How I Made it in Marketing

Branding Lessons from TV Production: Don't focus on failure, keep moving towards success (episode #92)

March 25, 2024 Hilary Young Season 1 Episode 92
Branding Lessons from TV Production: Don't focus on failure, keep moving towards success (episode #92)
How I Made it in Marketing
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How I Made it in Marketing
Branding Lessons from TV Production: Don't focus on failure, keep moving towards success (episode #92)
Mar 25, 2024 Season 1 Episode 92
Hilary Young

We as marketers, we’re the ones that make the brand promise to potential customers.

So it is our job to make sure our companies actually come through on that promise, are consistent with that promise. We are the defenders of the brand.

I love a lesson from my next guest – don't be afraid to say ‘no’ if it serves the brand.

Which of course sounds good in theory but can be incredibly hard in practice. To get underneath that lesson and hear the story behind it, along with many more lesson-filled stories, I sat down with Hilary Young, Brand Strategist, Hilary Young Creative (

Young runs a consultancy with six figures in revenue and seven contractors.

Stories (with lessons) about what she made in marketing

Here are some lessons from Young that emerged in our discussion.

  • Don't focus on failure, keep moving towards success
  • Don't be afraid to say ‘no’ if it serves the brand
  • Change can be scary, but you have to trust the process
  • Operate without ego
  • Integrity over compromise in brand vision
  • Branding affects more than just the bottom line, it affects people’s lives

Discussed in this episode

Here’s a prompt you can try in MECLABS AI ( It’s totally FREE to use, for now. (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa).

‘Review my competitors' value propositions [URL and URL] and let me know any opportunities for messaging exclusivity for my brand [URL]. Put the information in a table.’

NFTs For Brands: It’s OK to say no, always be a student, don’t resist change (podcast episode #26) (

Calling All Writers and Marketers: Write the most effective copy for this Consumer Reports email and win a MarketingSherpa Summit package (

The De-Branding Campaign: When customers make fun of your new product launch (podcast episode #2) (

Get more episodes

This article is distributed through the MarketingSherpa email newsletter ( Sign up for free if you’d like to get more episodes like this one.

For more insights, check out...

This podcast is not about marketing – it is about the marketer. It draws its inspiration from the Flint McGlaughlin quote, “The key to transformative marketing is a transformed marketer” from the Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages ( free digital marketing course.

Apply to be a guest
If you would like to apply to be a guest on How I Made It In Marketing, here is the podcast guest application –

Show Notes Transcript

We as marketers, we’re the ones that make the brand promise to potential customers.

So it is our job to make sure our companies actually come through on that promise, are consistent with that promise. We are the defenders of the brand.

I love a lesson from my next guest – don't be afraid to say ‘no’ if it serves the brand.

Which of course sounds good in theory but can be incredibly hard in practice. To get underneath that lesson and hear the story behind it, along with many more lesson-filled stories, I sat down with Hilary Young, Brand Strategist, Hilary Young Creative (

Young runs a consultancy with six figures in revenue and seven contractors.

Stories (with lessons) about what she made in marketing

Here are some lessons from Young that emerged in our discussion.

  • Don't focus on failure, keep moving towards success
  • Don't be afraid to say ‘no’ if it serves the brand
  • Change can be scary, but you have to trust the process
  • Operate without ego
  • Integrity over compromise in brand vision
  • Branding affects more than just the bottom line, it affects people’s lives

Discussed in this episode

Here’s a prompt you can try in MECLABS AI ( It’s totally FREE to use, for now. (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa).

‘Review my competitors' value propositions [URL and URL] and let me know any opportunities for messaging exclusivity for my brand [URL]. Put the information in a table.’

NFTs For Brands: It’s OK to say no, always be a student, don’t resist change (podcast episode #26) (

Calling All Writers and Marketers: Write the most effective copy for this Consumer Reports email and win a MarketingSherpa Summit package (

The De-Branding Campaign: When customers make fun of your new product launch (podcast episode #2) (

Get more episodes

This article is distributed through the MarketingSherpa email newsletter ( Sign up for free if you’d like to get more episodes like this one.

