7 Strategies For Gaining Better Customer Data

Your quality of engagement with customers hinges on how useful your customer data is. With deep insight into customer behaviors and thinking processes, you can make an impact on your core consumer base. However, getting this customer data isn’t as easy as it initially seems. The accuracy of data depends on how the business intends to collect it. The methodology shouldn’t be invasive and should encourage the consumer to trust the company with their data. That trust is built on a rapport that the brand needs to establish with its customers over time.

7 Steps for consumer data

With better customer data, the insights that you generate to connect with your consumers would be more substantial. You’ll find that your marketing efforts have more direction and engagement with the audience. However, the success of these efforts still depends heavily on the quality of data used to obtain those insights. The principle of “Garbage In, Garbage Out” is as true for data analysis as it is for any other technical field.

The entrepreneurs from Ad Age Collective are well-versed in how good customer data can impact their business’s efforts in marketing, so we asked them their secrets when it comes to wrangling higher quality data from their consumers.

1. Start with the source.

More accurate customer data needs to start with the source. Assign the individual or the demographic cluster a unique customer ID. You can then input various strategies across different platforms, changing the creative, media and messaging, but targeting the same customer or demographic to see which elements of the campaign strategy are more effective and deliver the highest ROI. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

2. Go after the ‘why,’ not just the ‘what.’

Tons of data is available on what customers do, both at your brand and away. That data does not tell us why they do it. Accurate data comes from identifying insights into the core of a customer and unlocking the drivers of behavior. That insight makes it easy to connect with customers and make action inevitable. – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

3. Seek noninvasive, regular feedback.

The key to gaining new customers is understanding your existing ones. Tools like Retently allow regular customer data to be gathered without overburdening clients. Doing this will allow you to pick up on trends — similar pain points that caused clients to choose your business or best aspects of working with your business, all of which can be used for more targeted campaigns to attract new leads. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

4. Set up loyalty programs.

They are not new, but they have the strong benefit of being “opt-in” in a privacy-sensitive world. They also offer an explicit exchange of value, i.e. your company provides loyalty currency in exchange for certain actions or information from your customers. Sometimes, tried and true is just that. If you are seeking passive data collection, talk to companies that aggregate mobile data. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

5. Connect data with other digital and offline points.

Brands rely on first-party data to understand customers, but it only tells half the story. It’s important for brands to connect data with other digital and offline data points. If brands can take the data available to them and connect it using innovative technology, such as AI and ML, they can achieve the elusive single customer view. That leads to more relevant messages and effective campaigns. – Kevin Dean, Experian

6. Say goodbye to siloed point solutions.

Today, the challenge is that each function of the revenue team has its own suite of applications. With disparate data, integration gaps and lack of tight coordination, you can kiss your dreams of accurate insights goodbye. To uncover, orchestrate and utilize valuable buyer data, the entire revenue team needs to utilize one cohesive account-based platform with AI and big data built into the core. – Latane Conant, 6sense

7. Be careful how you define your competitive arena.

Marketers tend to envision zero-sum games within product categories, and design research to report within that arena; meanwhile, customers may be shifting behavior to buy outside your defined arena. Design research that lets you discover if your true competition is entirely off your radar. Who gets a bigger slice of the pie doesn’t mean much if your customers have switched to cake. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)

8 Top Tips To Consider When Crafting A Compelling Brand Story

A brand is a promise that a business makes to its customers. You can find this definition littered across the internet, but it doesn’t tell you exactly what that promise should be. Brand promises are crafted through their stories. Brand stories try to communicate the brand’s worth to consumers in a noninvasive way, which allows the potential buyer to connect and form a relationship with the brand. Today, many brands see the brand story as a way to humanize their corporate face so that consumers feel more comfortable with them.

Brand Story

Building a brand story requires a professional to focus on the audience rather than the product. The company already knows in great detail what the product does and how it benefits the consumer. The brand story tries to communicate that to the buyer, while at the same time making the story focus on the customer. The process of changing a brand story from a business-centric model to a consumer-centric model requires a lot of skill.

These professionals from Ad Age Collective have learned how to present the brand story best to engage customers and build a rapport. We asked them what things a company should be mindful of when developing their brand story into a compelling narrative. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Be authentic and consistent.

