Interview Series with Founder and CEO of Katt Stearns Consulting
Katt Stearns is the founder and owner of Katt Stearn Consulting, an independent digital consulting agency specializing in social media marketing (i.e. Facebook remarketing ads). Here are her thoughts on digital marketing:
How did you get the background and skills necessary?It's actually happened by accident. After I graduated university I was working as a mortgage and loans officer in Kelowna and hated my job. I was looking for something to do in my free time that was more exciting and interesting.
I can’t sing or play an instrument to save my life but I have a passion for music. So I wrote over 100 emails to artists, record labels, managers and radio stations offering to volunteer my time to help out with tours or anything. Long story short, I only received 3 responses back! One was from a label in Saskatoon, 306 Records who was associated with Universal Records. They were looking for some help on a video shoot. I volunteered my time for a weekend and then was offered another project. After a couple of projects I was offered an internship overseeing their artists’ development and marketing. Facebook and MySpace were new platforms and part of my role was seeing how we could use these tools to help grow our artists, promote singles and shows. At that point there were no social media guides so we really pioneered our way through the platforms testing new ideas.
After that I was hooked. I continue to learn, read, and see what other people and businesses are doing and then test it myself. I am mostly self taught but have taken a few courses and found a couple of great mentors that I continue to share ideas with.
What advice would you give to young people who want to become marketing consultants some day?The best piece of advice I can give to someone that wants to get into marketing is for him or her to find a small niche to get started. Don’t try to be a master of everything. There are so many new marketing tools and platforms coming out daily that you can’t stay on top of it all. Learn the basics of the different platforms but find a platform that you can become the go-to expert in. Secondly, learn from others and find a mentor.
What have been the most successful campaigns you’ve seen and why?Two of the most popular campaigns recently were Oreo’s Dunk in the Dark Tweet during the Super Bowl and the West Jet Christmas video. Both were fantastic and successful campaigns.
But the one campaign I believe got things started was the 2009 Reebok Canadian Winter Classic campaign. Reebok created a commercial that featured Sidney Crosby and Maxime Talbot playing hockey and shooting into Crosby’s dryer in the basement. The commercial aired on TV showing the friendly competition and Crosby down 3-2. Then the commercial goes black and says that if you want to see who wins and watch the rest of the game visit Facebook.com/Reebok. In a matter of minutes the Reebok Facebook page received over 70,000 likes!
Why I feel this was so successful is that Reebok was one of the first companies to play Ping-Pong with both traditional and social media. Most TV ads show will show the Facebook and Twitter icon in hopes their fans will realize they are on social media and will look them up. What Reebok did was made it exciting and gave their fans a reason to like them on Facebook. I find it surprising that more traditional media ads don’t encourage fans to connect with them on social to see the rest of the story.
What do you consider essential skills for a marketing team these days?I believe that marketing is going through a shift. Marketing is no longer about pushing a message about the stuff you sell, it’s about telling stories that engage, entertain and empower your audience. I believe that an essential skill for marketers is to understand this shift, learn how to be a storyteller, and to not be afraid to try something new. It’s finding unique ways to tell the story about company values, products and services. Show the behind-the-scene footage, get to know the staff, and have your audience be a part of your journey.
What do you feel are the most underrated skills in a marketing team these days?I believe that one of the most underrated skills in marketing right now is the simple ability to just be helpful. Yes, being able to write and do research is critical for success but in this social era being helpful can be powerful. An example of this is Hilton Hotels; they have a Twitter account called Hilton Suggests. This account is used for Hilton employees to scan Twitter for questions that people are tweeting out in specific areas such as “Where is a good Italian restaurant in Vancouver” or “Looking for a local vet in New York”. These questions don’t have anything to do with Hilton Hotels or booking a reservation, yet the hotel responds to these questions just to be helpful. In return they are building relationships with the people they help and creating shareable stories for friends and family. Wouldn’t you be surprised if you tweeted out a question and one of your favorite brands answered it?
What are two or three digital marketing trends that impact your role as a manager, and why?There are a number of trends that can impact my role as a marketing manager. The first challenge is staying ahead of them and knowing what’s coming.
Particularly, the use of visual content continues to be on the rise. More and more platforms are integrating visual content. For example Twitter now shows images in the newsfeed instead of having a link to the image. This rise of visual content requires that we help our clients include original images in every piece of content possible. It can be a challenge for smaller companies that don’t have large budgets to hire photographers and create massive amounts of images. We encourage many of our clients to take daily images on their smart phones to capture the moment and be used in the daily content.
Mobile access is another trend that continues to grow as well. With more people searching and engaging on their mobile phones it is important to ensure our clients’ content is easily accessible through mobile. Having a responsive website is one of the first items that we focus on with our clients. This ensures that their customers will have the same online experience whether on a desktop, mobile phone or tablet.
We all have a story to tell. Capturing it in a manner that engages, educates and entertains your audience requires Strategic Social. Katt Stearns is a social media marketing consultant, speaker and trainer. She works with numerous organizations including BC Hydro’s Power Smart and Thompson Rivers University to develop strategic social media strategies that help them share their stories, and make a difference in the world. You can find Katt on Twitter at @KattStearns.