Lori Senecal is known for her robust personality, and advertising and marketing knowledge. Senecal is a pioneer when it comes to developing innovative advertising techniques. She specializes in innovative technology solutions that solve business challenges. Her credibility in the worldwide advertising industry prompted her appointment as Global CEO of CP+B (Crispin Porter + Bogusky). She is the former Global Executive Chairman of KBS (Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal). The one thing people say about Lori is, she never stays in her comfort zone, and that seems to be one of the ingredients for her success. As the Executive Chairman of KBS, she expanded the company’s global vision, and her work ethic contributed to the rapid growth of the company. Lori set the bar high for herself early in life. She is the youngest girl in a family of four girls, so she received a lot of attention from her parents and sisters, while she was growing up in Montreal.
Lori earned her degree from McGill University. She was president of the New York office of McCann Erickson, and she helped major brands like Coca-Cola and Xbox develop successful advertising campaigns. She is fluent in French, and she likes to say great advertising is no different from great style. Senecal is known for her unique style, creative talent, and her relentless ability to focus on a challenge. Thanks to Lori’s leadership, KBS is now a global agency with more than 800 employees. Her input in the ad campaigns of business giants like American Express, BMW, Victoria Secret Pink, HomeGoods, Boar’s Head and Vanguard helped Lori become the advertising branding queen she is now.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
The urge to get involved in the business world started when I was in high school. I love gymnastics, but because of my height, I turned to coaching instead of competing. I coached gymnastics while I was in high school and college. Coaching gave me a chance to develop leadership traits since gymnastics is an individual as well as a team sport. The coach’s job is to help the team succeed, so I learned to set goals and be consistent. I also learned to communicate without being judgmental, and that gave me the clear vision I needed to move into the business world.
The inspiration for my career in the advertising business came from my days in coaching. Coaches are leaders, and once you are a leader, it’s hard to be a follower. There’s nothing wrong with following a plan. But my vision was to create a plan other people could connect with and follow. Coaches strive for excellence and develop a sense of compassion, and in the advertising industry, those two traits are paramount, when it comes to the success of an ad campaign.
How do you make money?
The simple answer to take question is, I make money when other people make money. There’s a saying in the ad world that you are only as good as your last ad campaign, and that’s true. Performance and perseverance produce income in the ad industry. I learned that early in my advertising career.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
I always thought of myself as profitable because of my motivational skills. But in terms of being profitable in the advertising business, being profitable is a building process. The first step is to land a client, or two that have something worthwhile to advertise. Developing an ad campaign that reaches its full potential takes time. But KBS was able to become profitable faster than most marketing companies thanks to a collective mission, and a belief in the power of creativity, the relentless passion of our team, and the support of our partners and clients.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Well, we all have trepidations when we are starting something new. But thanks to my years as a coach, I was able to focus on how it would work, not if it would work. The power of positive beliefs is grossly underrated. But there were times when doubt did rear its ugly head. And when it did, I knew I had the power to change those thoughts.
How did you get your first customer?
In a sense my first customer found me. I developed a reputation for being a person who knew my own strengths, and a person that takes advantage of challenges and opportunities. Being president of McCann Erickson helped solidify my strengths. But, I must say, I got my first customer by being relentless. I excel when it comes to building a better ad and marketing campaign.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
The one strategy that works to generate new business is to know everything about that business before they become a client. Knowing every detail about the internal and external structure of a business helps build strong as well as unique advertising and marketing campaigns.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
The ad business is filled with tough decisions, so I make at least one a day. But giving a teammate the news that their performance is not up to our standards is always tough for me. At times, my compassion gets in the way.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I like to give my parents the credit they deserve for helping me be successful. But my ability to think clearly and focus with precision are also ingredients in my success. My mentors have played an important role as well.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
There are many satisfying moments, but the most satisfying moment is the moment when clients are satisfied.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The advancements in advertising and marketing technology excite me. The internet is opening new doors in our industry, so the future looks totally different from the past. The internet is changing the future of our business.
What business books have inspired you?
I am inspired by the books about Apple. Steve Jobs demonstrates the good, and the not so good, in his leadership and business building abilities.