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29 August 2023

18 min

S9 - E6: Marketing for the TikTok generation – Sonya Gonalez Mier

Sonya Gonzalez Mier is an award-winning brand strategist with nine years of experience working on prestigious FMCG brands such as Müller, Henkel and Ferrero, both nationally and internationally. Alongside her professional journey, Sonya has cultivated a strong presence as a Marketing Educator on TikTok, focusing on making marketing fun and assessable for everyone, which has amassed a dedicated following of over 60,000 individuals.

Inspired by her vibrant online community, Sonya’s upcoming book aims to consolidate and expand on the topics and questions she has been addressing on TikTok. Her pocket guide will be an extension of her online content, distilling marketing’s most important concepts into easily digestible chapters, making marketing even more accessible.

In this captivating podcast episode, we’re introducing Sonya Gonzalez Mier, a talented brand strategist and the esteemed author behind the book mar·ket·ing. Together, we’ll explore Sonya’s path to becoming a TikTok Creator and her unwavering dedication to democratizing marketing knowledge for everyone.

Join us as we delve into the perceptions of our industry from an outsider’s perspective, shedding light on the key challenges that newcomers, clients, and entrepreneurs encounter in the realm of marketing. In this episode, we will discuss the hurdles marketing faces with today’s generation and provide actionable solutions to attract and retain exceptional minds, nurturing the future generation of marketing experts.

Podcast questions

  1. How did you end up becoming a TikTok Creator?
  2. What are the key challenges your audience highlights when it comes to Marketing?
  3. What are our industry’s key challenges in attracting and retaining brilliant minds?
  4. What was your main motivation for writing your book?
  5. What are your future plans to make marketing more accessible for all?
Transcript

Disclaimer: this is an automated transcript. Please don’t call the grammar police on us. You never know, we may have ChatGPT writing our next one…

Asif Choudry (00:07):

Hello and welcome to another episode in the You’re my CommsHero podcast. And I’m your host, Asif Choudry. Today my guest is Sonya Gonzalez Mier. Sonya is an award-winning brand strategist with nine years of experience working on prestigious F M C G brands such as Muller, Henkel, and Ferrero. Uh, everyone loves Ferrero, don’t they? Ferrero Che, um, both nationally and internationally. Uh, alongside her professional journey, Sonia’s cultivated a strong presence as a marketing educator on TikTok, focusing on making marketing fun and accessible for everyone, which has amassed dedicated following of over 60,000 individuals. Amazing that. So inspired by her vibrant online community, Sonya’s upcoming book aims to consolidate and expand on the topics and questions she has been addressing on TikTok itself. Her pocket guide will be an extension of her online content, distilling marketing’s most important concepts into easily digestible chapters, making marketing even more accessible. So thanks for joining me, Sonya, and it’s great to welcome you as a guest on the podcast.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (01:11):

Thank you so much for having me. And when you read it like that, it sounds a lot more impressive than it feels like. But yeah, thank you so much for having me,

Asif Choudry (01:21):

<laugh>. It’s very impressive. You’re gonna be, you’ve got a book coming out, you’ve got a very successful TikTok account and you’re demystifying and debunking a lot of the, um, ways that people learn marketing, which is great. You know, it can only be only, only be positive for the comms and marketing and PR community. So we’re gonna do a bit of getting to know you, um, Sonya, first of all, before we get into the crux of the podcast, which I’ll come on to later. Um, but we’re recording, um, at the beginning of August and you are, uh, uh, not based in the uk Tell share with the listeners where you’re actually based.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (01:57):

So, uh, I’m currently based in Seoul, uh, South Korea. Um, but I was based in the UK for over 12 years, uh, actually, so I’ve just recently moved here, um, kind of going international. Um, I always had an interest in, in Asia and working in the Asian market, so, uh, I thought this is a good time to do the jump. Um, and yeah, here I’m so from across the world.

