“I will not be surprised to see the influencer marketing industry fade in the aftermath of COVID-19. I expect it will be replaced with more charitable efforts and experience marketing”Katie Evans
Katie is Marketing Director for the multidisciplinary firm, Sunland Group. A firm believer of storytelling in marketing, she shares her story with us on this segment of Women In Marketing
THE JOURNEY TAKEN
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career in marketing? How’d you end up at Sunland Group?
Daughter of a Graphic Designer and an Acoustical Engineer, Katie is an experienced Professional Services Marketer in the A/E/C community. An ISTP woman, only 2% of the population, she is a born problem-solver with an unwavering focus on practical solutions.
2020 marks the 35th anniversary for Sunland Group, Inc., a woman-owned multi-disciplinary firm offering innovative solutions nationwide from its offices in Texas and Colorado. Founded in 1985 as Sunland Engineering Company, the firm changed its name to Sunland Group, Inc. to encompass its growing range of offered services including architecture, civil engineering, program and project management, construction management, land planning and digital consulting and technology services.
During the firm’s 35-year history, Sunland has completed more than 400 major projects with a total construction value of more than $15 billion.
With a keen understanding of the A/E/C industry and a sincere enthusiasm for marketing and business development, Katie joined the team as Marketing Director mid-August 2019. A graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, she enjoys utilizing her communication and business background to help define and refine Sunland’s marketing objectives.
You have accumulated an envious amount of experience having worked for top-tier companies such as Tiffany & Co, Edlio as well as Charity Dynamics. What did you learn from these roles and how do you apply experiences in your current role at Sunland Group?
Relationship building and soft skills are invaluable in any industry.
Skills such as listening, collaborating with others, presenting ideas and communicating with team members are all highly valued in the modern workplace. Strong soft skills ensure a productive, collaborative and healthy work environment, all vital attributes for organizations in an increasingly competitive world.
What have you learned at Sunland Group that you had not learned at previous companies?
I wouldn’t say it’s something new that I have learned at Sunland Group but more reinforcement of something I already knew: relationship building is key. Also, seek and being a mentor – everyone benefits from it. One of the most important career management habits for career success and resiliency is regular attention to building relationships.
You obtained a BA in Asian Studies at The University of Texas (girl you fancy!). In an article written by Glassdoor, it has become seemingly easier to apply for work at companies such as Google, Apple and Starbucks as they do not require applicants to have a degree. How can young women utilise the internet to upskill themselves particularly if they cannot afford to obtain a formal education?
There are more opportunities than ever before to utilize the internet to upskill oneself, especially as education and training resources move online. In most cases, an internet connection and a computer are all that is required to take part. Many of the materials, including lectures, are available to access whenever you have time, so they don’t even require a specific schedule.
LinkedIn and General Assembly are resources that come to mind.
If one is interested in marketing in my industry (A/E/C = Architecture/Engineer/Construction), I highly recommend exploring SMPS: https://www.smps.org/
What made you fall in love with the world of marketing? What particular moment in time pushed you to pursue this as a career? After all, we all wanted to be Doctor’s growing up, right?
My career led me to Professional Services marketing in the A/E/C (Architecture/Engineering/Construction) Industry. I love it because it is all about championing our professionals – their skills, their knowledge, their projects and accomplishments. It’s people-centred and I love telling their stories.
If one is interested in marketing in my industry, I highly recommend exploring SMPS: https://www.smps.org/
ENTERING THE WORKPLACE
What does your typical day of work look like? How does your calendar look and are you a coffee or tea kind of person?
Iced Latte, please 🙂
I always start my day reviewing all my emails received from the night before and responding right away. When it comes to email correspondence, there seem to be two types of people: those who acknowledge that they received an email and those who don’t.
I am firmly in the first camp. When I receive an email, I quickly respond because it is courteous, I am responsive, and it forces me to react: this looks proactive and like I’m taking action — even if it’s just a one- or two-word email.
Beyond the emails, my days vary with these responsibilities:
Creating promotional messages and themes to drive business
Coordinating marketing strategies across multiple channels
Managing budgets for media and marketing campaigns
Testing new marketing messages, channels, and opportunities
Building relationships with national and local media outlets
Directing the company’s social media strategy
Evaluating the performance of campaigns and troubleshooting those that underperform
Monitoring and improving the website and digital presence through SEO
Managing third-party vendors and in-house employees
Brainstorming ways to promote new initiatives
Educating employees and other departments about industry marketing trends
Analyzing advertising return and reporting findings to upper management
Forbes has an annual ‘The World’s Most Influential CMOs’ report. For the year 2019, one of the key highlights from the report was that 31 of the 50 CMOs were women whilst there were 19 men. In your opinion, is this a positive representation of gender equality?
