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EP.2 Show Runner – Utahna Hadden

EP.2 Show Runner – Utahna Hadden

•Inside an Advertising Agency, Client Service Success•

Utahna specializes in account management, strategic planning, negotiating, budget management, client liaison, marketing, advertising, and branding for consumer goods clients. At AMS she helped implement integrated marketing plans for some top brands like IKEA San Diego, Mossy Automotive Group, San Diego County Credit Union, Sprouts Farmers Markets, Quechan Casino Resort and Shea Homes.

Utahna Hadden, Vice President Account Services at Advanced Marketing Strategies, Inc.

Lessons you will learn from this podcast:

  • What it is like to work inside an advertising agency
  • How yesterday’s marketing principles can amplify today’s new trends
  • What it means to connect with consumers on a “Why Level”
  • How to find your voice so you can be heard, seen and respected as an expert
  • Speaking your truth even if clients do not want to listen to it
  • Using research, data mining, and big data to define your target
  • What makes Facebook one of the most powerful media channels and the latest mind-blowing functions they are testing now
  • How to stay current and in front of marketing and advertising trends
  • Utahna’s daily habit that gets her into the mindset to performing at her best every day

Listen to Next Episode


Kathy: Well welcome to show runners where today I’m interviewing Utahna Hadden. She’s the vice president of account services at Advanced Marketing Strategies. Advance marketing strategies one of the top full service marketing and communication agencies in San Diego. Utahnna, welcome.

Utahna: Hi Kathy, how are you?

Kathy: I’m doing great thanks. Thanks for being my guest today you know Utahna, Advance marketing Strategies been around for over twenty-five years and I know that you’ve been therefore over ten years. Give us a little bit of the background on you how did you get started in marketing and how did you end up at AMS?

Utahna: Sure you know I went to San Diego State University and I majored in business emphasis in marketing and I was very creative and I knew I wanted to be somewhere in advertising and marketing and so after I graduated college I kind of bounced around I knew OK I wanted to be somewhere where marketing and advertising was created and I wanted to stay in San Diego. So I was determined to find the top agency in San Diego and go after them and so I bounced around to different companies and then finally a position opened up at actually it was AM strategies when I first started. AM advertising, sorry and so then I got it they interviewed me and they hired me and I was so excited so and I love agency and I have a great time working at this company and all the people around it are just awesome so

Kathy: great so going to school and graduating from school you knew you wanted to work in advertising agency

Utahna: absolutely

Kathy: Well that’s fantastic. Let’s talk a little bit about marketing tell me what do you think the biggest misconception is regarding marketing

Utahna: that’s a great question you know I feel that. One of the biggest misconceptions is everybody thinks that they can do marketing and everybody thinks thatthey can do it better than everybody else and everybody thinks they can do it if they have no experience or a lot of experience and everyone and there always seemsto be some kind of people that say I’ve got this magic fairy dust and this secret sauce for you and it’s just it’s just not true you know there’s there’s basic marketing principles and they apply even though trends of change over the last you know five ten fifteen years it’s so different now and those same principles always apply and it’s just how are you using them. So it’s and not everybody can do that because everybody is specialized in their own individual industries. So you really need an expert to know how to really market a company or a product or service.

Kathy: That’s great. How does marketing affect your company

Utahna: Well we’re an advertising agency and so I think it affects us every single day so yeah everything we do we live and we breathe marketing and it changes it is changed you know so much that I think it’s even changed this year. As well and so you know we’re always looking for new ways to to reach and Target customers because everybody’s consuming media so differently nowadays

Kathy: That’s great Tell me about the role of branding

Utahna: branding plays a really really important role it basically is what sets you apart from everybody else it’s the way people feel about you as a company when they when they see when they hear your name and it’s over my head but you know it’s people buy why you do business not what you do business and so a lot of people are out there making a lot of noise. But they’re not really telling you why you’re doing business and so once you connect with people on the why level then they’ll be more apt to listen to you and understand why your business is to do something and that’s what starts creating your brand elevating it in the minds of consumers

Kathy: that’s great so the branding is the why I get it.

Utahna: Yes.

Kathy: Utahnna describe for us your personal brand my personal brand

Utahna: Well I I’m a marketing executive I’m very authentic trustworthy and I pride myself on providing the best superior service to my clients in marketing and advertising I feel that they can come to me for unbiased advice that they know that I you know will tell them the truth whether or not they like to hear it. That’s good or not and you know that I’m always you know implementing a lot of strategic solutions as well for them.

Kathy: Strategic solutions and an unbiased advice I like that

Utahna: yeah

Kathy: tell me what was the biggest obstacle that you’ve overcome in your career.

