The young entrepreneur—and founder of Kelowna marketing agency Martketer—credits her entrepreneurial drive to her parents, who own and operate a frozen meal manufacturing company.
“Growing up, the talk around the dinner table was always about business. I worked for my parents’ company through high school and university and gained experience in marketing, but the work wasn’t that fulfilling. So in my spare time, I did some branding work for non-profits with a developer friend and over the course of a few months, it grew. It’s been growing ever since.”
Parker now has more than eight years of experience in the industry, having started as a marketing assistant during high school. Part of her role with her parents’ company involved taking notes in corporate meetings in Toronto, which further exposed her to the business world.
Today, Martketer is a storytelling-oriented marketing agency that serves the non-profit and social enterprise industries. The firm was named Marketer of the Year in the 2015 Chamber of Commerce Business of Excellence Awards.
Parker oversees the work of seven staff members at the firm’s Dickson Avenue office. She says that the most effective marketing involves a powerful story and artful design.
“Anybody can build a website. Anybody can design a logo. But it takes a team to put together an effective story. Our company is very focused on content before design. We nail down the strategy, the story and the target market before we design. That takes researchers, strategists, creative content marketers and sales teams. We’re a team of storytellers and we like to tell stories through design.”
Parker’s passion for branding and marketing extends beyond her role at Martketer, as she and her staff facilitate personal branding workshops every autumn for management students at UBC Okanagan. Topics include social media as personal branding and education as professional development. But Parker’s commitment to UBC isn’t just in giving workshops.
“Over half of our team is UBC alumni and we’re very focused on hiring local candidates.”
Outside of work, Parker is involved in several non-profit organizations. She’s a board member with Metro UP, a Launch Kelowna initiative designed to teach financial literacy to low-income residents in the area. She works with Third Space, an organization that helps working middle-class people to reach their mental, physical and spiritual potential. And during the academic year, she mentors UBC students.
Parker is also an avid runner. Before her morning team debriefing, her client meetings and her strategy work, she starts her day with an invigorating run. But once she arrives at the office, her focus is on her clients and projects.
Parker says that her favourite part of her work is the challenge of growing a business.
“I love the fact that every day is different. Social enterprise and non-profit work greatly excites me, as does the tech sector. Any time we get to merge social enterprise and tech, it’s like a dream come true. I love being constantly challenged and marketing is always evolving. I get to work with young, creative minds, which is always exciting and inspiring.”
And while the creative team at Martketer is essential to the organization’s success, Parker says that it’s not always easy to keep everyone happy. Clients are often number-focused, she says, while creative teams can have perfectionist tendencies. That means delivering a creative project on time and on budget is a balancing act, but it’s one that Parker has embraced.
“We’ve put a lot of processes in place the last few years that give our designers a great framework. We have a team of strategists, writers and account managers who give our designers everything they need. Our account managers also have weekly check-ins with clients. We’ve found that we’ve overcome a lot of the risk and unpredictability in the creative process by mapping it out.”
Martketer’s emphasis on structured creativity is paying off and the growing firm’s client roster includes large organizations like Trinity Baptist Church and the UBC Management Association. But Parker warns that running a successful business is no easy feat.
“Growing a business is not for the faint of heart,” she says. “It’s very important to set goals for yourself and to have mentors. It’s very easy to get sidetracked, to waste time and money. Making mistakes in business is expensive and mentors can save you a lot of headache.”
“Also, a support system is essential. Everyone who’s in business needs someone they can talk to.”
Despite the challenges, Parker is driven to continue doing great work and she’s on a mission to improve the community through marketing.
“Martketer started in the social enterprise and non-profit realm and about 40 to 70 per cent of our client base is still in that industry. All of our staff are involved in community initiatives. We’ve had projects come across our desks that we’ve declined because we didn’t think they were healthy for the community. Marketing is what makes people buy things and we want to promote things that make the community better.”
Crowe MacKay’s Women to Watch program is a weekly feature that profiles remarkable women in our community, concluding October 16th. After terrific response, the nomination period for 2015 is now closed. Watch this space each week to see our remaining Women to Watch.