Keith Patterson

contemplating world domination

A right-brain on the loose in a left-brain world

Hi. I’m Keith Patterson. I’ve had the good fortune to collaborate with Susan Scrupski in a wide range of creative and strategic endeavors. Recently, the planets aligned and presented the opportunity to work together again—this time helping innovators to change the world by telling their stories where they need to be heard.

Creating communications that engage, inform, and entertain techies has been a familiar beat for me since undergraduate days, when I wrote stories and served as editor of Voodoo, the MIT monthly humor magazine.

Like many MIT graduates, my first jobs were in the computer industry—product management at Digital Equipment, and Four Phase Systems in Silicon Valley. I gained a solid footing in B2B technology marketing, but my creative side needed nurturing. Fortunately, tech-savvy individuals with a creative bent were in demand, and I made the leap into the world of high tech marketing agencies as a copywriter at Regis McKenna.

I learned the copywriting craft by creating advertising—mostly for tech accounts—at ad agencies, then as Creative Director for Ketchum’s San Francisco technology shop. Working on all those startup businesses gave me startup fever myself, so I co-founded the Patterson & Glen agency with a college friend. We rode the video game wave into a quick acquisition by Madison Avenue ad agency DMB&B, and suddenly I was back working for “the man.”

I soon returned to entrepreneurial life, starting KPA Advertising in Silicon Valley, and later adding an office in Santa Monica. Our clients included Kao, TRW, Lucasfilm Games, Pioneer, Xerox, many startups, and CMP Publications—which is where I first met Susan. We were placing a lot of ads in CMP’s trade publications, where Susan was heading up marketing for one of their flagship titles. Apparently she liked our our work, because we were soon invited to join their agency roster.

When the Internet arrived, I saw an opportunity for a new agency model. I teamed with an outstanding digital designer and genius kid programmer to start web consultancy AdScience. We built and promoted websites for B2B and consumer clients, our flagship being the Microsoft Windows CE business. I learned the power of trading creative concepts for business referrals—a partnership model that we employed with a leading public relations firm and a popular technology conference to produce a steady flow of desirable clients.

Along the way, the AdScience team created and marketed a product innovation of our own. Forrester Research described our ‘wikis on workflow’ software as “moving the goalposts for business process management vendors,” and Gartner named us a “cool vendor in the high performance workspace.” We licensed it to a leading enterprise software firm and other B2B firms for integration in their branded products.

I credit these experiences for polishing my storytelling skills, and giving me the insight to orchestrate effective storytelling strategies within client market ecosystems.

Prospects are convinced of a vendor’s expertise by their ability to make complex topics understandable.

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