Dea Lawrence is the CMO of Variety Magazine, something that was a mainstay in my life when I was a young, aspiring actor. It was a magazine I'd read cover-to-cover. It's since made a fantastic transition to digital storytelling and not just survived, but thrived in a changing era for print. In this new episode of the All the Social Ladies podcast, you'll hear the story about Dea's own evolution from an actor to a marketer and seller, and how she's been able to take hold of a career with her impressive selling skills.
"You don't have to follow a conventional path because I think mine was as unconventional as it could be," says Dea. She began acting at the age of 9. Majoring in theater, she continued the pursuit by moving to New York City and starring in off-Broadway shows.
To supplement her income, she took on sales. "I always sold. When I first moved to New York, I sold cosmetics and perfume." When she moved to Los Angeles to continue her acting career, she was hired part-time at The Hollywood Creative Directory, a book on the who's who in Hollywood. True to her sales background, Dea suggested pitching the material to be sold in stores as well as building a subscription based website for it. The Hollywood Creative Directory was sold to iFilm, a user generated content sharing site. Dea became The Director of Marketing for its products.
When the tech bubble burst, Heather cold called Variety since she knew it had prior interest in acquiring The Hollywood Creative Directory. Armed with her portfolio and business plan, she was hired in 2001 on the spot to market Variety's products. In exchange for a lesser salary, Dea worked four days a week and continued auditioning and pursuing her acting career. She transitioned to full-time when she was named Vice President of Sales and Marketing. She took on multiple roles from hiring to building sales and its website, growing its website revenue from $200k to $10 million.
She left to Pointroll and ran marketing efforts for their Western division. She compares working there to "getting your phD in digital." She served Fortune 500 campaigns, like Apple, Nike, and Microsoft. Wanting to learn more about mobile, she transition to AT&T, where she also ran the Western division but for mobile. AT&T's decision to not do mobile advertising led Dea to go to t-mobile.
Through the years, Variety has asked Dea to go back to work for them. When the Chief Marketing Officer position opened up, she felt like it was time to "do something creative again" in marketing after being on the sales side.
The Ability to Sell
Dea always knew she had the drive to sell. "When I was a child, when other kids were selling lemonade, I set up a store." She had her friends contribute toys and she made fliers to market her store. When she was in high school, she was the business editor of the yearbook and school paper. She revamped how the paper was distributed and learned about advertising.
Business and Career Stability
"What I've learned is everything changes," she says of career changes. There is no such thing as career nor business stability, and Dea is lucky to be at a company that's doing well. This is advice she would tell her sales team. "Everything is cyclical. What goes up must come down."
"Every show I've been in has closed," she says comparing this cycle to her acting career.
Her career at Variety is a great example. When she worked there from 2001 to 2007, it was doing well. Because of a change of management and how the print industry worked, it went through difficult times in 2008. Today, while print publication is floundering, Variety has 30% digital growth and 9% growth in print.
Variety's Approach to Digital
"Social is one of the most important initiatives," Dea says about Variety's strategy. Focusing on video and premium content, Dea's team has been using Live Edit to shoot and post videos. This was a great tool to use during the Golden Globes Awards, allowing them to snap and share live in-the-moment coverage of the event. Getting premium custom content out is the key.
Enjoy, and check back here for more episodes of the All the Social Ladies podcast on Social Media Today