Drew is a jack of all trades with a seasoned social media advertising background and valuable perspectives to share.
By Kendra Toner
Look who has stepped into our Sound Business Spotlight…
Meet Drew White who has his sights set on becoming a jack of all trades professionally! He grew up in Washington State, and although he has moved away from his hometown, he is still a proud Washingtonian. In addition to his work as a Search & Media Marketing Strategist, Drew is a nationally certified EMT and working to become a volunteer firefighter! As a boy, he dreamed of becoming a superhero, and we think he is well on his way to becoming one. As we’ve all been reminded of in 2020, firefighters (like all essential works), are real-life superheroes. Whether he is helping businesses of all sizes overcome their marketing challenges in these challenging times or making strides to become a volunteer firefighter who can help people when they need it the most, he is showing us all that childhood dreams really can come true. Drew has a lot to share about work as well as life. Read on and enjoy his personal and professional insights. We appreciated them and think you will too.
PSMS: Tells us a little about yourself (Where did you grow up? Where do you live now? What are a few fun facts that you can share about yourself? What is your professional title?)
Drew: I grew up in a town just north of Portland, across the Columbia River called Camas, Washington. Home of the Papermakers! Currently, I live in Seattle with my lovely fiancée and are looking to move into our first home together sometime this year or early next. I’m currently a Nationally certified EMT, I put myself through classes in hopes to learn and am in the process of becoming a volunteer firefighter within the Seattle area. Professionally I’ve been called many things. I would probably break it down into a Search & Media Marketing Strategist.
PSMS: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Drew: When I grew up I wanted to be one of two things- either a superhero (duh) or a professional athlete. As I got older, I realized that my natural desire was edging me toward this ideology of helping the little guy. While I’m no super hero, it is very satisfying helping small businesses owners grow their ecommerce business through digital media.
PSMS: Tell us what you do professionally now.
Drew: Currently, I’m working on becoming a “jack of all trades”! At the moment, I’m working with Wunderman-Thompson as a Search Strategist, providing hands on optimizations and strategic insights to their clientele.
PSMS: How long have you been working in this industry?
Drew: I’ve been in this industry for about 5 years. I started as an intern at Publicis (Blue449) where I was introduced to this crazy idea of programmatic and targeted marketing. From here I moved to CDK where I was able to work with Car Dealerships and run paid search advertisement for them. Collaborating with around 30 clients at any given time, this became one of the most eye-opening experiences in client management I could have asked for. Finally, I moved to Wunderman-Thompson where I was able to round out my experience. Utilizing client conversations with strategy as a focal point, and creating holistic campaigns that incorporated social, paid search and digital display with niche targeting.
PSMS: What inspired you to choose the career path that you are on now?
Drew: Not only did I want to help people grow their business, but I wanted to continue learning. Being in the city of Seattle, what better way to continue personal growth than a field in tech where I could continue helping and conversing with small businesses.
PSMS: We’d love to hear more about your professional journey including schooling, courses, trainings, certifications, etc. that helped you get from where you began to where you are now.
Drew: At the University of Washington, I began my journey wanting to study law but when push came to shove, I didn’t have the heart to continue pursuing this path. From here I followed my interests, taking psychology classes, sociology classes and finally e commerce and business classes. Having this prior image that “advertising was bad” it was eye opening to me this new idea of “helpful advertising”. It seemed so innovative and unknown to me that I dove right into it and haven’t left! Over the years I’ve taken so many courses and trainings I don’t know if I could name them all- I’ve been certified through multiple DSP’s, watched speakers at Programmatic IO, and taken dozens of training courses through the years. It’s a constant reminder that this field is ever changing and there is almost never 1 perfect answer- its about following decisions up with logic and learning along the way.
PSMS: What challenges have you faced along the way, and how did you overcome them?
Drew: I have become very comfortable with being uncomfortable. The best part about working in the media advertisement field is that its ever-changing. One of the hardest things I’ve had to overcome is talking with clients in a manner that is easily understood by them. This field has so much terminology, DSP, CPC, CPM, TTD, WMD, and the list goes on and on. Taking the time to truly understand the strategy and being able to articulate that to a client without over speaking is something that I’m still learning to this day. In the field we call it “speaking each others language” and more often than not, when I take the time to understand the language my client is speaking, it in return helps me optimize my services and campaigns to better serve them and ultimately their superiors.
PSMS: What advice do you wish you had been given when you were starting out in your career?
Drew: Have fun! This career can be so stressful at times, but remember that you get to work with some absolutely amazing people. Take the time to get a coffee and talk with your co workers. When I first started I thought that coming in and putting my headphones on and being as efficient as possible was what made me a great employee. While this is all great, and there is a place for that. Getting to know the brilliant people around you every day is also important. Finding ways to utilize their expertise and build relationships in a positive way will not only help you in your current work, but over the lifetime of your career.
