Craig Kaminer started his career as a New York City publicist for the Italian Government, and has held senior management positions with Fleishman Hillard and Weber Shandwick. He started his own firm in 1998 which specialized in launching & marketing e-businesses for Fortune 1000 companies and quickly grew the firm into a Midwest powerhouse with 120+ staff. Twist is Craig’s latest venture and is celebrating its 10th year in 2012. While he is well known for his marketing expertise, Craig is a highly regarded serial entrepreneur and has won numerous awards for his entrepreneurial leadership from Ernst & Young, Deloitte and the St. Louis Business Journal.
Twist is a leading digital marketing agency that helps challenger brands outsmart, not outspend, their bigger & better known competitors. The firm specializes in the strategic integration of digitally optimized earned- and owned- media, specifically: creative content (branding, copywriting, info graphics, video and photography); website design & development, social media campaigns, SEO, PPC and lead generation; and influencer (VIPs, media, and blogger) relations.
MO: Where does your passion for entrepreneurship come from?
Craig: An immigrant family. My grandparents were from Eastern Europe, so I grew up with merchants and small business owners because this was their only way to make money and control their destiny. When you grow up like this you quickly realize that no one else is responsible for your success other than yourself. As soon as I had enough experience doing what I do, I went out on my own.
MO: How are you helping smaller companies take on big competitors and winning?
Craig: We focus exclusively on earned- and owned- media which favors companies with the best ideas, not the biggest budgets. We have conceived and launched social media strategies before our clients’ competition determines if they are ready to do social media. We have placed our clients on television news before the competition can get approval to pitch the story. There are certainly advantages of being big, but being nimble isn’t one of them.
MO: Have you always rooted for the underdog? What motivates you to help and boost
Craig: No. Most of my career was spent marketing bigger companies. But I have always thought like an entrepreneur. I love seeing smaller companies take on the big guys, outsmart them, and grow. I guess you can say I have always been addicted to growth and when small companies grow it is very exciting.
MO: I know that you’re a fan of using Google Analytics to provide the real time feedback of how you’re doing. How have you used the feedback you receive to change or tweak what you’re doing?
Craig: Yes, on a daily basis. Data helps smaller companies be smart and strategic while also being nimble and fast. As soon as we see something work, we do more of it. If something isn’t working, we stop doing it immediately. When you are bigger or have more resources, you tend to be slower and waste more time and money. Our clients don’t have that luxury.
MO: As a serial entrepreneur, what has been the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?
Craig: Earlier in my career, I had a much larger risk tolerance because I had never failed. So the first time I did, I lost a lot of money and momentum. Now, I am more careful and have a longer term view of the world. I don’t start anything to “flip it”; I do it because I think it’s smart, I like doing it and I am prepared to do it indefinitely (as long as it’s successful, of course).
MO: Can you talk about how you’re using livestreaming technology to create original content for your clients? What are some tips for implementing livestreaming into a marketing strategy and what advantages does it provide?
Craig: We are helping our clients produce their own television shows and distribute the live video to networks of websites which reach their target audience. We help financial advisors educate investors, not-profits tell their story and raise money, retailers show off new products and generate on-line sales, and CEOs talk directly to their employees. Livestreaming is powerful and low cost, so small companies can do it, but it also a great tool for optimizing search.
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