Happy New Year's Eve to you! Welcome to another episode of open mic. In this episode, host Ryan Alford sits down with Radical's Account Executives, Alex Finley and Kaitlin Bowler.
Happy Thursday and welcome to another episode of open mic. In this episode, host Ryan Alford sits down with Radical's Account Executives (AE), Alex Finley and Kaitlin Bowler. The conversation in today's episode highlights life as an AE, 2021 resolutions, goals, trends, and more.
Alex Finley was Radical's first hire. She keeps up with all the latest trends and brings a refreshing realness to today's episode. Kaitlin Bowler was hired in February 2020, and has been taking bold leaps as an AE ever since.
Pro Tip: These are the people you want to have on your account.
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Ryan Alford[00:00:23]Hey guys, what's up? This is Ryan Alford. Welcome to the latest edition of the Radcast Open Mic Edition. We're coming up with tons of editions here at the Radcast. We're getting closer to a daily series here on the Radcast. As we've grown, I am joined by two of our marvelous AEs. But actually, employee number one, at Radical, Alex Finley and Kate Bowler. Good to have you both.
Kate Bowler[00:00:59]Good to be here.
Alex Finley[00:00:59]Great to be here.
Ryan Alford[00:01:57]. So how are the holidays going?
Alex Finley[00:01:59]It was good. I hung out with family and everything, which was kind of nice to have at the end of 2021. Felt like it was going to be a lot different, this holiday boom. I think my family did a good job still hanging out and making it “feel normal”.
Kate Bowler[00:02:13]Mine was pretty relaxed, which was a nice little wrap-up. I think it was nice to just unwind for a little bit and not have to go through so much of the hustle and bustle of getting everyone to go to the houses and...
Ryan Alford[00:02:30]As 2020 has been a whacky year. But were you able to catch your breath and feel normal?
Alex Finley[00:02:42]It was relaxing and a nice little kickback. But to not have to travel, travel, travel, buy everybody presents.
Ryan Alford[00:02:50]You don't want to slow down because COVID-19 kept most nuclear families together versus going a million places. So I would hope that maybe it created some semblance of peace.
Alex Finley[00:03:05]Yeah, sure it did. I think everybody appreciated just being together this year instead of what's under the Christmas tree. “I got a gift card. That's fine”. It wasn't so much about presents and stuff. I was just lucky to be together. I had a lot of brag about it too.
Kate Bowler[00:03:19]That really didn't post a whole lot. And I did not. I think that was nice and I did it. I think that was nice because then you're just in the moment and you're not OK, “let's do it for the grant”. Like it's not all bad. It's ok. “Let me enjoy my nieces and nephews or my mom or whoever”.
Ryan Alford[00:03:35]Even for me, as much as I suppose I didn't, I threw up stories like a few things like the kids get so that -- family that follows my stuff, like they see whatever. But I was pretty silent on that end as well, which was nice. So New Year's is coming up. This episode will be released on New Year's Eve. Happy New Year's Eve to everyone listening. Stay safe. Any big New Year's plans? There's again, minimize the bit
Alex Finley[00:04:24]I think I'll minimize it a little bit this year, but I'm still hanging out with some people trying to make the most of it ringing in the new year.
Kate Bowler[00:04:31]I'll probably be asleep by 11:30.
Ryan Alford[00:04:35]Last year Nicole and I, I am 99 percent sure we were asleep at ten-thirty.
Kate Bowler[00:04:43]Especially, after you have a couple of drinks and you're cozy and you're sitting and...
Ryan Alford[00:04:47]I woke up to a happy new year. I don't know why but we aren't big New Year's people anyway. I think it's what they call amateur hour. And then this year will be interesting. All the parties, even the ones that probably shouldn't be happening will hopefully be minimized.
Kate Bowler[00:05:09]What I'm interested to see for some of the bigger parties that are happening, knowing you can't serve alcohol after 11. So what is that for New Year's?