For more insights, check out...

This podcast is not about marketing – it is about the marketer. It draws its inspiration from the Flint McGlaughlin quote, “The key to transformative marketing is a transformed marketer” from the Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages ( free digital marketing course.

Apply to be a guest
If you would like to apply to be a guest on How I Made It In Marketing, here is the podcast guest application –

Hilary Young: You know, when you're the director of marketing, that's not easy to walk away from. And it was amazing to watch her navigate that and really, ah, the whole team was behind her, the entire team that she had built left with her. So, yeah, she's very brave.

Intro: Welcome to How I Made It in marketing from Marketing Sherpa. We scour pitches from hundreds of creative leaders and uncover specific examples, not just trending ideas or buzzword laden schmaltz, real world examples to help you transform yourself as a marketer. Now, here's your host, the senior director of Content and Marketing at Marketing Sherpa Daniel Burstein, to tell you about today's guest and.

Daniel Burstein: We as marketers, we're the ones making the brand promise to potential customers. So it is our job to make sure our companies actually come through on that promise are consistent with that promise. We are the defenders of the brand. So I love a lesson for my next guest. Don't be afraid to say no if it serves the brand, which of course sounds good in theory, but can be incredibly hard in practice.

So to get underneath that lesson and hear the story behind it, along with many more lesson filled stories, today, I'll be talking to Hilary Young, brand strategist for Hilary Young, Creative. Thanks for joining me, Hilary.

Hilary Young: I'm so happy to be here.

Daniel Burstein: All right. Let's take a quick look at your background and people know who I'm talking to. You have a long and extensive career, both entertainment and marketing, so I'm just gonna cherry pick a few roles. You were assistant to Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report. We're going to hear about that. You were senior producer of branded content at CollegeHumor.

You're communications manager at Medical Garden Guardian. And for the past nine years, you've been a brand strategist at your own consultancy Hilary Young Creative. And Hilary runs this consultancy, which she calls has six figures in revenue and seven contractors. She runs it. So what is your day like as running a consultancy and being a brand strategist?

Hilary Young: That is a great question. I would say no. Two days are the same, which is part of what I like about it. I think that's also part of what I liked about working in television. There's certainly no no way to get bored, but I do a lot of one on one work with clients, so my day is usually filled with a lot of strategy sessions.

I work with companies all over the country and actually have an international client for the first time right now. So I do a lot of Zoom sessions and then also try to plan some writing days, which are a little quieter because the back to back zooms really impact my back, I think, more than anything. But yeah, it's it's a mix of getting to interact with people on a regular basis and then also having that quiet time and space to write and create and put out great ideas for my clients.

So it's a nice mix.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. As a writer, I need that quiet time too. And you mentioned to me this was actually one of your writing days and that's why you're so open on your schedule. So thanks for letting us intrude on your writing day to have this conversation.

Hilary Young: Sure. My pleasure. Thanks for letting me procrastinate a little on my writing today.

Daniel Burstein: You know what's going to happen in this conversation? You probably were writing something before we did this. We're going to have this conversation. Idea is going to pop in your head halfway through. You're going to want me to shut up and get off, and then you're going to want to like, sit down to write. And I know that we're going to spark an idea and that's what's going to happen.

All right. Let's take a look at some lessons from the things you made. That's what we get to do as marketers. I've never been a diarist or actually anything else. I've only been a marketer, but I feel like that's kind of special in our industry. And the first thing that you made, I mean, obviously not by yourself. You were early in your career, you played a small role, was a TV show, and I think we can learn a lot from that world.

You said your lesson was don't focus on failure. Keep moving toward success. How did you learn that lesson?

