Name: Kate Walling
Job / Title: Marketing Consultant & Founder of Traction Hero
Company: Traction Hero Inc.
Industry: Marketing & Advertising
Q: From your perspective, what are the most important trends that will take place in your industry in the next 10 years?
Kate: As technology evolves, marketers are challenged to adapt to new channels, techniques, and ever more data. I expect these trends to continue, especially as more experiential marketing opportunities arise from self-driving vehicles and other technologies, and we have more and more data to work with. This will present a fun new challenge for marketers who will need to build experiences for each customer, based on their unique preferences, instead of one experience for many. We will have more tools to work with as data hygiene becomes a top priority and AI integrations help us create these unique experiences. We have moved way past the old formula of product, price, place and promotion and, as the years pass, the bar for experience, emotional connection and the expectation for brands to improve our lives will get much higher.
Q: Given your position in technology and manufacturing, how has your work or work place changed in the last 5 years, and what do you foresee as changes in the next 5 – 10 years?
Kate: Marketing has become highly nuanced, demanding a broader array of talents and skills than a small team can deliver. This need has arisen as marketing leaders have become more responsible for profit and loss. Over the last 5 years, as models have begun to require an emphasis on experience and virality, successful marketing leaders are playing key roles in product development strategy. We have also had to adapt to an ever-growing ‘martech’ stack, and learn how to better align marketing and sales to reach expectations for scale. We are beyond the time when the first adopters of new social media platforms or advertising units got the advantage, and customers’ attention is getting harder and harder to capture. The use of AI will be imperative to help marketers deliver more customized experiences for each customer over the next 5-10 years, as will the need for us to use clearer and more confident attribution models.
Q: What have been the hallmarks of your success?
Kate: The successes that have given me the most fulfillment come from my entrepreneurial pursuits, despite a lack of events that mark traditional success (i.e. an exit). Being an entrepreneur is like being an artist. There is no one to guide you at every point, and success is far from guaranteed, yet major stress is a certainty. You are forced to understand yourself on a deep level, to pivot constantly, and to use the skills that come to you naturally. For me, the entrepreneurial path meant using my marketing intuition with my first startup to launch a national PR campaign that landed me on TV stations and magazines across the country (before social media existed), which resulted in thousands of new customers. Another success was building a marketing agency in Seattle that was well received commercially after the 2008 bank crisis impacted my first startup.
Q: If you can share one piece of advice that you know now about navigating your career, what would that be?
Kate: Find an environment and people to work with that feel right to you so that you can flourish. Don’t settle for a situation that disrupts your perspective on who you are. If you get stuck, find a new activity, class, or project to help you find your way through.
Q: What are the hallmark traits of a great leader that you have observed in your career?
Kate: Respect, empathy, transparency, and trust. Leaders can relate to being human, know how to encourage your growth, give you room and acknowledgement for doing your job, and help you if you make a mistake.
Q: How important is developing a management style?
Kate: It has been very important in my career, and I have learned a particular style that works great for managing creative talent. If you are happy being an individual contributor and you do not want to manage, there is nothing wrong with that. But if you have a desire to lead, then finding a management style that works for you and your team is important.