Alex Finley[00:05:21]But last year we did like the “up on the roof thing” went up there, 10 people deep at the bar. I got to the front. I was like, “I need a bottle of wine and two glasses. I was like, I'm not coming back”. So last year we were like, we're definitely doing something next year. Like we just need to buy the tickets and do it. And then 2020 happens. And it's funny how life works, I guess.
Ryan Alford[00:05:44]Alright. So I guess everybody will be chilling our home parties with a limited gathering. So I don't know what we'll do. We've got all the kids and New Year’s Dad, all the bowl games like Clemson -- they don't play until Saturday. But most of the good games that I mentioned are set on New Year's Day itself. But we got all the kids and so we got kids under the age of 10 this year.
Alex Finley[00:06:29]Just have some champagne to call it a night!
Ryan Alford[00:06:34]Any big New Year's resolutions?
Alex Finley[00:06:40]That's hard. I feel New Year's resolutions are just a setup for failure because then you bog yourself down, you're like, “oh, it's been two weeks, I can't do it”. So I start like every week off and decide as to what my goal for the week would be rather than here's what I'm going to do all year long.
Kate Bowler[00:07:02]I feel the same way. I usually pick “do the one-word thing”. So try to pick a word that all of my decisions go towards that. Like this year was “capacity”. So just to see how much I can take on and handle it. And so I'm still thinking of my 2021 word, because I feel the same way if I say “oh water work out” like halfway through February, I'm off the lot like off the boat wagon or whatever, and then I feel like I failed so I don't want to do that. Then it's literally just picking one word where that's what I'm doing and all my choices go towards that one word. So just juggling which word it is. That's more like you're just something easier that you can do for people. I've seen where people put it like on their phone background or they put it on their computer, or some people will get like a piece of jewelry made to wear every day. They have a reminder of that one word that they're trying to accomplish. So, that's my 2021 thing.
Ryan Alford[00:08:16]Look, you're either self-motivated or you are not. And I like the start of the week plans which are much more manageable. I like just biting off what you can chew and taking care of yourself and you're either motivated or you're not. That doesn't mean taking care of yourself means that you have a six-pack. I don't have a six-pack. You work out 23 times a month, what does that mean for you? Making lifestyle changes instead of arbitrary goals, but comes and goes. But for me, ironically, I say all that, but I do let myself enjoy the holidays. So the way that coincides, I do typically pick back up my normal routine the first week of the year. And so it's not that I go completely in the dumpster, but like -- I enjoy food. I do things just to enjoy the moments of the holidays. So that happens to coincide with that week.
Kate Bowler[00:09:30]I think we all ingrained it because ever since we were little New Year's resolutions, even more so back when you were younger, you hear your parents talking about it. So I think that's so normal. Like “I'm going to get fit”, but also you get to eat and all the “garbage” during the holidays.
Ryan Alford[00:09:48]I told Nicole last night that “I do feel I'm ready for more Whole Foods right now”.
Alex Finley[00:09:56]Your body just gives up.
Ryan Alford[00:09:59]I need some lettuce and some green beans.
Kate Bowler[00:10:03]We can't run on this. It’s a lot of processed stuff. So you guys are both in account management. With the New Year's looking forward and looking back a little bit. Any best stories or as you reflect on the year that's been so crazy, it’s Covid and anything that sticks in your mind from the year?
Kate Bowler[00:11:16]So I think everyone had a march that lasted six months. And I've had a website, the development that's lasted far longer than six months. But I thought it was going to be great, get everything done. And then sites like, “oh, let's make ten thousand changes”, or “I wanted it so specialized work to our coding was involved. But now I want to be able to update it myself. And I don't understand the coding. So that is fun.
Ryan Alford[00:11:53]What's interesting and being in running an agency and doing what we all do -- we're in client service, we operate to service clients and to do marketing for them. And what people probably don't realize is any client that we get that lacks marketing sophistication. And that's not a knock. I'm not ridiculing any client, but they just haven't been around it. They don't know it. They've started a business and they know they need marketing, but they don't understand it. You would probably think from the outside looking in that would be the easiest client to work with. It is the hardest client because they don't know what they don't know and we can only do so much because we don't own their business. We don't run their business. We don't know everything in their head. And so when they don't know what they don't know, it can make the process incredibly painful.