Be authentic, period. A majority of consumers, especially the younger generations, demand it as they want to feel inspired, to have an honest connection and be part of a like-minded community. Avoid inconsistencies between your image of the brand and its reality, as it will have a material impact on brand perception and equity. – Kurt Kaufer, Ad Results Media

2. Think more about hearing it than saying it.

You want your brand story to say certain things about your company and you are going to put a lot of thought into that. Put a similar amount of energy into understanding how your target personas are going to hear the story and the emotions that it will elicit. The recent Peloton ad that raised some controversy is an example of a story that was heard differently by some than was anticipated. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

3. Be honest about who you are.

Another way of putting it is to be genuine. Your brand should be an extension of the honest truth about who you are, what you stand for and your reason for being. And it should connect logically and emotionally with a need or value you and your constituents share. – Todd Morgano, Falls Communications

4. Humanize the brand.

A brand needs to have a personality and something to resonate with. If you can give your brand innate human characteristics that people can relate to, they will feel more drawn to the brand naturally without even knowing why it is so compelling. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Find balance between what matters and what’s true.

A compelling brand story must converge on the epicenter of three components: It must be culturally relevant, emotionally compelling and built on something true to the brand and organization. Brands must balance stories that matter with their ability to be true to the story. -Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

6. Elicit an emotional response.

A product doesn’t become a brand until it is connected with feelings, experiences, memories or utility in a person’s mind. A brand is an emotional connection built over time to which consumers default, especially when choosing among products with similar attributes. Your brand story must elicit emotion and be sustainable to create consumer connections that withstand the test of time. -Sean Cunningham, VAB

7. Know your brand’s natural persona.

Every brand has its own natural persona. Authenticity comes from knowing the persona clearly, being consistent and comfortable with it. Connecting to why a brand exists adds purpose that resonates with the customer emotions. The blending of authenticity and purposefulness creates long-term feeling equity, which is essential for meaningful connection. In the end, we are all in the feeling business. -Arjun Sen, ZenMango

8. Be relatable and purpose-driven.

It may be overused, but starting with the “why” is the foundation of a compelling brand story. No one cares about your products, what they do or what you’re selling until they care about you! A brand story that has a strong “why” will always win, because people like to do business with those that share their innate values. The more relatable you are, the more people will care. – Patrick Ward,Rootstrap

5 Steps To Creating The Perfect Thank You Page For Your Website

People enjoy it when others appreciate them. This little fact has resulted in a lot of companies doing customer appreciation campaigns that have attracted record amounts of leads. In an online setting, a thank you page is a perfect example of showing appreciation to clients. Yet, despite the usefulness of this recognition, many companies simply overlook the inclusion of a thank you page, much to their detriment. Businesses need to let consumers know how much they value their business.

Perfect Thank You Page

In fact, a thank you page should form the core of a business’s post-conversion strategy. Customer engagement and satisfaction are crucial metrics here, and a well-designed thank you page might be able to sway a consumer to become a return customer. But what are the essential elements of a thank you page? What are the things that make this page stand out to a consumer and draw them in to buy from the company again?

These professionals from Ad Age Collective have experience with great customer service and offer their advice on the critical elements of a thank you page and how to incorporate them into a website design if companies want to retain happy customers.

1. Reflect the brand tone and respect the relationship.

There is never a more powerful moment in the customer life cycle than in the time when you get to show appreciation for their business. The thank you page (or any “thank you” moment) should reflect both the brand’s tonality, but also respect the relationship. Brands should recognize and customize a first-time purchase differently than extreme loyalty. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

2. Personalize it to reflect each client’s experience.

A thank you page is often overlooked in the post-conversion strategy. But it can do as much harm as good if not done right. The page should be personalized, reflective of the consumer’s experience and ideally have a simple call to action to bring that person back. If the experience has been negative, give them a place to raise the issue. A misplaced “thank you” can be the last time you see them. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

3. Record a thank you video.

Many businesses struggle to build genuine relationships with their customers. An easy way to overcome this challenge is to record a thank you video as the company owner and place it on the thank you page. This works because it puts a face to a name, and it’s easier to build relationships with people. Also, it shows that you truly care about every customer, which separates you from the competition. – Maxwell Finn, Unicorn Innovations

4. Give them some value straight up.

Fatigue from filling out forms or signing a contract is no joke. When a customer completes this, it isn’t enough to merely say “thank you” — show how much they mean to your business by giving them some value. Chances are, if you’ve onboarded them, you know some of their business challenges. Give them a free e-book or tips for quick wins that could help them address some of those challenges now. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Convey trustworthiness and likeability.

A creative way of saying “thank you,” gifting or following up has an art to it. While the best campaigns are managed by a large strategic campaign team, clients ultimately want to work with people they like and trust. Showing your thank you strategy is a good way of getting insight into how a potential client would feel when they become an actual client. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

How-tos for Generational Marketing to Millennials vs. Gen Z

Millennials and Generation Zers are both notorious for shaking up the status quo in more ways than one. They’ve both broken out of a shell that generations prior were determined to mold themselves to. This fact, along with their closeness in age, have led many to believe that they have a lot of commonalities that can accommodate similar generational marketing strategies.