Hilary Young: Okay, So I. I had been at The Daily Show my last year and caught my last summer in college. I was an intern at The Daily Show and it was an amazing experience being part of a a daily like you're creating a daily production in which I think a lot of people don't think about. But in the TV world, that's not typical unless it's late night, right?

Like usually you're creating longer form content. You have time to, you know, figure it out and then you're you're done and you're moving on to the next scene or whatever you're shooting. We had to start from scratch every day. And so when I was hired to be Stephen's assistant, I really got to see I mean, I had a front row seat to everything that happened, and we didn't always have a good shows, especially at the beginning.

I mean, watching Stephen try to find his voice and figure out this character and figure out how all of it would work, but the writers and the whole process, it was really amazing. I mean, that lesson really came from Stephen that, you know, he was the one that imparted that wisdom on me because he said, like, it didn't go well, but it's okay.

We have a chance to do it all again tomorrow. And it really helped me learn to let go of things that, you know, you can't keep holding on to what doesn't work. You have to learn from it quickly adjust and move forward. And you know, he would have a postmortem after every show with the executive producers and they talk about what was great, what wasn't great.

Let's adjust. Let's keep moving forward, let's improve, let's keep going. And, you know, there was a reason that show did as well as it did for I think it was on the air for over nine years. And now, you know, I mean, that's also why he was chosen to so fill the very big seat that or the very big shoes, very big beard that David Letterman left behind.

So, yeah, it was it was a really wonderful lesson, especially being so young and so early on in my career to to not really hold on to what's not working and figure out how to win.

Daniel Burstein: SWORD And I think that's a great lesson in just being a professional, creative in general, too. I mean, that's the tough thing is having someone of that bulletproof skin where, you know, if you're on the agency side, you got to keep pitching to the client. They could be shooting those things down left and right. But you can't dwell on that.

You got to move on to the next thing and the thing that works. But there's another thing I want to ask you, but I think is very relevant to what we do. So you were you worked at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart beforehand. I think you were production intern. So again, early in your career. Then you went to work on The Colbert Report.

Now you're sitting back, as you mentioned, at Brand Strategist. You see Colbert taking over from David Letterman. What have you learned from that? From a spokesperson finding their brand voice, You know, how it stays the same and how it differentiates. Right. Because that is something that we have to do a lot as marketers. Content marketing is big. You know, a lot of our executives have to get out there now and we have to figure out what is the right brand voice for them.

In your case, too, when it comes to this brand extension, Jon Stewart had a specific voice. Right now, Stephen Colbert has to figure his out. Even Colbert had a voice in that, You know, now he's got another show coming after David Letterman. So just kind of I don't there's any compare and contrast you can do between, you know, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, David Letterman being those kind of brand extensions and those new brand launches.

Because I feel like we as marketers, we can learn a lot from those in the entertainment world as content marketing has in a sense made this a very probably an entertaining and small version of the entertainment world. Right when we thought there.

Hilary Young: Yeah, I think that's a really good question. And I would say, you know, for both David Letterman and Jon Stewart in their roles, they got to go out there, essentially be themselves every night. I think the thing that was different with The Colbert Report was this was the first time, especially in The Daily Show universe, because Stephen started as a correspondent on The Daily Show and essentially got a spinoff, you know, into The Colbert Report.

But he couldn't be himself really. I mean, he was but he was he was playing a character. He was playing this blowhard right wing crazy pundit, you know, every night, which was interesting because he would also tell me that when he'd go home to South Carolina, people would stop him in the parking lot and think the character was real.

Like, think that what they didn't realize, it was satire, which is always entertaining for us, working on the show, being like, Wow, people really can't tell that this is a joke and the joke's on them. But, you know, I, I was really I was really rooting for him. I love Stephen. He is a remarkable person. He has such a good heart.

He is so down to earth. He is so whip smart. He is just brilliant. He's well read. I mean, cause I, I used to joke with him that he's, like the biggest nerd I knew because he just knows so much about everything. And he almost has, like a Robin Williams quality and that his firing on all cylinders at all times.