Asif Choudry (02:25):

Excellent. So tell us then, Sonya, what’s your most placed song on your Spotify at the moment?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (02:33):

Um, so I actually, I actually wrote down too, ’cause my, um, my <laugh> my music taste is quite varied, but, um, for those who might be interested in like Asian artists while I’m in Asia, um, I can have you recommend an artist called Eric namm, uh, American Korean. Um, he sings in English and my favorite song at the moment is called Wildfire. Um, and for those who might be interested in writing a book or have like a big project coming up, um, the second song I’m currently having on loop is called Daydream by Lily, uh, Meola. And it’s really like poppy and very motivational, so definitely worthless.

Asif Choudry (03:16):

Excellent. I love that question. ’cause it’s just, it gets, um, most people are quite an eclectic, uh, music taste and it’s so varied, so it’s really nice to to, to just hear that. ’cause it gives a little insight into, uh, each individual. So I’m gonna ask you, so which three people would you invite to dinner and why?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (03:37):

Um, so I was thinking about this question quite a lot. It’s, it’s kind of a typical question on, on getting to know people, but I find it’s one of the hardest ones. Um, I actually don’t have a very impressive, impressive list to share, but it is genuinely people that I would love to have dinner with and I think would insight interesting conversations. So the first person is, uh, my old mentor and professor from my undergrad degree. His name is Ray Hold and he kind of, uh, got me into marketing initially. Uh, second one would be my mom. Um, I’d love to bring onto the like to the table, um, table because I think she would learn a lot from, um, from Ray. And the third person I’m inviting, which is Michael mpo. Uh, Michael Impo was my first marketing manager slash cmo, uh, and my first marketing job. And I think it would be a great conversation to have between like the academic side of things and the practical side of things. And hopefully my mom would sit in between both of them finally understanding what I actually do on an everyday basis. Yeah,

Asif Choudry (04:47):

<laugh> excellent. She’ll learn what, what it is that you do. We’ll have to do a follow up podcast and we’ll get your mom on as well. So some really good answers there. So that, that’ll be an interesting one for sure. So, and finally then, Sonya, three words to describe you.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (05:02):

Um, I’m very passionate. I think that’s what most people would describe me as. Um, but I’m a massive traveler and I’m a massive foodie as well. So, uh, yeah, a lot of solo traveling. Uh, just seeing different cultures I find extremely inspiring and I’m always hungry. So, you know, <laugh>, foodie, foodie needs to be one of the attributes mentioned there.

Asif Choudry (05:27):

Yeah. Great. So I’ve gotta ask you before I move on from figure skating to marketing content creator, when I was going through your TikTok account, the you in one of the actual videos you’re doing, um, and I’m sure there’s a technical, uh, term for this, but I’m gonna say one of those spins that you go around as an ice skater figure skater really fast, which was really impressive. So tell us more. You’ve got to share some more about that with us.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (05:53):

So Yes. Um, so I, I was a professional figure skater for 13 years. Um, I started when I was five years old and, um, I went all the way up to nationals and international competitions. Um, I had to stop when I was 18 years old ’cause of an a knee injury, which sort of coincided with making plans about university. And, um, my mom actually wanted me to become an accountant, so she thought it would be best for me to go study business. Um, and so that’s kind of how I transitioned from figure skater to, to the world of marketing. Um, thankfully the accounting didn’t quite work out. Um, so I ended up in marketing, but, um, I, I’m, I kind of still dabble here and there I go from time to time, I, I have a coaching license actually, and I also have a judging license. So from time to time I still kind of go to competitions and try and contribute to the community as much as I can.

Asif Choudry (06:56):

Amazing. And I recommend all the listeners go to Sonya’s TikTok account and have a look. It’s phenomenal. Um, so thank you for that and I’ve enjoyed getting to know you a bit more and I’m sure the listeners will have done as well. So, um, so the title of this podcast then Sonya, is marketing for the TikTok Generation, and Sonya’s the esteemed author behind the book marketing. So, uh, Marquette ing is PR pronounced on the book. So we’re going to explore Sonya’s path to becoming a TikTok, uh, creator and her unwavering dedication to democratizing marketing knowledge for everyone. And we’re gonna delve into the perceptions of our industry from an outsider’s perspective, shedding light on the key challenges that newcomers clients and entrepreneurs encounter in the realm of marketing. And in this episode, we’re going to discuss the hurdles marketing faces with today’s generation and provide actionable solutions to attract and retain exceptional minds nurturing the future generation of marketing experts. So a lot to unpack there. So let’s get on with the first question then, Sonya. So how did you actually end up becoming a TikTok creator?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (08:02):

