve our own path but we also learn how men and women can complement each other based on the strengths we each have.

I guess you can say that this is when my parents get to say that I’m using that psychology degree from (Youngstown State University).

Q. Your bio on the DOYO Live website says your a “hashtag abuser.” There’s got to be a good story there.

A. There really isn’t one story so much as there are a few eye rolls and jokes by my boys with my hashtag use.

I’m that person that will use a lot of hashtags. My boys will make fun of some of the hashtags I use when I post pictures of them on Instagram. But being completely open, there’s more. I’m guilty of creating entire sentences with a hashtag, even including hashtags in my texts or verbal conversations.

So, I fully understand how they “should” be used, but I admit to abusing it.

Q. DOYO Live is expanding a bit this year. Why do you think this particular conference works in a small but vibrant town like Youngstown?

A. I’m so excited about this conference being here. We are so lucky to have an event like this right at our fingertips without having to travel to cities like Chicago or Orlando.

Youngstown is the perfect place. This once forgotten city is young again and it’s a strong force packed full of brilliant and creative innovators. When you look at different marketing platforms, it’s hard to not notice that digital is a favorite.

It allows the small business owners to successfully compete with the big companies. No other from of traditional marketing gives entrepreneurs that type of power without the budget to support it. And let’s face it; Youngstown has so many amazing entrepreneurs, makers and small businesses owners in this area that it makes complete sense.

Q. Care to share any stories about working with particular clients and what you and they learned about social media marketing from the process?

A. I have learned so much from each of my clients and hopefully they are learning something from me as well.

There is a theme that I see often and had to learn myself early on. What I knew about marketing a business was that it was a way to sell my product. So that’s what I did: sell. What I quickly learned was that social media marketing isn’t about selling. Well, not in the traditional ways that I thought.

I see this often with clients when they first visit my office. They want to “sell” their product or services. But social media marketing is a different animal. It’s not about the pitch. It’s about conversations and relationships.

“Brick and mortar is now click and order.” I wish I knew to whom to give that quote credit, but it’s so true. Our laptops and mobile devices have become our storefronts. And although that is a big change, what hasn’t changed is the relationships we build, the way we get to know our customers and how they get to know us.

Social Media marketing may be technology, but it’s still about that connection. We’re human. We all want to be part of something.

Learn more about Sassy Girl Media at Visit to read speaker profiles, get tickets and join the DOYO community.

Adam Earnheardt is chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University. Read his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @adamearn.

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