I have always loved all-things-media – the content ideation, strategy, channel selection, distribution, marketing, advertising, the customer acquisition, and, of course, the revenue. When I first started in advertising sales, many moons ago, I remember joyfully thinking “I get paid to speak with customers and solve their marketing and advertising needs, really? In earnest, it seemed too good to be true, and that is how I felt; fortunate, lucky to be part of the media community.
I have long had, and continue to have, an extremely strong desire to help the customer. I wanted to help my customer grow but also their customer too. I thrived for the ultimate win-win-win – help my clients gain customers, help their customers get what they needed and help the company that I worked for retain happy clients. This approach required a continual push for content and product innovation, and I was not shy about sharing the needed improvements with my supervisor. This is the approached that I utilized, and in the early days, media and publishing companies rewarded this approach until one day they stopped.
The media business was beginning to get squeezed with new digital opportunities erupting around us, and the traditional avenues began to wane. The digital disruption had begun and many media companies weren’t well equipped to react. Some embraced the change too aggressively without a pensive long-term plan while others sat on the sidelines hoping that the sea winds would change. The majority sat on the sideline.
For me, I enjoyed the disruption. It forced me to stay on top of emerging trends, market shifts and customer-need changes. By this time, I had moved into management and began overseeing media divisions, but I continued to meet with clients regularly to understand their needs. I used my insightful client discussions to drive new product development, always with the goal of meeting their needs. I asked my team to launch webinars back in the day when few in the industry were doing it. Later, I urged the video team to create informative and entertaining videos not just one or the other. I identified key marketing influencers and created a plan to use them in our social media strategy. I didn’t do these things because I was all-knowing or clairvoyant, I did it because, as Gary Vaynerchuk says, I “paid attention.” I paid attention to the hard trends that had staying power, and I used those opportunities to the customer’s as well as company’s advantage.
Because of my love of innovation and incorporating strong digital marketing trends into our business strategy, I often found myself going against the grain within the corporation. In fairness, the constant influx of new networks and perpetual change in the media landscape had left its wounds. Media companies, in virtually every vertical that I worked within, had seen a steady erosion of traditional revenue lines as well as the total elimination of others. They were scared, and they didn’t want to make the wrong move. In this media landscape, it was understandable that they were hesitant to embrace new opportunities that came with any associated cost. However, the lack of even the most modest reinvestment in new marketing technologies ultimately led to even greater market and revenue erosion. It was a vicious downward cycle.
In my final stretch within corporate media, my customer-centric mindset remained steadfast. However, my commitment also meant that I took my licks at the highest levels of the organization. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but pursue the content and marketing strategies that I knew would serve my customers. I was equally aware that stagnation in this regard would result in our customers seeking their own solutions separate and apart from us. In today’s fragmented media environment, it doesn’t take much to become your own publisher, and the innovative companies did just that. If we didn’t give them a compelling reason to work with us, then they wouldn’t.
It was this realization that helped me walk away from corporate media. I knew that as long as media companies refused to become actively anticipatory to the hard trends and create products to meet their customers’ needs, the trajectory would continue in the wrong direction. I launched my own social media and digital marketing consulting firm because I wanted to stay true to who I am; proudly customer-centric. I still believe that the customer comes first and I always will.
The decision to embrace my entrepreneurial spirit was an easy one. It was the next iteration in a media career that spanned close to two decades, but what really made the difference was my unwavering desire to see my clients succeed because my success is measured by theirs. I feel grateful and proud to be part of their community.