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Ann Marie Steib

Digital Account Coordinator
I’m Ann Marie. Two first names, don’t wear them out. In my role as Digital Project Manager, I manage a team of strategists, UX designers, and creatives to make websites that meet our client's business goals and fulfill their user's needs. When I'm not at KW2, I'm cooking, reading, or buying shoes.
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Culture – it ain’t a foosball table, folks.

As a former “hungry college grad” desperate for a job in advertising, I can’t tell you how many agency websites I visited that shouted about their “unique” culture from the rooftops. It doesn’t stop within the shop – just google “agency culture” and find thousands of think-pieces on the topic. It all starts to sound the same, and quite frankly can get exhausting.

So you can imagine my surprise when I jumped into the day-to-day at KW2 and found out that agency culture isn’t a B.S. term thrown around by people trying to nail a pitch. It’s a real thing, and it matters. At KW2, it means living and breathing our three core values: positivity, endless self-improvement, and authentic relationships.

#1: Positivity

As a digital project manager, my job is to both manage our internal smarties (UX designers, digital strategists, designers, etc.) and the client’s needs. The details change day-to-day and project to project, but positivity is the constant: approaching every problem with the belief that we can (and will!) fix it makes it easier for our team, both internal and client-side, to deliver killer solutions to complex digital problems.

#2 Endless Self-Improvement

If I’m not working day in and day out to make myself better, I’m failing my clients and my co-workers. By focusing on continuing to improve both my digital knowledge and expand my horizons, be it in digital communications, marketing, or even in business, I’m making KW2 a better agency partner and a better place to work. It’s a no-brainer.

#3 Authentic Relationships

This one is my favorite, for selfish reasons: I work best when I can be transparent with my clients. But we take this a step further at KW2: authentic relationships doesn’t just mean honesty. It means integrity in how we treat our clients and each other. It means taking pride in making great work – collaboratively, with the target in mind, with no stone left unturned in developing the right strategy for the project. It means the confidence to say “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out” when you’re asked a question you can’t answer. It means there’s not room for ego. And sometimes it even means having the tough conversations, and saying no.

Agency culture isn’t having a beer fridge or a “bring your dog to work” day. Culture is a set of values that drives how you treat your clients and how you work together. It’s how you know you’re going to walk in, every day, with a smile on your face, a cup of coffee in your hand and a desire to keep getting better. Without our core values, KW2 would just be a place where I show up every day and make decent websites. And I’d much rather embrace our culture–and make a great one.

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Digital marketing is good. So are books. Zuckerberg’s book club could teach us a thing or two about both.

I love to read. Even more so, I like holding books in my hands. I dislike the Kindle, and I’m an evangelist for the importance of turning a paper page.

So the irony that I coordinate planning, programming and testing websites isn’t lost on me.

In fact, I love my work. And I love doing it at KW2, where we on the digital team redesign websites, optimize for search, run PPC campaigns and help clients with technical solutions to their digital challenges. We do it all and we do it well.

But it’s important not to forget that “traditional” forms of media can still resonate with an audience. Even excite them. In fact, human beings still read books. You heard it here first, folks! And that’s how Mark Zuckerberg wants to unite us in 2015.

His global book club’s pledge to read a book every other week in 2015 recruited almost 140,000 joiners in its first 48 hours, and the momentum just keeps growing. His track record shows we can count on him to carry it through: in the past, he’s learned to speak Mandarin, eaten vegetarian (unless he killed the animal himself) and worn a tie every day.

The Atlantic called him ‘the new Oprah,’ and for good reason: the club’s first book sold out on Amazon within 36 hours. That Oprah moniker earns your eye roll, yes. But it’s important to recognize what this means for anyone thinking about how to connect with an audience.

“Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today,” Zuckerberg wrote. “I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.” Zuckerberg might be a punk in a hoodie (that’s what my father affectionately calls him), but he’s hitting the mark here. Even Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger make the time in their schedules to read upwards of 250 books a year, crediting their unquenchable thirst for knowledge an important part of their continued economic success. I’m no billionaire, but I definitely know that when I curl up with my favorite Russo, it’ll stick with me much longer than a banner ad or an Instagram photo.

Our “media diet” should nourish us, just like our food diets. As consumers, we deserve information that serves us well. If you sell a product, inspire a change in behavior or motivate charitable giving, people will only connect with your message if and when you’ve earned their attention. Whether it’s a guerrilla marketing event, a print ad or a radio spot, good advertising should be compelling, real and meet your clients’ and your clients’ customer’s needs. Period.

Digital marketing matters. Duh. Your customers matter more. Those customers may still want books. That means ‘traditional’ advertising matters. We’ve got you covered there, too. We’ll let our print work speak for itself.

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