Mike Johansson spent over twenty years in various capacities for media companies in New Zealand, Australia, Britain and the United States before joining the School of Communication at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2009. Among his achievements in the business world: Mike Johansson has won two fellowships to the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. (for publication design and media ethics studies), was one of 12 UC-Berkeley Digital Journalism Fellows in 2003 and in 2004 founded insider, a free print weekly and website for 20-somethings in Rochester. In addition to teaching, speaking and writing about social media, public relations and advertising Mike Johansson consults and speaks on social media outside of RIT. As faculty advisor for the RIT chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), he also runs the PR Practicum, a 1-credit course designed to give additional PR experiences to students. We enjoyed talking marketing with Mike, hopefully, you’ll find it useful…
Talk us through a typical day for you…
This depends on whether I’m teaching – I teach a heavy load of university classes two days a week (four plus thesis advising and a professional club I oversee) so I have the other days for class prep, grading, committee work and random stuff like media interviews, consulting with college departments or outside clients, etc.
Safe to say you keep busy! How did you get into marketing?
By accident. In a previous career in the newspaper industry, I was given the opportunity to launch a free weekly magazine for 20-somethings in the early 00s. With no real budget and a small dedicated staff, we did it all – including marketing – ourselves. We learned from our mistakes and within 6 months of launch we were in the black and doing very well.
What was the key to your success in those six months?
The key from the get-go was our marketing which involved getting out into the spaces our target audience was hanging out and doing fun things with them – from running street festivals to concert ticket giveaways to sponsoring music, arts and food and drink shows.
Where do you get your latest marketing news and tips from?
What one piece of advice would you give a small business owner looking to market their business?
Know who you really need to reach during each different stage of your business’ growth. Too many small businesses have champagne tastes and barely a beer budget, so they waste time chasing a broad (and expensive to reach) audience while missing opportunities to reach a highly refined and relevant audience…
Do you have a favourite marketing campaign from recent years? What was it and why does it stick in the memory?
I have a terrible memory for anything that isn’t recent. The two I recall from this year are IHOP’s “IHOB” – “we’re now serving burgers” campaign and the Amazon Alexa campaign using influencers at the start of the year. “Alexa loses her voice,” I think it was called. What they have in common is that they surprise and delight – a winning combination.
We loved the Alexa campaign. What advice would you give a business owner who is stepping into the world of social media for the first time?
Start small. Pick a relevant social network that is used by the people you are trying to reach. Experiment. Always use social media as part of your arsenal of weapons – never as though it were some kind of magic bullet on its own (it isn’t). Once you have one channel handled and working well for you, add a second etc.
In three words; describe the future of marketing.
Surprise and delight.