Millennial and Gen-Z Marketing

While they are adjacent generations, the qualities in which they have gained notoriety differ, especially as consumers. The rise of the newest wave of consumers, who make up roughly 40% of all customers in the market, is certainly creating changes as Gen Z’s desires are not perfectly aligned with their older generational neighbors. The people who make up this group were born between 1997 and 2012.

At the same time, this does not imply that advertisers should stop pushing their marketing efforts toward Millennials. Simply put, Millennials largely contribute to the U.S. economic capital with a generational wealth estimated at $24 trillion. This group is made up of people born between 1981 and 1996.

With these statistics in mind, it is important that brands learn how to make the most of both unique generational consumer behaviors. Here are different elements advertisers should keep in mind when targeting a Millennial vs. a Gen Z demographic.

Similarities

Before we break down the differences these two generations have as consumers, it’s important to acknowledge they do still have quite a bit in common. First, both groups are well-versed in social media and the amount of time they spend plugged in doesn’t vary too drastically.

Even at an average of 20 minutes less per day, Millennials were young and impressionable when the age of the Internet came to be and, as such, they are just about as savvy in social media as is Gen Z.

Second, both generations place importance on diversity, equality, and progressive social values. In contrast to generations prior, Millennials and Gen Zers have questioned many social norms that Boomers and Gen Xers have accepted as reality.

Though there are undoubtedly many similarities in the grand scheme of things, these generational differences must also be considered in order for marketers to successfully cater to both.

Attitude Toward Spending

Interestingly, the way Millennials’ and Gen Zers’ finances differ is quite great.

Many Millennials were young adults when the Great Recession hit the U.S. in 2007. Growing up with a poor economy at large taught this group to place value on quality over quantity, as they remain mostly optimistic about their personal finances.

With Gen Z being quite young at the start of the economic downturn, this generation adopted the notion of practicality and financial preparation from an early age.

How Can Brands Successfully Cater to Both Spending Behaviors?

For Millennials, quality over quantity means they are looking to invest their money in brands that create a unique product or experience that will noticeably enhance their quality of living. Millennials are inclined to do significant research before making a purchase, ensuring they’ve found the most beneficial product or experience for them. This is good news for marketers, as Millennials are constantly on the lookout for the next best thing to help them in their everyday lives. All brands need to do is prove they are the ones Millennials should be investing their time and money in, and they may have customers for life.

For Gen Z, it’s best to get right to it. Let the consumer know exactly why the product or experience is the best one for them and why it’s worth the money. As previously mentioned, this generation is very focused on responsible spending as a result of their early memories of the Great Recession. So, if you want to sell to Gen Z, make sure you keep your brand’s feet firmly planted on the ground. Approach selling in a practical manner and make sure your product has a clear purpose for its consumer.

Feeling Connected Through Social Media

It is apparent that both generations are avid social media users, and the feeling of connection that social media creates is well enjoyed by both. However, the ways they best receive those feelings of connection vary.

Millennials feel most connected through the more traditional sharing, pinning, and forwarding; predominantly on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Gen Zers have had social media at their fingertips for the majority of their lives and, as a result, they consume more media on fewer platforms. This group is very visual and prefers rapid consumption, mainly through Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and, most recently, TikTok.

How Can Brands Leverage Connection in Their Marketing Efforts?

Millennials prefer the more traditional social media platforms and sharing techniques, because they’re easy ways to feel seen and heard. Brands can leverage this in their customer journeys through interaction: asking consumers questions, encouraging them to communicate in comments sections, and more. This creates a space where Millennials feel valued and contributes to their attitude that a brand can better their lives on a deeply personal level.

Gen Z’s short attention span makes their marketing needs exclusively geared toward them. Cut to the chase and get down to benefits of the product — this is the best way to reach them on their preferred social platforms. Utilizing influencers for brand marketing is an effective way to connect to this audience. With 10-second Instagram stories and #sponsored posts, brands can use their preferred social platforms to connect in a unique way that feels authentic to Gen Z.

