Kent Lewis, CMO at Deksia
What's your industry?
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I have a business degree with a marketing concentration, which led me to work at 10 marketing agencies, 2 of which I founded and 2 of which I co-founded. I ran Anvil Media for 22 years and recently solid it to Deksia.
What kind of work does your daily role involve?
As CMO, I'm responsible for the overall brand, generating awareness and MQLs. I also enjoy being a thought leader in digital marketing, speaking ~30 annually and writing for various business and industry publications like Inc and Business Journals of America.
What gets you excited about your industry?
I've been passionate about the marketing industry since I began my career in 1994. I like the variety and challenge of getting to know clients' businesses, and connecting them with their customers. I've worked with 1,200+ clients over the years and cherish the impact we've been able to make for our clients.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
My favorite advice is Stay close to the money. The further away you are from cash flow, the less impact and value you create. Being in digital marketing since 1996, I've managing the flow of money, if not influencing it.
What's been the hardest part about the path you've taken and how would you advise someone facing a similar situation to overcome it?
When I transitioned from my career in PR to digital marketing in 1996, nobody knew what it was, so I had to learn how to explain it to clients, employers, friends and even family. With no formal training, classes or books available, I taught myself, then others. That's when I found a love for educating and kicked off a 10-year stint as an e-zine editor (Anvil) and 20+ year career as an adjunct professor at Portland State University. I've never looked back, but I do encourage others to blaze a trail if one isn't available to their liking.
In the current climate especially, many CEOs are looking for ways to cut costs, with marketing budgets usually one of the budgets to be cut. Is that wise?
Marketing budgets are like blood flow. Restrict or cut that blood glow, and the organization dues. I've seen it too many times over the past 27 years. I believe it is prudent to INCREASE marketing budget in a down economy, as you can gain market share affordably.
For people thinking of starting businesses in 2023, would you say it's still possible to build a big business with little or no marketing budget?
Some of the world's largest companies were founded during a recession. Marketing budgets also don't have to be big to be effective, especially if the product or brand are compelling. Smart marketing trumps big budgets every time.
Can you share one or two of your favorite free marketing strategies that a business owner in your industry can use.
I'm a huge fan of PR, as that was my original training and career. Third party validation via free media mentions is good for generating awareness, brand preference and has SEO value.