Scott Reitzel of Modera: “Find things you’re not great at or even intimidated by and push yourself to learn”

You should be able to think critically about the subject Always ask why even if the answer seems clear Find things you’re not great at or even intimidated by and push yourself to learn Find a mentor Be comfortable with the unknown Marketing a product or service today is easier than ever before in history. […]

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You should be able to think critically about the subject Always ask why even if the answer seems clear Find things you’re not great at or even intimidated by and push yourself to learn Find a mentor Be comfortable with the unknown

Marketing a product or service today is easier than ever before in history. Using platforms like Facebook ads or Google ads, a company can market their product directly to people who perfectly fit the ideal client demographic, at a very low cost. Digital Marketing tools, Pay per Click ads, and email marketing can help a company dramatically increase sales. At the same time, many companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools often see disappointing results.

In this interview series called “How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales”, we are talking to marketers, advertisers, brand consultants, & digital marketing gurus who can share practical ideas from their experience about how to effectively leverage the power of digital marketing, PPC, & email.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Reitzel.

Scott Reitzel is the Sr. Director of Digital Marketing at Modera, Inc. With over fifteen years of experience in the digital marketing and communications field, Reitzel’s expertise includes driving strategic development and implementation of brand and reputation campaigns across the Fortune and FTSE 100. Retizel was recognized as Washington, DC’s 50 on Fire for his work on BP’s corporate responsibility rebrand and has been a featured speaker at SXSW in Austin, Texas as well as the annual Netbase Live Conference around the country.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I got my start as a junior analyst at a research firm in Chicago. After a couple of years in that role I decided to seek out a job in DC where I could focus on reputation based issues and campaigns. By some stroke of luck I was able to land a job at one of the premier reputation management firms in DC and that set me off on a path into the digital world.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

This isn’t specific to marketing, but there was definitely a “reply all” email that shouldn’t have been. That’s probably the maximum junior embarrassment. Now I draft all of my emails before even including recipients.

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

My very first boss, his name is Andy. I was working a warehouse job at night during my high school senior year and Andy was the owner of the company. My job duties were quite literally just to move orders around and to keep the warehouse clean, but Andy knew I was interested in branding and would let me play around with designs and concepts in my down time. I come from a small town in North Carolina where you either don’t get out or you think you have to become a doctor or lawyer. Andy was the first person to show me that there were other things I could want to be.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

There are a couple things that make Modera, Inc. stand out in my mind. We’re not the largest firm, but with that comes agility and the opportunity to react quickly. We all talk to each of the other team members at least once a day and I think that tight knit mentality helps us solve problems quickly. I also think leading with insight makes us a powerful team. We don’t just turn out recommendations or deliverables individually. We push our clients to think at a macro level first and then dive into how each thing we do will affect that outcome. We guide with insights, not just data, which I think is where some falter. There are a lot of great tools out there that will produce nice looking reports, but putting insights in front of that is crucial.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Persistence, curiosity and being comfortable with being wrong. Sometimes pushing a client in the right direction comes down to the practice of patience and being persistent — especially when they have done something differently for a long time. We see this a lot in digital marketing as companies try to stay relevant and evolve.

Stay curious. Someone very wise once told me that I’d never learn anything from putting myself in situations where everything acted or thought the same way as me. In life just as much, maybe more, as work I think just wanting to know more about anything will lead you in so many different interesting directions and give you ways of seeing the world and people around you that it’s impossible for that not to affect the way you approach something like marketing.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Modera, Inc. has long been an innovator in healthcare marketing and we’re consistently working with clients in this field to think creatively about topics and issues. This year our work was recognized by GDUSA’s 2021 Health + Wellness Design Awards for multilingual broadcast advertisements targeting Medicare consumers. This achievement is part of broader multicultural and multichannel marketing efforts that include producing a variety of language-specific print and digital materials to serve underrepresented communities and that are essential for getting the 65+ age demographic connected to the health and services they need. Our work aims to be part of a future-forward vision of healthcare marketing that breaks down language barriers and cultural obstacles in the dissemination of information. I’m proud of the role our work can play in continuing to make healthcare accessible.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. As we mentioned in the beginning, sometimes companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools like PPC campaigns often see disappointing results. In your opinion, what are a few of the biggest mistakes companies make when they first start out with digital marketing? If you can, please share an example for each.

