Interview with Vicky Wu
Our today’s guest is Vicky Wu from Dallas, Texas, US who holds degree in Business Management with a minor in Marketing from University of Maryland and is a marketing expert with over 30 years of experience in marketing, advertising and design with businesses large and small. She has worked with some world-class organizations including developing and implementing a company’s sponsorship with the Dallas Cowboys and working with their amazing people over the past several years. She is also a CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) with experience helping nonprofits.
Her interests include painting and drawing the old-fashioned way – on paper and canvas. She also runs a dance studio under a co-op model with other instructors, where she is a ballroom dance instructor and one of her favorite activities is teaching brides and grooms their first dance for their wedding.
Can you give us a little bit of background about how you got involved in marketing and what led you to become such an expert, in other words ‘Guru’?
When I was growing up, I thought I was going to be an artist, but at some point I realized why they’re called “starving artists” and determined I may not want to do that as my primary job but I always enrolled in art classes and joined art club. Another job I had always looked at was being a reporter so I joined the school newspaper class, but later realized to be a high-achieving reporter I may have to be much more intrusive in people’s lives than I had any interest in being. I joined the journalism class my freshman year in high school and started working on the school newspaper and later the school yearbook and realized these provided me the opportunity to combine these two things I enjoyed – art and journalism. It was also something I was good at – I became the newspaper editor-in-chief, and then the yearbook editor-in-chief, and by my senior year in high school was serving as a teaching assistant and grading the work of the students in the newspaper class.
That’s also the year I started working in the advertising department of the local newspaper, having realized this would be the direction I could go that would encompass those two early areas of interest. I became very successful in that, winning design awards and being one of the top salespeople in the department (at that time our staff did both the selling and the layout). Shortly after that we brought in Macintosh computers and I was trained as a trainer of the graphic design programs – Photoshop 1.0 anyone? – and taught the rest of the staff how to design ads using the Mac. This job was a long time ago, but even at that time I was speaking with my publisher (we were part of a big syndicate) about the future of news and how things would be delivered to people right on their computer screen based upon what interests them – which at that time was a mind-blowing possibility when you consider at the time the fastest form of communication was still fax machines.
I had to work for a few years before I could afford college (my parents couldn’t afford to pay it on my behalf), so I had several years of work experience by the time I enrolled in college. This made me realize that I probably shouldn’t major in marketing, only because I already had real-world experience, and should instead major in business (since every business is … a business!) and minor in marketing where I already had the experience but still wanted the “theory”. This opened a whole new world and clarified what I wanted to do as my long-term career!
I love all aspects of marketing, from the design to the selling to the analytics, and have quite a knack for it as well. I’ve made specific effort to continue with my education and learn from the best by attending trainings, seminars, and reading articles and blogs by some of the best in the business and keeping on the forefront of trends and technology. I’ve had to work at times with extremely small staffs and budgets as well, which forced me to learn how to achieve big results while using very few resources. All of that experience combines to offer some very unique insights, ideas and work for my clients.
Tell us about the different kinds of services that you offer.
Our services are broken down into three levels which benefit three different types of businesses:
Do it yourself – this is for the entrepreneurs who want to do the marketing, graphic or social media work themselves, and have the time and desire to do so, but may not yet have all of the technical skill. Our training programs help them learn the skills they need to know and keep them from makingthose mistakes others may make and that we learned from over the years.
Do it with help – this is for businesses that have someone on staff, maybe the owner or some other employee, who can do the work (either they already know some of the technical skills or they’ve gone through our training) but need help with higher-level marketing concepts such as strategy and direction to implement their marketing in the manner most effective for their business to realize the greatest return on investment. This includes our marketing coaching programs, Marketing Bootcamp, business coaching, and the “Hire a CMO” program.
Have it done for you – this is for the business that wants to outsource some or all of their graphic design, social media, and other marketing pieces. The problem with finding your own freelancers is that you often have to go to multiple places to have the differing pieces completed, and this can result in a lack of brand consistency – very bad for a business. We have a whole team of freelancers available so that a business can have all of their needs met in one place, and provide an account manager who acts as their Marketing Director or Art Director to oversee it all and make sure brand messaging and design is consistent.
Which level of businesses can have the services you offer?
Because our marketing services are scalable, they are appropriate for any size of business. Most of the businesses using our marketing or graphic design services are entrepreneurs who run small businesses (less than $100 million in sales). They are at a point where they really need some high-level marketing and design expertise, but perhaps not quite at a point where they can afford to pay for someone in a full-time role. With the ability for a business to only purchase those services they need and only when they need them, yet keep one main point of contact who helps them be most efficient with their budget and maintain a high level of brand consistency, our services provide the flexibility to scale up or down as needed and much more quickly than trying to add additional staff.
Larger businesses also use our services when they have special needs that exceed what their available staff would have resources to complete timely. Our services allow these businesses to scale their marketing up or down as needed without having to go through the process of onboarding new staff.
What are the top 3 things that someone should know in order to be in order to be successful in marketing?
Marketing is such a broad field that sometimes it depends upon what segment you specialize in. For the most part, with a wide overview of marketing, the three things that help me the most are:
Psychology – an understanding of people, their needs and wants, and why they do what they do. This is one of the most fascinating aspects of marketing and life to me, so it’s something I tend to study just for fun. I don’t mean you need a degree in psychology by any means, but a basic understanding of, and interest in, what makes people tick will really set you apart in the field of marketing.
Customer Buying Cycle – this ties into the above yet deserves a whole separate mention. While many pieces of the buying cycle are the same (awareness, consideration, purchase), each business has some unique flow that any marketer will need to know. Understanding what makes a particular buyer move along the path towards purchase, plus what that path looks like both for a certain business plus for the methods used to interact with potential buyers can make a business a huge success. This includes an understanding of the psychological buying triggers that can help a potential buyer make a decision.
Design – at least a basic understanding of design, color, and again the psychology behind both. Even when walking into a physical location, design can help flow the traffic to particular spots in the store. The design of a website can help move a potential buyer along that buying cycle just based upon how the user interface is set up.
What has inspired you to do “Random Acts of Kindness”?
For a long time – years, I was a single mother, and for a while with all five of my boys. That’s never easy. I worked hard, sometimes two jobs, to make ends meet. I always felt like there needed to be more of me, maybe a clone!, to get everything done. And during that time, there were always people – random strangers, friends, family – who did small things that would be just enough to keep me going. I always promised myself when I reached a position where I had more – more time, more money, more energy! – I would pay it forward by doing the same.
So now I am active with several things, such as volunteering with a few select nonprofits (and nonprofits always receive deep discounts on our services), donating money through microloans such as Kiva or donating to people I know, or friends of people I know, for reasons I feel worthy on sites such as GoFundMe. Plus I try to regularly do small “random acts of kindness” to put smiles on other people’s faces. I don’t always get to write about those on my blog although when I do I hope to inspire others to do so as well. It doesn’t take much to put a smile on someone’s face, make their day, or give them that small piece of support that will keep them going.