How To Avoid Burnout & Thrive In Marketing with Rick Kenney & Kage Spatz

Marketing Strategy Series by

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Rick Kenney Marketing Expert

Pull people in, close. Amplify their voice and help solve their challenges.

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 Rick Kenney.

Rick Kenney is Vice President of Industry Strategy at Zaius and a thought leader on data-driven retail trends. Previously, Rick was Head of Consumer Insights at Salesforce where he spearheaded the Salesforce Shopping Index and pioneered Demandware’s benchmarking practice. Rick also led segmentation strategy while running a portfolio of enterprise retail and media client engagements while at e-Dialog (acquired by GSI Commerce). Rick holds dual BS degrees from Boston College and an MBA from Babson College.

Thank you for doing this! 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?

The mistakes and misfires certainly stand out. Once, I remember sending a blank email to thousands of customers. But I look back fondly on the support from the team around me and above me at the time, and how they helped me cope. That was meaningful to me. And of course, our engineering team added a new feature in the product that would prevent my error from happening again. I think that is an excellent example of how to learn from your mistakes.

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

I believe we all have our own product. For instance, the developer owns the code, sales owns the pipeline. For me, creating ‘products’ in marketing is what energizes me. My first ‘product’ was a simple segmentation framework for a client. I was given one slide to deliver it within a much larger presentation. I poured over every pixel of that PowerPoint slide (and had probably far too many builds). We improved on it the next time and started to build engagements around it. The best feeling was when a colleague brought it to one of her clients (and made it MUCH better) and shared her story with me. Creating that product was a big milestone for me, and has led me to create more.

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

The pace of marketing is second to none. I find the hardest part is making the right time for deep work — the chunks of time when we have the opportunity to create new things, like content or even deeper analysis. I’m at my worst when I try to shoehorn that into small windows of time — that only drives frustration and anxiety. Finding the right time — for me, it is at the edges of the day — produces a better output and less stress.

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

The path to marketing success is paved by relevance. We have seen it in direct mail, email marketing, sem, and social to name just a few. The need to create intimacy between your brand and the shopper is true across channels and even generations, and will absolutely be the constant. We’ll use more and better approaches to get there, but finding that intimacy, which relevance delivers, is now and then.

Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started? Can you please share a story or example for each.

One overarching theme for me from over the years is ‘extension.’

  • “Extend yourself to support those around you.” We are conduits in marketing when we help our colleagues in customer success and sales, we will also benefit from a deeper engagement with customers. We run a scrum meeting that simply gives a voice to our success team to share their incredible work with their customers, and it is massively beneficial to us.
  • “Extend the enterprise.” We recently launched a networking series called the unPanel and pulled in a few of our partners. We managed the logistics and funded the series while providing equal billing during each event to our partners. The series has been one of our most successful — we have met new customers and contacts and developed much stronger bonds with fellow technology and service providers.
  • “Extend opportunities” I remember when I was first offered a speaking slot at a trade show. At the time, I was in an internal consulting role, and a leader on the marketing team offered me the spot. I was so grateful and excited to participate. Now, I try to pay that opportunity forward whenever possible — and have found that in marketing, we hold so many opportunities that our colleagues can provide value into and will enjoy participating in.

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

There are so many great business books, podcasts, and the like. I find the most value is balancing those with some lifestyle-focused media — Finding Fred was a great podcast to help me slow down. And, creating playlists for myself to get away from business and decompress and just listen to a few minutes of good music has been a massive help. Some folks love mindfulness- for me, I try and get two yoga classes per week just to get out of my head. For me, the non-business focus has given me more presence when I am in work settings.

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?

Pull people in, close. Amplify their voice and help solve their challenges.

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

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