Uh, that’s a really great question. Um, so I actually, so when the pandemic hit, like everyone, I think everybody’s sort of flocked onto onto TikTok at the time. And, uh, I remember that the algorithm quite quickly figured out that I was interested in marketing and tried to serve me marketing content, but it was all focused on social media marketing. And at the time I was working at a company called Britain’s Biscuits, which later got required by acquired by Ferrero. And it really frustrated me because I was working on product marketing and brand strategy. And I always thought that, you know, the public perception of marketing was just social media marketing basically, and TV advertising. And I just need, I wanted an outlet. I wanted to tell people what I do on an everyday basis, you know, how we look at packaging and pricing and, uh, targeting consumers and all of the different other beautiful parts of marketing.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (09:03):

And so I started posting about how I developed tape. Um, so in my previous com um, in my previous role I worked at Henkel and I worked on cell tape, the brand cell tape. And, um, I developed the first fully compostable cell tape, which is called, uh, zero Plastic. You can Buy It in Stores today if you like, <laugh>, and a lot of work it went into it. And I just basically started uploading videos about how I developed that tape, um, and how I marketed that tape and how I brought to market that tape. And I thought nobody would care and, you know, millions of views prove me wrong. It kind of went viral overnight and people were just asking me all these questions like, oh my God. Like, I never realized how much thought went into developing a product like this, a marketing, a product like this. And I kind of realized like, there’s a lot of people interested in marketing that don’t quite know about marketing enough, but want to know more. And so that’s how I kind of started my TikTok account. So from then it kind of spiraled into spiral giving tips and tricks and kind of, um, debunking a lot of myths about marketing and kind of going into consumer behavior and psychology and things like that. So that’s kind of how I became a online influencer or creator I guess you could call it.

Asif Choudry (10:32):

That’s brilliant. That, so cell tape as well. So a brand everybody knows, I’m sure all the listeners will know it and have used it. And so you are behind Zero Plastic, the compostable version. So I’m big on sustainability, so that’s quite, um, I I feel even more honored being in your presence now on the podcast. So that’s fantastic. And just that desire to share, you kind of share a lot of the qualities that the Comms Zero community is all about, which is sharing best practice. And I found that within the community itself, it it’s an inherent na natural, uh, instinct, uh, and behavior within comms people to want to share best practice. And you’ve, um, become a TikTok creator by actually having that same passion as many do so good on you for actually doing something about it and, and helping lots of other people as well. So what we found then are the key challenges your audience highlight when it comes to marketing <affirmative>.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (11:28):

Mm. Yeah, that’s, that’s an interesting question. ’cause initially I was really confused on who might find my videos actually interesting. And I just asked them the question like, you know, where are you guys at? What are you doing? And what are the things that you’re interested in? And there were two main groups that kind of emerged. One was, um, people that are studying or, or thinking about entering the marketing industry but don’t know, don’t know where to start. Um, a lot of them maybe haven’t studied marketing or maybe are choosing their studies at the moment. Um, and they just felt like marketing was this walled garden that it was so hard to get into. And I don’t know if you have a similar experience, but I actually asked a lot of my colleagues like, what did you study? And a lot of them actually didn’t study marketing or strategy at university.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (12:20):

A lot of them studied, um, you know, maybe English literature or completely, you know, unrelated studies. And then kind of by accident almost slipped into the career of marketing. Um, and so a lot of, a lot of people that were following me at the time were basically students or people trying to enter the career. Um, and the second ones were actually professionals that had been in the career for, for a while, but that had narrowed down a little bit too quickly. And, and what I mean with that is that a lot of people enter marketing, um, on a very specific subset of marketing. So a lot of people maybe enter into PR or into, um, social media, let’s say, and then they never really have the chance to dabble into all the other parts of marketing, like research or, you know, um, booking media, you know, all of those other beautiful parts that compromise marketing. And so for them, if they then wanna change careers, let’s say, or if they even wanna just learn something about those other types of marketing, it can be quite difficult for them to break into that. And so that was kind of the second group of people that were following me that had maybe never really heard about brand strategy or product marketing and didn’t quite know what it was and were just interested in it, um, and started following me ’cause of that.

