Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Awesome Blog Q&A: Robin Ernst on Thrive Advertising and Social Media

I love viewing profiles of business leaders. Not the fluff, but the CNBC-style profiles of men and women starting companies, making the big decisions, and overcoming adversity. Men and women who relish the opportunity to kick-start greater innovation, and implement ideas for robust job growth. One of those succeeding in this area is Robin Ernst.

A veteran of the advertising industry, she has adapted nicely to the major shifts that have taken place in her field. A passionate MOMpreneur, she launched the immensely popular Thrive Advertising - easily one of the firms to watch in 2011. She's known in many circles as a smart, tough and savvy businesswoman. Her newly released blog only solidifies this belief. And as you'll see below, she's also an enthusiastic, action-oriented visionary who thrives on a challenge.

Entrepreneur Robin Ernst

What was the inspiration behind Thrive Advertising?

Prior to starting my advertising agency I worked for a television station in Seattle selling airtime to local businesses. There were so many aspects of the job that I loved, but my favorite part of the job was getting to know the entrepreneurs behind each business that advertised on the station. I was fascinated by each of their unique stories; finding at times I felt as if I was living vicariously through them as an entrepreneur at heart.

As I became increasingly successful at my ad sales job I began to see a need to be filled. The need business owners had to truly understand how they were investing their advertising dollars. So many smart entrepreneurs, who strategically run every other area of their businesses, were throwing dollars around without a thorough understanding of what they were buying, without knowing if they were getting a good “deal” and with very little idea of how to successfully measure their ROI (Return on Investment). Thus Thrive was born. The entrepreneur in me saw a need to be met; the negotiator in me thrived on the idea of making sure other business owners were making sound advertising investments. As for the name, Thrive, it is an adjective that describes the way I desire to live my life and run my business, intentionally thriving.

The Advertising Industry has gone through some major changes. What are the challenges - and exciting possibilities - moving forward?

The advertising industry has shifted so much since I graduated from college, which was less than 10 years ago! It’s truly unbelievable to watch the major changes occur as digital advertising has rocked the industry with a 9.0 magnitude quake. It used to be broadcast television was the end all be all way of advertising to the masses. There were really only a handful of TV channels to choose from and with the exception of radio and newspaper advertising there weren’t many other choices. Right now the landscape of the advertising industry is so complicated and tumultuous it can give business owners a headache. With search engine marketing, new in-content opportunities (i.e. working with bloggers), re-targeting, social media, mobile marketing, etc.; it is a constant challenge to stay on top of the latest and greatest opportunities for advertisers. But with great challenge comes enormous opportunity!

There is still tremendous value in traditional advertising (TV, cable, print, radio, etc.). The trick is to find the perfect mix of traditional and non-traditional advertising (mobile, social media, online, etc.). An example of great advertising could be seen when watching the Super Bowl this year. Many, if not all, of the advertisers chose their “call to action” to direct viewers to their Facebook pages as opposed to their websites. The reason they chose this strategy is to develop a deeper connection with their customers and prospective consumers. What we’re learning is that traditional advertising is like a megaphone where as social media is like a telephone. Social media allows you to build a relationship with consumers by interacting with them. Traditional advertising is a one way communication system that only allows you to share your message, feedback isn’t possible. However, without traditional advertising to drive consumers to social media sites the non-traditional avenues wouldn’t be as successful.

This is the most exciting time period my industry has ever experienced. I’m thriving on the challenge of fine tuning the perfect media mixes for my clients. What a fantastic time to be a new advertising agency! I’m able to quickly adapt to changes, educate my team and lead business owners through what I consider to be an era among the greatest opportunities we’ve seen in the ad world!

I notice one of your passions is 'Moms in Business". Explain that.

I’ve always believed that good moms have the same skillset as successful entrepreneurs. Present day mommies take on the role of CFO in their households and some are running the whole ship, as CEOs! It takes vision, direction and communication to run a business and mamas know that without these qualities their homes don’t run efficiently. So, many mothers become experts at running their homes which I consider to be mini “companies.”

Naturally, women who have had successful careers before they had babies, start to consider how they are going to effectively balance their new lives as mamas and their old lives as professionals. So some turn to entrepreneurship, others find they are able to keep the same career they had before, a few switch jobs and the rest take on the challenge of being a SAHM (stay at home mom). Each mama has a reason for her decision. I feel called specifically to support women in business whether it be Mompreneurs or career mamas because I value my role as a business owner tremendously and genuinely believe that I can have it all.

I’ve started a blog specifically for Mompreneurs, but relatable to all working moms. It was created to be a place for like-minded women to connect over the unique challenges and triumphs we share as a group of successful business oriented mothers. I share bits of wisdom, feature guest bloggers who are most often Mompreneurs or successful business gals I respect, post pics of my daughter’s latest feat, etc. It’s a work in progress and evolving as such, but my vision for it is to be a place where mom-entrepreneurs can develop a sense of community because we truly are a rare breed.

To find out more about Robin Ernst and her firm Thrive Advertising, click here.

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