And I, I saw how much she struggled at first, I think, to kind of find his footing when he moved to The Late Show. And I think also what was harder was that the audience had a perception of who he should be, right? Like this audience that loved him. They perceived him in a certain way. And I think he had to create this new experience, this new relationship with the audience.

And that was the hardest part. And I think by the time he took over The Late Show, the hard part, too, is that the audience was more used to, you know, immediate engagement. I you know, I didn't want to wait for the show to be figured out, you know, like they didn't want to wait for all the kinks to be ironed out on the on the back end.

But I'm glad that he you know, I think he eventually found his stride. I know they made some changes to the production staff when they first moved over there. And whatever they did, they have been doing a great job. And I'm I'm still such a super fan. And yeah, I love the whole team over there. I still have a lot of friends that I worked with over there who are still with him after all these years and it's just remarkable to see what they've created.

Daniel Burstein: I think that the two lessons for me, they're I mean, one is that, like you said, like we as marketers, as brand leaders, like when are we our natural, authentic selves and when are we playing a character? And I'll tell you one thing I've noticed after COVID is it moved more to being natural, authentic selves. I mean, our CEO for us, Flint McLaughlin, like we used to have, you know, before COVID, a studio here in Jacksonville, Florida, at headquarters.

And when we would go in there, you know, we'd be wearing suits and all that stuff, right? It would be a very kind of buttoned up look. And since then, now we work remotely, right? Like, I'm recording this with you. I'm in my home, I'm in a T-shirt. You know what I mean? No one's going to see this.

But yeah, and and Flint moved to a mountain in Montana. And now when we do video stuff, you know, with our guild, he's like, We're in a cowboy hat. And it seems like your point. We've moved a lot more from playing a character, from playing the Stephen Colbert character to being a real Stephen Colbert. But the other thing that that really resonate with me, when you said about that kind of on the new show, you've kind of you've kind of got to get your sea legs and find it.

It's the same with product launches of brand launches. I mean, we just launched McLeod's I actually just slacking back and forth with someone before I hopped on here about some kind of negative feedback we got on LinkedIn about it. But it was fair feedback because it's kind of that same thing. It's new, you know, it's that move fast break things and it's finding its legs, it's finding its right bit.

So like, yes, that feedback from customers helps make it better. Yes, I think every customer would want every product to be amazing right out of the gate, not have kinks. But he's finding that when you launch and I'm sure it was the same thing, you know, with The Late Show, The Colbert Report, it needs to be a certain level of good because you don't want people to watch it and never watch it again because it's hard.

Yeah, but, you know, you can't wait till it's perfect or it's never going to get out the door. Right. Because you got to get another show the next day, Right? The deadline is what drives this, isn't it? You got to get that show up the next day.

Hilary Young: Yeah. And I even say that to my clients now where, you know, they're so hung up on, this wording isn't exactly. And I'm like, John is better than perfect. Yeah. The longer you wait because you're hung up on one word and I'm like, I guarantee you. But no one is spending as much time reading that one word on your website or your marketing materials as you are.

You know, like your target audience is probably spending 30 seconds on it, whereas you're honed in on it for, you know, such a long time. You can't get over this word and that it's the same concept this done is better than perfect. You have to do it and move on. Tweak, keep going, keep going, keep going, keep moving forward.

Because without it, everyone just, you know, you get paralyzed, you just get stuck. And that's misses the whole point of marketing and branding and moving forward.

Daniel Burstein: And that for me, I know in my career that's partly been the transition to digital. I started in print where you could focus on one word for a long time because the deadlines were so much longer and it was big, right? But as you mentioned, we've all become like The Colbert Reports daily, daily, daily deadlines, right where we got to get everything done out at the same time.

So here's another lesson I love from your career. Don't be afraid to say no if it serves the brand. And so I mentioned this in the upfront, but this is one of those lessons where it's like, it seems so great to hear. And I'm like, Yeah, that's right, you know? But then we're like, That's really hard. So you want to take us into how you actually did that?

