Our digital director, Geoff Crain, and Director of Sales & Business Development, Adam Seaborn, Joined the Loudspeaker podcast to discuss how consumer needs have changed since the start of the pandemic. They also discussed how Kingstar Media has adapted to the changing environment. The episode covers:
• How Kingstar media has changed its strategy since the start of the pandemic
• If the impact of these changes will last beyond COVID
• Advice for marketing professionals who are trying to adapt to this new environment
The following is a transcribed version of the podcast:
SAM: HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE LOUDSPEAKER. YOUR DEFINITIVE GUIDE ON HOW TO SCALE YOUR START-UP.
GEOFF AND ADAM, CAN YOU TELL OUR LISTENERS A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUNDS AND WHAT KINGSTAR MEDIA DOES AND YOUR ROLES THERE PLEASE?
ADAM: Yeah absolutely! So yeah my name’s Adam Seaborn. So Kingstar Media we’re based here in Canada in Toronto and we’re a full-service media agency that’s focused on performance media buying for our clients.
What that means is just taking their marketing and advertising goals and going out and buying paid ads. Whether that’s on digital channels like Facebook and Google or terrestrial offline channels like television and radio with a performance incentive behind it.
I work you know mainly in business development and then on the terrestrial side of things. So television, radio kind of traditional media and Geoff on; on kind of our digital platform. I’ll let Geoff introduce himself as well though.
GEOFF: Yeah definitely! So my name is Geoff Crain I’m the director of digital media here at Kingstar. As Adam mentioned, we focus purely on performance marketing.
Every dollar we spend, we tie back to a client’s KPI. We look to generate revenue at a target ROAS or MER for them.
We feel that if we can make the client profitable, they’ll invest more media dollars and we can both win. So, our goal is to scale winning media strategies across North America.
SAM: AWESOME WELL THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME TODAY. I’M VERY EXCITED TO GET STARTED BECAUSE THIS MONTH ON THE LOUDSPEAKER, WE ARE LOOKING AT HOW THE CUSTOMER ENVIRONMENT IS CHANGING AND I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU FIRST, HOW HAS COVID IMPACTED HOW HARD IT IS TO MARKET POTENTIAL CLIENTS OR CUSTOMERS?
ADAM: Yeah it’s a good question. I mean COVID-19 has absolutely affected the way marketers think about advertising. I think the biggest shift was in March of 2020 when the world kind of shut down. There was a huge scramble to figure out, one; where attention was going to go and? Two; how are we actually going to deliver our products or services to clients?
Traditional retailers were closed, and e-commerce saw a huge uptake. People who had never purchased anything through e-com channels before were purchasing for the first time not out of wanting but out of necessity. I think the kind of saying that was going around that 10 years of innovation happened in the first 10 weeks of COVID-19.
The impact for marketers was to reach those audiences in a way that they could transact. So a lot of bigger brands essentially yanked their advertising spend. They didn’t know what to do. A lot of their call-to-actions didn’t really make sense anymore. Come visit us in-store or if you’re a travel company you know you know all your main calls to action don’t really work anymore.
The opportunity was that a huge amount of smaller players or challenger brands in the e-com space were able to capitalize on the opportunity and take a huge amount of market share away.
SAM: YEAH I THINK WE’VE DEFINITELY SEEN JEFF BEZOS HE’S DEFINITELY BEEN DOING WELL IN THAT SENSE AND UH.
ADAM: Yeah I mean you just need to look at the stock market and look at the brands that have done well. Shopify, an e-com platform done incredibly well, Amazon incredibly well. But also Pinterest, Overstock.com, Wayfair these companies that don’t have the brick and mortar footprint. Don’t have that exposure and are purely focused on reaching consumers through e-commerce. They have done really well. I mean for marketers, what does that mean? It means that there was a huge amount of growth in direct response marketing. In which you can easily transact with an advertisement and result in a sale or a subscription or an investment.
SAM: NOW I’D LOVE TO KNOW, HOW HAS KINGSTAR MEDIA CHANGED ITS STRATEGY SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC? AND HAVE YOU WITNESSED THE CHANGE IN BEHAVIOR WITH REGARDS TO YOUR INCLINES?
