How To Avoid Burnout & Thrive In Marketing with Lynne McNamee & Kage Spatz

Marketing Strategy Series by

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Lynne McNamee Marketing Expert

This global service and networking organization is changing communities around the world by uniting people with different skills and resources to address

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 Lynne McNamee.

Lynne McNamee has been a professional in the marketing field for 20 years and is the founder and President of Lone Armadillo Marketing Agency. Having directed the Avis Rent A Car®, Hewlett-Packard Company, and Bank of America® accounts (among others) at Dryden Partners, Lynne has deep experience in both strategy and execution for Fortune 50 clients. She holds a B.A. from The University of Virginia and an M.A. from Boston College. Lynne has a special affinity for the Learning, Talent and Human Capital Management industries and has been a presenter and panelist for The Elearning Guild, TLDChat and ATD International Conference.

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

Before I got into marketing, I once applied for a job for a “web press manager” thinking it was for managing a website…not a full-size web press, like for newspaper production. I expect my cover letter is still posted in the lunchroom for laughs!

Once working in the marketing field, I wish I could say I laughed at my mistakes. I took ownership, alerted my bosses, and proposed solutions. Because I beat myself up so much, no one else had to.

I vividly remember doing a press check early in my career and the quality seemed sub-par, but there was a deadline. I approved the run with reservations …but called my boss at home over a holiday weekend to share that I was unsure if I made the right decision. He calmly said I’d made the wrong choice — quality always over deadlines but that I did the right thing by calling him.

Lesson: never try to hide mistakes. Give people a chance to fix them. Even better — suggest an option of how you will fix it and how you’ll prevent that mistake from happening again.

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?

A few weeks into my first job at a marketing agency, I had started creating tracking sheets and proactively providing status updates on a huge project with a lot of deliverables. That effort to improve not only project management but also internal communication was very well received. Later, I applied that to providing reference binders to clients, which were adopted throughout the agency.

It seems like creativity should be the hallmark of success in marketing. However, learning to understand and anticipate how people think internally, not just the end audience, improves the performance of the team and the marketing campaign.

Also, by looking ahead to how people would look back, made reporting easier.

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

Have technology-free days and turn off your phone in the evening. I think few departments are so heavily involved in technology and “shiny objects” as marketing. There are new apps and software emerging daily of which we’re expected to be experts. There are new approaches on social media platforms, plus changes to the “rules” which can undercut previously successful efforts or change initiatives in the works. If you don’t step away, it is easy to lose perspective and to feel overwhelmed.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?

While working with the CEO of one company, he kept asking for the “marketing plan,” but we finally figured out he wanted the marketing “strategy.” The difference in the use of terms had led to some frustration on both our parts. It was a good reminder of how important alignment of terminology and expectations are.

This same CEO was a good communicator about the Corporate Learning industry and trying metrics back to the business objectives. While I had previously taught about tying marketing (all industries) back to the sales metrics, he hammered home that the sales metrics needed to align with the business objectives, which was valuable to me.

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

With the passing of GDPR, I’ll admit I went through a bit of an existential crisis. I love data and how it can help us provide a better UX. However, that isn’t the motivation or practice for too many organizations.

For my clients, we stopped email marketing (really — no one wants those emails anyway) and rose to the challenge to create better content.

So where are things going? Ultimately, when we also add in economic downturns and generations not as interested in amassing “stuff,” I think empowering people to make self-directed decisions by educating them via inbound marketing will continue to grow. Consistency of message and experience will be more and more important.

There has been a shift to experiences even prior to COVID-19, and I think will only increase. Marketing will play a significant role IF we keep ourselves relevant by connecting what we do to actual sales and business objectives, not just marketing metrics.

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

  1. No, you will not get to do a Superbowl commercial. I think many of us have that sort of in the back of our heads as the goal of what we hope we’ll get to do. Alas, few do and marketing is WAY bigger than tv commercials. The other stuff can be really fun, too.
  2. You don’t have to be able to draw to work in marketing I didn’t even pursue a career in marketing until later because I assumed you had to be able to draw. However, when I’d read the job description for an Account Executive for a marketing agency, it was written exactly for me. Once inside that world, other roles became apparent, too.
  3. You will give up weekends for the rest of your life. Marketing is about responding quickly, at least many areas of marketing. It’s hard to walk away, and many situations do have hard deadlines. Furthermore, if you think like a marketer, you can’t turn it off anywhere.
  4. The parts of the job you love the most will move into entirely separate disciplines. What was a point of differentiation early on in my career, and the parts I love most about marketing are now basically two separate professions: User Experience and Customer Experience. Marketing, when I started, was about getting into the mind and shoes of other people and understanding how they thought about themselves, their surroundings, and later, our brand, products and services. Now, UX and CX have been moved out of marketing and I confess I’m struggling with what’s been left behind. (see next point).
  5. The lines among marketing, advertising, and public relations will blur and they will devolve into one mess. When I started, Advertising was “Hey, we exist!”, Marketing was building a relationship (listening and responding) and Public Relations (3rd party endorsement/ opinion). Now, they’ve all devolved into advertising, it seems, pushing an objective of selling something. Reviews, influencers, email marketing, social media posts…the listening is minimal, replaced by a lot of “spitting” as I call it.

With Lifetime Value of Customer as my favorite metric, I’m interested in building trust and truly helping solve someone’s problem, whether that’s with our solution or someone else’s. B2B still has some of that, but even there, it’s getting pushed out by frequency.

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

Gary Vee is always a good choice (sorry for the language) — he’s everywhere. Marketing Drive is an e-newsletter I read regularly. The HubSpot blog is an excellent source for curated content of what’s working and how to do it. Separately, watching what’s trending on YouTube is a good way to keep a pulse on what’s evolving in my local area. There are so many aspects to marketing, and I’m a generalist and strategist, that the tactical details aren’t as critical to keep up with at this stage, like industry trends, plus economic and political trends.

Following certain thought leaders on LinkedIn AND reading the comments is a great way to stay connected with trends and the adoption of those trends.

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?

The movement exists — Rotary! This global service and networking organization are changing communities around the world by uniting people with different skills and resources to address: child and maternal health; water, sanitation and hygiene; literacy; disease eradication and prevention; economic development; peace and conflict resolution and supporting the environment. Join an existing club or start a new one! For high school, college, and professional age adults, this diverse and inclusive organization is looking for you (contact me if you are interested)!

How can our readers follow you online?

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

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