Embracing Generational Differences as Marketers and Advertisers

As two groups who came one after the other, it’s no surprise that Millennials and Generation Z are very similar. Both known for questioning common ideas the predecessing generations easily accepted, the two generations have redefined marketing in a new era for brands. They value authenticity, social responsibility, and inclusion. But both have different consumer behaviors when it comes to their finances and how they connect. For marketers, it is more important than ever to optimize and strategize based on their ever-changing habits as consumers

6 Essential Factors To Consider When Choosing Your Ideal Ad Platform

When launching an ad campaign, one important decision you’ll have to make is choosing the appropriate platform. After all, you want to be sure that your ad successfully reaches your intended audience.

AdAge | 6 Essential Factors

With a multitude of platforms out there, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you, especially as social media advertising becomes more and more ubiquitous. To help you, we asked the members of Ad Age Collective for some key considerations to make when choosing an ad platform. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Intent

Intent is the most important thing when choosing an ad platform for your business. A platform like Google is used to pull people in because people are already searching for what you’re putting out there. A platform like Facebook or Instagram relies on “pushing” ads in front of people, and it requires a completely different strategy because users need to be convinced you’re worth their time. – Michael Lisovetsky, JUICE

2. Relevance

In such a cluttered world, relevance is paramount. Relevance is the right content and the right context. It’s the ideal balance between effectiveness and efficiency — producing the intended or expected result and performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort. – Marcello Magalhaes, Speakeasy – Knowledge Brokers

3. The audience you’re targeting

When a campaign is targeting a niche audience, we choose a platform with the ability to get in front of that specific segment. For a campaign targeting a broader audience, we use platforms that can scale and expand our reach through data collection and optimization. – Matt Smolenski, 90octane

4. Connection to key customer insights

Effective engagement is driven by insights about customers. If your ad platform is disconnected from critical insights like which accounts to target, personas on the buying team or where they are in their journey, you’re basically just putting up a ton of digital billboards — it’s a pretty picture and cool slogan, but likely will not generate a ton of results. – Latane Conant, 6sense

5. Potential for acceleration

When dealing with social media ads or PPC, it can be tempting to get lost in a metrics comparison game. The question marketers should be asking is about acceleration: Which platform will accelerate my growth fastest when compared to the same activities conducted organically? Organic efforts tend to have a far higher profit margin so the case for using paid efforts is when growth is needed now. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

6. Whether you can take a holistic approach

Choose an ad platform that analyzes all parts of the campaign holistically is key — not just one component. That’s why working with one agency who does all parts of a campaign, not just one segment, is the best approach. Otherwise, each separate agency will try to fight as to why their portion is working better instead of being truly agnostic to what the best working media is. – Jessica Hawthorne-CastroHawthorne Advertising

DVR Usage, Trends Over Time and Implications for Advertisers Using Linear TV

Using Nielsen nPower® data from October 2006 (the first month with DVR viewing data), the authors found dramatic differences in the growth trends of non-live viewing amongst different categories of the linear TV landscape, with national broadcast prime showing the fastest increase (currently in the 30-40% range for persons 18-49). DRV Trends and LinearWhile experts have weighed in over the years on the effects of DVR-induced ad avoidance, analysis of the data offers reasons to remain bullish on the linear TV space, while also being cognizant of the need to include in many media plans some exposure in streaming platforms and other video mediums, both established and nascent.”

 

 

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DVR Usage, Trends Over Time and Implications for Advertisers Using Linear TV

15 essential qualities every great marketing leader should have

As marketing needs expand by the year, an abundance of leadership roles, from SEO specialists to social media moguls, emerge. Anyone can be named as a manager, but what makes a great leader, particularly in the marketing sphere?

15 Marketing Professionals AdAge

We asked the members of Ad Age Collective to share some necessary attributes for an effective marketing leader. Below, they share 15 characteristics that are vital to the marketing world, and how you can incorporate these attributes into your own leadership style.

1. A deep understanding of the customer

Marketing leaders who understand their avatar inside and out can effectively attract, convert and retain the perfect customer. Understanding current consumer behaviors and motivations while forecasting how future economic, social and tech trends will impact them is critical. Unlimited funds, incredible products, beautifully-designed stores and highly-optimized funnels won’t matter without it. – Maxwell Finn, Unicorn Innovations

2. Audience advocacy

A great marketing leader needs to be a champion for those their brand serves. We’ve heard of servant leaders — now it’s time for “servant marketers.” To do this, one must not only understand customers’ needs, but also offer solutions that are in their best interest over those in the interest of the bottom line. Consumers have many options. If your marketing isn’t a concierge service, you’ll lose them. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

3. Adaptability

To be a great leader in the marketing space, you have to be forward-thinking and a visionary, but most importantly you have to be adaptable and able to pivot strategy on a dime. While fast-changing strategic plans are needed, you need to be very stable financially and operationally and not allow the ebbs and flows of the business or clients affect the employees — they should be shielded from all. – Jessica Hawthorne-CastroHawthorne Advertising