Utahna: You know it happened really early on and it was when I first started working for an advance marketing strategies and I would you know I’m sitting in a room with a lot of very big personalities in advertising and marketing including you know the people that worked at the agency and then also the people the clients the big personalities very opinionated and a lot of them outspoken and a majority of them were male. On the client side too so I felt that I wasn’t being heard as.. At the table basically I feel like it was very hard for me to speak up at a certain point and so I decided I wanted to be heard because I felt that my opinion mattered as well and so I started at it in small group settings and I went to as my supervisor and in meetings with her and I would tell her my opinions about things and whether or not she would have liked to hear them or not I felt that you know if I was going into the grain I feel like you know she needed to hear that and so and then I moved up to you know more internal meetings where the three or four people and I would share my opinion with people and then that basically got me a seat at the table with the clients and telling them my opinion and my recommendations there and so little by little I realized that I had to overcome that otherwise you know I wasn’t going to be heard or seen or respected as an expert in this industry

Kathy: well that’s fantastic advice for people listening to us today it’s really finding your voice I think and practicing and finding a safe place to practice that and then really putting that emotion into your actual business as well I think thanks for that advice. What do you what would you say are the best ways for brands to get noticed these days you talked about getting yourself noticed in a meeting and practicing that now what’s the best way for for brands to get noticed

Utahna: Yeah you know there’s not really one best way there’s so many options out there but I think what I would say would is to be relevant and be consistent about it be relevant in your message in who you’re targeting So if you’re targeting people who are you know if you’re selling turnips you’re you know you want to go out and find people are actually buying turnips you don’t want to go out and sell people that want to buy milk because they are not going to buy milk they want to buy turnips specific played so you got to be relevant you very timely and be consistent about it don’t just go out one time and send them a message because people need to be reminded the you know they’ve they’re being hit and smacked with advertising left and right in so many messages you’ve got to just be consistent with your message be relevant to them know where your target is and just keep pushing that message out to them.

Kathy: How do you figure that out how do you figure out what’s the relevant message and and who you should be bringing that message to

Utahna: it’s a great question I mean it depends on you know who your ideal customer is and so what what I like to do with them with our clients is is find out who first of all who their customers are you know everybody knows a little about that their customers whether it’s you know researching them doing customer surveys or sometimes you have databases that you can which is the best you have databases and you can mine them and you know we hear the word big data all the time that’s that’s a part of Big Data is going in and mining that data base finding out who they are where they live and lifestyles they live and then taking that and finding where the best media to target them is and then creating a message for around what those lifestyles are well that’s great thank you.

Kathy: Let’s talk a little bit more about you and your success in your in your career in business do you have a daily habit or two that you might want to share with our listeners that has contributed to your success

Utahna: sure I do I actually read affirmations every single day something that I learned again at the advertising agency at AM strategies which I think so I think before it’s a very good educating and promoting growth within the agencies so I have a certain affirmations that I write down and they’re based on success and leadership and I write them down they’re very short very simple and I have them, there now I’m a bulletin board in my bathroom. So that when I’m getting ready in the morning they’re there right my face and my pictures and I look at them every day and I read them and that just helps me get in that mindset to come in and to do you know the best. Job possible and to just just think at a different level and continue to grow

Kathy: that’s great. I know that you talked about you know being at the forefront of marketing do you have a favorite marketing innovation

Utahna: of all time.

Kathy: Of all time

Utahna: of all time. I would say there’s so many new innovations coming out and so many different ways that we’re testing using them and figuring out how to use them with our clients and some of them may not work for some clients and some may work for others but I think my most favorite innovation and it’s been around for ten years is  social media and one of my most favorite platforms right now is Facebook and they are very innovative in the way that they that they are evolving that platform because they’ve basically made a marketing channel I mean it’s a channel basically to market on and you can go in in target people so many ways with ads and with messages and they’ve opened up just a whole new world to marketing and I think that’s fabulous and it’s also a place where you know people are going to find up to to date news and you think about all the unfortunate the devastation that’s gone in the world and the wildfires and you know the hurricanes things how many people are going to social media to find out if their family their friends are OK

Kathy: Wow it’s powerful

Utahna: it is and I noticed this last time I think it was with a portion of the mass shooting that happened in Las Vegas that a lot of people who were in Vegas that I knew were there they had Facebook had this new thing that said they can mark yourself a safe

Kathy: Wow

Utahna: And so you could see going down this person’s take this person said I have those fabulous because I know that people are probably you know trying to contact them saying Are you OK are you OK And so they’re just so I feel that that’s a great marking innovation I know it’s been around for a long time but they continue to evolve it within that within their social networks

Kathy: Yeah I like I call Facebook a channel that’s very interesting the way that you said that yes. It’s just so many people want it it is and so it’s a station it’s a channel

Utahna: it is and you can reach so many different types of people there so many different types of people

Kathy: and I think that’s created you know how you were telling us about how people are going there really for their news and information it’s not just social media anymore to share you know cat pictures that people are actually going there for the news and they want to know what they’re up to date what’s going on and

Utahna: yes

Kathy: so that’s a good that’s a great innovation and so interesting the way that you you told us about the fact that it’s your favorite innovation but it’s been around for ten years but it is it’s evolving every day

Utahna: yeah it is and they’ve you know Facebook will continue to evolve I think I you know I went to a Social Media Day earlier this year as earlier this summer and they were talking about you know. Mind reading and and having that whole thing read people Facebook going eventually be able to meet read your mind and it will be able to type out your thoughts I thought Wow I don’t know about that but that’s mind blowing to me you know there are I’m sure they have a lot of secret things that they’re testing out there and stuff like that so it’ll be interesting to see when they come out with.

