Director of Content Strategy @ Straight North
Since 2010, Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an internet marketing agency serving middle market and large B2B and B2Cs. From 2005 to 2010, I owned my own marketing consultancy helping businesses get started with blogging and social media. Prior to that, I spent many years in industrial packaging distribution, with experience in sales, marketing, operations and executive management. So I’ve been knee-deep in marketing freelancing, in-house and with an agency.
What brought you into the field of marketing (tell your story) and what makes you feel so passionately about it?:
Almost from the time I could hold a pencil, I’ve been interested in writing. Marketing appeals to me as a profession because it is a practical and useful outlet for my writing itch, and also because it enables me to exercise both sides of my brain: the creative side and the organizational side. Perhaps most important, marketing enables me to help people clarify their thinking about their company’s goals, customers, value proposition and KPIs. When companies gain a solid understanding of marketing, they usually perform better, adding value in both financial and human terms. That makes me happy.
As marketers, we’re constantly seeking for the right tactics or channels to propel our organizations forward. Which tactics or channels have recently surprised you as a viable source of qualified leads?:
When we were ramping up a new e-commerce site, I had a chance to dive into Instagram (the target audience was high school – young adults). It was a whole new world, and surprisingly effective in attracting leads and customers. Beyond that, visual marketing communication in general is gaining power, no question about it. We’re putting much more emphasis on infographics, video and custom imagery for our clients and for our agency’s content; the lead generation results over the past several months have been strong.
We’ve all seen the influx of marketing technology that has been created over the last decade. Which technology has been most impactful to you as you plan, launch, or measure your marketing campaigns?:
Over the last few years we’ve brought on very talented developers who have been hard at work creating proprietary platforms that are helping us become vastly more efficient and much better able to collect and analyze meaningful data. A couple of examples: our web development platform allows us to launch a new (simple but fully custom) website within 30 days; our lead validation system enables us to separate sales leads from non-lead conversions in real time, something that provides a number of significant benefits for campaign testing and evaluation.
Looking forward… What forces (social,economic, political, or cultural) do you see having the biggest effect on your marketing in 2017 and what are your plans to address them?:
I think something has to give in terms of content production and social media participation. We’re becoming virtual zombies, unable to differentiate useful content from useless or even harmful content. How this will play out in the year ahead is anybody’s guess. As a writer, I will be looking for ways to create and communicate valuable content as concisely as possible. Quality has to take precedence over quantity. The economy is a huge unknown. To me it feels like we are sitting on an enormous bubble. If it goes POP in 2017, clients will be cutting back on marketing budgets big time, so we have to continue not only producing results, but communicating ROI to justify our value.
If you could give one piece of advice to a college graduate who just took their first job in marketing, what would you say to them?:
Speaking as one who has worked in-house, freelance and in an agency, I would strongly advice graduates to begin at an agency. You’ll learn more, you’ll learn faster, and you’ll develop not only technical skills, but also communication and collaborative skills that will serve you well as you move up and out in the world. I’d also advise you to be very selective and discerning in what you read, what you watch and who you listen to.
Brad is a seasoned marketing veteran and his work can be followed at these two blogs: For B2B and B2Cs, The Straight North Blog. For marketing pros, Lead Generation Insights. Both are designed to help people improve online lead generation and overall website performance.