It’s not enough to be physically away — you need to be mentally away as well to recharge.
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 Nicole Weber.
Nicole is the founder of Spot Color and Nug Digital Marketing. She has worked professionally as a graphic designer, art director, and creative director since 2001. Her passion is leading the studio in shaping effective and powerful experiences that focus on increasing our clients’ market share.
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? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
This is not a funny story, but it was the biggest “almost” marketing mistake that I made close to 20 years ago: Our client was going on TV to pitch her new products, we had been working for months on the campaigns and most importantly, a new eCommerce website and special landing page with a discount for the TV launch. I was speaking with our client at 6am and finalizing some details, I mentioned that I was excited about tomorrow’s launch…and she said, “Tomorrow? Oh no…I’m going on TV this morning in two hours!!” ARRGH! Thank goodness the site was done, but we never worked so fast and furious turning it on…talk about stress! Lots of lessons there…double, triple check deadlines! My motto since then is “being early is being on time”.
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?
I went through the dot com boom and bust. During the “bust”, my title was Web Graphic Designer, which basically meant that I did all the graphic design for print and for the web. However, when 70 people got let go from the company in one day, including our website developer, I got to keep my job with four others because they thought I could build websites! The exec team requested a brand new website to be delivered in four days. I stayed up for three nights straight learning HTML and I pulled it off! From the next two years, I was the company web developer. I learned a new skill but also learned a lot about myself and my capabilities. When I started my own business a few years later, website design and development was and still is, a key focus.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?
Growing up, I was known as the “artist of the class”. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in art, but I didn’t want to be the typical starving artist…trying to hock my wares. My uncle, Estin, was a “commercial artist”…this was in the late 80’s. I had no idea what that meant, or what he did, but I knew he did something creative, and he always drove a nice car, had nice clothes, and a great house! He mentored me, helped me select a college, and gave me a list of agencies to call once I graduated. If it weren’t for him, I have no idea what direction I would have gone. Creating designs and campaigns to help others grow their businesses is extremely satisfying and fun.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Work/Life balance is crucial. It’s often repeated, but since we need to be responsive to clients/co-workers it can be especially hard to unplug. With the “away” messages on your phone and email pointing to colleagues who can handle client or company needs, avoid the temptation to keep looking at your phone or device. Put your ego aside that says you’re the only one who can handle things. And it’s not enough to be physically away — you need to be mentally away as well to recharge. Especially in a creative field — this type of recharging is essential in order for you to stay mentally alert. You may also be surprised by the organic ideas you generate just by being in a new environment.
This is so important…as a business owner you have a bazillion other things to worry about and keep you up at night too! I discovered early on that in order for our business to succeed, I needed to hire creative talent that was on par or better than me…letting the ego go for sure! Having junior folks meant that I constantly had to check their work and often redo it to meet my standards. It was a huge time suck, not efficient, and really stressful.
Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?
We are already seeing more organic integration of brands into experiences. I thought the Taco Bell pop up hotel in Palm Springs was a great example of this. They really brought the brand to life with a real-world experience and got a lot of free press and exposure for it as well.
What 6 things do you wish someone told you before you started?
- Pressure to perform: In school we had 3 weeks to complete a project, in the agency world sometimes we have three hours and it better be good and make the client lots of money too!
- Servant mentality, always having a client to answer to. If you don’t have thick skin, you won’t last in the agency world. Put the ego away, it’s all about your client’s target audience, marketing to them, and still making the client happy too. We are here to serve.
- Personal obligation. As an agency owner, the buck stops at you. Most of our clients turn into friends, which is great, but it also increases that personal obligation to do 100% all the time.
- Take some business classes: It would have been nice if I had taken some business classes in school. I have had to take classes and learn a lot on my own throughout the years….you don’t just wake up and know how to run a business!
- Ideas waking you up in the middle of the night: This is a funny one…the creative mind never stops!
- Having employees is like teaching kindergarten without the nap! Over 20 years running an agency, I have seen it all when it comes to employees and contractors…oh my, I could write a book!
One more question: What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
- Marketing Groups in LinkedIn
- Neil Patel
- Mike Michalowicz
This list could be a mile long, I am an avid learner and take several classes each month, I hire coaches, belong to marketing groups, masterminds, and read all things marketing, business, and leadership related.
Thank you so much for sharing these fantastic insights!