Verena Papik, Chief Marketing Officer for Katch Media, marketing brand wizard, and two-time Forbes 30 under 30 was kind enough to speak with the Katch U intern group on marketing. Her entrance into the marketing world wasn’t a straight line into the business, and she credits “never saying no to an opportunity” for getting her to where she is now. Verna began in marketing as an assistant at a cosmetic company, quickly learning the skills and becoming successful within the industry, but she wanted more. An opportunity to join an internship in China sent her on a new path and one that would change her future for the better.
While in China, Verena learned of a company looking for someone who spoke dual languages to help them. This company was known as music.ly, which later grew into the wildly successful company Tik Tok. Once again, Verna honed the mantra “just go with the flow.” The company was in the start-up phase with only three employees, and they presented Verena with a challenge: she had ninety days to prove herself by bringing in users and showing growth or she would lose her job, and unsurprisingly Verena said, “why not?” Challenge accepted. Over those ninety days, Verena tried multiple avenues to grow users for music.ly and found micro-influencers, influencers who have slightly lower followers but within a very specific niche, to be the best route.
It is no surprise to hear Verena succeed in her ninety days challenge. She was quickly promoted and asked to grow additional offices across Europe. The new challenge now was building a team, something Verena said she didn’t believe at first she could do. “Imposter syndrome is real, guys,” Verena explained, and she admits to lying awake some nights wondering what she got herself into. But as Verena preached multiple times, she went with the flow and kept going. She stressed that everything is a lesson, not a failure. We will fail at times, but learning from it is the main goal we should focus on, and that’s exactly what Verena did.
She quickly grew her own office in Germany, and soon Tik Tok became the phenomenon we now know, but it wasn’t without hard work and a targeted approach. When asked about the keys to growing a large users base and creating a successful campaign, Verena shared these four keys:
1. Empathize with the customer. Understand them and have a very specific user profile in mind. User persona profiles will allow you to tag specific individuals in campaigns, the ones you know will find value in your product.
2. Set up your goals! Is it brand awareness? Do you want people talking about it? Understanding which tools will have a specific effect on that goal is important. For example, if your goal is based around the number of downloads for an app, a magazine article may not be the best medium as it won’t include a link/click for a reader to “hit” and download. However, an Instagram story could include a swipe up directly to the app which then converts easily into a download.
3. Execution, execution, execution!
4. Be prepared to fail. Test the experiences or campaign styles (including user profiles) and have a plan B, C, E, and D. Try different things and set a specific timeline to reassess a campaign or strategy. Then, once you figure out what is working, you double down on that strategy!
Paid promotions/marketing strategies don’t always hold the same value as organic growth (unpaid conversions or growth). Verena explains that if you pay to get a user to see your content, but then they are uninterested in the product or don’t see value in it, the conversion was not successful. While a paid strategy might get users in the door, the content is what will keep them, and retention is important not only to keep users but to help build and grow your brand. Passion is infectious, and if a user is excited about your product they will tell their friends about it, who will tell their friends about it, building an organic growth of passionate and excited users, which is exactly what you want for your product, service, film or television show.
There are many things that will challenge any path you take, especially in this day and age. Verena has experienced her fair share of racism and sexism, but time and time again she has proven herself, and it was done with one specific thing… data! People can question your gender, ethnicity, education, or even age, but if you have the data proving you can and will deliver, that can’t be disputed. Building a community and network of people around you will make you stronger and help the path you are taking to be less bumpy. She encourages everyone to reach out to others, to not be afraid to ask for help, and to know that the relationships you are building right now will shape your future ten years from now, so don’t be shy in connecting with people.
Verena is continuing to grow and challenge herself every day. She’s recently started a company, Ninety Play, where she is building an app focused on voice, not visuals. She wants to bring back the art of storytelling, poetry slams, describing the visuals of a vacation instead of simply showing a picture, and being more conscious of language and a voice of creativity. It’s clear Verena’s passion for marketing, growth, and especially Katch Media and the Katch U program is evident in everything she spoke on. With
a “never say no to an opportunity” attitude, Verena believes there isn’t anything we can’t do! So, be open to opportunities, say yes to the challenges, and reach out to the amazing network around you… what’s the worst that can happen?