Thursday, May 12, 2016

Meet Casie Cook, Strategist, Writer, MFA


"It's your job to make an audience as excited and fascinated about a subject as you are."

Casie Cook - Strategist, Writer, MFA Candidate, is one of the most nurturing marketers and people you will meet. She currently works as a Senior Strategist at Space150. Before that, she was a Strategist at Haberman and a Production Manager at Jump! Casie's introduction to the advertising world was working as a Digital Strategist and Account Executive at Colle+McVoy. She is currently working on her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Hamline University, where most of her work features nonfiction writing, essays to be exact. 

After completing a year of generals at Normandale Community College, Casie studied for her undergrad at the University of Minnesota, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a minor in Management. She worked multiple part-time jobs amounting to more than full-time hours throughout undergrad and learned how to leverage those indirect job experiences when interviewing for marketing positions later on. She believes every experience is valuable if you are intentional about what you put into it and what you want to get out of it. Her first job out of college was working as Marketing and Media Coordinator at Simonson's Salon and Spas. Casie is a fantastic mentor who strives to make a difference in her mentees' careers.

What does a typical day in your role look like?

I probably couldn't nail down a typical day, but if I think of a typical week I'm generally building at least one presentation at any given time, trying to keep my inbox from getting out of control since one day can sometimes bring 100 emails, meeting with client partners and internal teams, writing creative briefs and doing some form of brand or audience research--be that interviewing humans or scouring the internet for studies and articles and weirdly insightful Reddit threads.

I would bet a day in the life of my fellow spacers (definition: humans at space150) is counting how many times I say the word "human." I believe brands should exist to make human lives better, and I feel my mission as a strategist is to help brands (well, the teams who work in service of them) better understand the humans they're trying to connect with so they can make connections that resonate. Those are the kinds that drive results.

What are you passionate about?

Aside from humans, there is nothing I care more about than the art of storytelling. I spend nearly every weekend in various coffee shops around Minneapolis working on my master's thesis in creative writing (because no amount of student loan debt and time scarcity can deter me from the classroom). I write nonfiction, meaning essays. It continually surprises me how much my creative work feeds my professional work. I'm seeking the deepest and most compelling truths about humanness as both a writer and a strategist. My thesis advisor and mentor often uses the phrase "No insight, no essay" and the same can be said of a creative idea: No insight, no idea. So really my life is an endless string of questions, research, and writing all in search of insights and creative ideas that make people feel, think, and act differently.

What do you find most challenging about your job/career?

The definition of advertising is ever-changing, and so then are the rules for brands to engage with their audiences. People don't want to be "advertised to" but they do want to be "engaged with" on their own terms. The question is how do we make creative work that's engaging? That's not blatantly self-serving? That puts the human first? All hard questions when you consider the history of advertising. But trying to answer these questions is what keeps me and my teams going, keeps us pushing into new territories and having illuminating discussions.

What do you find most enriching about your job/career?

Advertising is a true community in Minneapolis, and it's a community filled with ambitious humans who are all motivated by how to generate emotion through creative ideas. Our job is to create feelings. That's pretty remarkable. That's quite a privilege. And I'm grateful for it.

How did you find yourself in your current career?

I never actually planned on going to college. Then a year out of high school I was bored out of my mind. So I went to the University of Minnesota, majored in journalism and had more love for my advertising classes than my news writing classes. A year after graduation, I interned at Colle+McVoy, and they hired me thereafter. That place will always be special to me. I started in account management and transitioned to digital strategy during my time at C+M. Then I actually left advertising for almost two years when I started grad school and worked at a children's book publisher. When I realized how much I missed the energy and challenge of agency life, I decided to get back into it. Now I'm part of a brilliant strategy team at space150, where we as an agency push each other every day with our smarts and weirdness.

Words of advice for anyone who wants to pursue this career?

Learn the roles from the people who live them. Ask people to coffee, request informational interviews, apply for internships even if you have a full-time job (which I did). Read what people in agencies read and ask them questions to show your curiosity and seriousness about the business: Communication Arts, Adweek, Creative Review, Fast Company, PSFK. Oh, and the MPLS Egotist has a stellar job list. 

Also: BE YOU (but, you know, be professional and stuff when you meet with people). Almost every person I know in advertising has some kind of surprising personal pursuit that brings them fulfillment outside of their profession but in many cases feeds their professional life. Find whatever that is for you, and tell people about it. As Ricky Gervais says in this interview, "It's your job to make an audience as excited and fascinated about a subject as you are."

If you would like to learn about Casie and her incredible career journey, her philosophy, and creativity, please click here.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Meet Emily DeLozier, Marketer and Global Product Manager


“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.”
 – Scott Belsky                              
Emily DeLozier is one of the most creative marketers I know. With an MBA in Marketing and Supply Chain from the University of St. Thomas and a B.A. in Art and Art History from the College of St. Catherine, she currently works as a Global Product Manager at Pentair. Prior to this position, she was my classmate at St. Thomas in the Full-time MBA program while working as a Customer Service/Merchandise Presentation Lead  at Banana Republic and as a Marketing/Account Manager at Prime Circle Technologies. She also worked as MBA Marketing Research Consultant for Minnesota Public Radio, and as a Purchasing and Merchandising Manager at Buckwick Organix.