Asif Choudry (13:44):

Yeah, and that’s quite interesting that you mentioned that because I find that certainly over the years I’ve, I I, I’ve been a marketer for probably 28 years now, and I’ve found that the disciplines have changed that people go into this profession very much in specialist areas where marketing was more of a generalist, uh, profession, where you were getting, um, uh, an opportunity to work in different aspects of, of the actual profession itself, primarily because you didn’t have social media managers. And that seems to be the biggest attraction of marketing nowadays, rather than say the pure marketing, which is the strategic marketing or the research elements and all the things that used to happen before social media, they’re not that kind of attractive element of it. So bearing that in mind then, what do you think our, uh, profession, um, within the marketing profession, what are the key challenges then in attracting and retaining those brilliant minds?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (14:43):

So I think there’s two parts to it. So attracting, I think when it comes to attracting new talent into the industry, there’s, we definitely have to address the, the bad rep that marketing gets, surprisingly enough. You know, we market everything from tomatoes to toothpaste, but we can’t seem to market ourselves very well as a profession, as an industry. And a lot of people still see us as, you know, uh, manipulators, you know, people that basically hypnotize you into buying something. Um, and so I think that’s, that’s definitely one, uh, stereotype, which I’m trying to break on my channel specifically about, you know, I, I cannot make you buy anything that you don’t have already a preference for, you know, um, or some sort of conditioning for. Um, so there’s definitely a lot of bad prep, um, when it comes to that. And even now I see it happening with social media.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (15:40):

It’s interesting that you mentioned social media as one of the, uh, main sort of pathways for people to enter the industry, but you know, even with the rise of influencer marketing, um, that also seems to be starting to get a little bit of a bad rep. And so that’s definitely something that we need to address as an industry. And I think by broadening people’s mindset about what marketing actually entails, I think that is a key way to addressing that. Um, and the second one is about retaining. So from, and, and this is maybe solely based on personal experience, and I hope it kind of resonates with the listeners, but what I have experienced is that there’s definitely a big difference between what I call the old guard and the new guard. And it’s not necessarily generational, but I think it’s because marketing has changed so rapidly in the last 10, 15 years that, um, a lot of people that are now in like how higher management positions have learned, you know, the old older techniques and I maybe not as open to new channels or new approaches, whereas the new generation and, and the new people that are coming into, into the industry are maybe are not necessarily following the, you know, university curriculum of marketing, as you said, um, which can be quite outdated, uh, sometimes, but they, they look at it more from a societal, um, perspective.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (17:09):

Um, and they use marketing in that way. And so I think there, that’s where a lot of the clashes, uh, and at the workplace, uh, tend to happen. It’s people looking around the younger generations and the fresh blood may be looking around them and being like, no, that’s actually how I want to be marketed to, and that’s how we should market our products. Whereas the older generations are maybe a little bit more traditional in their approach when it comes to marketing. So I have seen a lot of people, um, even in my nine year career career, I’ve seen a lot of people actually drop out of the industry, um, because of that, um, tension. And, um, I would love to keep them in the industry because they’re brilliant and they have a voice that should be heard.

Asif Choudry (17:59):

Absolutely. And it’s interesting you mentioned things like the, um, comms hero itself as a community exists to celebrate the heroics that comms marketing and PR people perform every day because they are inherently, certainly in my experience, and the, uh, the admission of many of the people in the community forget to focus on celebrating their own achievements. And that’s in itself led to the reason the profession is not necessarily, um, regarded in the senior status that it should be strategic status, um, as opposed to being the coloring in department and things like that basically. So, um, there are lots of work to do, but it’s happening and, you know, things like this will help it to continue that way. And it’s important to retain that talent because we don’t want that talent coming out of the sector and out of the profession and out of the industry, um, because it is a fantastic profession to be in.