Alex Finley[00:12:51]There you go. There's only so much Shopify can do.
Kate Bowler[00:13:01]But I want to understand. So but that's been my style of dealing with.
Ryan Alford[00:13:07]A never-ending story is a movie never-ending website.
Alex Finley[00:13:12]Yes, always a never-ending website.
Kate Bowler[00:13:14]Yes and secondly, I think people also don't realize that websites are never finished. They're always being updated. They always need tweaks. It's always but it's like, “oh, I thought you said it was done”.
Ryan Alford[00:13:23]It's like it's a really good point. You have to realize that the evolution of your site never stops. You have iterations 1.0. Let's get a home page, the core functionality and a “contact us” done. And let's launch 1.0. 1.1 can come in thirty days, fifteen days later. You don't have to solve every one of the world's problems in 1.0. That's the way most development things happen. But again, depending on the level of knowledge and sophistication of the client, they're thinking how do we get done? And it's never done. So, Alex, any big reflections on 2020?
Alex Finley[00:14:16]Back to the march, it was like the march that never ended. And I know that we started working at home and it was like, “oh, we're only going to be gone for two weeks”. We were lucky enough to come back pretty soon. But we also kicked off four ScanSource projects at the same time. So I was like, coffee in the morning. I want to work in my PJs and stuff. But I'm like, what's that cat-like? Fingers ache every morning, like trying to work on four ScanSource projects at home and coordinate with everybody here. So that was a wild time.
Ryan Alford[00:14:52]That was interesting because it's natural human, mom was the same way, like, owning the agency you like. But when we all go home, I knew we were working from home and what was going on and there were so many more outside influences that you normally have. We all live in that world when we know that. But we're all being impacted by the virus and everything. Yet the work was still intense, going on and improving, which is, “thank God, it's a good thing we all kept our jobs, that I kept the business”. We benefited in some ways from it, again, not because even owning the business and being invested, it wasn’t a break like naturally go home and it's a little bit like, it's going to be nothing. It's not going to work scenery.
Alex Finley[00:15:55]And that was really odd because it was wearing a sweatshirt, PJs, but it was still going. Also, while we were adding new projects, we were also having to basically completely redo all of our current clients because they all had to go online, they had to update their website. They all had to figure out ways to do curbside pickup. So it was multiplied, amplified that whole month really.
Ryan Alford[00:16:18]I wonder what the memories are. Hopefully, this all gets behind Being in South Carolina in a conservative state, we were able to get back together using precautions. We have a very spaced-out workspace here. So we've been lucky and benefited. Some people had a lot worse. But I do wonder and I'm almost afraid of the vaccines going on all the stuff. I feel there has to be Covid-24. A part of me is afraid to get excited about going back to football games in August. I want to be positive about it, but it's like, “OK, when can you really go right in the rearview mirror”.
Alex Finley[00:17:08]At the rate that they have to give out the vaccine, it's a “holding your breath” game a little bit because I don't want to get too excited. This is really a damper for that. We're releasing this on New Year's Day.
Ryan Alford[00:17:23]It hasn't really hampered me. I'm just living. We're working. We're doing like it's not stopping anything, but it's obviously impacting stuff. So, how is 2021 really going to be, as far as some of our just normal freedoms or expressions of going out? We're planning a family trip in March and I'm just tired of having to think about it in the back of my head, “oh, can we just do normal stuff”?.
Alex Finley[00:17:51]I think marketing-wise, it's going to be interesting to see how many people are online, what they're able to do -- like user experience on their website too. Like, how are you really going to keep people if everybody is online? I think it's going to be interesting to watch businesses.
