Tim Gerst, the co-founder and director of marketing at Solo Music and CEO of Thinkswell — a Nashville-based marketing agency — started his career when he was 15 after the passing of his father. With a passion for music but lacking musical talent, he found a way to enter the space through creative and analytical skills. This led him to start his career in marketing in 2005.
“I reached out to my favorite band at the time, Thousand Foot Krutch, and offered to help them run their social media for free.” At this point, social media was still pretty new so the band accepted his offer with no pushback. This was the start of a 17-year-long relationship and career in marketing.
Gerst and his co-founder created Solo Music because they wanted to be an agency that thought differently. “I know many people say that, but we truly are. We have no pre-set packages or plans. We custom tailor everything to each client,” says Gerst. He details how Thinskwell is a boutique agency that does not have a goal to become the biggest agency, but rather their goal is to be the best. Their mission is to deliver results to their clients based on their expectations and beyond.
Thinks well works with high-profile entertainer clients like Chris Young, an American country music singer, and songwriter. In 2006, Young was the Season 4 winner of the television program “Nashville Star,” a singing competition in the United States.
“For his last album, not only did we handle all the digital strategy and execute digital ad buys for the campaign, but we also designed the album cover, produced his lyric videos, and more,” says Gerst. A big component of Gersts philosophy is that an agency should be able to help clients achieve their goals from start to finish.
There are many things that Gerst wished he had known before he started his company. He’s been kind enough to provide his thoughts for us below.
5 Things Tim Gerst Wish Someone Told Him Before He Started
1. Running a business is hard
“Being an entrepreneur is not just about being the boss, it’s about putting in the work. I believe that you cannot expect your team to work harder than you’re willing to work, so it’s about showing by example.”
2. There are ups, and there are downs
“I know this sounds like an obvious statement, but we must remember this because every time there’s a valley, we must remember the mountains to celebrate. We have to be critical of ourselves, but not overly critical.”
3. Set goals
“It’s truly important to identify and set goals. Creating something that you can check off a list and feel like you accomplished something, even on a busy day.”
4. Wake up early
“I believe that waking up early sets the tone for the day. Use that time to set goals, meditate or create a healthy body. It’s your time. Use it like that.”
5. Be an all-star
“My team often thinks that ideas that aren’t used can be a waste, but I like to remind them that if you’re a pro baseball player and you bat 250-300, you can be an all-star. If only succeeding 1 in every 4 attempts is good enough for a professional athlete, why isn’t that good enough for us?”
Overall, Gerst thinks listening is the best tool young professionals can master today, whether it’s listening to customers, teammates, or one’s own gut feelings. Gerst also shares that social media, email marketing, and software like Hootsuite and Adobe suite benefit learning and growing as a young business professional. Although, he stresses that “a good marketing strategy relies on the emotion of your customers and the passion of your employees.”
Lastly, Gerst emphasizes how consumers are becoming more jaded and skeptical of anything “salesy,” and says the marketing industry is headed towards short-form video content. And he’s not wrong; statistically, people are much more likely to watch a brand’s video if it’s 60 seconds or less in length. With technology continuously evolving and adapting each day, there is always something new to learn, consider, or compete with.
“I truly believe short-form content will be king,” Gerst explains. “You see this with TikTok, Instagram Reels, and now YouTube Shorts.” Gerst shares how he wishes he knew how much work was involved just to stay up-to-date with new policies and technology.