Asif Choudry (18:51):

So, you know, we hope that, um, the work that you are doing and what Comm Zero are doing are helping some way, uh, even if it’s just a small contribution towards people, uh, understanding the profession and, and wanting to be in it. Um, and hopefully one day it’s gonna be right up there with, um, being a career path of choice, just as much as being a, a TikTok influencer or YouTube influencer or whatever else it might be. We certainly hope so. Um, something to aspire to, I’m sure, for us all. So we talked to, you’ve got an upcoming book then, uh, Sonia. So what was your main motivation then for writing the book? Because after nine years in marketing, it’s fantastic. It’s a great achievement that you’ve, um, you know, uh, put yourself forward and done that as we have an expression in Comm Zero, dare to Fail that moment of I’m gonna do this. And, uh, you’ve, you’ve gone and done that. So what was the motivation for writing it?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (19:44):

For writing it? Yeah. So by the time that this podcast is out, I believe the the book will be out. Um, I what is the motivation behind writing a book? I mean, <laugh>, um, I have to say, I have to answer this question quite selfishly in a way that I wrote this book for myself, <laugh>, um, because I wish a book like that would have existed when I started my marketing career. And, um, what I realized through like the audiences and all the questions that I was usually getting on TikTok was that a lot of people were looking for the same sort of book that I was looking for when I started the career. And it, it’s basically taking a lot of the questions that I’ve answered in, you know, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, but just expanding on that and, and, um, adding additional richness to, to my answers.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (20:36):

Because until now, whenever a lot of people, you know, when people would approach me and ask like, where do I even start? Um, there’s actually not that much literature to point to. Um, funnily enough, I mean, of course, as someone who studied marketing, there’s a lot of academic literature that I could point to, you know, like Cutler and Porter and all of those, you know, brilliant business minds. Yeah. But who’s gonna read those books? <laugh>. Um, and then on the other side, um, you have things like how brands grow, for example, right? Um, but then the rest becomes a little bit more, uh, business entrepreneurial literature I would call it. So things like Gary V let’s say, um, like Crush It and, and books like that. Um, which don’t necessarily only focus on marketing, but they focus on a wider picture, right? And so I, um, I was inspired because I actually considered, I I I’m still considering, um, going back to university and, and, and studying psychology.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (21:39):

’cause that’s one of the things in marketing that I’m really fascinated by. And I wrote this book, uh, I bought this book called 50 Things You Need To Know in Psychology, because I was, I was like, Hmm, I just wanna dip my toe into the topic and see if I’m really interested in psychology as a whole, or maybe just behavioral marketing. And it has these kind of bite-sized chapters on each of the main themes within psychology. And as I was reading it, um, I was like, I wish something like this existed for marketing. And so that’s how I kind of ended up writing my book. It’s, um, it’s 50 chapters, which sounds a lot, but each chapter is only about 1,500 words, 2000 words long. So when you read, it’s about five minutes, and it basically just goes through kind of everything you need to know, like the main topics of marketing.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (22:34):

So all the way from fundamentals, like how to set a budget, you know, what, what do we need to think about when we think about marketing ethics, for example, to the six piece, what do they mean and how do we actually apply them? Um, looking at how to do market analysis, what are like the frameworks that I learned in school, but then also actually used at work, which, you know, combining the academic and, and the practical things, looking at all the different comms channels and how to actually set up successful campaigns, what things to, to think about, and then all the way down to like, marketing measurements and, and how to actually, which KPIs to actually look at and, and how to set it up correctly. So it’s supposed to be really an entry level guide for people that are interested in marketing, but equally valuable for people who might be, uh, niched down on one part of marketing and want to find out about other parts of marketing as well.