Ryan Alford[00:18:08]Josh, Railey, and I talked about this, “that genie isn't going back in the bottle”. A lot of people that maybe, were slow to e-commerce or slowed online behaviors. They are not going back. So it's going to be crucial that the user experience comes along with that because most websites still suck. They just aren't good enough for where we are. But I think there's just a lot of ways to go, especially online shopping and stuff. Like we're a Shopify Partner, we build our websites and it's great for what it is. But we haven't quite found the overall development universe, the perfect online shopping experience that brings in AR, VR and you can see what that dress will look like on you or that pair of shoes, it's getting there. But I feel there's going to be a lot of innovation as far as that goes in the next year or two.
Kate Bowler[00:19:26]I love Amazon. I can see what this little Vase will look like in my living room and you just look up and can do that. But I also love how Instagram works, the shopping, and just being able to, literally, just not have to leave, it's just like being pink.
Ryan Alford[00:20:05]Anything for 2021 on your radar. Now you guys both are looking at trends and doing things like that, but I guess you're keeping it in the marketing vein or anything that caught your eye?
Alex Finley[00:20:22]I think it's interesting to see and we've done this already, how direct mail pieces are playing and how things that people can actually touch are really playing into it because people can't go out and shop as much anymore. We've said that, but how can we still get products to people and make a difference? And I think it's going to be more of a touch and the feel and we're working with a lot of fabric people right now, is what I'm thinking. How can we get samples in their hand versus them coming in for conferences and that sort of thing? So just trying to find different ways of doing things that are still cool and innovative and people want to be a part of.
Kate Bowler[00:20:58]I agree with that too. And I think it's just expanding. Like I feel like I have to release my mind and expand on, as you said, direct mail pieces like you think it's this one thing, but it's like, “let me just relax for a second and let me think what else could this be?” So I definitely do that for sure.
Ryan Alford[00:21:18]And I think it's going to be key to keep pushing clients. He knows we're stewards of marketing innovation. People telling them and recognizing that, again, things have changed and, again, even no matter what happens people are not going to be going to conferences in March for the most part and probably not this year for the most part. Thus how do you think about how you will interact with them, how you create those personal touches? I think it's going to be important. So on that end, you're both in account service. So, we reveal behind the curtain here with the agency. I joke sometimes, “well, we have account managers and creatives”, but we're serving clients. We have a business because of clients. The whole agency survives on client service. But what's been your perspective of the job and how do you feel about it?
Kate Bowler[00:22:30]I like being able to be upfront and honest because for me, what comes up comes out. You do have to have those hard conversations, but I, to a degree, enjoy those just because you're dealing with real issues. But you're also speaking the truth as long as it's the truth. I enjoy that and I like to be organized. So, as long as you're organized and your follow-up game is good, those are things I enjoy about it.
Alex Finley[00:23:09]I definitely feel the same way. I'm an organized person, but I like being the middleman in a way. Being here, in the beginning, I like to wear a lot of hats. So I liked being creative and having strategic ideas that are also creative and getting in a room with the creative team and being here's what they want to do. Here are some options that I'm seeing other people do and it's not so much. Just, “here's my AE and I have to write emails all day”. It's nice to work with a team that’s small enough to have opinions that aren't just strategy, strategy, strategy all the time.
Ryan Alford[00:23:43]You both are in client service, I call it the orchestrator of the business, in a lot of ways. You either embrace that or you shy away from it and the best Account Manager embraces it because, at the end of the day, I think when you're the orchestrator, it doesn't mean you're playing the best violin or the best singer or the best insert thing here, but you're making it all go. Is it something you guys embrace?
Alex Finley[00:24:16]I think so. I like challenges. I like playing up to people's strengths and stuff and finding the perfect thing. I feel successful when I do that or I like the challenge and I like having it all work out at the end or seeing something on paper that we've written now, like, “Hey, here's the landing page the client wants”. And we create the brief and the creative requests and everything goes through. And then you see it when it's done. I like that because I know I had a hand in each piece.
Kate Bowler[00:24:48]I feel you get to know your team really well. And you're like, that would be a great project for Blank. They would really excel at doing this because I think that's fun too. Being able to get to know your team really well and their strengths, and then you're able to, like you said, combine all of that and get some shit done.