I say 62% is fantastic and a positive representation of gender equality.
Closely linked to the previous question, several studies reveal that women account for the majority of purchase decisions including traditional male products such as automobiles, consumer electronics as well as home improvement products. Despite this, surveys further show that advertisers still do not understand women. Why do you think this is the case and what should change if research says that 50 of the most influential CMOs are in fact, women?
Advertising and Marketing are related but not the same. In many instances—from the directors to product developers—it is men creating the advertisements. Ultimately, better advertising can lead to better content across the board. Build women into the process, not just the results.
Systems around remote work and video conferencing are increasingly becoming a staple to most organisations. To illustrate this, according to the infographic created by Visual Capitalist, Zoom is now worth more than the 7 biggest airlines in the world at a whopping market capitalization of just over $40bn. Working from home/remote working is an aspect of modern-day work that has been long overdue. Why do you think most organisations who are seemingly able to convert to this way of work have struggled to convert? Furthermore, how have you and your organisation structured your work since the COVID-19 pandemic? Any key lessons?
It’s actually been a blessing in disguise because now we have regular Friday “coffee breaks” through Microsoft Teams just to connect and see faces. Otherwise, most business as usual but remote.
Storytelling seems to be the next rising buzzword. What’s the Sunland Group story? How are you telling it in an interesting way?
People love stories so it is no surprise to me that storytelling seems to be the next rising buzzword, if anything, I am surprised that it is not the industry standard. Sunland Group’s story this year:
2020 marks the 35th anniversary for Sunland Group, Inc., a woman-owned multi-disciplinary firm offering innovative solutions nationwide from its offices in Texas and Colorado. Founded in 1985 as Sunland Engineering Company, the firm changed its name to Sunland Group, Inc. to encompass its growing range of offered services including architecture, civil engineering, program and project management, construction management, land planning and digital consulting and technology services. During the firm’s 35-year history, Sunland has completed more than 400 major projects with a total construction value of more than $15 billion.
What have been some of Sunland Group biggest successes in marketing over the past 12 to 18 months?
Sharing company wins over social media has brought attention to our firm from key players in the industry and is substantially growing our brand awareness and new business opportunities.
BCG published its innovation report for 2019 and at the core of its selection criteria are companies that have successfully married Artificial Intelligence in their products and services. According to you, what makes something innovative? How do you define innovation at Sunland Group?
Sunland Group is a multi-disciplinary firm in the A/E/C industry so innovation is more related to the inclusion of drone imagery and our architectural designers’ 3D renderings.
At the time of publishing, an article from The Digital Marketing Institute estimated that the influencer marketing industry will hit the $10bn mark by 2020. Whether it is B2B or B2C, it is evident that brands and organisations have had their own success with this model of marketing. How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect this industry going forward and do you believe there is still a place for influencer marketing?
I will not be surprised to see the influencer marketing industry fade in the aftermath of COVID-19. I expect it will be replaced with more charitable efforts and experience marketing.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
My Outlook email and calendar – I live by it. Netflix and Amazon Prime are apps that I also can’t live without 😉
2020 AND BEYOND
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information? Physical book vs eReader?)
I’ll always choose a physical book over an eReader. My reading list always includes a novel by the Latin American author Gabriel García Márquez, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982. He is the master of a style known as magic realism and his novels are filled with miraculous and enchanting events and characters; love and madness; wars, politics, dreams and death.
What is on your Netflix watchlist/How do you relax?
I binged Schitt’s Creek so fast. It’s clever and cutting but also charming, with a warm and laugh-out-loud wit and dialogue.
A unique message for all young professionals in the marketing industry
Never be afraid to ask questions. Ask questions, raise points and contribute to the conversation. It’s better to say something to show you’re actually engaged than to sit there and add little to no value to the existing conversation.
What haven’t you solved? What challenge is on your plate?
A/E/C firms’ biggest challenge is avoiding commoditization. Therefore, I will always be focused on positioning Sunland Group in a meaningfully different and authentic way from our competition.
Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read
Any bucket list items (professional as well as personal)?
I’d love to spend a night (or longer) in one of those so Instagram-worthy glass igloos under the stars and Northern Lights in Finland.
Who are some of your female heroes?
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, is the most fearless heroine ever to drive a War Rig. Her character personifies a strong, ethical woman.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Seek a mentor and be a mentor.