4. Curiosity

The best leaders I know ask more than they answer. They wonder why, let their minds wander at times and plunge into unfamiliar topics and experiences with a sense of wonder and humility. They’re okay not knowing everything. They’re comfortable with ambiguity. In short, they understand curiosity leads to growth and that gives them the courage to lead people down uncharted roads toward opportunity. – Todd Morgano, Falls Communications

5. Comfort with the uncomfortable

Marketing is an inherently disorientating field. One minute one platform is king, the next minute your tried-and-true tactics no longer work and you have to start from scratch. This can prove stressful for your team, but a stellar marketing leader knows how to steady the ship and remind their team to focus on the creativity that comes with the territory as a source of inspiration and motivation. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

6. Entrepreneurial spirit

New opportunities, data and platforms are constantly disrupting the marketing space. Customer behavior adapts to these changes in real-time. Given that, great leaders need to be open-minded, always looking for better ways to drive results. Success comes from unique approaches uncovered through innate curiosity and problem-solving, with a comfort for risk and testing boundaries. – Kerry Curran, Catalyst

7. Vision

Leaders need to know where the industry is headed and what their team needs to do to be successful. It requires creative thinking and a commitment to innovation. The way people consume information has evolved significantly, and organizations need to find ways to have more relevant conversations with them. Leaders need to point their teams in the right direction and set priorities. – Kevin Dean, Experian

8. Tech savvy

While the fundamentals of marketing remain the same, technology underpins marketing like never before. Today’s marketing leaders to be comfortable in knowing how to leverage technology to solve core marketing challenges, from making their team more efficient to helping drive measurable impact for their organizations. – Amrita Gurney, CrowdRiff

9. The ability to tap into gut feelings

Marketers must balance the quantifiable with a feeling. Some things just feel right, yet are difficult to put into a financial model. While marketers will spend time in performance marketing tweaking programs for incremental improvement, they must also spend time making buyers care. Making people care is a creative challenge that requires buy-in from financially-motivated internal stakeholders. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

10. Drama

Many emphasize being steady, measured and credible in leadership. In marketing, however, given the importance of creativity, impact and an “out-of-the-ordinary” approach to the world, drama has an important place. Not negative drama, but rather a theatrical and emotional representation of ideas, concepts and the importance of what we do. Don’t just go to the meeting — take the stage! – Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency

11. An analytical mindset

It’s cliché, but marketing has truly become a sophisticated dance between art and science where data reigns supreme. With an overabundance of information being generated, marketing heads need to not only understand the four Ps, but also be well-versed in data analysis so they can figure out how to gracefully marry the left and right brain to build creative yet performance-first based campaigns. – Kurt Kaufer, Ad Results Media

12. Focus

As a leader, having all this innovation at your fingertips is generally a great thing. However, when you, or your team, start to chase those new trends and get caught up in all the noise, you can lose focus on your vision. It’s critical to think long term, develop a vision and stick to it. Don’t get sidetracked by short-term “shiny objects.” – Oz Etzioni, Clinch

13. The ability to understand ROI

Marketing is the most personal form of communication between a brand and a consumer. Success is defined by being adaptable to technological advances like AI and automation. It’s critical to strip away the jargon and hype around technology to understand what’s really driving ROI. Marketers must do homework, test options and make sure technology stacks translate to business value. – Ricky Ray Butler, Branded Entertainment Network

14. Left-brain and right-brain thinking

Marketing leaders must have the ability to switch from right-brain to left-brain thinking seamlessly. Great content is essential to advertising and that is generally a right-brain activity built on empathy and customer understanding. However, marketing is also a numerically-driven science that benefits from data-driven optimization. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

15. An open mind and a hunger to learn

Finding just one attribute is challenging. If I had to share one it would be an open mind and a hunger to continue to learn. Marketing is continuously evolving, new technologies come into play and different generations sway what is relevant. Continuing to learn about what makes consumers tick and testing new ideas can help to expand your knowledge and, ultimately, the success of campaigns. – Issa Sawabini, Fuse

How Extremely Busy Executives Make Time to Be Great Parents

The main key to being “fully present” with my children is working smart while at work. I am highly organized, which allows me to get through all the important tasks of my day quickly. For example, even with all my meetings and various activities of the day, I get hundreds of emails, but I get my email inbox down to less than 30 total emails every day before I leave work and go home to my family. That allows me to leave work and be fully present with them. It also allows me to start every workday fresh and ready to tackle anything as I don’t have yesterday’s activities hanging over my head.


