The Design Business Show 188: How to Approach Your Marketing Like a Creative Director with Katie Seitzer

Director : Melissa Burkheimer | June 16, 2022
Check out episode 188 of The Design Business Show with Katie Seitzer to learn all about keeping a creative director’s point of view in mind with your marketing!

Katie is a Creative Director focusing on Brand and Marketing Design. She helps her clients translate their voice and vision into strategic visual concepts that communicate clearly and inspire their audiences so they can hit all their business goals. She brings a background designing for Prevention, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Organic Gardening, Organic Style and Runner’s World Magazines. She also runs a household of 2 amazing kids with her husband while trying to figure out how to drastically cut the to-do list so they can eat dinner together every night, finally take that family vacation to Yosemite, and hang out by the pool, and sometimes the beach, as much as possible.

Here’s what we covered on the episode:

Katie’s Start in Design + Pursuing a Company She Believed In

  • How Katie and I met during a mastermind I used to do called, From Designer to Director – we worked together for a year and have stayed in touch ever since
  • I explain that Katie has the experience in the agency side that I’ve been craving the last few years and that it’s been fun watching her evolve from an independent designer to a virtual agency owner
  • Katie is here to share her traditional and nontraditional art/creative director experience and share how people can approach their marketing and design from a creative director’s point of view to drive results
  • The first job Katie had in design was as a desktop publisher at a boutique agency that she worked at for 7 years – after that, she moved into publishing
  • How Katie originally received a BA in history but then went back to school for art
  • Katie shares that at the boutique agency, they did a lot of catalogs for pharmaceutical companies and that she was able to learn the entire process because she saw each part of the project through
  • When Katie decided to move on from the boutique agency, her goal was to only do design work
  • After the boutique agency, Katie worked for a publisher that had a book and magazine division – some of the biggest magazines at that point were Prevention and Men’s Health – then eventually, Women’s Health and Runner’s World came out
  • The first project Katie worked on at the publisher was for Backpacker Magazine, and she says that the work was so beautiful that she thought she wanted to work there for the rest of her life
  • How Katie had originally applied for a job at the publisher but didn’t get it, so they called her a couple of weeks later to hire her as an onsite freelancer for 2 weeks to do one job, but she ended up staying there for 8 years
  • Katie shares that she had been trying to work for this publishing company for years before working there, and because she kept following up, they eventually hired her
  • The whole goal for Katie was to work for a company she believed in, like the health and wellness publisher, while becoming a better designer
  • Katie shares that she got to do stuff for Betty Crocker, Al Gore’s book, Flat Belly Diet – there was so much variety that really helped Katie learn all the different directions she could go
  • When looking for jobs, Katie believes if you are the right fit and it’s the right time, it will work out, and if not, that’s not the right place for you at that moment – understand that people are busy, it might have nothing to do with you; they’re doing what they need to move in the direction that’s right for them
  • Katie shares that she wanted to work at this publisher for at least 10 years before she started working there

Starting a Branding + Marketing Business

  • After having her 2nd son, Katie didn’t know if she could do it all or if it made financial sense to be working at the publishing company, so she decided to leave and stay home with her kids for about 10 years
  • How Katie always knew she wanted to start her own business; she didn’t know when, but in 2017/18, her kids were getting older, so she decided to play around with it and figure out what she wanted to do, which is when we met, while Katie was trying to figure it out
  • The first thing Katie did was figure out her own stuff, like creating a website, figuring out what she wanted to say and what she wanted to offer
  • When Katie first started her business, she started doing branding work for small clients to feel out if it made sense for her if she could help these people, and if her process was working – after that, she did some sales pages
  • Because Katie has so much experience, she started by looking at the things that frustrated her, and that was people designing things, but it has no cohesion with anything else they’re putting out
  • Katie explains that although she loves doing lots of different things, she decided to do branding first because when people aren’t focused on the overarching umbrella of their direction, what they’re trying to say, do and how they want people to feel in every piece of their marketing, they miss something
  • Anything you give to a customer or use to try to sell your service, product, or business should have cohesion – this means your social media posts, website, deliverables, etc.
  • The concepts behind Katie’s traditional editorial design and brand strategy are the same; she explains that everything has just moved digital now, but it’s the same idea as with print
  • Katie explains that now, she works with mostly female entrepreneurs but will take on other clients if she feels they are a good fit and works on their branding and marketing
  • In Katie’s business, they start by figuring out their branding, if they need it – Katie shares that one client had perfectly good branding but didn’t know what to do with it to gain traction
  • Some of Katie’s favorite things about having her own business are having control over her own time, who she works with, and being home and spending time with her family
  • Katie explains how she and her family had to navigate the pandemic with school and that it caused her to press pause on her business for a bit – now she feels like she’s able to put herself out there again because things are a little more consistent with her kids
  • Now that her kids are older, Katie says she has more time than ever to work

Approaching Marketing Like a Creative Director + Katie’s Offers

  • Katie wants people who are running their business by themselves to understand that they are doing at least 5 jobs right now
  • A creative director is usually looking over the big picture; they’re looking over copy and design – they aren’t specifically doing it but are helping by giving direction on it
  • In the corporate world, you have an art director, copywriter, creative director, and other people who are looking at it from their point of view, so when you’re running a business by yourself, Katie says to give yourself grace because it’s a lot
  • Sometimes clients will come to Katie, and sometimes she will reach out to potential clients because she believes in what they are doing – sometimes they want to work with her, and sometimes they don’t, which is completely fine
  • If clients come to Katie with a brand they are happy with, she is more than happy to work with them on using that brand and designing marketing pieces for them
  • Other clients come to Katie because their brand is no longer working for them due to changes, so their brand needs to change to show what they’re really doing now
  • Katie shares that she usually doesn’t work with someone until they are 3 years in because it doesn’t make sense for them to make that investment until they truly know what they’re offering and what they want to put out there
  • If a client comes to Katie needing a rebrand, she will do the brand identity for them and says that her package has a couple of pieces of marketing
  • Katie starts by sending clients a lot of questions, then has a long conversation to go over all those questions because people change their minds and because she needs to fully understand what they’re telling her, so she doesn’t misinterpret it
  • When Katie is on the same page as her clients, there aren’t as many issues moving forwards, and if there are, they fix them
  • After the brand identity, they work on the marketing pieces because some people don’t know what to do when you hand them all the elements of the brand – the layout needs to be done well because if it’s not, no one will read your stuff
  • Katie gets clients through relationship building as much as she can – she also reaches out to a lot of people and is finally getting her Instagram running again
  • People want to work with people that they like, which is why Katie says relationship building is so important
  • While listening to a podcast, Katie heard a great quote, so she designed something with the quote and sent them an email of it, and posted it to their Facebook group – a few days later, Katie had a meeting set up with the person she had emailed for some opportunities to work with them and ended up designing a landing page for them
  • Connect with Katie through her website or on Instagram


Links mentioned:

Katie Seitzer Design 

Connect with Katie on Instagram


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