Interview with Ross Simmonds, Digital Strategist at Colour

This week for my Interview Series, we have Ross Simmonds a Digital Strategist at marketing and advertising firm, Colour. Ross has had extensive experience working in the digital / social media industry and provides some great insights into a lot of content-related topics.

1. To start off, can you tell us a little about yourself and your career path to date?

Definitely. Well, I’m passionate about a lot of things. Whether it’s sports, technology, hip-hop, social media, camping or super heroes – I’ve got a long list of interests. Of all these things I’d say technology and being outdoors doing new things are where my true passions lie. My passion for these things developed along two very different paths in my career. I fell in love with the outdoors while working as a camp counselor and fell in love with technology when I was kid trying to hack into the back end of video games to customize the games to my liking.

My career started with our public broadcaster the CBC out of University where I developed and implemented a Social Media strategy throughout the region. From there I started my own consulting company called Altego Marketing Solutions. I ran that company for a few years before catching the attention of an agency called Colour who hired me on as a Digital Coordinator where my role further developed into being a Digital Strategist.

Beyond consulting and marketing, I’ve also started a company called dreamr that focuses on bringing unique social experiences to the inboxes of young professionals looking to get out and do something new. As a result, I’m in a lucky spot where I have a chance to embrace both my passion for technology during the day and my love for the outdoors at night (and weekends) – It’s a win-win situation.

2. As a Digital Strategist at Colour, what’s a day in your life like?

It’s actually never the same.

I’m sure you’ve heard that before but it really is different every day as the questions change, technology changes or the challenges change from client to client. An average day starts with a cup of caffeine followed by tackling the first item on my checklist. I like to ignore email for the first hour and focus on the one item I know I need to finish before getting sidetracked with anything else. From there, my work can range from developing a strategic game plan for a client or reviewing the success from a recent campaign. Throughout the day I’m also tasked with project management, campaign development, content strategies, SEO/SEM management and strategic planning. Overall, the days vary depending on the day but one thing for sure; each day is exciting and gives me a chance to provide clients with meaningful measurable results.

2. Your work involves a lot of content development and I just recently read a great blog post you wrote — 4 Ways Obama Won the Election with Content Marketing — which highlighted the importance of content marketing. What are your thoughts on content strategy and the impact it can have on a business?

Everyone says “Content is King” but no one really knows what that even means. It’s a catchy phrase but something that people are still overlooking today as they develop their digital marketing plans. A lot of people are not embracing content as content is one of the most effective ways to generate traction for products and ultimately drive potential leads for services.

I believe that content marketing needs to be deeply injected into every businesses marketing strategy. Whether it’s developing persuasive and optimized content for their landing page or developing captivating or compelling content to make their Facebook posts go viral – Content is key.

Of all the things an organization can do online, ensuring that they have optimized their content is one of those things that can ensure success for their brand. I’ve seen organizations double their traffic and their sales by changing the way they look at content and ultimately embracing the role it plays in todays landscape. I think it’s still underestimated but it’s really the key to standing out and telling your brands story.

4. What sort of content creation skills do you think will become increasingly important in the near future?

I feel reactive storytelling is going to be the biggest game changer over the next few years.

Reactive storytelling is the combination of a top of mind idea and a brand marketing message that is put in front of a relevant audience. It’s an easy way for businesses to make their content go viral but it requires some work.

The biggest challenge for marketers is the fact that you need to be listening and monitoring trends to identify these opportunities. The marketer also needs to understand and embrace the worldview of their target audience. Further more, you need to be willing to take risks and put efforts into reactive storytelling. The best story isn’t going to happen tomorrow, it could happen at anytime and you must be ready to use it for your marketing efforts before the idea goes stale.

If you can share a message that is aligned with your customers worldview and is relevant to your marketing message they are more likely to press “share” or “like”.

5. I was really excited when I found out that Forbes would start publishing content from Quora, I know you had one of your posts published — What Are Some Valuable Business Lessons One Can Learn From Jay-Z? What are your thoughts on Quora and its position in an era where quality content is king?

I love Quora. I think it’s a channel that many marketers are still trying to figure out but one that needs to be embraced.

I’m a huge fan of learning and I think that’s why I spend so much time on this network. The amount of educational content that can be found on here is unbelievable. In many cases, you have any opportunity to receive information right from the horses mouth instead of from a biased third party.

6. You’re also the founder of dreamr, can you give us an overview on what your vision for it is?

In a nutshell, I want to help people optimize their lives for happiness. The team and I are dedicated to creating experiences that are memorable and leave people with something to talk about when they walk in the office on Monday morning. The overall vision is to create a platform that delivers unique social experiences from around the world. I love the idea of doing new things and my hope is that we can share with the world the importance of getting out and doing new things.

A lot of people ask the question: Can Money can Happiness? Well, I think it can. The biggest issue is that too many people are spending their money on things that don’t actually lead to happiness (things) instead of spending it on things that do (experiences).

7. Ok – so you work as a Digital Strategist, you manage your own blog and you have your own business — how do you find the time to do it all?

Adderall.

***To get in touch with Ross, check out his blog at rosssimmonds.com***

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