Kathy: Oh boy. Well you know you mentioned going to social media day tell us how else do you stay current and up to date on marketing

Utahna: yeah that’s great and actually that’s one of the ways I go to a lot of marketing and networking events whether they’re in in San Diego sometimes they’re in LA sometimes Las Vegas things like that so I like to go to those the bigger conventions and just get you know all the media in the minds of the big masterminds in the industry and just kind of hear what what’s going out of what they’re seeing as trends and and you know and just talking to these people I read a lot of article articles as well in marketing and advertising and then in my client specific industries as well. And those are some of those at the top ways that I really stay current in the trends

Kathy: Well that’s great so I’m going to conventions and staying on top of industries staying, staying on top of your clients industries as well that’s that’s really great

Utahna: Yea

Kathy: Let’s talk a little bit about mentoring you know as as a woman in marketing you know tell us about maybe a mentor that you have a mentor that you’re you know just just How’s mentoring helped you or how are you using mentoring to help you know bring up the next generation

Utahna: right I think mentoring is really important I think that everybody should find a mentor whether it’s within the company that they’re there with or maybe it’s an outside person that they that they really look up to and want to have as a mentor you know my first mentor of war, there’s actually two of them one of them is was our former C.E.O. of the agency and Jim Timdero so he was one of my mentors and he does have this great knowledge and different perspective and everything’s And you know it’s kind of helped shaped some of like the decisions and I thought you know my thought process he wouldn’t make decisions for me he would just you know basically coach me through things the other one does can be Kathy Cunnignham. Oh you. Yes And so I think that you know having you know the president and C.E.O. being a mentor and seeing how they’re running the agency and how they’re making decisions and helping me how to grow as well so what I’m doing is I love to mentor the people down below because I feel that. I like to grow things you know so really taking some of these. People inside of the agency and sitting down with them and finding out what their goals are and helping them improve not only as a person but also within the agency and so hopefully that will help them be more confident and. And want to continue on with advertising marketing

Kathy: wow well thankyou and thank you and pay and paying it forward to is really important I think it’s great. Do you have any advice for women in particular that want to get into marketing what would you say to someone that’s maybe just getting out of school or or maybe even someone that starting school and thinking about marketing as a career

Utahna: Yeah that’s great I wish someone would have asked me or told me this when I was getting out of school but but anyways I would say definitely try and find a mentor that’s that’s one of them for sure and then attend the marketing a networking events around San Diego doesn’t have to be the big ones it could be you know there’s all the local ad clubs there’s local little networking things and some of them are free and some of them only cost twenty dollars to go to it’s not that expensive and you’ll meet a ton of connections there. I also think it’s really important for women especially to be confident and clear in what their career goals are and if they want to get in marketing and advertising so knowing what you want to do I find when I interview people for marketing and advertising positions that a very very small percentage I’m talking five percent I’m probably being very lenient on that actually know what their goals are and where they want to be in five or ten years and so not knowing that to me I view that as being a lack of aspiration and I think that it’s important for especially women. In business and in advertising to really have a goal like have a goal like this is where I want to be this way I want to go and don’t stop until you get there because the minute you do it falls apart so I think that you really have to be clear on what you’re doing and when you’re when you’re sitting in front of an interviewer interviewing you tell them that’s what you want to do and we come across as being confident you know that’s going to only present you in a better light

Kathy: that’s that’s fabulous you know. It kind of reminds me of a story when I was interviewing for the first agency I worked for and the vice president of the agency was a female and she asked me what my goal as and I told her that I want to be her. And I want your job and she said Oh boy well you know. she enjoyed that so I think I think that you bring up a really good point that not only being confident and clear but really knowing what you want to do and being able to articulate that I think is really important.

Utahna: Yea it is really is I need well.

Kathy: Anything else in closing that you want to share with us or any of the listeners out there about marketing and careers in marketing or

Utahna: yeah just you know. With marketing it’s it’s forever changing it’s always going to change what we know today is going to be so different from tomorrow or even you know a year from now so but you know those basic principles still are are the same they are just a different way and different mediums to go after and so don’t be afraid of change Don’t be afraid of something new that comes up that you know because you can look at it and figure out how I can use this to target more people and how we’re going to use this to help my clients get more sales and traffic and and phone calls and things like that so yeah that would be my advice.

Kathy: Okay

Utahna: never stop learning either. Don’t ever stop learning

Kathy: oh that’s a good one never stop learning and don’t be afraid of change and excellent and always fall back of the basic principles of marketing those are still good

Utahna: yes

Kathy: excellent of what’s the best way for people to reach you if you know want to continue the conversation are

Utahna: sure you can always follow me on social media on leads and FacebookInstagram of interest and you can find me on @UtahnaHadden and you spell that UTAHNA H A D D E N So @UtahnaHadden or you can email me at

Kathy: Well fantastic thank you very much the time it was it was fun talking to you today yes I had a great time thank you OK.

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