Episode 297

Kelley Lynn Kassa: Passionate marketing executive


March 19th, 2024

9 mins 21 secs

Your Host

About this Episode

Today, I’m joined by Kelley Lynn Kassa.

Kelley’s career evolved from public relations, media relations and analyst relations to marketing programs, content strategy, and content creation. She’s worked with a wide range of organizations, from start-ups to blue-chip technology companies.

Outside of her professional life, Kelley is a foodie and a rower (look for her on the Charles River!). Plus, she coaches recreational rowing to youth, adults, and para athletes.

The transcript

Mark Reed-Edwards: Kelley, welcome.

Kelley Kassa: Hey, Mark. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.

Mark Reed-Edwards: It's wonderful having you here. It's been a while since we've caught up, so it's great to chat. Can you tell me more about yourself beyond what I just shared, your background and career path?

Kelley Kassa: Sure, as you mentioned, I started in PR and I migrated or spread my wings into marketing. I tend to think of myself as a marketing utility player. And what I've found over the last few years is I've had a great deal of success and brought success to organizations that I've worked with by serving as a marketing mentor to them.

I can come in and bring them the strategy and work with their in house marketing person, who's younger in their career, on the execution or I really just serve as a manager for that person. This way they have somebody who understands marketing and helps them reach the marketing goals and metrics that the executive team wants, while also making sure that they are learning about marketing and they're growing in their role as well. For one company that I worked with---an innovation consulting firm---they had had a series of new people in their career in marketing, there was no marketing executive, and they were celebrating their 20th year in business.

After a few months of working with me, they said they've never been successful at marketing before. And now they've found that success. And so that's something that I'm rolling out as an offering to other organizations. It's something I've done not just with that firm, but also with a nonprofit organization that I work with where again, it was somebody newer to his career reporting into an executive director who had so many other things on his plate.

Things were going south quickly. So they brought me in and I met with him on a weekly basis. It's that hands on stuff of, "Okay, what's on your plate? Let's prioritize that. What's coming up? What do we need to think about in three months that we need to plan for now?" As well as the day to day care and feeding of your employees. Like, "How's it going?"
So that's what I'm really excited about right now.

Mark Reed-Edwards: It sounds fascinating to me because you have so much you can offer. You're, a utility player. How do you figure out where you focus with a client?

Kelley Kassa: Well, oftentimes, it's a matter of doing the initial triage. And my perspective comes from having worked for a number of PR agencies earlier in my career: "What are the bigger goals and then what are your quick wins?" Okay, so I'm probably going to butcher the baseball analogy because I'm not that much of an enthusiast, although I like going to Fenway to see the Red Sox. While you're focusing on what are the home runs we need to hit, how quickly can we get some singles under our belt, so to speak so that we start to get momentum.

I listened to your recent podcast with Chuck Tanowitz, who I know well, and he talked about bread rising and needing multiple projects going on while your bread is rising. And it's sort of the same idea. The home runs are going to take a little bit more. You're going to need to put more effort into it.

So what can we do in the short term to show some wins and prove that marketing will get them what they want?

Mark Reed-Edwards: So speaking of home runs, can you tell me one of your most important career accomplishments?

Kelley Kassa: You know, I pride myself on the relationships that I have with clients. And it's very easy to say, "Oh, I'm not just a vendor and I partner with my clients." But to use a very old cliche, the proof is in the pudding. And, and in this case, I'd say it's in the salad. In that I had a client who eventually was acquired by IBM, but I first started working with her in 1995 five --and I'm probably dating myself. I know I'm dating myself. And, up until recently, we still exchanged Christmas cards. You know, of course we're Facebook friends, but we still keep in touch. And she gave me a recipe, a fabulous recipe for salad that I still make every Easter for my family. And I don't know what it's called, but we call it Toby's salad because Toby was my client.

Mark Reed-Edwards: You're a rower, right? And we're connected on Facebook and that's a big part of your life. What do you think being a rower has taught you that you bring to marketing?

Kelley Kassa: So there are a number of things. And I'm sure that you've heard of the book and the movie, The Boys in the Boat, which is all about teamwork. What I see in rowers and when I coach, especially the middle schoolers, the number one quality that I really look for is grit and stick to attitiveness.

With marketing, you need that because your first, second, third, fourth idea might not get you what you want, but you need to just keep grinding it out. And with rowing, you have more failures with bad strokes than you have successes with good strokes. And it's about working through and fixing the things that are not working to get to those fabulous strokes that feel good, and that are in sync with everybody else in the boat.

My boat house does corporate events, where we teach teamwork. When you're thinking of a corporation, marketing can be hitting all of its marks, you know, perfect strokes. But if sales isn't in tune with marketing, the boat's not going to go very fast because you're fighting against each other.

And so you really need everybody working together the same amount of effort. A boat that's working together with eight people will actually go faster and farther than a boat of eight people that are fighting each other, even if those other eight people are bigger and stronger.

Mark Reed-Edwards: Last question. What do you think you can offer your next client?

Kelley Kassa: I can offer my next client that level of expertise of, having put in the hours, while helping them succeed with their marketing goals and growing their in- house marketing team and making their in- house team happier. That's one of the things I did with an organization. I worked with the executive director and the marketing person that were pretty close to strangling each other.

And they both ended up much happier in their roles with me being involved in bringing that experience and insight and sometimes just serving as a buffer between the executive who doesn't have a whole lot of time and the newer career person who needs a whole lot of time.

Mark Reed-Edwards: Well, Kelley, thanks so much for joining me. I hope this podcast helps you find your next great gig.

Kelley Kassa: Thank you so much, Mark, and have a great day.

Mark Reed-Edwards: I'm Mark Reed Edwards. See you on the next confessions of a marketer.