Asif Choudry (23:34):

Excellent. And, um, we’ll make sure we include in the show notes, the, the, your links as well. And, um, uh, nothing subliminal about this message, but by Sonya’s book, it’s as simple as that <laugh> because there probably isn’t anything that exists like that. So, um, you know, props to you for, for, for doing that as well. So, um, so what then, uh, Sonya are your future plans to make marketing more accessible for us all?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (24:01):

Um, there’s lots left to do as you know, you know, there’s no end to the Comm Hero podcast. Um, there’s lots to do and kind of elevating our profession. So kind of the next steps are, once the book is out, um, I’m actually gonna create a little series on my TikTok, uh, going through the chapters one more time and kind of creating a, a video version, I guess, of the chapters. Um, there will also be an audiobook and, um, we’re actually planning to start a podcast on it as well. So going through each of the chapters and bringing in an expert on that specific topic or framework, um, and basically just having a chat through that. So that’s that, putting it into video, putting it into audio, putting it into podcasting. Um, and then, um, one of my continuous site projects is, is guest lecturing. Um, I love guest lecturing. Um, I have guest lectured at multiple universities in the past, past, and I would love to continue doing so, um, in the future. So that’s kind of the, the outside world, uh, activities that I’m gonna do to hopefully inspire the next generation of brilliant marketeers.

Asif Choudry (25:14):

Brilliant. That’s great. And I hope Comm Zero Week 2024 will get you on as a virtual, um, speaker to come and join us and, uh, help educate our community as well. So, um, hopefully you’ll, uh, join us for that when we’re, when we’re planning that next year, but we’re planning the current one now, so, um, I’ll certainly be in touch with you, um, about that. So Sonia, it’s been, uh, amazing to go through that, um, information. So you are, you’re, you’re new to the Comm Comms Zero community, so how did you first come across, uh, comms Zero itself?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (25:48):

Yes. So, um, I actually came across comms. I am, I’m certainly new to it, but now that I’ve, uh, kind of delved into it, I’m, I’m in love with it. I’ll definitely be an active member moving forward. Um, actually, uh, one of my colleagues went to one of your events, uh, in the past and told me about it, said it was absolutely brilliant, and that’s how I ended up, uh, following you on LinkedIn, I believe, um, and kind of just trying to keep a tabs on what was going on and when the next event was gonna happen. And, um, and then, yeah, obviously we got in touch, um, for this podcast. So, so far everything I’ve seen about it is absolutely brilliant. Um, I think it’s such a great initiative and I’m super happy to be part of it. So thank you so much for having me.

Asif Choudry (26:33):

You’re welcome. And it’s great to have people like you in the community to using your vast influence that you have of over 60,000 followers to keep sharing the message and spread the word on, um, making the profession a, a, a one that’s desirable and people don’t fall into anymore. So, um, you know, it’s been an amazing conversation, lots of great stuff for our listeners to take away, but what’s important for us is that connection and networking and building the community. So where will our listeners find you then, Sonya? What are your social handles? Where can they go to?

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (27:06):

So the best way is to please connect with me on LinkedIn, um, you know, and just say hi. Um, my connections are open and, um, if you, if you’re interested, then please follow my, my TikTok and check it out. Uh, be an active, uh, viewer and contributor, ask you a question, say hi, and I’ll love to see you there.

Asif Choudry (27:29):

Amazing. And we will include those links in the show notes and, um, uh, links to the, you know, people to follow you and you’ll be promoting when the book is actually launched. So we’ll look forward to that. And maybe there’s some signed copies in a competition coming their way at some point. So let’s, let’s wait and see. Let’s wait and see. Um, you’ll find this podcast on Spotify, apple or your chosen platform and on our website com zero.com. Uh, you can follow us on Twitter at com, zero or x. Do I have to call it X now or do I call it Twitter still? I’m probably always gonna call it Twitter. Um, and if you do listen on Apple or Spotify, please leave a rating and review and hit the follow and subscribe button so you get the new episodes as they come out every two weeks. So Sonya, thank you so much for your time joining us from Soul, uh, about to move in the next 24 hours and a broken foot. So everything, all worlds have collided and that means, but that’s one way out of getting, um, out of the actual moving of house and getting someone else to do it. So good on you. But good luck with that recovery and thanks for your time.

Sonya Gonzalez Mier (28:34):

Thank you so much for having me.

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