When I was hired at Rock Candy Media, I knew that the agency had a reputation for being unusually collaborative and that upper management was heavily involved in day-to-day operations. Coming from a job where I mostly stayed in my own lane (digital ad strategy) and the high-level people didn’t have much time for the people lower on the chain, I didn’t really know what to expect. Now that I’ve been here for some time, I can testify to how this approach to running a company makes everyone better and reinforces a creative agency culture where everyone is learning from and leaning on one another.
Our founder, Annie, has been an incredible boss and mentor ever since I started working at Rock Candy Media. She has not only taught me new skills like SEM marketing, user experience, client communication and print marketing, she’s also framed that knowledge in a way that allows me to see how each thing that we do is interrelated and affects overall advertising and marketing efforts. I’ve learned more from working six months at Rock Candy Media from Annie and the team than I did in most of my advertising courses and internships. [Editor’s note: This blog has not been screened by Annie, it’s all heart, baby.]
Search Engine Marketing
One of the most important things Annie has taught me is to how to break out of conventional thinking. A great example of this is in the realm of search engine marketing. Rather than identifying the most popular keywords associated with a certain client and chasing after those, Annie has taught me that people type in the weirdest things on Google. Most people just don’t know what they’re searching for and often ask questions. We have a couple of medical clients, but people don’t know what medical condition they might have. Annie’s mantra of “dumb it down” has been incredibly helpful in understanding the sales process of the average consumer. Where do they start? What question may they have before realizing what the real problem is? People might think they can just start a Google campaign and run it, but optimization is key, because what people are searching can change drastically throughout the year.
Once you’re deep in a project, whether it’s a website or Facebook, you might lose the most important thing: customer user experience. The customer UX is going to make or break your campaign or website. Taking a comprehensive view of customer UX has improved my performance as an ad strategist immensely. It forces me to think beyond creating a catchy ad and getting it in front of the right people and makes me consider the entire sales cycle – what does the customer do after they respond to my ad? Where do they go on the client site? How do I make sure they convert down the road if they don’t on the first try? If you don’t anticipate how the consumer goes through the website or what content they relate to, the website or campaign is useless. Annie always ensures that every campaign and website has a clear customer UX to maximize the website or campaign.
Marketing is all about breaking boundaries. How else is your brand going to break through the barriers? Clients aren’t always willing to go that extra audacious mile, but that’s our job. Annie fights to do the thing that clients may feel uncomfortable with, and shows them how it’s memorable. Another one of her mottos is, “If we’re not scaring the clients, we’re not doing our job.” A huge aspect of being a creative marketing agency is not being afraid to get creative.
When I started at Rock Candy Media, I had no idea there were so many choices, colors and textures to print out marketing materials. Annie made me realize how much this matters. No one wants a handout that’s going to crumble in the bottom of the bag. No one wants to look at a boring black and white document that looks like legal work. People respond to icons, colors, and simplicity. She also taught me that a nice looking piece of print isn’t enough. Print campaigns need to tie into the overall content strategy for the client. Print complements search engine marketing which complements social media marketing which complements UX design, and on down the line. The key to building a lasting brand is staying relentlessly on brand with every deliverable.
Annie has shown me that advertising and marketing isn’t just pretty pictures and catchy words. It goes way deeper. You really have to get into the consumer’s mind to understand how your client can get the most out of their marketing efforts and kill the industry. I didn’t come into this job expecting to work on things like printing, content strategy and web development, but learning from Annie, I can better understand how our whole team works together and better assist from an advertising placement standpoint. Our entire office is a unit and when we understand all aspects of what we do we become an unstoppable creative agency.
Beyond all this, Annie has served as a personal role model. It’s incredibly refreshing to come to work each day with a woman who has the strength, courage and smarts to pursue her own dreams and push her team to get better with every campaign. She’s not only teaching me new skills, she’s teaching me the mindset that I need to be successful over the course of my career.