Forbes Agency Council members work with a diverse set of clients across numerous fields. To share their expertise on everything from marketing to branding and more, we’re profiling Forbes Agency Council members here on the blog. This week: Douglas Karr.
Douglas Karr is the CEO of DK New Media, a company of marketing technology experts based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Douglas, an entrepreneur, marketing consultant, marketing and keynote public speaker, and author, has led the company for more than a decade. DK New Media specializes in work with marketing, technology, e-commerce and Software as a Service (SaaS) companies.
How did your career as an agency executive take off, and what do you attribute your success to most?
Timing, risk and opportunity are key to every success, and that’s no different with my own. I finished my six years and was honorably discharged from the United States Navy as an electrician in 1992. I went to work for a newspaper that was a rare early adopter in the digital space. I learned networking, web development and integrations, and was hired by a premiere database consultancy who happened to be migrating clients to SaaS (before it was known as SaaS).
I then took that knowledge and decided to return to newspapers to help them conquer the internet. Unfortunately, the newspaper industry was busy making itself obsolete and those I worked with resented my continued nagging. I was fired and the rest is history.
I then worked to help companies like ExactTarget build value and sell to Salesforce, Compendium sell to Oracle, SmartFOCUS sell to Emailvision (they swapped names), and even helped the Indianapolis Colts win the Super Bowl. Okay, that last one was probably more to do with Peyton Manning, but I was on the team that helped skyrocket the Colts’ digital footprint and help bring the Super Bowl to Indianapolis. When the paychecks finally got fat and deposited consistently, I decided to start my own agency to rid myself of that normalcy.
How do you keep yourself creative and driven regardless of how busy you are day to day?
Daily writing for our digital publication, weekly bourbon tastings, and monthly karaoke sessions are what keep me sharp. I read research long ago that likened ideas to pregnancy: It just can’t happen by yourself. Ideas are spawned when two or more people collectively put their thoughts together. Even when I’m researching or discovering new technology, products and services online, it’s typically a conversation with a colleague that spurs the creativity. Most of my friends who are really creative have outlets like music, acting, or some other art outlet. Since I only excel at comedic relief, political debate and sarcasm, Backbone Bourbon, singing poorly and frequenting trashy bars with friends are now my go-to outlets.
What do you see as the future of media strategy or advertising?
Artificial intelligence is showing amazing promise. The majority of businesses, marketers or agencies continue to produce marketing and advertising that they think is amazing. But most of it is not.
AI can collectively capture the behavioral reaction of your audience and customers, and using natural language processing, help us understand better the strategies that will motivate those who need or want our products and services buy them.
What is your best PR, marketing or advertising tip for businesses?
Please stop “producing content.” It’s such an inhumane term that makes your marketing team sound like it’s now a 1934 Model T assembly line instead of creative people screaming to get unchained from their workstation, unleash their creativity, take risks and actually speak to their audience in a unique way. I push our clients to think of their digital presence as a library where visitors come to do research. Would you go to a library with aisles of boring books? Or would you rather go somewhere with multimedia, conversations, surprises, and an amazing means of organizing where you can find whatever you want? How are you going to start building that library? Hint: Destroy the assembly line.