a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Jessica Hawthorne-CastroJessica Hawthorne-Castro is CEO of Hawthorne. Jessica has strategically positioned the agency to be at the forefront of advertising, where art meets science. She is committed to providing data-driven solutions and proprietary tools to help clients maximize their advertising investment dollars. From creative and production to strategy, media and analytics, Jessica ensures quality and innovation throughout all disciplines of the agency. As CEO of Hawthorne, Jessica has prioritized company culture and corporate social responsibility and is a Climate Change Reality Ambassador. Today, Hawthorne is a certified woman-owned business by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), a Great Place to Work®, and on the Inc. 5000 list. In addition, Jessica has received many awards for her career accomplishments, including: Ernst & Young (EY) “Entrepreneur Of The Year” winner in the Transformational Leader category, Greater Los Angeles; the 2019 “Elite Marketer” in the Los Angeles Business Journal’s Most Influential Marketers in Southern California; “Women to Watch” for the “Marketing Hall of Femme” Direct Marketing News; “Women’s Summit Awards Nomination” by Los Angeles Business Journal; “Woman of Influence” by L.A. Biz and Biz Women; “CEO of the Year in Technology-Based Advertising” for the 2019 Innovation & Excellence Awards; “Female CEO of the Year in Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations” & “Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year” from CEO World Awards; Marketing EDGE’s “Rising Star Award”; “Top 40 Under 40” by Direct Marketing News; Finance Monthly CEO Awards “Business Women of the Year” & “Monthly Game Changers Awards”; “CEO Global Award” CEO Today Magazine; and the and “Woman of the Year — Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations” & “ Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year” from the Stevie Awards. Hawthorne-Castro is an active member of her professional community. She is a member of the Forbes Agency Council and Ad Age’s Agency Collective, invitation-only organizations for senior-level executives in public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. In September 2017, she joined the ANA ECHO Board of Governors, the elite group behind one of the most coveted prizes in marketing and is the incoming Chair of the Board. Jessica is a participant in TED International, TED Women communities and Vistage International. She is also a member of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), the global organization empowering more than 28,000 members in more than 130 countries and is the Chapter Chair for YPO Los Angeles and on the YPO Pacific U.S Regional Executive Board. When Jessica isn’t busy with the company, culture, and board participation, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and traveling the world (over 50 countries so far!). She resides in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

was raised in a small town in Iowa where strong family values and work ethic are ingrained in you. I appreciated that very much as it has definitely defined who I am and how I approach my work: no nonsense and never a complaint, you just work and don’t expect shiny stars or accolades for doing hard work. I then went to university at UCLA, and in my sophomore year, I started numerous internships that allowed me to explore various jobs within the entertainment industry, which led to my first professional career of becoming a Hollywood talent agent before I transitioned to the advertising industry.

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

Starting out as a television literary agent in Hollywood, the transition over to the advertising industry was actually a natural fit as I had experience managing individual writers, directors and producers, and in advertising, I started managing entire brands and their campaigns. There was then another seamless, natural transition to operations/managing the company, where employees were now my clients and I worked on behalf of their best interests. Whatever I have done or worked on, whether it was for clients or now my employees, it has always been to better their lives and careers.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

It starts with an early rise as I get my son and daughter ready for their day and take them to school. Then, I have conference calls on the way to the office or attend early board meetings. My day consists of managing all aspects of the company, people, finances, strategy and planning, and meeting with people or clients all day or reviewing strategy or reports with my team members. I am also on several boards, so I am working on those strategic plans and events or attending industry conferences, board meetings and events as well during the day. Occasionally, I have an evening work event or travel but no matter what, I try to make them turn-around trips in 24–48 hours. It’s exhausting, but that is because I still try to be home every night to spend time with my children and husband and put my kids to bed.

OK, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

If you are gone too much, it can have a negative effect, and the child can feel neglected. On the flip side, if you are around but not fully present — on your phone or social media — or just generally burnt out so you take that negative attitude out on your children, that can have a long-term detrimental effect as well.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?

My 7-year-old son actually says he likes that my husband and I both work, and sometimes we joke if we should stay at home with him instead, but he says, “Oh no, you need to go to work!” He likes his lifestyle and understands the benefits a working household bring him. If we work from home one day, he gets worried about us and asks us why we aren’t working and if we’re still going back to the office! Making children understand that money doesn’t grow on trees is important. They can see that we work to provide them the life they enjoy and allows us the ability to vacation and do other things together. Even though my husband and I work hard, we work harder to still be with them in the morning and evenings. We also make sure to break away for all mid-day important school events or sporting events. Weekends have always been “family days” so he never really feels that we aren’t around enough.