Ryan Alford[00:25:09]What's the hardest part of the job?
Alex Finley[00:25:12]For me, delegating. Sometimes because I'm a weirdo in between creative and strategy, so it's me sitting there writing just strategy that I'm supposed to be doing, but being like, but what if we did this? So I have to sometimes keep my mind just straight on one thing or else I get it and go everywhere.
Kate Bowler[00:25:36]Mine is the turnoff, like not responding to that 9:30 email. That's my struggle or I'll wake up in the middle of the night and I'm like, shit, I'm up. I could get some emails right now. So definitely, for me, it's finding the work-life balance and then shut-off.
Ryan Alford[00:26:19]I do the same thing. But I came up through account service in my original days and have the same mentality and it's hard to shut it off. I do feel like my best ideas come in the middle of the night or in the shower. I don't know what that is about? It's like the only time where you're not busy. But it's hard to shut it off. Not being in the throes of every single project, not as much as you guys, but I'll get those emails. Everybody has a smartphone now unless you just put it away or put it on silent or whatever, it's really hard for me. I don't want to sit on that. I think we're very available to our clients. But you're also naturally that way. It’s ingrained in our agency to be available and to provide great customer service. But at the same time, we're all allowed to have lives.
Kate Bowler[00:27:45]No, you have to. I get home and take my watch off because I'll set my phone down. At seven-thirty I'm like “we're done”, the phone gets on silent and I doze off.
Ryan Alford[00:28:00]What if someone's listening and they're trying to get into the ad agency business or they're considering a change to the ad agency. What would you tell people, what your role is? What would be the point of advice in consideration of this kind of role? Anything that comes to mind?
Alex Finley[00:29:11]Flexibility and multitasking.
Kate Bowler[00:29:14]Collaborate. Not that you can’t have feelings, because like you said, you like to be super creative. But when someone comes in and is like, that idea sucks and you're like, alright. So put your big girl pants on and make it happen. And as long as in the end, it turns out great for the client and the client is happy, who gives a shit whose idea it was you want to meet. Like really it got done. It's done.
Alex Finley[00:29:46] You got to be like a bull.You have to have the will for things to happen a lot. It's not just like, well, whenever they get it to me. So you have to be the bad guy sometimes. And you have to be OK with that. We're all friends here. I don't want to make it sound like we're like the bullies of the group right now, but you have to be able to go up to somebody and be like, hey, I need this. And this was the timeline like, can we make it happen or not? Because I got to tell the client if it's not going to happen.
Ryan Alford[00:30:10]It would never get done if left to the creators and not because they don't want it to be done, but it's just not in their DNA most of the time to have that, because they want it to be better. The idea can be better. And like they say: done is better than better. It's never perfect. And, but it's like you have to evaluate it. Did we hit the strategy? Is it doing or is it moving the needle or is best as we think you can for the objective and then roll with it? It's always an evolution and nothing's ever done. And that's the crazy thing. We talked about websites, but a lot of what we do with social media management; get that post out and let's make a better one tomorrow. We're going to post four more times. It doesn't mean putting something out that you don't feel good about or you're not proud of, or they're just not all going to be. Sometimes you don't know what the home run is when you think about some of the things that have been successful for some of our clients. Sometimes we know it. We're like I get that other that's going to be good.
Alex Finley[00:31:49]That's also another thing that our team does really well, is getting off the beaten path. Not everything has to have a message with it. Not everything has to come to buy for this burger. It can be a burger video that's just funny. And people are like, yeah, I like that. That's helping with engagement without having people think about it.
Ryan Alford[00:32:12]What's your take on what's happening with TikTok. I watch it, but I'm not engaged in it as much as I am on other channels. Only from a client perspective because we run a digital agency. So I know the platform. I'm understanding the platform, but my own personal interest in the platform. But what about you? Are you guys more engaged in ignoring it other than if you have to do it for work?
