Sunday, October 24, 2010

Interview with Shelly Kramer: Speaker, Blogger, and Owner of V3

Shelly is the Chief Imagination Officer of V3, an Integrated Marketing Agency located in Kansas City, MO. She's a marketing and online strategist, speaker, writer and a very good juggler. She loves learning, teaching, hanging out with smart people, doing good work and good things. Stalk her on Twitter at @shellykramer and find her online at V3. Meet Shelly Kramer.

Will: Who is Shelly Kramer? Why Personal Branding and Social Media? What about them spoke to your inner core self?

Shelly: I’m not really sure about this question. So I’ll tell you about me. I own a full service integrated marketing firm. We don’t focus on branding and social media – we focus on solving problems. Helping businesses do what they need to do to survive – which is selling more stuff to more people. I’m a marketing and brand strategist. I am good at a lot of things, including social media, but that is certainly not my specialty. It’s just one of the tactics I might employ if the strategy we develop for a client warrants it.

Will: What is V3 Integrated Marketing? What was the genesis for you creating the company? How did you come up with the name?

Shelly: V3. Hmm. The letter “V” just kind of spoke to me, and I knew that what I’m really good at is vision. I have a lot of vision and often help my clients take ideas from concept to reality as a result. Then I decided that what we did at V3 was help clients craft a Vision, which is really an effective marketing strategy, then put a Voice to their brand and that vision, through traditional or non-traditional marketing methods, and then lastly, we add Value because we are fanatic about metrics. That means we don’t market without first setting goals and establishing benchmarks, then measuring our progress every step of the way. That way, we know what part of our marketing initiatives are most effective and where to concentrate budget dollars moving forward. Vision + Voice + Value. It just seemed to make sense.

Will: In reviewing your company’s website,, I noticed on the Who We Are page a principle you have about not working with clients you don’t like or products you don’t believe in. Why is that a principle of your company? Why does it matter if you like someone or believe in their products? Isn’t it just a job?

Shelly: I’m old enough and experienced enough that I don’t have to sell my soul for anyone just to pay the bills. If I don’t care for someone or their product or service, there’s no way I can be passionate enough to work for them on a daily basis and make an impact. And that’s really the key. The best marketers are passionate about their clients’ products and services. I think about my clients all the time and am constantly thinking of ways to make them more successful – it’s just how my brain works. If I am not working with someone that I like or respect or enjoy being with and working with, it’s just too much. And what I consider not being true to myself. Or to the client. So in those instances, I choose to walk away. It makes for a better world and a happier heart – which are things we all need.

Will: How did you come up with the title of Chief Imagination Officer? I absolutely love it. It has both a social media feel to it and is an immediate brand identifier.

Shelly: It just seemed more interesting than CEO or Founder or a whole bunch of other boring titles. And it also describes what I do best … which is bringing the 30,000 foot view to the table. I have the ability (and one that often annoys people) to look at a concept or an idea and pick apart the things that won’t work and identify the things that will – and those are oftentimes things people haven’t yet thought of. I also always approach things with the “of course we can do this” mentality. I loathe working with groups of people who are constantly identifying all the reasons NOT to do something (I think mostly because they are either lazy or scared) … and would much rather be and work with people who think that the sky is the limit and we’re all collectively smart enough to figure things out and make it happen. I dream big. Then I execute. And I’m not at all afraid of risk. Those things fuel my creative passion and that’s the thing that makes me get up every single day loving what I do and loving the life I’m fortunate enough to lead.

Will: As the Chief Imagination Officer of V3, what is your view of effective leadership within the field of social media? Has social media changed the way leadership should function?

Shelly: Those are really two separate questions. And I’ll be brief or this interview will be boring because it is too long. To my way of thinking, effective leadership within the social media realm is realizing that this is a new field and we are all pioneers. There are no cut and dried right answers, because we’re all experimenting, hypothesizing, testing and learning. Understanding that change is inevitable is critical and understanding that the early adopters aren’t the only folks on the planet is also important. I think great leadership is evidenced by those people who get that and who understand that it’s encumbent upon leaders to teach. To lead. To risk and to dare to try things and fail. Publicly. And who are honest enough to admit that no one knows it all. That, to me, is effective leadership within the realm of social media.