Her first job out of college was working as a Sales Associate/Cashier Lead. Emily spent a semester studying abroad in India at the University of Hyderabad and her concentration in college was in South Asian Art. She is an avid swimmer and painter and speaks conversational Hindi. 

What does a typical day in your role look like?

I usually like to start my day by checking my products' sales numbers and drinking a gigantic latte. As a product manager, meetings, emails, and phone calls are a given. But I manage the full product lifecycles of two industrial product lines, so no two days ever look the same. Today I will write copy and create training presentations for a new product launching later this summer. Next week I will be hosting an innovation event to help me build a business case for a new product line. And the next week, who knows? I may pour over spreadsheets to analyze sales trends or travel across the country to talk with customers and see my products in the field. The fact that I do not have a typical day is one of the things I like the most about my job.

What are you passionate about?

I love that I’m at a point in my career where I have more time to do the things I’m passionate about. For the first time ever, I have work-life balance, and it is glorious.  What do I do with that free time?  I love inventing new recipes or just trying something new in the kitchen. When work gets busy, or I am not sure about a decision, I stress bake. Cookies, cupcakes, breads, you name it. It’s a creative outlet for me that I get to share with my friends and family.

What do you find most challenging about your job/career?

Managing products from their inception to obsolescence and prioritizing my time between promoting existing products and creating new ones can be tricky. And even when I think I have my day planned out, all it takes is one phone call about a quality issue or customer opportunity to change everything. One trick I’ve learned is to schedule me-time into my day to handle the things that just pop-up or even just to think!

What do you find most enriching about your job/career?

I work with the most amazing people.  Product management is highly collaborative, and when you work with people who actually want to work as a team, it’s incredibly empowering.  The other product managers and engineers I work with make even the most challenging of days enjoyable.

How did you find yourself in your current career?

It was definitely not a straight path. I graduated undergrad with a degree in art history and worked as a fashion merchandiser, among other things. When I started a full-time MBA program, it took me awhile to figure out how to link that to the business world. But I started at Pentair as an MBA product management intern. They took a chance on me and, it turns out, I had quite a few transferable skills that have served me well in product management. In art history, I learned how to analyze images and objects within a given context. Product management is almost the reverse, creating a product and then trying to anticipate how customers will perceive them.

Words of advice for anyone who wants to pursue this career?

The best advice I can give is to always be curious. It does not matter if your products are for industrial automation or consumer goods, I think if you can be curious you will be engaged and moved into action. Curiosity leads to creativity, innovation and ultimately the best solutions for your customers.

If you would like to learn more about Emily and her incredible career journey, click here!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

5 Newsletters Digital Marketers Should Subscribe To!


"Never stop learning because life never stops teaching!"
- Unknown                         

Digital marketing best practices, platforms and tools are constantly changing. It is important to have a consistent flow of information that keeps you up to date. As I have mentioned before, there are many ways to keep learning and improving your skills, like joining associations or taking certifications. Another great way is to subscribe to newsletters and blogs. With this approach, the information comes straight to your email, and you get prompts to routinely check those websites for updates. 

There are so many newsletters and blogs in digital marketing, so to get you started, here are the five I make sure to check routinely. 

HubSpot's Marketing Blog

HubSpot's Marketing blog  is one of the best newsletters and blogs to follow for inbound marketing. With constant updates of articles like Excel Tricks Marketers Should KnowHelpful Resources for Improving You Business Skills, or Digital Does Not Mean "Just Build a Website". The articles and posts are designed to help you continue to build upon your skills and learn tips and tricks to make your inbound marketing strategies and campaigns more efficient and effective. Following the blog is a great continuation of the Inbound Marketing Certification.

The Content Strategist

The Content Strategist, Contently's blog, is one of the best blogs for content creation and content marketing best practices and tips. The blog is split into five sections: Brands, Media, Social, ROI, and Voices. Titles of some informative articles include The Marketer's Guide to Travel Content: Trends, Case, Students, and ROI, and 4 Ways to Make Friends With Legal and Get Content Out Faster

Hootsuite Social Blog

The Hootsuite Social Blog is one of the premier social media marketing blogs. Hootsuite helps to stay on trend with the changes in social media through articles like Facebook Video Ads: What You Need to Know and 6 Podcasts That Will Make You a Better Social Media Marketer. In addition to the free social media marketing management courses found here, the updates on the blog help you stay crisp and provide the best solutions to your clients and consumers.

Moz Blog

The Moz Blog is one of the best to follow for growing your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Inbound Marketing strategies and skills. Moz is arguably the most trusted by experts in SEO. The 9 Most Common Local SEO Myths, Dispelled and Measuring Content: You’re Doing it Wrong are just a couple of the great titles that will keep you sharp as a whistle in all things SEO. 

Occam's Razor

Avinash Kaushik's Occam's Razor is the blog and newsletter to follow for the analytics enthusiasts. With articles like Excellent Analytics Tip #27: Chase Smart Calculated Metrics!, Avinash makes sure you are aware of the changes that happen on the most popular platform, Google Analytics, and also helps keep track of the new ideas, tactics and strategies coming up in the industry.

What are some other ways you stay up to date on industry best practices? Please let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading!