Laurel Howell has a long-standing contest with her coworkers, peers, and colleagues: Who among them can spend the most time on MySpace and Facebook at work? “Seriously, we actually are doing research,” says the 33-year-old director of Internet marketing for McLean, Va.-based Kettler Management. “We are figuring out where we are, where we need to be, and how we can incorporate it into our marketing schedules.”
It all comes naturally to Howell, who grew up in tandem with the evolution of the Internet. “From the get-go, I was always geared toward living my life online—taking classes, paying bills, ordering stamps,” she says. “Every time something new popped up online, I was thrilled. I remember the day I found out I could order pizza online—it was so exciting.” At Kettler, Howell has leveraged her natural acumen to deliver cutting-edge interactive marketing programs that are credited with an explosion in Kettler brand and product recognition.
“Laurel is terrific at what she does,” says Kettler Management president Cindy Clare. “Her expertise in the area of Internet marketing is phenomenal.” How phenomenal? With the use of video, blogging, and social and viral media, Internet marketing at Kettler has been instrumental in delivering a portfolio-wide 97 percent occupancy rate. And it's not just bells and whistles: On the back end, Kettler's Internet inquiries have gone from a 17 percent to a 91 percent live response rate, with more than 70 percent making contact within the first two hours.
As Howell looks to put more Kettler social and viral media out onto the YouTubes and Facebooks of the world, one thing this tech-savvy Up and Comer is most proud of is Kettler.com. The award-winning Web site re-launched under Howell's oversight late last year has already seen a 58 percent increase in traffic.