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Interview Series with Smart Savvy + Associates' Founder and CEO

Peter Reek is the Founder and CEO of Smart Savvy + Associates, a Vancouver-based talent recruitment agency specifically for marketing teams. Here are his thoughts on digital marketing:

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

    Solid analysis and decision making competencies are in hot demand. Especially since everything is measurable today. Teams need to execute quickly and accurately in order to stay on course. Using KPI’s - not simply churning them out, but actually paying attention to them - is paramount to success. Otherwise, you’re careening down a hill without a steering wheel. Be results orientated, be a visionary, be resourceful, and you’ll find yourself on target.

    Perhaps more importantly (although somewhat related), we like to represent people who #StandApart.  Individuals who possess the proverbial “it factor”.  Which, according to Simon Cowell, is “one of those nebulous, undefined and subjective attributes one either has or doesn’t have. It falls into the category of you-know-it-when-you-see-it."  

    One of the best definitions of the #StandApart factor I’ve heard, came from a panel I recently facilitated, in which one of the panelists, Anne Farrer, VP & Managing Director of Karo Vancouver,  was asked to define the ‘It Factor”.  Anne said, “It’s the team member who can see around corners”.  You know, those people who look ahead all the while contingency planning based on potential outcomes.  They are fully engaged, committed to outcomes and their ‘spidey senses’ are on high-alert. 

  2. What do you feel are the most underrated skills in a marketing team these days?

    I can think of a few. Taking something complex and making it simple and digestible is an art form. There’s an elegant magic involved in distilling a complicated concept and making it palatable for your buyers. I spent a number of years in the nutritional supplements industry and our Research Scientists quite often sought stage time at product launches.  Ultimately, the big challenge was working with them to transform the intimate detail of their newest formula to meaningful benefits for buyers. 

    Also, individuals who operate as an intrapreneur, meaning they treat the bottom line like it’s their own line of credit, are invaluable to a company. Finally that skill that so many people lack - the ability to check your ego at the door - is underrated, yet so important.

  3. In your experience, what are the top success factors for a marketing campaign?

    Know your audience, then tailor your campaign to add value and surprise your customers. We do tradeshows periodically.  It’s easy to ask people to throw a business card into a bowl, but it’s also lacklustre. In an effort to give back to @SmartSavvy clients and prospects, we set up a photo booth at events and provide people with a professional @LinkedIn head-shots. While we deliver a meaningful service to our target audience, it’s a marketing campaign that rewards us exponentially. 
  4. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in marketing teams in recent years compared to ten years ago?

    This is the dawn of a new era in marketing, and I don’t say that lightly. Because everything is measurable, there is a huge opportunity to demonstrate the ROI we are capable of delivering, and to quantify results. Now, it’s easy to test a campaign before we launch it, so we can gage its impact ahead of time (at least narrow the goal posts). Ultimately we can predict profitable outcomes and avoid the unprofitable ones.  Today, marketers are revenue drivers, analytic gurus, content masters, and sales reps - we’re talented action figures, not one dimensional drones.

    That being said, the fundamentals of marketing haven’t changed. Still, we need to know who our clients are and how they think. After that it’s a matter of delivering what they need, being where they are, and speaking to them in the way they prefer. Those are still the magic ingredients, and the teams who use that as their launching point will have the most success.
  5. What excites you most about your industry?

    Ultimately, I want to make a difference. At Smart Savvy, we are contributing to the growth of our clients by finding them fantastic people; it’s intoxicating. At @BCAA, we’ve recently placed three people on their New Ventures team, under the leadership of SVP, Eric Hopkins.  They have each gone on to research and launch new lines of business for @BCAA. Watching that happen is rewarding.

    Marketing has come a long way since my beginning days, when communicating with clients was a serious hurdle. Back then, I created the ‘Fax Club’, we sent out weekly faxes to spread the word about product launches, contests etc.  It was, at the time, revolutionary. Now, communication is through multiple channels, and all of them are at our fingertips (and instantaneous). It’s never been easier to get in front of clients, but the landscape is getting cluttered and more competitive. The challenge is to stay on top in a marketplace where nothing is off limits.


    Peter has been helping companies make smart decisions and build for success for over 20 years. Seasoned in market research, brand architecture and senior-level marketing, Peter knows what businesses need to meet their goals. He also knows WHO they need. A consultant for 8 years, Peter specialized in group moderating and team facilitation. Translation: he knows people. He can spot the star and sniff out the imposter. Peter has served clients in a variety of industries, lead sizable teams and launched divisions in Canada, US, Europe and Australia.