Kate Bowler[00:32:51]See, I'm ignoring it.
Alex Finley[00:32:53]I'm engaged. I like it. I have like a small dictionary in my mind that I just pull out weird a little. I'm the person that remembers little lines and stuff and communicates with people that way sometimes, which could be annoying. And I get that. But I also like going there. I think I'm geeky. I like a little bit of geek about it too, just because I know what we could be doing. So when I see ads that I'm watching all the way through because I don't realize it's an ad, it's just a different source there. It's a different way of thinking about how we could be doing ads, too, because having people watch them and not realize that that's what they're watching or feeling like they're being advertised to you constantly. And I think that's just a platform to do it on.
Ryan Alford[00:33:37]Yeah, there's a formula to it, though. The more I've been watching, obviously, it was what, ten, fifteen seconds, the maximum length. Now that's extended to a minute now. But there's still some weird formula to it all. I watch 20 videos and they'll be about completely different things but there’s a formula to 15 of those.
Alex Finley[00:34:02]They definitely track and know what you're into or how long you watch a video, determines if you start getting more videos like that or. So it's very interesting. It's definitely a learning curve. I think for a lot of people to realize what they're doing as far as advertising on that platform too. I think there's more opportunity for collaborations there because the ads are not sponsored. So you're not just flipping through it, people are like, “oh, here's this curling iron”, and they're using it. And you save the video because you like the way that their hair turned out. You're going to go back to that and see, OK, well, I like that curling. I might just buy it.
Ryan Alford[00:34:42] There’sa whole ADD to it all because even myself whose ADD will be watching it. And if he doesn't get liked I watch three videos and if it doesn't get to it in two seconds, I'm gone. So it's creating even more of that attention. But all the videos that do well are getting right at it. They're even the informational ones. They've turned what was normally a five-minute instruction video into 20 seconds.
Kate Bowler[00:35:15]I've seen some information, ones that have almost made me download the app and get on it, just because I was like, let me just learn something.
Alex Finley[00:35:24]How many pieces I watch on TikTok that end up on Instagram pages because they're just taking content from that too, and it's really getting spread around.
Ryan Alford[00:35:34]Have you bought anything because of TikTok yet?
Kate Bowler[00:35:43]I have not, except the cranberry juice.
Alex Finley[00:35:49]Speaking of the curling iron. So I asked for one because that's the first thing I thought of was the curling iron. But I haven't tried it out yet. I saw a video and they had short hair and I was like, “oh, cool, I'll try it out”. We'll see how it goes.
Ryan Alford[00:36:06]I ask that question more to curiosity, but I know it's driving. I can see where it's going. I think the ad is going to get better and some of that integration is going to happen in the eCommerce stuff. It's all coming up. But I do think that most of this year the platform was evolving. And I think if you asked most people, it's probably like 20 percent had bought something from it. I think that's going to that's changing quickly as people get more and more engaged in it and then marketers like us get better and better at advertising on the platform.
Alex Finley[00:36:41]I think if it makes sense to sell on Tiktok, then you should, because it's like, why not? It's free. If people like it, they're spreading it around. If you do this for yourself, it's going to end up on your for you page like it's just going to happen. And I think there's a lot of beauty bloggers that are making a ton of money on that thing right now because all they have to do is show you if they're on YouTube doing it, make it a TikTok. If you're already making the content, make it a TikTok. I think there's a big opportunity for brands there to work with people and collaborate on all of it.
Ryan Alford[00:37:15]Any final thoughts as we close up? Open mic? It's been great having you guys on.
Kate Bowler[00:37:21]It's been good.
Alex Finley[00:37:21]Yeah, it was nice.
Ryan Alford[00:37:37]l. Well, we appreciate everyone listening to this episode of the Rad Cast. You know where to find us theradcast.com, @ryanalford on Instagram. We will have social channels for the ladies up on YouTube. Rob has spent a lot of time producing the video content for this. It's a lot more engaging adding the context that we were talking about. Stay tuned for the next episode, we will see you next time.
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