The other question is about leadership in general and how social media impacts that. That always leads to the over-used and over-hyped “transparency” term. But it’s true. Leaders in today’s world, whether CEOs, politicians or religious leaders or any other kind of leader, must all understand that transparency in society is a big deal. You’ve got to be who you say you are, do what you say you will and realize that skeletons rarely stay in closets these days. It takes us back to the rules we learned in Kindergarten: Don’t lie, don’t take things that don’t belong to you, don’t be mean, do the right thing. If leaders remember those things, I think that’ll stand them in good stead. The advent of social media, which is really just a by-product of the age of technology and the Internet, makes all things real time. I think that learning to function in real time, listen in real time, react in real time is all now pretty much integral parts of standard operating procedure for all leaders.

Will: On more than one occasion, you have mentioned the need for people to integrate video into their online presence. What makes video such a king producer of content? How do you personally use video to bolster your online footprint?

Shelly: I think that video is important. Just as blogging is important. And webinars and white papers are important. And location based technology is important. And mobile is important. No one is any more critical than the other. What really matters is your goal. And that changes with every client. And sometimes it changes with every marketing initiative. And being aware of these mediums and their efficacy as tools, and knowing how to use these tools to reach your goals is what’s important. And that’s the part of the equation that many people overlook. Or miss completely. Today’s marketing success stories are typically the brands who realize the importance of reaching customers where they are.

And there are a lot of consumers using YouTube. It’s the second largest search engine in the world and that’s often overlooked. Some people go to YouTube the way that others head to Google. They go to YouTube to learn things like how to can peaches, how to change the oil in their car or how to cut their dog’s hair. If you want to reach those people, you need to create content for YouTube. But only if that’s part of your overall marketing strategy, designed to help you reach your goals.

Will: I don’t get why some people haven’t caught social media fever. I can’t go a day without Twitter, checking my blog, or going to Youtube. Why is social media such a part of our daily lives, and what do you tell clients or other people about the pros and cons of riding the social media wave?

Shelly: I think that not everyone gets social media and others get the concept, but don’t need to use it. My husband, for example, is an example of the latter. And not participating in social media doesn’t impact his life negatively in any way. But, even though he doesn’t use social media, he understands the principles and why it’s an important part of business, marketing and brand management today. As for the people who don’t get it, they are certainly not alone. It’s like the people who don’t understand the importance of websites for today’s businesses. Some will survive, in spite of that, and others will fail. The same is true of social media. Not everyone NEEDS to participate in social mediums, for business or for personal use. And just because we do, and enjoy it, benefit from it, etc., doesn’t me we earn the right to judge others who don’t. The world has changed. Some will change with it and some won’t. And only time will tell whether opting not to change and adopt new media strategies and technologies will have a negative impact. Of course, I have an opinion on that, but the fact is – time will tell. And I’m comfortable with that. And feel as if I’m headed in the right direction, and ensuring that my clients are as well.

Will: Ok. As part branding company, what do you tell your clients they should be doing in relation to their brand? What top five tips do you have for the average professional or individual?

Shelly: Identify the following:

Who you ARE.
What you BELIEVE in.
What you can DELIVER.
What PROBLEM do you solve for your clients or prospective clients?
What makes you BETTER than the competition.

This is your brand story. Your unique selling proposition. Marketing is about solving problems. And doing it in a way that people trust you and turn to you as the best resource for making that happen.

Will: I have never asked the following questions in an interview. Mac or PC? Blackberry, Iphone, or Android? Coffee of Tea?

Shelly: Mac, iPhone, Coffee. And beer.

Will: Any final thoughts?

Shelly: Thanks for being patient while I took so long to answer 

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