Recently Ontario SEO’s director, Kim Atkinson, was invited to participate in DECA U Western’s end-of-the-year speaker panel at the University of Western Ontario. The panel consisted of 4 speakers from various industries in the London area. The students asked the panel a series of tough questions; if they were so curious, we thought you might be as well! Here is a recap of Kim’s answers to the discussion.
What exactly do you do?
I am co-owner and client relations manager at Ontario SEO. My role is to oversee the day to day operation of the business and staff. As client relations manager, I am responsible for liaising with all clients, starting from the business development stage, and through to ongoing monthly conversations with the clients. It is important to make sure the clients goals are met while using best practices and analyzing the data from a client’s online presence and sales.
How did you get where you are?
I studied psychology and anthropology here at Western. I then travelled to Africa to work and was fortunate to get a position at Cheetah Conservation Fund. I learned a lot about marketing when working to educate people about conservation and non-lethal predator control. When I returned to Canada I continued to work in marketing and communications roles. My husband Wayne started the business through a series of events and our two areas of expertise combined to form Ontario SEO.
What drove you to pursue the industry you are in?
Digital Marketing is a fascinating and ever evolving industry. I always wanted to work in a marketing company where I could be creative but still measure the results of my efforts. I would say my passions and interests drove me to the industry I am now in.
Where do you see your industry going in the next few years?
It is interesting because what we do is still marketing and will always be marketing, we just get to use different platforms, strategies, and tactics. Ontario SEO has been a part of the evolution of online marketing. For example, the rapid switch from desktop to mobile devices, has changed how people search. A few years ago you had to type Chinese restaurant, Chinese restaurant London, Chinese restaurant London Ontario, good Chinese restaurant London Ontario, etc. to find what you were looking for. Now you say- “OK google – good Chinese restaurant near me”, and you get directions and the star rating within minutes.
As a digital marketing agency, we will have to continually adapt to the evolving technology and availability of these tools to customers and business owners.
What advice do you have for students like us that will be entering your industry in the next few years?
Pay attention to what interests you. Don’t just read the text book and complete the assignments focussing on your grade – think about the implications. How would you use this information in a real world situation? Is this something that really interests you? Would you like to delve into it? Marketing is a career that demands passion and creativity, without that you won’t be successful.
When hiring a summer student or a new recruit, what qualities and qualifications are you looking for?
Not only are we looking for individuals with the right academic qualifications, we are looking for candidates who demonstrate that they understand the industry and the concepts. We need people who can adapt while maintaining what is at the core of our business. I take our clients success very personally so we need team members who feel the same way and are willing to think about the best way to solve a problem and do whatever they can to get it done. Results count above everything else.
If you could go back in time to your university days what advice would you give yourself/what would you do differently?
I would have entered this industry years ago, and followed my passion for creativity, innovation and problem solving.
What is the biggest “myth” about your field?
“How hard can SEO be?” There is a big misconception about what SEO is – there is so much more to it. What many people know about SEO is often just the tip of the iceberg, the same quick fixes don’t work for everyone. SEO depends a lot on the competition and the industry – so just because someone reads a blog or their neighbour tells them what to do it isn’t always the best solution.
With all the changes today in technology today, how is the marketing industry adapting and taking advantage of these changes?
There are changes daily, usually for the better. Often new technologies improve user experience. The problem is people try to game the system – and this is a problem for everyone. It is important to stay authentic and do what works well for your business. Don’t’ try a quick fix because it will usually end up causing more problems than not. The other big change, possibly the most important, is that our ability to measure user behaviour is increasing all the time. This gives us a lot of information to direct our marketing strategies. But it also means our clients expect us to deliver measurable increases in leads or customers, all the time. That is both the challenge, and the rewarding part of working in such a dynamic industry.
We would like to again thank DECA Western for the opportunity to meet with so many great students and look forward to seeing you all out in the workforce. Let us know if there are any questions you were hoping we would answer – we would love to find out what inquiring minds want to know about digital marketing and SEO.