Ditching the traditional marketing model, ranking the world’s most loved brands, plus marketers to watch. CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO NZ Marketing talks to Founder and CEO of Socialites Wendy Thompson about ditching the traditional marketing model, the power of social media, and being selected as a finalist in the New Zealand’s 2021 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A FINALIST IN THESE AWARDS? I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m walking in the hallowed footsteps of winners and exceptional Kiwi entrepreneurs such as Rod Drury and Nick Mowbray. The world has become so much more connected in the past 10 years and our industry [social media] that brings together people and brands is key to commerce and making the world a more thoughtful place, so being a finalist is both an absolute honour and a sign of recognition for the marketing and communications industry. WHERE DO YOU SEE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA HEADING? In the early days, there was a lot of “Social media’s just a fad, don’t invest in it” from the industry. Even now, despite people knowing social media’s here to stay, marketing budgets often don’t reflect the importance of this channel. Overseas, digital media makes up 60 percent of budgets, on average, and marketing is designed for social-first, then rolled out to other media. A lot, though not all, large New Zealand brands are still very old-school and put their focus on creating a TVC first, then rolling out a wider campaign from there. This model has really had its day. My daughters, who are 12 and 15, have never watched terrestrial TV and always click ‘Skip’ on the Youtube pre-rolls they find annoying. There’s no space in their lives to watch a 30-second TVC, and they don’t want to. It’s just a matter of time before they and their friends are our key household shoppers, so we need to start building a relationship with them now – on their channels, not ours. We must connect with them how they want to be connected with – not in the way we find comfortable and easy. Recently, I’ve been thinking that as marketers we need to ask ourselves why we deliberately try to annoy the people we want to sell to just because we can! Yes, I’m talking about ad breaks and pre-rolls. The world has evolved and we’ve been given this marketing gift through social media of new and interesting tools to connect and build enduring, loyal, two-way relationships, so let’s be curious, embrace and explore it. The companies that evolve to social-first will be the winners in the next few years. Because social media’s two-way, listening is the other fantastic benefit that companies are going to really start to value more and more. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE PIECES OF ADVICE BE FOR ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS? Being an entrepreneur is as tough as it is amazing. It can be exceptionally lonely and stressful. My first tip is to collect a network of fellow entrepreneurs to share the highs and lows with, and to learn from. You really don’t have to do it all alone. One of the best things I did was join the New Zealand chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization [EO] about five years ago. EO is a collective of 13,000 entrepreneurs around the world. We meet in small groups monthly and talk daily, sharing practical and emotional support. I’m also part of a fabulous group of fellow women entrepreneurs who catch up every Friday morning via Zoom to connect and share learnings, and another brilliant group, who I call my Soul Sisters, of Kiwi entrepreneurs who’re changing the world. They inspire me and keep me focused. Find your tribe and hold them close. Tip two is to invest in and look after yourself first. It’s tempting, especially in the early days, to put yourself last, but just like in a plane emergency, you need to put your own mask on so you can help others. Work out what you need to keep yourself mentally and physically at your peak, and build guard rails around that. Your team needs you to be strong, so this investment is key. I don’t believe in work-life balance – it’s all life. Tip three: never stop learning. The world is evolving faster than ever before. It’s exciting! There are so many opportunities and so many incredible people doing amazing things.