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How To Avoid Burnout & Thrive In Marketing with Kent Lewis & Kage Spatz

Marketing Strategy Series by Spacetwin

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Kent Lewis Marketing Expert

I believe the future of marketing is for brands to be exceedingly transparent about business (from sourcing and manufacturing to distribution and packaging) and marketing practices (targeting, data collection, and usage). I also believe that brands will need to demonstrate care for their employees, customers, communities, and the environment to succeed in the future, as Gen Y & Z will only buy from socially and ethically responsible brands.

As a part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with my fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Kent Lewis.

Lewis started his digital marketing career in 1996. He’s founded or co-founded six businesses, including Anvil Media in 2000, where he oversees the strategic direction of the agency. He speaks and writes internationally and is an adjunct professor at PSU. Last year, BuzzSumo named Lewis a Top 100 Digital Marketing Influencer.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?

As a PR intern at a Portland-based agency, I pitched a story to the Wall Street Journal on behalf of a technology client. Unfortunately, I wasn’t supposed to share the news, as it was still under embargo. Once my client determined it would be prudent to follow-through with the significant opportunity, WSJ balked due to the delays and mixed messages and the opportunity was lost. Not as funny at the time, as it nearly cost me my job, but I laugh at it in retrospect.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

My career pivoted into digital when I was asked to do PR for a sister web development agency in 1995 and a few months later, was asked to move over to that firm as Marketing Manager. It opened doors for me, as I was knee-deep in web marketing in 1996, able to ride the digital wave. My first lesson was to take opportunities as they arise, both following your gut and double-checking against industry and market trends. The second pivot happened a month or so into my new job, when the Creative Director asked me to “Look into meta tags.” Once I learned the potential to rank websites based on keywords dropped into tags, my career took off. My second lesson was to listen to more experienced marketers and research every opportunity to grow your career and help clients.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

I recommend marketers take three steps to avoid burnout.

  1. Take care of your health by eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep.
  2. Read to learn, grow, and get inspired. With so many professionals locked down, there is more useful content being created than ever, which creates more learning opportunities.
  3. Share. Write a blog post, article, or record a webinar or podcast to share your most valuable insights to inspire others and energize yourself.

Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?

I believe the future of marketing is for brands to be exceedingly transparent about business (from sourcing and manufacturing to distribution and packaging) and marketing practices (targeting, data collection, and usage). I also believe that brands will need to demonstrate care for their employees, customers, communities, and the environment to succeed in the future, as Gen Y & Z will only buy from socially and ethically responsible brands.

Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started?

  1. Stay close to the money. My uncle gave this advice as I left college, but I didn’t understand how to apply it as a PR professional until I transitioned to digital marketing and I was able to measure the ROI on my efforts easily and effectively.
  2. Inspect, do not expect. I was given this advice by a mentee many years ago, as I vented frustration at the lackluster performance of my team. He reminded me it’s better to inspect the team’s performance than blindly expect it without the proper metrics in place.
  3. Own the outcomes. As an agency owner since 2000, I’ve often vented frustration at client and team decisions or behaviors yet failed to own my actions and obligations in those relationships. Leaning into and owning my role has been extremely helpful in softening if not resolving issues.
  4. Lend a hand. One powerful lesson I’ve learned from effective managers I’ve admired over the years is the concept of servitude. One manager I worked with regularly asked his coworkers two simple questions: How are you doing? And How can I help? I’ve learned empathy is a powerful connective tissue for managers and leaders.
  5. Actions speak louder than words. During this trying time, I’ve found employees and clients greatly appreciate taking swift, decisive action. While I’ve written about racial injustice, Anvil also took on a charity of choice, Urban League of Portland, to help eliminate racial segregation and discrimination and helping African Americans and other minorities to participate in all phases of American life.

What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin (his books, blog, and other materials). I also rely heavily on research-based daily newsletters like eMarketer and MarketingCharts for the latest trends. I listen to a handful of podcasts and have recently launched my second foray with Podcast for Closers, which talks about the influence of sales and marketing on modern society.

As a professional marketer, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

If I were to inspire a movement, it would be for everyone to give back to their local community, as all boats rise with the tide and lifted local communities can positively impact at a regional, state, and national level. We used to have a Give 5 campaign in Portland that encouraged citizens to give 5 percent of their time and money to local causes. There are similar campaigns at a national level, including in Canada, but I think we should bring it back to the local level. Now is the best possible time to think about others.

How can our readers follow you online?

Please follow me on Twitter at @KentjLewis and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

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