PSMS: How have the clients that you work with had to pivot their businesses and their offerings in 2020-2021 given the global pandemic and subsequent changes to our day-to-day lives?
Drew: From a business culture perspective, I think many businesses are forced to change. Meetings are being held at home, conversations over zoom, and being heard and seen as a business online is ultimately harder. Many businesses have had to take the approach of investing heavier in their media dollar because 1: its just not going as far with the uplift in noise. And 2: how businesses go about their business is becoming saturated as more and more individual business owners take to the ecommerce network. Clients I’m working on are continuing to find new and innovative ways to portray their products and their business as a whole, whether they’ve been around for 100 years or 1 month, there is always a unique way to go about it to make you stand out in a crowd.
PSMS: What advice can you share with business owners on how best to use digital marketing to grow their businesses and brands in the current economy?
Drew: Be truly passionate about what you’re doing. If you don’t believe in your product, service, business, employees, etc. it will show and that makes it extremely difficult as a digital advertiser to make your products stand out. Growing your business takes hard work, perseverance, well managed budgets, patience and a little bit of luck here and there. Creating a culture around your product or service and surrounding it with people who truly want it to succeed is the only way to grow a business now.
PSMS: What do you love most about working in the digital marketing industry?
Drew: The people. There are so many amazing people in this industry. There are creatives to analytical brains to introverts to extroverts to everything in between. Its awesome to me just how open to conversation people from such different backgrounds can be when faced with a common goal. I love moving to different projects and re-working with people, understanding their expertise and how they view a specific goal and how they want to achieve it.
PSMS: What are you most excited about with regard to the future of digital marketing?
Drew: New projects, New people, New Growth. Helping grow a small business into a self sustaining medium to large business is always an amazing feeling. But I really love the strategizing with my co-workers an coming up with a plan. Then when things inevitably take a hard left turn, being able to understand my teammates and put our brains together to come up with a resolution to a problem, that sense of commodore and building it with new people is what’s amazing and exciting about this work.
PSMS: Which professional networks/groups are you a part of?
Drew: Not sure what this is pointing to- I am part of groups within the work place where we will collaborate and discuss work we’re on but not really any professional network. I work collectively with all sorts of individuals on any given project.
PSMS: What do you read and listen to in order to stay up to date and continue growing as a digital marketing expert in your industry?
Drew: Anything I can get my hands on really. I think that growing in this industry you need to culminate reading with collective mind (talking to your co-workers) and performing in platform. I live within Social, programmatic and search platforms- and new ones come out every single day. I stay up to speed with news through the New York Times or WSJ. I generally read questions, FAQs and how to’s within the platforms themselves to understand what I could be doing tactically for a given campaign.
PSMS: Do you have any parting advice or insights for business owners that want to excel at digital marketing?
Drew: As a business owner, don’t be afraid to be open and honest with your digital marketing agency. One of the biggest problems I see is when small business managers or owners try to hide things. We should be seen as an extension of your team, and want nothing more than to make your business succeed. And be patient. When we are testing and learning, we are in no way shape or form trying to “waste” your money. Again, we want you to succeed! So many times by testing things, we can check a box and say “nope that doesn’t work for them” or inversely “holy cow, this demographic loves this product, who knew” and we can then shift strategy, budgets and it’s a new insight for the business.
2020 was full of so many disappointments as well as challenges, forced us all to slow down, allowed many of us to spend more time at home while sheltering in place, and offered opportunities for reflection on a personal as well as global citizen level. We believe it is important to always try to see and appreciate silver linings in times like we are living through. What are some silver linings that you have experienced professionally and/or personally so far this year? Time with my family. Working in Media has a very unique quality where we have the ability to work from home, and still complete our work as efficiently if not more efficiently than at a work place (cutting down on commute times). By integrating proper work stream habits in my day to day, its allowed me to spend the extra 2+ hours I would normally be commuting with my beautiful fiancée and her family. While I’m sure I drive her up the wall sometimes with my incessant talking, its been an absolute blessing being able to close my laptop, turn to my future wife and ask her if she wants to make a meal together. These were things I have always wanted to do but never had the time before the work from home situation. As long as you’re able to separate from your work, get it done at a normal 9am-5pm rate and then reset and be with your family, I think its been an absolutely life changer.
PSMS: Drew, thanks for sharing part of your story with us. We appreciate your perspective on digital marketing and thank you for all that you have done and will do as an EMT and volunteer firefighter. Keep chasing your dreams!