Ten years ago, Matt Woestehoff was in the midst of a career change and sought counsel from his Strategic Communications professor at the University of Minnesota. Knowing Matt was looking to make connections in the Twin Cities marketing community, the prof suggested he seek out MIMA. Now, a decade later, Matt is poised to lead the organization that was a key part of his career transition back then—and current success as a marketer today.
MIMA: Tell us about when you joined MIMA and why?
Matt: It was probably a decade ago. I was working at Apple, and I needed a career change. I had graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Strategic Communications degree, and one of my professors said that MIMA was the best place to meet industry folks. He was right.
MIMA: What are you most excited about in your new role at MIMA?
Matt: Honestly, it’s not the role; it’s the people I get to work with. We’re a bunch of volunteers who try and to make little changes to have bigger effects. It’s not some crusade to save lives, like other great non-profit volunteer opportunities, but there’s something huge to be said for helping people connect and helping them find the difference between a “job” and a “career.”
Whether it’s getting an internship, or becoming a CMO, there’s a high that we all get when we find the role we are meant for. And if we can help marketing folks discover what that means to them, all the better. Part of that happens through connections, and part of it happens through the crazy opportunities for education that we can provide on fringe topics through deep-dive workshops and case studies. I love enabling folks, and that’s what I’m excited about.
MIMA: Tell us about your career a bit and your current role?
Matt: I’m kind of an outsider to the marketing crowd. My dad worked at an agency for 32 years, and I remember some random Saturdays as a kid being a junior art director for him and taping up newspaper ads. My first word processor was QuarkXpress, and I ended up going to the J-School at the “U” where I got an opportunity to do a study abroad related to design in Europe.
But life led me down a different path. I spent almost seven years working for Apple in the Twin Cities, where I was a Senior Manager and Visual Merchandising Mentor for the central United States. I loved my time there. I learned how retail, technology and marketing all need to play well with each other to be successful, and that it takes a ton of work—and epic late nights.
But my wife and I had our first of three kids, and it was time for some schedule stability and new opportunities to grow. That brought me to Foundation Technologies, just about seven years ago. My current role is a mix of Director of Business Development, Marketing and Technology, where I act as the first contact for most of our clients and a sort of virtual CTO for some. Many MIMA members are our clients, both enterprise and agency side.
Our team is known for their ability to support Apple in enterprise, Mac offices and massive retail deployments. Our team manages thousands of iPads and other tablets for retailers across the U.S., as well as wireless networking for over 4,500 locations. I’ve been lucky, as the team has been around for about 20 years, but we’ve made the Inc. 5000 list for the last three years, and ended up No. 2 on the MSPBJ Fast 50 for 2016. For me, it’s the same as what I said previously: My job is to enable my team members to do their jobs and get barriers out of the way. I try to provide opportunities for successfully fulfilling their passions—keeping us ahead of the game.
MIMA: What is your favorite marketing campaign and why?
Matt: Oof. That’s actually a pretty tough one for me because I can overanalyze that question quickly and go down a rabbit hole. As for one that I think didn’t get enough credit? That’d be some old Honda Element ads from 2006. I love it because it’s so quirky, and you can tell that they really thought about the brand voice for the Element, not just for Honda. Plus, anything that makes my wife laugh, I appreciate. I really liked the Netflix and Pete Souza work for House of Cards (up until a few weeks ago, anyway). It’s clever, under the radar and just very well done.
MIMA: Why is an organization like MIMA so important in today’s evolving marketing landscape?
Matt: MIMA’s heritage is funny to me. We’re the oldest interactive marketing association. We’re so old that no one uses that term anymore. But what I think is great is our shift to continually look at what is next, and for tomorrow. A great example was our November event, where the speaker talked about AI and machine learning. It scared the shit out of me, and I’m happier and better for it. That’s what MIMA’s role is: To keep moving us all forward and trying to be better individually, and as the whole.
MIMA: What are some of the biggest learnings you’ve had from your involvement with MIMA?
Matt: Events-wise: It’s that ad fraud is incredibly real, and surprisingly not illegal. MIMA itself: It’s that the people genuinely care and want to help. We’re all connectors, and that community aspect of MIMA is always great to see as it happens.
MIMA: Why should others join MIMA? What does the organization bring to the Twin Cities?
Matt: I’m not sure all marketers should, to be honest. But, if you’re looking for a place to learn, or a place to connect, then I’d take a look. Attend an event. Check the job board. Volunteer. If you haven’t heard me say it before, decisions are made by those who show up. And I encourage you to take the first step, and show up.
MIMA: What does the future of digital marketing look like to you? What should students be focused on mastering?
Matt: Ever changing, which is why I’d focus on listening. Listening to what people say, and how they say it. Dig deep and find meaning. That’s a timeless exercise, whereas technology will always have something new. Be mindful of the “new” and make sure you understand the “new,” but don’t rely on it alone.
MIMA: What was the best MIMA event you have attended, and why?
Matt: The first one. I don’t remember the topic or the speaker, but I remember it because I chose to show up, and step outside of my normal introverted self. I ran into an old friend, and then made another connection. I knew from that point I needed to continue to make an effort. Each time I go, it helps affirm that I’m not alone, and that’s something.
MIMA: If you could have any speaker present for a MIMA event, who would it be and why?
Matt: That’s a great question. I’ve always thought that there was something special about Edward Tufte and his ability to explain and expand upon how information, through proper design, can change the narrative.
Written by MIMA Marketing Committee volunteer Chris Matt