Women in MI: Kristen Cho, Chief Marketing Officer at Reverb

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In her position, Kristen leads Reverb’s global marketing team, which uses search marketing, digital advertising, video and editorial content, social media, public relations, email marketing, and more to promote Reverb sellers and help buyers find the perfect piece of gear.

Here, we find out about Kristen’s journey in the MI industry, her long-term goals, her inspirations and more…

Q: What was the last gig that you attended before lockdown, and who has been your new favourite artist discovered through lockdown? 

Oh wow, I really had to think about that one! I miss live music so much, especially attending concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I feel lucky to live in a city with such a fantastic music culture, and I’m looking forward to live music again.  In the spring of last year, I had a chance to enjoy some virtual live music through Reverb’s “Gig From Home” series, which we created to help artists impacted by the pandemic connect with fans, reach new audiences, and get compensated for their work during lockdowns. Our team worked with emerging artists—ranging from Tasha and Angelica Garcia to Bloom Twins and Lovesick Duo —to recreate the magic of their concerts from their home. Fans tuned in via Reverb’s social media channels and showed their support by donating directly to the artist or by purchasing merchandise. We even created virtual gig posters, so it felt like a real show.

Over the last year, like so many people in the Reverb community, I have tapped into my creativity by picking up a new instrument. I’m learning—very slowly—to play guitar. While I’ve been working from home due to the lockdown, my two young daughters have been at home with me, so we have had a lot of Disney-inspired dance parties during the day to break up the routine.

Q: Tell us a bit about your journey so far in the MI industry? 

I joined Reverb in early 2019 after leading marketing teams at two US-based marketplaces—designer consignment marketplace Luxury Garage Sale and parking reservation platform SpotHero. Reverb’s mission to make the world more musical drew me to the company and I was excited to work with the marketing team to find new ways to get sellers’ musical instruments in front of more buyers all over the world.

Little did I know that a year later, the marketing team’s work to promote our sellers would become even more crucial. That’s always our goal, but as the pandemic pushed retailers to shift their entire businesses online, we knew that we had to do everything we could to support the businesses and individuals that rely on our marketplace. Luckily, we have a creative and flexible marketing team at Reverb. We created new promotions and content focused on music gear that we noticed was popular—like acoustic guitars and home recording gear. We found new ways to promote our sellers and their inventory through social media, video, and more. We increased communication with both our buyers and our sellers as things changed. It was a whirlwind, but it showed me that our team and this industry are extremely resilient.

Q: What are your long-term goals?

With more people purchasing music gear online than ever before, Reverb’s marketing team is focused on making sure that anyone looking for a musical instrument online finds our sellers and their inventory. That means we’re making our sellers’ gear more findable through search marketing, attracting more buyers to our sellers through digital advertising, finding new ways to feature our sellers’ inventory on social media, and more. Over the past year, we’ve also worked with dealers and brands to create marketing and advertising campaigns that engage buyers and drive sales. Especially when it comes to getting in front of the new music makers who started playing during the pandemic, we have a lot of opportunity to creatively engage with players and get them excited about continuing to play music this year and beyond.

Q: Who inspires you?

I have to say that Sister Rosetta Tharpe is a bit of a legend at the Reverb office and I’ve been struck by her story and her playing ever since I first heard them both. While she influenced so many well-known artists—from Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan to more recently, Lizzo’s guitarist Celisse—her influence wasn’t widely recognised for decades. It’s been inspiring to see Sister Rosetta Tharpe get the recognition that she deserves, and I’m hopeful that it’s a sign of more guitar heroes like her to come. Music makers are as diverse as music itself, yet that’s not always reflected in popular culture—we have to change that so that anyone who wants to play music and is passionate about gear feels welcome in our industry.

Q: What is your ‘why’?

Reverb’s mission is to make the world more musical. We do that by making it easy to buy and sell on our marketplace and through our Reverb Gives program. Through Reverb Gives, a portion of every sale on our site provides youth music education programs across the world with the instruments they need to make music. Since Reverb Gives launched in mid-2018, we have helped more than 150 organisations ranging from Girls Rock Northern Ireland to underfunded school music programs get the gear that they need to make music. In fact, thanks in part to our donations, Girls Rock Dublin was able to fund their GRD Gear Library, which allows teenagers in Dublin to borrow musical equipment from local libraries. Without a doubt, this is my “why”!

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