Shalom Life | March 09, 2014

Top 20 Under 40: Josh Singer

Singer is the President and co-founder of Kognitive Marketing, an experiential marketing company that specializes in recruiting, training & staffing promotional representatives to execute marketing programs

By: Daniel Koren

Published: March 4th, 2014 in Business » World

Top 20 Under 40: Josh Singer

Shalom Life is proud to present our 4th annual Top 20 Under 40 list. Over the next 20 days, we will showcase 20 individuals of diverse talents and backgrounds that have made a significant contribution to their field both locally and globally. From entrepreneurs to philanthropists, entertainers to doctors, this list places a spotlight on a small sampling of the spectacular, innovative, and passionate Jews that call Toronto home.

Top 20 Under 40: Josh Singer

Age: 30

Today, googling 'what is experiential marketing' is a commonly asked question, as it continues to grow as one of the most wide-reaching and fastest-growing marketing tools.

According to Kognitive Marketing, a Toronto-based privately owned firm which specializes in promoting brand awareness and an intent to purchase from the consumer, it's 'the act of connecting consumers with a brand through a live interaction.'

Still hazy on the definition? So was I. That is, until I spoke to Josh Singer, a co-founder of the company, who explained the logistics to me, and how, after eight years in the business, they are now able to market to the entire Canadian population.

The 30-year-old Singer helped launch Kognitive during his last year, second semester, at University of Toronto in 2006, with a single business partner, who has since left (on good terms, Singer adds). Two of Singer's current partners joined five years ago.

"We've grown exponentially over the eight years," he says, "up to 90 full time staff members and 500 promotional representatives. So over the years we've been doubling our business every year, and are expecting to grow between 50 and 100 percent next year."

Singer reveals that he's always basically been an entrepreneur, starting his first company at 15. "It was a gardening company in Thornhill, which I worked at for three years until I sold the client list when I went to university."

"It was decent coin for a kid going into first year," he adds.

The young entrepreneur started another landscaping company as he was in school, and also while working as a fundraising chair at the Jewish fraternity at University of Toronto. "What we did was throw parties as a way to raise money," he recalls, "and we donated all the money to charity. There was one time when we got a cosmetics company to sponsor the party, and we got over twice as many people that normally would attend to show up."

From there, it just "clicked" for Singer that this method was a very effective way to market to university students.

"Shortly after I found a cause in marketing," he says. "The initial idea was to turn nightclub parties into trade-shows as a way to market university students, so we tried to create this really cool experience for students, and for the advertiser, since it engaged the consumer with marketing tools. So that was the idea, and it evolved from doing nightclub parties for students to marketing any sort of events, from campus BBQ's to sporting events. Eventually, we evolved, and stopped focusing only on students but on the entire Canadian population."

Today, Kognitive Marketing is involved, and houses staff members, in every major city across Canada.

They are currently considering the notion of entering the States, but "are not going to rush it."

Singer tells me that Kognitive Marketing work with some of the major Canadian industry players, including four out of the five big banks (you can guess which ones, as well as Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, Loblaws, and several others.

"Our clients always know that it's us working on the campaign," Singer says proudly, "coming through advertising agencies, technology partners, and other platforms."

"We’re no longer just marketing," he continues, "as we market to the entire Canadian population. Any form of face to face marketing, we do." Essentially, I learn, any sort of marketing campaign that engages consumers, gets them interested to learn about a product, and is immersive and attention-getting are the trademarks of Kognitive Marketing's catchy initiatives. The focus, more than anything else, is on consumer awareness.

"Once they [the consumer] knows about a product, then we start building around the marketing so that they are interested in that product," he explains. "And what we set out to accomplish is to convert that conversation into consumer action. So now, after being interested in a product, they're interested in more, whether it be applying for a credit card, or making a purchase on the spot."

"And that," he adds, "is really what we specialize in doing."

For example, Kognitive does programs with Bank of Montreal to engage consumers about their Mastercard product. "It's not about getting a quote or consultation, but about engaging consumers in a fun way. We explain the product and benefits we are promoting, and hopefully, they'll be interested in taking that next step."

Kognitive Marketing's approach is that they will come to you, the consumer. Whether there's a trade show or national home show, Kognitive is there. "It's always face to face," Singer says. "We're always finding customers where they are."

Singer, an active entrepreneur and businessman, is also very involved in the Jewish community here in Toronto. "I'm very involved with UJA, and sat on various committees throughout the years," he tells me." So each year, I try to help with telethons, or however I can. This year I'm the co-chair of the Young Business division, focusing on how to engage young people in the community so that they, as young Jewish professionals, are connecting with one another."

Through this initiative, Singer helps organize events, raise funds, and basically support the Jewish community in any way he can.

As for his professional career, he thoroughly enjoys his work, and meeting consumers one-on-one to learn how to better engage them through marketing tools. He loves the brands that Kognitive work with, and the type of work that he does.

When I ask Singer about his upbringing, he relishes in the fact that he got his entrepreneurial spirit from his father, and that he learned plenty from his mother, who works in marketing.

Guess it runs in the family.


Tune in tomorrow as we continue with Shalom Life's Top 20 Under 40 series.

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