Ken Mahony led the successful growth of billion-dollar brands during his time as CMO at Guthy-Renker, and now he’s decided to join Digital Media Solutions® (DMS) as the company’s Executive Vice President of Subscription Marketing.
So what encouraged Ken to join DMS? The following chat between Ken (abbreviated as KM below) and DMS sheds some light.
DMS: How did you launch your direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing career?
KM: After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a B.A. in Economics and an MBA, I began my career at Field Publications, working in the finance department to support the I Can Read! Book Club, now a part of HarperCollins and a client of Digital Media Solutions. (It’s a small world!)
When I was ready to advance my career and began interviewing for new opportunities, Highlights, a children’s magazine, turned me down. I was being considered for a finance role and was scheduled to meet a Highlights team member at JFK Airport to take a personality profile test, but they called to cancel the meeting, because they knew I should not spend my career in finance. I’m a passionate marketer, and the Highlights team helped me see that early on.
DMS: Does your finance-oriented mindset help you succeed in DTC marketing?
KM: I always tell people to remember that “every marketing idea can be expressed financially.” Thinking this way helps me keep focused on the ROI and not get caught up in the excitement of a fun idea. Especially in the direct response world, where everything is tracked and measured, considering finances at the beginning is more likely to help you succeed in the long run.
DMS: Why did you decide to join DMS as the EVP of Subscription Marketing?
The subscription economy is taking off, but it needs more marketing experts to help companies leverage the growth prospects. DMS has the expertise and financial backing to help brands scale through full-service strategic support and campaigns leveraging multiple media channels. Having been on the client side my entire career, I know how important objective advice from the outside can be as brands navigate opportunities. I look forward to being part of a team successful subscription brands rely on.
DMS: What do you think is the biggest mistake new subscription brands make?
Subscription marketing is about interacting directly with the consumer, but too many brands focus their messages on themselves and what’s important to their brands.
It doesn’t matter what you’re selling; all subscription marketing must communicate a unique selling point (USP) to the audience. Why should consumers buy? Brands need to make emotional connections.
Direct response marketing is about viewing things from the consumer lens to get the messaging right. Successful marketers find out what resonates with their target audiences. They answer “why should I buy this product from you?” and “why should I buy this product now?”
Unfortunately, most direct response and subscription marketers don’t spend enough time to hone in on messages that will resonate with their audiences and actually encourage them to take action.
DMS: How do you balance your career with your family?
KM: I’ve been very lucky to work on brands that are relatable to my wife and our three children. When our kids were first born, I was at Field Publications working on baby book brands. Later, at Grolier (now part of Scholastic Corporation), I worked on book brands for older children, and then as my kids were becoming teenagers, Proactiv was one of my brands at Guthy-Renker (G|R).
In fact, for a couple of years right around the time the Harry Potter books were coming out, my family and I were living in Norwich, England so I could lead the UK division of Scholastic-At-Home. We had early access to the Harry Potter books, which was very cool for my kids, who were preteens at the time.
DMS: We’re so excited to have you on the team!
KM: I am too! DMS is on such an amazing trajectory, and there is so much opportunity for continued growth in the subscription market space. I look forward to working with everyone across the DMS team.