I didn’t mean to end up in media. I was on a sales track—specifically, pet food. Then I was on a motherhood track. Yet a couple of decades later, I have a global business and reputation strong enough to make me a finalist in two categories in one of Australia’s most prestigious media gongs, writes Katrina McCarter
For the fifth consecutive year, I’m a finalist in the B&T Women in Media Awards 2021, in the Marketing and Entrepreneur categories. In past years, I’ve been up against Australia’s best CMOs, including Lisa Ronson from Coles and execs from Facebook and the ABC.
While I’m grateful and excited to be back in the running this year, the thing that lights me up most is the perspective it gives about what’s possible in business.
I’m a one-woman show. I have no agency or media house experience. The marketing work I’m predominantly known for was created from scratch.
So, I’m living proof that everyone can make an impact.
Here’s three steps to take so you can too:
It’s great to trust gut instinct but data is always queen. It tells you everything you need to know about opportunities and direction.
In my first business—an online shopping website for mums—other brands paid to advertise to the community I built from zero to 150K in five years. Reading their copy sometimes drove me nuts because many had no idea how to communicate with mothers.
The community recognised that and were increasingly unhappy about how they were being spoken to and perceived by brands.
Lightbulb moment. I saw a gap. I put together my first survey and hoped 300 mums would respond. 1800 mums from around the country were motivated to tell me their truth.
And that truth was stunning: 63 per cent of Australian mums believed advertisers and brands did not understand them. Recognising the huge consumer buying power they represented, I sold my first business and launched Marketing To Mums.
Data still underpins everything I do and my research into Australian mothers is ongoing. I’m currently investing considerable time and funds into learning about Gen Z, our mothers of tomorrow who will require a very different approach from Millennial and Gen X mothers.
You can’t do it alone
Once you’ve done the hard work of getting your assets together—developing your product and services, building your profile, putting yourself out there on platforms including podcasts and books—create an accountability team to support you.
As an independent consultant, I’ve always invested time in my relationships with other business people. I nurture them, I reward them with referrals or amplifying what they’re up to, I protect them. It’s a great way to see if there’s any alignment so your business can collaborate and grow with somebody else’s.
It’s also a great way to stay focused on goals and troubleshoot. The accountability team I set up is three women who have my back as much as I have theirs. It’s a confidential space where we hold each other accountable and discuss challenging issues and workshop ideas to solve them.
They’re a vital part of my ongoing success.
‘Be bold’ is my life and business mantra. I developed it at 14, when I had the fanciful idea of working enough shifts at KFC to bankroll my dream trip to New York. People smiled indulgently at my pie-in-the-sky plan. I was the one really smiling two years later as I walked down Fifth Avenue and realised big lofty dreams are attainable.
My mentor is a well-known author. Four years ago, he told me it was time I wrote a book about my marketing to mums passion.
I felt uncomfortable to the point of being wracked with imposter syndrome. But knowing the magic happens when we back ourselves and go outside our comfort zone, I wrote that book. It topped Booktopia’s business bestseller list for four weeks.
I soon found myself speaking in the US at the world’s leading learning event for people who market to mothers, alongside the likes of Google and Johnson & Johnson. Then I was on stage in Paris, won an international speaking award and found a spinoff career as a speaker.
I first nominated for the B&T Media Awards in 2017 because I backed myself. I figured most women don’t feel comfortable putting their hat in the ring and think only big companies will be recognised. I’ve always really believed in playing the small probability.
Making that first New York trip happen shaped my thinking. Now I know it’s not about am I good enough, it’s about what if it happened. What is the worst thing that can happen if you take bold action? You don’t get recognised. So what? You might next time.
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