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Digital Marketing Interview Series with President of 47Harmonic

Kevin Urie is the President at 47Harmonic, a Seattle integrated agency. Here's his thoughts on digital marketing:

  1. What do you consider to be essential skills for a marketing team these days?

    The most important skill for today’s marketer is to be a constant learner. I believe the marketing space changes faster than any other industry. Not only do we need to worry about the latest technology, we also need to understand how consumer behaviors are changing. We need to be able to stay up on the latest marketing vehicles such as programmatic TV, wearables and location-based tech, and also understand how culture is changing what drives a consumer’s purchase behavior.

    Only someone who is inquisitive, questioning, and driven to learn is going to be able to continually adapt their marketing programs to be the most effective. I look back at the time the show Mad Men is set in and imagine how much different it was back then with only limited media/creative options to plan. The last time I listed all the media options I could think of, I stopped when the list was over 100 - and I am sure I missed more than a few. 

    No one can be an expert on everything within this space, but they need to be driven to learn as much of it as possible and know where to go to find the right answers and learn. 
  2. What do you feel are the most underrated skills found in a marketing team these days?

    I would have to say it’s the person who is “the generalist.” This is someone that knows the basics surrounding digital, traditional, social, PR and so forth. Sure - they may be valued to some extent, but most marketing structures are not built to support someone with these limitations. Instead, they are pushed to focus on digital, social, video, etc. and become stuck in that silo for the rest of their career. 
  3. How did you obtain the background and skills necessary? 

    I don’t know if I have the skills necessary to do this. I just hope I have the expertise needed to know where to go to find the answers I don’t already have, and to understand that things can always be improved. 

    What drives me is my mix of experience. I started out doing direct mail, then moved into focusing on mostly TV, Radio, and Print for years. After that, I ran a digital department for a few years and then landed at a social media specialty agency. This wide range of experience taught me a few things. 

    First, it taught me that putting marketing mediums in silos is not effective or efficient, and media squabbles are pointless. Second, it taught me that no one person, one agency, or one team is going to be an expert in everything. When I came to this conclusion, I felt the only way I could fix it by tackling the problem in a different way. This is why I started 47Harmonic and the Harmonic Network. 
  4. What advice would you give to young people who want to become a digital marketer one day?

    Run away unless you like high stress, never-ending change and the consistent threat of losing your job in the ceaseless cycles of layoffs in this space. I thrive on that type of stress and it reminds me of sports - I feed off that adrenaline rush. More practically, when I talk with a young person interested in marketing I always first try to educate them about the structure of an agency or marketing department. 

    All too often, I talk with young people that want to get into an ad agency because they think it would be creative and fun. But then they take the first job that comes and they are put on the media buying team and quickly burn out. If they like analysis and negotiations, media would be a great place for them, but if they want a more creative role, it probably isn’t a great fit. 

    Before they dive in they should understand the layout and structures of companies. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear many colleges are doing a good job of laying that out for them. 
  5. What are two or three digital marketing trends that impact your role as a manager - and why?

    Two or three, huh? Well I’ll try to keep this short as I tend to rant about this sort of thing. The first thing would be the impact “Generation Me” is having on the economy and their push away from conformity and the desire for more... leaning toward the need for personal freedom and a minimalistic way of life. This is similar to what the Boomers did during the 70’s. I respect this shift, but it certainly does change how you motivate people as employees and consumers. 

    The other main trend that I think about a lot is the continual shift toward direct response measures for marketing programs and the lost art of branding programs. I don’t believe we are to a point where we can accurately calculate the multi-attribution problem. That means today’s digital marketers are not concerned with the impact a brand has as they can’t measure it directly and so more money continues to flow out of branding programs and into direct response efforts. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with digital marketers around the value of top of mind awareness.   
  6. What excites you the most about your industry?

    What excites me most is that I believe the future of marketing is bright - not only for the brands behind the programs, but also for the consumers on the other end. 

    Brands are starting to realize that you can no longer yell at people to purchase things, and that satisfaction from current customers is even more important than awareness. Also, in the last few months I am starting to see brands’ eyes open and realize that they shouldn’t have a digital plan, social plan, traditional plan, etc. all in silos - but that they need to have a communication plan that uses all those mediums to communicate with their consumers in a fluid and effective way. 


    Kevin Urie has worked with companies both large and small and has implemented virtually all forms of marketing during the past 14 years. As the former VP and Director of Client Services at Spring Creek Group, Kevin worked with FORTUNE 500 brands to develop and implement social media strategies. Before that, as a Chief Digital Strategist, Kevin successfully created a leading online marketing department that partnered with clients to provide website development/design, SEO, PPC, CRO, display, and social media services. Kevin even spent more than 7 years developing and managing traditional marketing programs using almost every media including, TV, radio, direct mail, newspaper and more. 

    Kevin is also the founder of the Seattle chapter of the International Social Media Club, and under his guidance, SMC Seattle was one of fastest growing and largest marketing groups in Seattle and one of the largest Social Media Clubs in the world. Kevin recently started the integrated agency 47Harmonic focusing on consumer-centric integrated planning.

    You can find Kevin on Twitter here - @KevinUrie