I’ll bring it back to insights. There are so many tools out there today that claim to offer ‘’the best’’ of some kind of service and some of them certainly are the best, but a problem I find is that companies will buy these tools with no real plan or understanding of how different tools can complement each other.

For example, I’ve experienced first hand an instance where a company purchased a tool solely based on a personal relationship that one of the executives had with the vendor. The digital team was then told to make use of the tool and get its offering in front of clients, but the tool had almost no practical use for the current client needs. Now, to be clear, the agency world runs on relationships and I don’t have an issue with that part, but I would encourage companies to think critically about how data streams work together to complement each other and allow your team to build insightful recommendations instead of just being persuaded by nice looking reports or dashboards.

If you could break down a very successful digital marketing campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like? Please share some stories or examples of your ideas.

I’m going to combine this question and the next one together because the short answer is that there is no single template for a successful campaign. Perhaps this is unpopular advice, but if you’re a client and an agency tells you that then I think they are doing you a disservice. There are templated processes that can be used, for example, to map out content needs or research keyword opportunities, but generally client cases vary so much that there is no one formula for success. Even for a singular campaign we’ll often pivot multiple times within a flight to stay current with where the target audience is and how they want to be served with content. It’s the same with PPC — it’s ok to make a hypothesis based on what you know historically, but if you’re thinking with a channel-first mindset then you’re completely disregarding the research aspect of finding where your target is looking for content.

Let’s now talk about email marketing for a bit. In your opinion, what are the 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful email marketing campaign that increases sales?

In my opinion it’s all about understanding where your audience is in the journey and what stage you’re serving them at. For example, are you serving a list of previous customers, are these new signups that you got from an event or is it a purchased list? It’s all about knowing where they are in the conversion funnel and understanding what they seek from you. Each of those audiences above are at a different stage when it comes to knowing your brand and you have to be keen on that first. So, at a general level, I would say the three aspects are:

  1. Audience insight
  2. Strong headlines
  3. Powerful call to action

What are the other digital marketing tools that you are passionate about? If you can, can you share with our readers what they are and how to best leverage them?

Rather than one thing that I am passionate about, it is important to me that I look for tools that combine data sources in the best way possible and that will make information clean and understandable for clients so we can bring them actionable directives.

Here is the main question of our series. Can you please tell us the 5 things you need to create a highly successful career as a digital marketer? Can you please share a story or example for each?

I used to think that I needed a certain combination of things to be successful, but as I’ve grown into the role that runs a team, what I’ve come to want the most is for each person to have their own set of traits that can give them success within our team. So, this is a bit existential, but it really comes down to finding what you’re most effective at and then finding a place that allows you to lead with those traits. At Modera, we don’t work with a typical hierarchy mindset, meaning everyone on the team has an opportunity to be a leader or subject matter expert on something.

However, no matter what your focus is, I would say that:

  1. You should be able to think critically about the subject
  2. Always ask why even if the answer seems clear
  3. Find things you’re not great at or even intimidated by and push yourself to learn
  4. Find a mentor
  5. Be comfortable with the unknown

It’s ok to feel like you’re making it up. The reason clients come to us is because we’re the best at making it up — that’s the point of marketing. We’re always looking for new ways to find our audience and if you’re asking questions or trying things that you can’t find answers to out there then that usually means you’re doing something new or unique.

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

The Tim Ferriss Show is a podcast that I listen to frequently. Books that have been impactful for me are Zero to One by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel and Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom. I like to look for general books on business that ask larger questions, so I can see how I can look at my craft and how I fit into those larger questions.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Well, I’m not sure I’m the proper person to be starting any sort of movement, but I am most interested in the human condition and the opportunity to see things from different perspectives. I think I would be interested in something like a podcast (how hipster millennial of me!) that connects people who have societal differences and lets people hear the experience of them learning about each other, which I think is powerful in itself. If we encourage curiosity, most of the rest will fall into place.

How can our readers further follow your work?

I encourage readers to visit moderainc.com for more information on the agency and to follow the innovative work we’re doing.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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