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Interview with Diana Richardson, Digital Marketing Director at Red Chalk Studios

Rhythm Singhal By Rhythm Singhal in Interviews on

Google certified? Check! Bing certified? Check! Glass of wine in hand? Check! (Well, as long as it’s after work hours.) A born-and-raised Virginia Beachian, Diana has over a decade’s worth of online marketing experience. Diana graduated with a degree in Communications from Old Dominion University (with a minor in Theater). Originally she thought she’d pursue a career in acting but quickly realized a career helping businesses market themselves was much more her style. She loves all things wine, TV, movies and traveling—and not necessarily in that order. Consumer behavior fascinates her. She loves working in a medium where consumers can find what they want when they want it and she’s able to get businesses in front of them during that peak time. It’s also trackable. As a proof-oriented person, she loves being able to show clients what’s truly working to grow their businesses.

Your Journey as a Marketing Professional.

I knew in college that I wanted to pursue some sort of marketing or advertising career, but I wasn’t sure of my path from there. Digital Marketing was not taught at all in college back in my time so it wasn’t something I was even aware of. After graduation when I started the adventure of looking for my career, I saw an ad in the paper (of all places) for a “Marketer.” This was in 2006 when “Digital Marketer” was not a prominent job type yet. While interviewing, the woman hiring slid one of the client reports in front of me that displayed website traffic, PPC clicks and other digital metrics and said, “This is what we actually do” and I was hooked. From there, I learned SEO and SEM from the ground up. My boss was still learning herself, so it was fun (and overwhelming at times) to keep track of it all as a team. Thinking back, there wasn’t nearly the volume of algorithm changes, studies, best practices, influencers to follow, etc that there are now. As careers go, I grew. I added to my client count and expanded into more complicated accounts. I started taking on businesses, like OEMs, where we’d plan strategies at their level as well as their dealership locations. As I developed my optimizing skills I also grew as a strategist. It was a natural progression and it’s where I really found my love for consultation and marketing strategy.

Eventually, I became second in command of the search team and finally the head of the team. As the head of the team, I was highly involved with overall business discussions outside of my own team. This experience would become a cornerstone in my own growth. I was exposed to and engaged in higher-level business strategy, strategic planning, finances, and business management. I ended up leading a large initiative to vet and hire a vendor for digital lead tracking services. It was a profound experience and I wanted more. My exposure to new digital marketing tactics and opportunities became repetitive, though. I wanted to run new types of campaigns and I wanted to have a bigger impact on a business. With all of these experiences, which did not happen overnight, by the way, I knew in myself I had become more than the “Google girl” and I wanted a job where I could be more and do more. So, I started job hunting. I’ll be honest, it did not take long. I came across this amazing, funny, warm, partner-focused brand strategy and marketing agency that I just HAD to be a part of — Red Chalk Studios. They had a vibe, an x-factor about them that called to me in a very organic way – it was kind of weird. But…they weren’t hiring. As I continued to learn everything I could about them, I noticed that they did not mention much about providing digital marketing services. I realized I had found a hole I could fill, so I reached out. And, not to brag, but after two interviews I had a new job. My goal here was to expand my own marketing, branding and business skillsets while developing a digital marketing product from scratch – and Kim, my boss, was ok with that. Talk about finding each other at the right time. So, that’s where we are today. Red Chalk is happy to report that we have an extensive digital marketing product suite that I run and plenty of clients to keep me busy enough that it took two weeks to write this interview.

What are the primary marketing channels you have worked on? What will be your advice to young marketers on each of these channels?

Google, Bing, Facebook, and Instagram.

Advice: It can be a little scary to think about an underperforming campaign when it’s someone else’s money at stake whether that’s on Google or Facebook. So, on the side, experiment with your own. Try $3 a day and try all different types of campaigns. Investing a little of your own money into your own skillset will go a long way. Read and keep up with the latest features and changes within Google, Facebook, YouTube, Amazon and on and on. I have Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn up on my computer at all times so I can stay in the loop. Join communities like Facebook Groups where you can ask questions because you will never know everything. Spend the time to get to know your data. A client won’t care how many Impressions your campaign achieved, they’ll want to know what that means to their business. So do your research, understand the data from a Business Owner’s perspective and study up on consumer behavior so you have another lense of understanding.

What are some of the important marketing software that you have used and found to be really useful for your company?

SEMRush is a must for a digital marketer. Reporting software is key if you send the data to someone else. Start with Google Data Studio if you don’t have any budget for this type of software and then try something like NinjaCat when you have some money to spend.

Which companies, according to you, are your competitors. How do you differentiate against these?

Oh no, our competitors don’t get a shout out in an interview about our agency – haha – but our differentiators are abundant.

  1. We believe in partnering with our clients. We skip the standard cold introductions and lean in with an empathetic ear. We love, love, love getting to know our clients as people and not just businesses. We become friends. This benefits everyone in all aspects because the trust, the transparency, the strong communication all follow suit.
  2. Our suite of services. We tackle everything. From brand development to brand strategy to websites to logo design to digital marketing to business cards.
  3. We are a small but mighty team. Each team member is a pro in their field and contributes to projects agency-wide.
  4.  We have a chef. This isn’t for clients, but we have a team member who cooks us lunch every day. We post our delicious lunches on social media for the world’s enjoyment, so make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
  5. Our studio is amazing! We’ve built a creative space (with a cat) that welcomes clients, strangers, plant lovers, creativity, collaboration and lots of laughs.
  6. We’re people who love people. Straight up, you’re just going to enjoy working with us. You won’t groan when you get an email (or an invoice) from us. We care, we’re fun, we’re original.

Your 2 line advice to people entering in the marketing domain.

Always be learning. Get as much experience with as many aspects of marketing as humanly possible whether while in college, at an internship, at your first job or as a senior team lead. Don’t worry about being nosey or stepping on toes – push in as a learner and your personal drive will be obvious.

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