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Human beings are the most important assets any company has. And finding the right human beings, for the right brand, with the right skills, is why Kat Duncan co-founded CLICK Talent eight years ago.
Kat recently won a Spotlight Award from MIMA, so we tapped her to share her thoughts on her firm, the Twin Cities talent pool, and some must-have skills for every digital marketer today. If you’d like to find out more about Spotlight Awards and why we’re recognizing local leaders like Kat, get inspired and connect here.
Can you talk about CLICK Talent and what you specialize in?
CLICK is a third-party, permanent-placement recruitment firm focused on agencies and corporations in the Twin Cities. We know the best digital and integrated marketing talent in the area.
I focus on talent acquisition in the industry of marketing technology. My firm is exclusively permanent placement, and I work only at more senior levels. I work in such a niche market that it’s highly specialized. Simply put, I’m here to help my clients find the talent they need in their organization today.
Tell us a bit about your career path and how you got to where you are now.
Essentially, my current role is consultative sales, though my product (a job candidate) is emotional and changes its mind. Looking back, almost all of my roles have been consultative sales, going all the way back to the days I waited tables. I have always focused on client service, and with that, solving for my client’s need, which is the simplest way to generate revenue.
My undergrad was at MCAD, earning a BFA in “Visual Communications,” (Graphic Design). I was mediocre at best, and learned very quickly, I was not built to sit behind a screen blown up to 400% moving around pixels. I had wonderful mentors that opened doors for me into Account/Client Services in marketing firms. This led to Business Development, which ultimately led to my career in recruitment, which I said “no” to, more than once.
I was recruited to be a recruiter in advertising because of my background in design/account management and sales. I said “no” because I am not at all interested in HR. I said “no” because I had not yet met a recruiter I respected. I said “no” because it was 100% commissioned. When I was called back for the third time, I consulted with my business mentor and asked, “Should I try this?” His response, “I wouldn’t wish recruitment on my worst enemy. But, you should do it Kathryn, you’d be good at it.”
That was 13 years ago. I have been an owner/partner at CLICK Talent for 8 years and in July of this year, I became the sole owner of CLICK, now a wholly woman owned company.
The Twin Cities has a wealth of really talented and innovative digital marketers. We are blessed with a strong state economy, ranked ninth for the number of Fortune 500 HQs, and we fluctuate between No. 1 and No. 2 in the per capita category. This alone produces phenomenal thinking, along with being one of the strongest states for higher education. Companies and agencies can choose from the very best talent without having to relocate from the coasts. Not to mention, Twin Cities Startup Week is the second largest in the country according to Techstars, and the Minnesota Cup is the largest statewide competition in the country.
The Twin Cities have long been a hub for Advertising Agencies, and while the creative juices run strong in the North, I am really enjoying the shift to data-driven marketing, measurable and ROI-producing work. Minnesota is catching up to Chicago in a hurry, producing, nurturing and employing digital media talent.
How have brands’ needs changed related to talent and roles in digital marketing over the last 3-5 years?
What’s “next” isn’t always what brands need to hire for. That’s really critical. It’s really about understanding the timing of what the need is for full-time employment. For example, data, data, data. How do we collect it (ethically)? How do we store it? How do we use it? What does privacy really mean from brands and for consumers? I am seeing more and more need for data science, paid media and measurement strategy than ever before. Brands are demanding accountability from their marketing dollars, and through the digital lens, and the right KPIs, metrics and analytics, digitally savvy marketers (MarTech) can deliver.
What are the key characteristics or attributes a digital marketer needs today to be successful in the industry?
From a recruitment standpoint, my phone rings for measureable marketing and paid media above all else. Here are some characteristics that are critical for job seekers today:
· Math skills. It’s less about if you can write well and more about data and numbers.
· Data segmentation, automation, optimization and measurement.
· Follow the evolving laws and regulations in a digital economy to stay human focused—and free of prosecution.
· Be an ongoing learner. Digital, or MarTech, or AdTech, or just simply “marketing” today is ever-changing. Mastery is impossible in a field of innovation and evolution.
What are a couple things digital marketers should do right now to better position themselves as a potential fit for a digital-focused brand or agency?
Each organization I work with has a very different “fit” profile, but the common denominator, and my most frequently requested skill set, is paid media (paid search, otherwise known as PPC, SEM).
My personal/professional addition to that, is having marketers not lose sight of the business objectives. We tend to fall down a rabbit hole of digital channel strategies/tactics and execution that are bright and sparkly; we can get lost in new tools and software. Fully understanding business, sales goals and impact on the bottom line will keep digital marketers well-rounded, while their tactics to achieve those objectives remain in high demand.
As a previous MIMA board member from 2012-2015, can you talk about how important an organization such as MIMA is in the industry today?
The importance of groups like MIMA is less about networking and more about relevancy related to what’s happening in the marketplace. It’s about raising the bar on your education and what your takeaways are that you bring back to the office to be a better marketer.