How To Avoid Burnout & Thrive In Marketing with Sarah Montague & Kage Spatz

Marketing Strategy Series by

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Sarah Montague Marketing Expert

The power of whole-self and happiness and success can bring you and the people around you — at home, in your personal life, and in the workplace.

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 Sarah Montague.

Sarah Montague, Chief Marketing Officer of John Anthony Family of Wines, built her career in advertising agencies before finding the world of wine. Building household brands such as Kraft, Quaker, and Nike, Sarah brings a consumer focus and expertise in digital and integrated marketing to her role in the wine business. Sarah, alongside her team and partners, has created a unique marketing ecosystem that generates and captures consumer demand for the JaM Cellars brand, including Butter Chardonnay the #4 ranked chardonnay sold in the U.S. today (Nielsen Scan Data 2020).

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

Burnout can be real, especially for people that love what they do and see endless opportunities to add value. Priorities and time management are critical, and for that to work, the team needs clear lines of responsibility and accountability. Each person on the John Anthony Family of Wines marketing team has a set of metrics they are responsible for and a corresponding budget. Their responsibility is to achieve their goals and maximize value to the brands. Time is the limiting factor, so to be as successful as possible, they know I’d rather they pursued the top 20% of opportunities that bring in 80% of the results and leave some time for innovation and creativity. We don’t do anything unless we know how it adds value — that is the difference between being marketing strategists that lead the organization and being project order-takers that just check things off of a to-do list.

Great advice. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. What “3 Non-Intuitive Marketing Strategies” have been most effective for you in your industry?

1. Integrated Radio and Digital Advertising: In an industry that will spend thousands if not hundreds of thousands on print advertising in wine media, I forged a partnership with iHeartMedia. It’s been a highly effective strategy to drive efficient reach in a unique and authentic way. We avoid scripts and let the radio personalities enjoy the wines and share their stories about them over an 8-week campaign. The results are a very powerful loud-hailer of trusted personalities that love our wines.

2. Music Festival Presenting Sponsorship: Wineries have traditionally sponsored the wine category at festivals, but JaM Cellars decided five years ago to become Presenting Sponsor of BottleRock Napa Valley. The investment requires that we can generate value from the sponsorship beyond the three days of the event itself and beyond the number of cases of wine sold. The sponsorship has been our strongest activation in terms of value created from brand affinity (BottleRock is one of the fastest-growing festivals in the country with world-class performers), scale and quality of impressions generated, and content that we can leverage year-round to fuel our lifestyle entertainment conversations around wine and music.

3. In-House Marketing, Creative and Media Production: For a small team, we are highly self-sufficient and outsource very little. Where many wine brands work with agencies and freelancers to handle social media, creative, and photography and videography, JaM Cellars has a de facto in-house agency team. This upfront investment has paid dividends in the authenticity with which we can speak with consumers, the speed with which we can take our ideas to market, and our ability to integrate across the marketing ecosystem.

If you were only allowed to run paid ads on 1 platform (in your industry) over the next 12 months, what would it be and why?

Facebook integrated with Instagram offers exactly what we need in terms of art and science to create a marketing ecosystem that works well for our brands. It has the greatest versatility to optimize the “5 Levers of Marketing” that our team lives by:

  1. Targeting: We can effectively reach audiences that are receptive to our message based on our current communities (look-a-like audiences, interests, behaviors, and geo-demographics).
  2. Value Proposition: We can create a broad range of wine experiences that bring the brand to life: images, language, video, carousel, events, stories, e-commerce, and FB Live. Facebook has a great tool kit to diversify our lifestyle entertainment offering.
  3. Timing: The algorithm serves up our messages on Facebook or Instagram at the time of day, day of the week, and frequency that meets our objectives.
  4. Channel: We can connect the rest of the ecosystem to the Facebook platform seamlessly. As a quick example, after launching JaMHappyHour on Zoom, we’ve more than doubled participants and gained 20 times the reach by streaming to FB Live. We connect our newsletter and blog through Facebook as well and get a huge reach multiplier making the time spent developing content even more valuable.
  5. Call To Action: The Facebook advertising platform allows us to create content and messaging that is optimized for key outcomes, whether we are seeking reach, engagement, event attendance, or video views. Understanding the high-value tasks that our audience is looking for and what that’s worth to the brand is critical.

One more question! 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?

I believe in bringing your whole self to every facet of your life. I’m exactly the same person in the workplace as I am at home — it allows me to have empathy, come from a place of understanding, and really care about my team. There was a time earlier in my career where efficiency and maximizing output was valued over flexibility and humanity. I’ve since learned the power of whole-self and the happiness and success it can bring you and the people around you — at home, in your personal life, and in the workplace.

Thank you so much for sharing so much value with us!

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