Audiences don’t want to be sold to, they want to be inspired, to feel connected, to be heard and the best way marketers are going to be able to that is not through the products they sell but through the stories they tell.
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 or career. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Maria Juan.
Maria Juan is Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Peerfit, the market leader in connecting employers and carriers with innovative fitness experiences. Maria, along with the Peerfit marketing team, develops strategies and campaigns to reach incoming and current users and prospects through a variety of strategies while continuing to build the Peerfit brand on a national scale. With a background in the performing arts, she uses this unique perspective and creative skillset to help develop brands and marketing personalities.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! 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?
During the early days of Peerfit, right after I gave birth to my first child, I had taken a short maternity leave and was ready to get back to work. We were still a small company then, only about 12–15 employees, but I could see the long-term potential. At the time, my title was “Marketing Strategist” and I was working hourly on various ad hoc projects. I remember setting a meeting with our CEO, Ed Buckley, about all the agenda items I wanted to go over. I had over 20 items to cover and only a half-hour to get through it all. We ran through everything as quickly as possible and established our takeaways and at the end of the conversation, I said “Listen, I want to be the head of Peerfit’s marketing department.” And without hesitation, Ed said “Great. Pick a title. Let’s get to work.”
Takeaway: Don’t ask for what you want, state it. By asking, you open the door for questions, by stating it, you’ve already answered you want it, so you’re already committed.
Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?
Back to the golden days of storytelling. I am a huge fan of the TV series Mad Men and I think about how intricate the strategy sessions would be. It was always about coming up with the line or the visual and always asking so what at the end. Audiences don’t want to be sold to, they want to be inspired, to feel connected, to be heard and the best way marketers are going to be able to that is not through the products they sell but through the stories they tell.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Stop and smell the flowers…literally. Read the damn book. Take PTO. Let your children interrupt your day. I can remember times when I would sit at my home office at 8 am and not get up until 5 pm without a break. We can’t do that. We need to replenish ourselves regularly and that’s when the creative juices continue to flow. If you are unable to stop and take breaks throughout the day because you have too much work to do then it’s time to ask for more help or start to learn how to gently say no.
Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started?
- Be a chameleon. I ended up where I am today because I was always willing to take on that one role that others didn’t want to do, or couldn’t.
- If you’re going to eat s$&!, don’t nibble. Exactly as it sounds. Go 100% or don’t go at all.
- Learn to say no. But always try to follow up with another solution. Marketers tend to wear many hats, and burnout is rampant amongst our industry. Learn to say no early on in your career, but always figure out ways to provide solutions as well.
- Figure out your end goals, and map out your journey to get there. And it’s ok if your end goals change; adjust your journeys as you go. I would have never thought I would be where I am today, starting off in the performing arts but here I am because I figured out what I wanted my end goal to be, took my own advice from #2 above and worked my way around as stated in #1.
- Don’t be afraid to change careers. And also don’t be afraid to stay where you are. There is no definitive way to have a career. I’ve been in roles for a little over a year, am now starting my 4th year at Peerfit, and turned down roles that on paper sound great but I ultimately felt like it wasn’t the right fit for me. There is always an opportunity out there for you if you are hungry and passionate.
One more before we go: What books, podcasts, documentaries, or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
I’m in the midst of reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. Great storyteller, and love seeing how his grit and passion brought about one of the top companies in the world. I would recommend this book to marketers because 1. It’s a great story and 2. So they can read the one page dedicated to how they got their logo and the few pages of how they got to the name Nike! Goes to show that you never know when paths will cross that will be meaningful and how the one idea that maybe you weren’t in love with at first, will be the idea that takes you over the finish line. At the end of the day, you have to at least try.
Thank you so much for sharing these fantastic insights!