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Bill Braun in the soundproof speaker testing room at Kicker Audio.

Living loud: The business behind selling speakers

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Media Contact: Stephen Howard | Manager of Communications | 405-744-4363 |

Speakers are a work of science; a product of engineering that produces art. To Bill Braun, marketing speakers in the digital space is the same way, only the sound produced is that of a cash register ringing.

The Bethel, Connecticut, native is the copywriter, social media coordinator and all-around digital sales guru for Kicker Audio, a Stillwater-based company that is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-performance audio gear. Braun’s mission is to market Kicker in the best way possible, and he’s on a quest to prove that his efforts directly lead to that “cha-ching” sound. The MBA program at Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business is helping him do just that.

“Social media is an engagement engine,” Braun said. “Its job is to get somebody to do a thing — fill out a form, go visit a website, go buy a product — but you can't quantify the results without the requisite education. I’ve figured out some things on my own, but from a more advanced standpoint, I didn’t have the answers I really needed to influence the upper management of my company. 

“I didn't understand finance. I didn't understand economics. I didn't understand statistics well enough to create the story that I needed, to say that social media is affecting our business in this way. That math exists. I want to understand what it is and I want to be able to use it. I want my answers, and I want my higher-ups to understand those answers.” 

Braun has been living the loud life for as long as he can remember. Whether he was selling speaker systems in Raleigh, North Carolina; working on a Hollywood sound stage; or executing a digital ad campaign to market the latest acoustical wonder, Braun’s entire adult life has revolved around audio.

Prior to arriving in Stillwater, Braun was an audio mixer and sound editor in film and television in California. He worked on a number of notable projects, including multiple MTV reality shows and the ESPN 30-For-30 film "The Marinovich Project," which was nominated for multiple Emmy Awards for film editing and as the outstanding sports documentary of 2011.

All the while, Braun kept his finger on the pulse of the audio manufacturing world by writing for publications like Performance Audio and Sound Magazine (PASMAG) and Mobile Electronics Magazine. That helped him build connections inside the industry, which proved helpful when it was time to write a story on Kicker’s director of global marketing, Kevin Campbell. That story sparked a friendship, which then sparked a job offer.

“Bill is the real deal,” said Campbell, who retired from Kicker in 2022. “He brings a deep, thorough and natural passion for audio. That’s something that sets him apart in what he does every day. I remember telling our founder and CEO, Steve Irby, that I really needed to bring this guy on board. I knew immediately that his greatest contribution would be in advancing our brand in social media. He dove right in and took it by storm. He learned on the fly and over the last few years he’s helped advance our brand as much as anyone. He just has that skill.”

The back-end electronics inside Kicker Audio's Ford Bronco.
The back of Kicker Audio's competition Ford Bronco is full of electronics that power the 36,000 watt speaker system.

Braun’s skill has helped Kicker grow its social media following from 140,000 when he arrived in 2014 to over 800,000 across all platforms. He also helped cement their philosophy of marketing Kicker’s retail partners in addition to marketing their own products, because happy retailers are motivated retailers.

Campbell says that Braun lives by the philosophy that sales and marketing are uniquely tied together. Kicker may have the best subwoofers in the world, but that doesn’t automatically mean the customer is going to purchase them. It takes cohesive and exciting marketing efforts to move the products. 

Kicker has always maintained a strong presence at industry trade shows, but all of that came to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic. Braun and Campbell jumped into action and took Kicker directly to audiophiles with a YouTube show called "Kicker Unmasked," which still airs twice a month to showcase the latest innovations from Stillwater Designs. Thousands tune in during every episode. Braun sets the agenda and serves as the catalyst for the online conversations during the shows.  

It’s not just social media where Braun has excelled. He’s maximized Kicker’s search engine capabilities with Google Ads that drive thousands to their website every week. He then mines that data for insights into further curating their website and social media strategies. 

Campbell said that from the beginning Braun has been sensitive to the reality that all marketers face — if you don’t make the cash register ring, you’re done. He understands that CEOs and VPs of sales are focused on the bottom line, but it’s the goal of marketing to excite consumers into bringing the products home. 

Braun has taught himself enough to be dangerous, but he’s ready for his MBA from OSU to give him the full picture of how to quantify his efforts to the C-suite. 

“I believe that we are what we choose to make ourselves, by and large,” Braun said. “I believe I can learn more by pushing myself, and part of that is why I'm going to school. The MBA has a certain professional connotation, but that isn’t really what I'm after. I care far more about the education that results from it.”

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