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

  • When I am home, I am not checking my email or phone. I am fully engaged with my son and pay all my attention to him. I work hard during the day to get everything done so that I am clear and 100% attentive to him when I am home. Working makes me happy and makes me appreciate the time I spend with my kids and so I enjoy every moment.
  • Weekends are a special time for us, and we live them up! Whether we are traveling the world or spending time at home, running around to birthday parties, events or dinners, we cherish all time together.
  • Every morning I take my son to school and walk him to his school chapel. We hold hands and talk about each day’s upcoming activities. I usually have to leave chapel early to get to a meeting, but I strike a balance to walk him into his seat, kiss him goodbye and tell him to have a beautiful day. From the sidelines, I stand with the other parents and say the morning prayers, pledge allegiance and then I wave to him goodbye while most other parents stay for the whole chapel. I don’t feel bad because it’s a compromise that I stay as long as I can before I get to work, and my son appreciates the effort that I’m doing my part as a working parent.
Hawthorne-Castro

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.

  • The main key to being “fully present” with my children is working smart while at work. I am highly organized, which allows me to get through all the important tasks of my day quickly. For example, even with all my meetings and various activities of the day, I get hundreds of emails, but I get my email inbox down to less than 30 total emails every day before I leave work and go home to my family. That allows me to leave work and be fully present with them. It also allows me to start every workday fresh and ready to tackle anything as I don’t have yesterday’s activities hanging over my head.
  • Being fully present while at a sporting event, not checking my phone and bringing the team snack once in a while is a good parent win!
  • Vacations as a family and getting to nature support traveling together (where you really get to know each other 😊) and help make your child adapt to different environments seamlessly with the security of family.
  • Taking your child to school, as simple as it may sound, is a wonderful time to bond in the morning and talk about the upcoming day’s activities.
  • Putting your child to bed each night and telling them you love and support them as your last words will help them have sweet dreams and a deep sense of security.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

To me, being a good parent is making my children feel loved, that I will always be there for them no matter what and for them to have that security. For that reason, those are the last words I tell my son every night before he goes to bed — that I love him, and I will always be here to take care of him. He always smiles and goes to bed happy.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

My son likes magic, so taking his interests and translating them to fields of relevance like saying, “Science is like real life magic, and you could be a scientist and invent great things.” He also likes to help people so saying, “You could be a doctor and help lots of people,” gives him ideas that his interests can go in many directions to help humanity as a whole when he gets older.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

Success, to me, is having a great company that is a great place to work, is profitable and showing positive growth trends. If you’re not growing, you’re dying as a company. Then having your family happy and taken care of is a well-rounded picture of success.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

How I Built This podcast on NPR shows great stories of inspiring CEOs and entrepreneurs that defied the odds and built great companies.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There will always be mistakes in life, business and even when you embark on a plan, but it doesn’t come to fruition. But it is not the mistakes that you should focus on, it is the solution to how you will fix or overcome it. Essentially a lesson in resilience that you need to find the solution, keep trying and never give up.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am surrounded by CEOs of huge caliber, and I endeavor to continue to be a positive influence on how all these mammoth CEOs who, as a group, collectively represent GDPs larger than many countries. We can positively impact the world through corporate social responsibility, sustainability and making great companies that are positive work environments and affect the employees, which in turn better all those employees’ and families’ lives.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

About the Author:

Dr. Ely Weinschneider is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist based in New Jersey. Dr. Ely specializes in adolescent and adult psychotherapy, parenting, couples therapy, geriatric therapy, and mood and anxiety disorders. He also has a strong clinical interest in Positive Psychology and Personal Growth and Achievement, and often makes that an integral focus of treatment. An authority on how to have successful relationships, Dr. Ely has written, lectured and presented nationally to audiences of parents, couples, educators, mental health professionals, clergy, businesses, physicians and healthcare policymakers on subjects such as: effective parenting, raising emotionally intelligent children, motivation, bullying prevention and education, managing loss and grief, spirituality, relationship building, stress management, and developing healthy living habits. Dr. Ely also writes a regular, nationally syndicated column about the importance of “being present with your children”. When not busy with all of the above, Dr. Ely works hard at practicing what he preaches, raising his adorable brood (which includes a set of twins and a set of triplets!) together with his wife in Toms River, New Jersey.

5 Cutting-edge Ways Companies Are Leveraging Augmented And Virtual Reality

One of the hottest trends in advertising right now is the use of augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR). AR and VR can provide greater creative freedom for advertisers, resulting in a product that can reach customers in a way that traditional ad mediums can’t always do.