GEOFF: Kingstar Media has always been a performance marketing agency. The old school term would be direct response-focused agency and, in that regard, we were lucky with the shift in the media and marketing during the pandemic.
I always pride myself on the saying “luck is a combination of preparation and opportunity”. We were always prepared. Everything that we do, every media dollar we spend is tied to an ROI.
If the client has $10,000 and they need to generate a 3 MER or ROAS. We create develop a strategy to achieve that.
I think that when the pandemic shifted and brands and advertiser’s marketing dollars shrunk, they really needed to focus their money efficiently to drive revenue and scale to support their business.
And I think that’s where Kingstar Media fits extremely well. We were able to scale our clients’ businesses at their target ROI. Our media company is built around scaling direct to consumer, direct response style brands with creative, media, and execution.
In terms of our clients’ behavior, they’re a lot more focused on KPI’s and target goals. They need to justify to their executive team and their board of directors every marketing dollar that they spend. Whether the goal is to drive lift to a certain part of the website, increase viewership on blogs or just direct sales, we look to achieve that for them at a target cost
Our clients are more focused on proving through reporting that we can scale ROI.
SAM: YEAH I SUPPOSE THAT’S ONE BENEFIT OF BEING PUT UNDER PRESSURE. IT MAKES YOU REALIZE HOW YOU CAN WORK WHEN; WHEN YOU REALLY HAVE TO BE LEAN AND VERY EFFICIENT. SO IT FORCES YOU TO WORK SMARTER I GUESS.
GEOFF: Yeah exactly!
SAM: YEAH I REALLY LIKED THAT COMMENT YOU MADE ABOUT LUCK. THAT REMINDS ME OF A COMMENT AND A QUOTE I THINK IT’S FROM AN AMERICAN FOOTBALLER I DON’T KNOW WHO BUT HE SAYS IT’S FUNNY THE MORE I TRAIN, THE LUCKIER I GET.
DO YOU THINK THE IMPACT OF THESE CHANGES WILL LAST BEYOND COVID WHEN LIFE GOES BACK TO NORMAL WHENEVER THAT MIGHT BE?
ADAM: Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of the changes that we’ve seen are permanent. If we look at e-commerce as a percentage of total commerce in the United States, it was growing at a pretty steady rate from 2018, 2019 all the way through to the pandemic. Kind of a few percentage points a year, got up to maybe 10, 15% of all commerce. It’s now in that 30% range So it’s jumped very dramatically and pretty much doubled.
If you look at what happened; in China back in 2003 during the initial SARS pandemic, they had that jump then and it stuck around. China has been years and years ahead of North America and most of Europe in terms of e-commerce penetration. And I think that now that we’ve hit this critical mass of e-com, it’s not going to change.
So that’s going to be a second-order effect that’s not going to go back. Many retailers have essentially gone under or closed stores. They’re not going to reopen those stores. The United States and Canada had far too many square feet of retail per capita when compared to places like China.
I do think that some things will return somewhat to normal. But as Geoff was mentioning early, big brands looking at their advertising as just a line-item expense to build brand verses big brands looking at their advertising expense as a revenue generator. I can go out and spend a million dollars to make 3 million dollars or acquire new customers that are worth that to me. I think that mentality is always been part of direct-to-consumer brands and e-com brands but not been a big part of a big brand strategy. And it’s now going to become very important for them.
SAM: AWESOME! I HAVE TO SAY ACTUALLY THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS I MEAN JUST OUTSIDE OF MARKETING WHICH I HOPE STICK. ONE THING THAT I HAVE SEEN IS REMOTE WORK. BEFORE THE PANDEMIC I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE ABLE TO WORK COMPLETELY REMOTELY.
AND I REMEMBER SEEING SO MANY STUDIES ABOUT THE WILLINGNESS OF THE WORKFORCE WANTING TO BE ABLE TO WORK REMOTELY BUT NOT HAVING THE ABILITY TO.
AND NOW IT’S BEEN FORCED UPON US. IT’S KIND OF LIKE WHAT WE WERE DISCUSSING BEFORE UNDER CERTAIN PRESSURES YOU NEED TO ADAPT AND NOW BUSINESSES HAVE ADAPTED TO WORK REMOTELY.
