Katie Embersit, Integrated Sales Manager
We’re happy to move forward into the new year as we welcome Katie Embersit to Barnes & Noble College. She brings a wealth of media and client services experiences from MediaVest and the XO Group; and our Brand Partnership team is thrilled to have her on board.
We recently asked her about her new role at Barnes & Noble College and here’s what she had to say.
Why Barnes & Noble College?
I could not be more excited to join a company, and brand, that is such a trusted and integral part of the lives of millions of students during some of the most important years of their lives. Barnes & Noble College has an intimate relationship, built on trust, with a core group of consumers who yield incredible purchasing power, high expectations and unlimited referral potential through their friend networks.
What’s so different about Barnes & Noble College?
One of the hardest things to accomplish as a marketer is gaining the trust of your consumer and having an authentic voice. Barnes & Noble College has done exactly that, and in a way that allows us to bring brands into this unique area we operate in, giving brands the opportunity to develop their own trust and authenticity with our community and audience.
Our research insights, marketing capabilities and expertise in this niche audience help brands to learn more about this consumer, what their wants and needs are, and how to provide value to them. We give our brand partners a safe and trusted space to talk with a highly focused audience of Gen Z college students, parents and alumni.
In your view, what are the biggest challenge facing brands today?
Consumers have become smarter. They do more research, are more opinionated, have higher expectations and now they have more options than ever before. Doing the same, or status quo, is no longer a viable option. While all of this makes for a challenge, it also gives brands the opportunity to establish lifelong customers.
My goal is to help brands determine what their challenges are when it comes to reaching their customers and then partner with them to create the most organic and authentic opportunities for them to connect with their target Gen Z college consumer.
What does your experience tell you that Gen Z is looking for in their interaction with brands?
The Gen Z audience has voices – brands, influencers, peers – talking to them all the time and from every angle. As a brand, you need to quickly communicate your value in a way that shows you are more than just a product. Gen Z wants to engage with brands that align with their beliefs, values and personal identity.
What are the most memorable sales or client successes of your career?
A moment that comes to mind was when I closed and launched our first significant auto partnership at one of the media companies where I worked. Auto was a category that had historically been a challenge for us and through a lot of creativity, teamwork, asking the right questions and building trust, we were able to develop an amazing partnership!
This success taught me very early in my career, that hard work and persistence are crucial. More importantly, it taught me the importance of being a good listener, asking questions and collaborating.
What was the best advice a previous boss, family member or friend ever gave you?
First and foremost, it’s to treat everyone equally and with respect. Secondly, it’s embracing the idea of “failing forward.” Failing is not a bad thing. It’s a crucial part of growing and becoming better at your job and achieving your goals, as long as you’re learning from your misses and falls.
What is there about today’s college experience that makes you say ‘oh, I wish I could be a student again’?
I loved my time at Fairfield University, but right now the access that marketing technology provides students is astonishing. College students today have so much information and powerful tools right at their fingertips, enabling them to form their own educated opinions and unique voice.
How have your past jobs prepared you for this journey?
Throughout high school and college I waitressed, babysat and worked in retail. I spent time as a Personal Shopper at Saks in New York where I helped shop for and style celebrities – but I won’t name names! My first job in Marketing & Media was with a media agency, MediaVest, working on the Mars Chocolate & Petcare account. These positions were all so diverse, yet they instilled in me the critical importance of listening to your customer and doing your best to deliver an exceptional experience at every interaction.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to train marine mammals, specifically dolphins, but my extreme fear of water did not meet the job qualifications! So, I’m happy for many reasons to be here at Barnes & Noble College – one of them is that we’re on dry land!