When I was at 48hourprint.com I worked with Tim Kelleher, he has a lot of experience in marketing and business and I was lucky to have him work with me. He did a super job. We keep in touch and talk about marketing and online marketing on a regular basis. I thought it would be great if we conducted one of my occasional interviews on this blog. Here’s the result.
John: Let’s start off by asking you to describe your career background? How did your career lead you to marketing?
Tim: I would say that marketing was just a natural fit. After graduating from the University of Vermont with a degree in English, I attended business school at Boston College, and concentrated in marketing; I think one led to another because of the shared communications aspect. In my second and last year at business school I interned at an advertising agency in downtown Boston, and then did some freelance advertising work in collaboration with some graphic designers I knew. We produced mostly direct mail projects, but realizing I still had a lot to learn, I went to work at NYNEX, which is now Verizon, in their yellow pages division and eventually became a marketing communication manager. After over 10 years there, I detoured into antiques and design, which has always been a great interest of mine, and which provided great entrepreneurial experience. I decided to come back to marketing for a variety of reasons, the interaction, the structure, and the growth opportunities. Chance led me to meeting you as a prospective client, and an opportunity to put my old skills back to use and catch up on Internet marketing developments at 48hourprint.
John: What is marketing to you?
Tim: To me marketing is telling the story of your company, product or service, and finding the right marketplace within which to tell that story.
John: What is brand to you?
Tim: I find brand is one of the more exciting parts of marketing. In some ways, defining a product’s brand identity or personality is one of the more glamorous aspects of marketing because it involves mass media and high visibility. At NYNEX I was fortunate to work with the incredibility strong NYNEX Yellow Pages brand, which was supported with large amounts of TV, radio and out of home advertising. In that context, branding reinforced that image of our product which was in the consumer’s mind and which directly related to their perceived need for the product.
John: How have you developed and implemented marketing campaigns in the past?
Tim: I consider myself something of a purest when it comes to strategy and planning. I believe that the marketing and advertising plans should be driven directly from the corporate mission and the corporate plan so that the potential to meet those corporate objectives are maximized. At 48hourprint.com I was able to draw on my prior corporate experience, to develop a comprehensive plan from start to finish using traditional marketing media with incredible new media tools such as paid search advertising and search engine site optimization for the best possible results.
I initiated a direct mail program from scratch. I refined our print advertising and implemented a more structured process of market research and product development. I started using some online surveys. We also brought in outside resources to help us optimize our site for organic search as well as to help us improve our paid search ROI. We really got more involved with market research and product development while I was there also.
John: What are your plans for the future?
Tim: I am currently looking for a position in marketing in the Boston area. Marketing communications is definitely what I have a passion for and although working for a start up company in many ways is very exciting, the resources of a larger company allow you to engage the market within a larger scope.
John: What skills does a marketing manager need to successfully run a marketing department?
Tim: I think the most important skills for a marketing manager are of course, great communications skills, the ability to think strategically, and the ability to identify and implement innovative solutions. Also, to have a facility with every traditional and emerging tool available within the marketing mix, is paramount.
John: Tell me about your experience in managing agencies as a marketing manager?
Tim: My favorite part of the job is working with agencies. Years ago, I took a seminar in managing creative people. It was one of the most important experiences I’ve had in that I learned that much more can be gained by allowing creative people the leeway to create rather than by over directing them. If you provide a creative person with just the right amount of background information without “art directing” them, they will typically return with solutions that far exceed what you could develop on your own. Let a creative person know basically what your objectives are without giving them too many other stipulations and you will get back much more.
John: What are the biggest challenges in being a marketing manager?
Tim: Well managing to get a strong ROI on each project, of course, has been the biggest challenge - especially now that Internet marketing has created an expectation of immediate and measurable results across the board in advertising. This has led to a demand for greater accountability from other, more traditional media communications vehicles. It’s a tougher job now in some respects because everything is being measured more closely, but at the same time, the decision making becomes a lot easier when you know what to expect from your investment. 10 to 15 years ago at NYNEX, Milward Brown conducted yearly brand awareness studies for us, but other than that we did not do a lot of results analysis beyond looking at gross revenues and direct response rates. It was very hard to delineate where your results were coming from then; now with instant clicks, you have the measurement tools, and it has put the onus on other advertising medium to be more accountable.
John: How should a vendor approach a marketing manager?
Tim: The most successful relationships I’ve had with vendors are those where the vendors have understood the larger objectives and strategies I’ve been charged with. When the vendors help come up with solutions that address those needs, rather than look at each project individually, then everybody wins. And having ongoing relationships with vendors, rather than project by project arrangements, has always added enormous value to the work we were doing together.
And though technology has created a new marketing environment, vendors still need to know that, when waiting for direction, as always, it is usually a case of hurry up and wait, that’s just a fact of life. Due to the pressure for results, people move cautiously – as do the people above them - vendors need to be aware of that age-old reality.
John: What do you think marketing will be like in 5 years?
Tim: Let me get my crystal ball. Inevitably, marketing will find more and more direct ways of reaching the consumer and cutting out the waste of reaching market segments that are less likely prospects. I think lead generation; sales conversions and identifiable return on investment will drive the use of new telecommunications features, entertainment developments and emerging internet technology (such as blogging, for instance). Although I’ve always enjoyed working with the traditional marketing media tools such as print and direct mail over the years, it’s exciting to be part of this changing new world of marketing.
John: Thanks Tim, good chatting with you, if you want to connect with Tim you can email him at kelleher DOT Tim AT gmail DOT com.