A 'Social' Butterfly1 Jun, 2008 By: Thomas Haire Response
Susan McKenna's career evolution, from brand to direct response, has made her a leader in the E-commerce world. As that evolution continues, she believes social media might really be the next big thing.
From Brand to Direct to Web
How McKenna, whose presentation at last month's Response Expo in San Diego received a ton of buzz during and after the event, became a leading visionary in the direct response and Web space starts out simply enough — in public relations and brand advertising after earning a degree from Adams State College in Colorado in the mid-1990s. "I worked on the agency side in brand advertising, and then went into recruitment advertising with an agency in San Francisco," she explains.
There, she worked for clients like Charles Schwab, Clorox and Wells Fargo. "We had this brilliant idea to recruit new employees online," McKenna says. "I worked on a project called CareerMosaic, which was in direct competition with Monster.com — and, at the time, was bigger than Monster."
The Borba.com Web site, designed with the help of Austin, Texas-based Nfusion, is a strong E-commerce partner for the brand and boasts social networking capabilities.
Though she didn't realize it at the time, this was McKenna's introduction to direct response. Though CareerMosaic was eventually purchased by Headhunter.net and Monster became dominant in the space, the marketing efforts surrounding it for Schwab and Clorox included TV and print ads to drive traffic to the CareerMosaic site. "That was a life-changing event for me — to realize you can take brand advertising, add a call-to-action and measure it," she contends.
Eventually, McKenna moved on to the client side, working for an online learning company called DigitalThink for more than three years. "I helped build the marketing division up for a successful IPO (initial public offering) that took place in 2000," she says of the company, which was eventually purchased by Convergys in 2004. McKenna calls her experience at DigitalThink her "Pocket MBA," and credits the company's leaders with "teaching me how to converge brand marketing and direct response and ... develop my online marketing skills."
In 2000, she opened a marketing consulting firm specializing in building online businesses, which she ran for more than six years, servicing major clients like Toyota and WellPoint. In 2006, she joined b-to-b publishing company United Communications Group (UCG) to handle marketing for LoanToolbox.com, a Web site that serves the loan originator community.
"Loan originators would become members of the Web site, and we'd provide them with training, resources, marketing information," McKenna says. "The marketing was all direct. LoanToolbox is a really interesting company run by some really brilliant people. Working there really changed my outlook on how I was marketing. I was there for less than a year, but it was really interesting how they marketed to their community of people. We did a lot of E-mail marketing and direct mail. LoanToolbox shaped how I think about direct response marketing and implementing it online."