SO EVEN THOUGH IT HAS NOTHING NECESSARILY TO DO WITH MARKETING ON THIS TOPIC, THAT’S ONE ASPECT OF LIFE THAT I HOPE DOESN’T GO BACK TO NORMAL SO QUICKLY.
ADAM: Yeah, it’s funny I think the trickle-down from marketing and what we’ve seen is the clients that we had that are focused on the home have done really well. Because people are spending time at home, they’re investing in their home. Whether that means upgrades in the kitchen with appliances, cleaning, buying furniture, all that money that was being spent in offices, has to go somewhere. And, a lot of it has come into the home.
What are the conveniences of working from home and how can I make that a better experience for myself or my employees?
I think in the 2010s we saw Twitter and Google and Facebook had these huge luxurious offices that were attracting young millennial talent in major cities. Now you’re seeing a distribution of work and we’re going to see that working remotely becomes at least part of the equation for a lot of brands. And I think the trickle-down for marketers is that you’re marketing to people who are not having the same traditional commute times as they used to or not and the communal offices they used to.
They just have a different experience and are going to need different products and services to; help serve their life.
SAM: YEAH! I ACTUALLY AM REMINDED OF SOMETHING WHICH YOU MENTIONED THERE. I THINK IN THE U.K. THERE’S A VERY FAMOUS BRAND CALLED DFS. AND APPARENTLY, THEY HAD THEIR BEST YEAR EVERLAST YEAR BECAUSE PEOPLE WERE JUST SICK OF THE SOFAS THEY WERE SITTING ON.
SO YEAH I SUPPOSED THAT’S A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF HOW CUSTOMERS NEEDS HAVE CHANGED AND THEREFORE YOU’VE ADAPTED TO FOCUSING LESS ON OFFICE STUFF, OR PERHAPS STUFF THEY MIGHT USE DURING A COMMUTE AND JUST YEAH AT HOME.
GEOFF: Yeah, in addition to Adam’s point health has also become a large focus. Obviously, people don’t have the opportunity to go to a gym, maybe go see a nutritionist etc. So, they have to create their own at-home health initiatives and that’s what we’ve seen from our advertisers. Those advertisers and brands that push natural health remedies at home have done well. Whether it’s a juicer a bread maker a healthy air fryer. Those categories have seen great success. Obviously, Peloton has been a tremendous growth now to become one of the world’s top brands.
SAM: AWESOME! NOW MY LAST QUESTION TO YOU, DO YOU HAVE ANY FINAL PIECES OF ADVICE FOR MARKETING PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE TRYING TO ADAPT TO THIS NEW ENVIRONMENT?
GEOFF: Yes I think Adam and I have touched on it throughout the series of questions but we just like to hammer it home again and it’s just set KPIs that you can hold yourself accountable to and then hold the advertiser accountable to.
As a marketer, that will justify your job and your business and show that what you’re doing is generating a positive ROI. We work with a lot of brands we meet a lot of advertisers and marketers that will be able to tell you a lot of brands think that they can do it in-house. They think that they have a team that can do what you can do and do it better.
So if you can kind of establish those KPIs and prove time and time that you’re hitting them, then that’s a way to secure your position in the game.
There’s a lot of international skilled workers available. Whether it’s development work or design work that you can outsource at a low cost to really drive up kind of revenue for your own business and scale them internally.
SAM: AWESOME! WELL THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME TODAY FELLOWS. AND IF PEOPLE WANT TO KEEP UP WITH YOU OR REACH OUT TO KINGSTAR MEDIA HOW CAN THEY DO THAT?
ADAM: Yeah you can visit our website it’s kingstarmedia.com. We are based here in Canada but we work across the world. You can look us up on LinkedIn. Geoff, we have our Instagram and our Twitter page going.
Or you can reach out to me or Geoff directly. I’m just Adam Seaborn on LinkedIn and as well as on Twitter and you know we look forward to hearing from anybody who would like to chat.
But thanks a lot for having us on Sam this has been a fun chat.
SAM: AWESOME EXCELLENT MY PLEASURE.
GEOFF: Thank you, Sam, it’s a pleasure to meet you.
If you are interested in seeing what the Kingstar difference can do for you and your company, feel free to contact us today.