40 Under Forty: Karlee Bentz, co-owner, Arrowhead Marketing

2014-02-02T00:15:00Z 2014-02-10T16:41:10Z 40 Under Forty: Karlee Bentz, co-owner, Arrowhead Marketing The Billings Gazette
February 02, 2014 12:15 am

In advertising, people often go to great lengths to come up with a memorable campaign. A few years ago, Karlee Bentz found herself climbing into a pen full of turkeys to tape a television spot for Cranky Ranky’s Midland Dodge. The dealership’s owner, the late Harold Reinke, was known for his humorous TV spots, including an ad in which he “flipped his wig.” Yes, TV viewers saw Cranky Ranky’s famous toupee spinning on top of his head.

Bentz was toting a large video camera and a recorder while taping the turkey segment, and for a moment she wondered whether the turkeys might start pecking at her. But everything turned out fine.

Advertising has changed a lot since the days when Cranky Ranky poked fun at himself on TV. Bentz, co-owner of Arrowhead Marketing, a Billings advertising agency, says advertisers must learn to adapt to advertising in the digital age. “I’m always trying to educate myself and get current on new approaches to advertising and how we can incorporate them for our clients,” she said.

Describe how you got where you are in your work today. I wanted to work in advertising ever since I was a kid. To help pay for college, I bartended part time at the Knights of Columbus. A member there was also the sales manager for one of the TV stations. The station happened to have an opening for a copywriter. I honestly had no clue what a copywriter was, but I enthusiastically told him I could do the job and asked him to give me chance. They figured out I had no experience, so they agreed to let me work part time for a semester with no pay and asked that I work something out with the college for college credit instead. After that semester was over, they hired me. I worked part time at the TV station until I graduated from college in 1996. In 2002, my business partners approached me. They had started Arrowhead Marketing six years earlier. They asked me to join the company as an equal partner. At age 27, I became a co-owner of an advertising agency and was living my dream.

What’s the toughest challenge that you have faced in your business? There continues to be a significant increase and variety of entertainment options for the consumer. This creates fragmentation, making mass marketing much more challenging. Technology and the ways people receive information and entertainment are constantly and rapidly changing.

What did you learn from that challenge? Don’t fight it, embrace it. Technology and new advertising can present terrific opportunities that have never existed before. I have also learned that continuing my education through workshops, online courses, etc., is not only necessary, but is fun, too.

What’s the best business advice you have received? Be honest and do the right thing. You will ultimately succeed in the end.

Who gave you that advice? My father.

Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I’d like to help come up with a solution to connect the bike trails in the Josephine Crossing/Norm’s Island System to the Gabel Road and/or the South 24th Street West System.

Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? When my clients experience an increase in sales due to a targeted advertising campaign I’ve implemented.

Which living person do you most admire? My father, Jim McDermand, because he started from nothing and created a successful life for himself and his family.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? By age 27, I was a college graduate, home owner and a business owner.

I’m happiest when I’m… relaxing on a beach in Mexico or Central America.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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