5 Cutting Edge Ways

As leaders in their field, the members of Ad Age Collective keep on top of the latest marketing and advertising trends, as well as how to implement them successfully. Below, five of them tell us the most cutting-edge ways they’ve seen companies leverage augmented and virtual reality in their campaigns.

1. 3D visualization

Brainlab recently announced a partnership with Magic Leap, which leverages AR to help train brain surgeons via interaction with 3D visualizations. Given Magic Leap raised $2.6 billion off the back of a seriously creative communications strategy, this partnership shows the power of bringing together forward-thinking technology and out-of-the-box communications to make an enormous positive impact. -Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

2. Teasing product launches

An effective strategy I’ve seen companies leverage with a virtual reality experience is one that teases a new product or launch through hidden passageways or corners to show what is coming before giving away the entire secret prior to the official launch. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

3. Adding dimension to a critical touchpoint

As we know, many consumers buy wine based on the label, and 19 Crimes has used augmented reality to take the label up a notch. The novelty and short videos became a centerpoint of conversation shared around the bottle. And then, via word of mouth, the experience can be perpetuated to friends who haven’t yet experienced the brand — the most efficient form of promotion. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

4. Employee training and assessments

Walmart created “Walmart Academies,” a program using VR to improve the employee experience, deliver training and accurately assess workers’ skills. It recreates scenarios associates encounter on the floor but in a safe environment. This program is widely successful as it’s closely aligned with the business goal of delivering shoppers with the best customer experience possible. -Mason Page, Reflect Systems

5. Excitement about products and purchases

Porsche had a problem: How do you keep people excited about a car that they’ve put a deposit down for, but have never seen in person? For the Taycan, Porsche’s electric sports car, they created an augmented reality car app that superimposed a model car wherever you pointed your iPad or mobile phone camera. It was like a virtual RC car and it gave fans something to share with their friends and family. – Rex Briggs, Marketing Evolution

Hawthorne Takes Home Another Set of Creative and Corporate Awards in 2nd Half of 2019

LOS ANGELESDec. 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, announced today that it has won 12 creative and corporate awards in the second half of 2019 from 10 different organizations. The awards recognized everything from Hawthorne’s results-driven campaigns to the leadership of the agency’s CEO, Jessica Hawthorne-Castro. They are a testament to Hawthorne’s continued success and influence within the advertising industry, honoring both client work and how the company is run.

“Hawthorne’s top priority is to execute memorable campaigns that not only meet our client’s objectives, but surpass them,” said Hawthorne-Castro. “Our team works hard to deliver measurable results while also cultivating a workplace where employees are empowered to do their best work. These 12 awards are further validation that our approach is resonating, and we look forward to continuing that pattern in 2020.”

Hawthorne’s innovative approach combines the art of right-brain creativity with the science of left-brain data analytics and neuroscience to create meticulously crafted and expertly executed campaigns that deliver dramatic results for clients. Since the beginning of 2018, Hawthorne has won nearly 60 awards for its creative work and company culture, and Hawthorne-Castro has won dozens of awards for her leadership abilities and marketing influence.

Hawthorne won the following awards in the second half of 2019:

Hawthorne has successfully led thousands of major campaigns for some of the world’s most recognizable brands, managing billions of media billings that have delivered strong results for clients. To learn more about the company and how they deliver value by combining creative services with data science, visit hawthornedirect.com.

About Hawthorne:
Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, specializes in strategic planning, creative development, production, media planning, buying and analytics, and campaign management for integrated marketing campaigns. With nearly 30 years of proven excellence, the agency combines persuasive brand messaging with best-in-class analytic systems to create accountable, high performance advertising campaigns. Hawthorne helps brands efficiently target their consumers, improve cost per acquisition, optimize the lifetime value of a brand’s customers, and even drive consumer response to key retail outlets or corporate locations. As a leading analytic and data driven, accountable brand advertising agency, Hawthorne specializes in integrated campaign solutions. The company offers a full suite of integrated solutions with creative, media, digital and mobile services. Hawthorne maintains brand integrity and metrics to efficiently and effectively optimize the results of its clients’ integrated media budgets via leading edge and proven data analytics. Hawthorne has developed successful award-winning campaigns for countless Fortune 500 brands. Please visit www.hawthornedirect.com and http://www.linkedin.com/company/hawthorne-direct for more information.

Media Contact:
Rachel Bernstein
rbernstein@sspr.com 
856-745-3268

SOURCE Hawthorne