What is your professional background?
To me, marketing is a spectrum between art and science. On the science side, there are the left brain qualities of analysis, logic, and reason. On the art side, there are the right brain qualities of creativity, intuition, and risk-taking. I believe that any good marketer should be good at both.
At school, I was committed to the science side. My master’s degree was heavily geared towards marketing analytics and my first few internships were in analytics, the coolest of which was a role in helping run the numbers for Nick Saban and the University of Alabama football team. I pursued management consulting for a while, focusing entirely on data-driven CPG and retail marketing projects. It’s safe to say by the time I graduated I had dealt with plenty of numbers.
I wanted a break from the numbers after school, and since I had spent so much time learning the science behind marketing, I wanted to get experience on the art side. In comes one of the most iconic pieces of marketing art in history, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. I was able to cut the mustard from a pool of 4,000 applicants for the opportunity of the lifetime to pilot the Wienermobile across the USA, with the sole purpose of making people smile (and catching headlines along the way). After talking to hundreds of thousands of Oscar Mayer fans across the country, this role changed my perspective on what it means to truly understand the consumer, and I apply the lifelong learnings of this role to my strategy work at SRW every day.
What does your job as a strategist involve doing, generally speaking?
In the strategist role, I feel like I am now truly at the center of the marketing spectrum. I am the middle man between science and art, doing research on my clients’ consumers and then giving SRW’s creative team direction on their artistic executions based on that research. Sometimes it’s complex, like digging into the psychology behind how different colors influence people’s emotions to give advice on a brand’s visual design, and sometimes it’s as simple as determining whether it’ll be more successful to put up a brand’s Instagram post on Thursday or on Friday.
At the end of the day, I aim to understand a brand’s consumers better than the brand itself so that I can be a valuable source of advice to them when they are making advertising decisions.
What does a typical day in the life of a strategist look like?
First things first, I gotta warm up the pipes and bust a move. If I haven’t had a singing and dancing session in the shower before my first meeting, it’s gonna be a bad day.
Once I’ve gotten my energy up for the day I log on and see what the folks in the later timezones have been up to while I caught that sweet sweet extra hour of snoozing on Mountain Time. Most of SRW’s hooligans are in Chicago, but one of the coolest perks about working at SRW is you can work from anywhere. I typically work from home, which is great because I can listen to tunes all day, set up my workspace how I want it, and do what I gotta do to focus.
Once I’m in the zone, my day usually consists of digging into research to inspire our creative magicians on their campaigns, planning out social media content executions, and evaluating the success of our campaigns to see how we can be constantly improving. It’s a lot of time with my thinking cap on, which I love.
What do you enjoy most about being a strategist at SRW?
The answer to any question about “what do I enjoy most about ____ at SRW” is always going to be the same – it’s the people. I feel like I’m on an Olympic 4×4 team in every campaign and am getting passed the baton by all-stars from each of our teams.
From our methodical project managers who keep me focused on the right priorities, to the creatives that take my insights and make marvelous marketing magic, to the media team that chooses who to share that magic with, and to the account team that liaises with the clients along the way, SRW is stuffed full of talent at every corner.
Is there anything about being a strategist specifically at SRW that is unique?
Working with healthy brands! SRW focuses on the better-for-you food space and I don’t feel like a sleazy con man when the products I am advertising are genuinely beneficial for people’s lives. I even get to work on some “food as medicine” brands, such as an amino acids drink that helps fight chemo side effects. If that’s not cool I don’t know what is.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Boiling all of my research down to one sentence. As a strategist, my main objective is to take all of the research I’ve done and get it across to the creative team in the most concise yet exhaustive way possible.
What career advice would you give someone considering becoming a strategist?
Find something you love that can teach you about strategy in an enjoyable way. For me, that was sports. During college, I got really immersed in sports analytics and it was so rewarding because I felt like I was furthering my career and having fun at the same time.
What’s one thing (or more) you wish people understood about being a strategist? What do people often get wrong about strategists?
Sometimes you have to trust your gut. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about the data, and 99% of the time I let the data lead my decision-making as a strategist. But there are times that you get a gut feeling that an idea is worth chasing, and if you don’t chase those ideas, you won’t have any fun. An idea is only as good as the work you put into it, so if there’s something you’re super passionate about and it’ll be effortless to pour hours into improving it, it’s probably worth a shot.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Sometimes life Scooby Dooby Doo be good to you and sometimes it Scooby Dooby Don’t. Focus on the Doo.
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