Hilary Young: Yeah, I mean, I think being young and being in a place, you know, college humor, we were all young. I mean, we were I think no one was over 30 on that staff when we were working there. So I think we were as professional as we could. But there was no the the bar was it was a different bar.

I always say the bar was low. It was just a different bar that we were operating with. And yeah, I mean, I worked with a lot of big brands. So in my role it was it was new at the time. I mean, even college shooter was kind of new and what we were doing and moving digital. And at the time all of my friends worked in television, thought I was insane for moving to the digital video space.

No regrets, though. It worked out pretty well for me. But yeah, I worked with a lot of big brands. My in my role, I was the senior producer of branded content and that meant that we were working with an ad sales team who would bring in big sponsors, who would give us lots of money to produce these videos that incorporated their brand into the college humor brand.

And it was really my job to do this little dance back and forth of keeping our CollegeHumor team happy because we no one wanted to feel like sellouts for these big brands and also keeping our sponsors, our advertisers, happy. You were handing us, you know, buckets of cash to to make these things. And there were a lot of times where I had to push back and say no.

And I learned that you don't have to say no. Like, it doesn't have to be enough to say no. Or you can say, okay, I hear you, but what about this and present and, you know, like come prepared with another concept, another idea in order to shift it into something that would actually work more for the college uber brand And for our writers in particular, our writers were very protective over the content they were creating, which is also what I think made college humor such like.

Everything we did went viral. I mean, it was such a firebrand at the time. So yeah, I learned it early on. I mean, I also had to do it internally sometimes. That was that didn't always go over so well, but I felt like I had to stand up for what I thought was in the best interest of the project.

And I have no regrets about it. I think I was right. So what's it? It was it was dead. I mean, that they were they were also good lessons learned in terms of how people reacted to that sometimes.

Daniel Burstein: Well, good for you for standing for a minute. Partnerships can be tricky. One thing that I've learned in my past, when when brands have tried to do that, it's kind of like, wait a minute, you're hiring us, or you're want to work with us because of our brand voice, then you're telling kind of tell us how to do it.

Like you can just do it on your own and do your own thing if you like the way we're doing it, this is how we do it. But what I want to dive into it, this is so that was a great example of saying no for creative reason. But what about for business reason? As we mentioned now, you were running your own business.

And for example, I interviewed Frank Weale, the founder and CEO at Minter and how I made it Marketing. And one of his lessons was it's okay to say no. And he learned that from, you know, he's trying to win this big client of this big public company for a services contract. And they kept us asking for more and more and more and more.

And finally, when he said, no, you know, I mean, that's it. You know, his boss encouraged him. That's it. That's when they finally signed the contract. They got the scope of work and they can move on. I want to ask you for you now as a, you know, running a business, you know, what have you learned about having to say no for just business reasons, not even grand reasons?

Hilary Young: I think most of the business decisions and this is this was conscious on my behalf because I think this was part of what was missing from my corporate experience. I make value based decisions about clients. So I my biggest know is come from I don't think this is going to be a good stitch. Like I think this client is going to drive me crazy or I think they're going to the things they're going to say are going to be offensive to me or whatever it is.

And I there's no amount of money now that I will take to put up with that. And I think there's this real fear when you go off on your own and you start your business because you're like, Who's going to hire me? Like, how is this? How am I going to make this work? You're taking everything that comes your way.

And after some pretty bizarre experiences with clients, I started to understand how to gauge who would be a value based fit from our discovery call and from, you know, just the conversation. So before even working with them, understanding if it's a yes from me, and if it's a no, I will tell them that. I will say I don't think I'm a good fit for you.

And I usually like to make some recommendations to them about who to reach out to. I partner with a lot of agencies here in Philadelphia and I'm always happy to pass it on, but I'm I have a strict no jerks policy now in terms of who I work with. So.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I mean that it can be the upside of hanging your own shingle, right, where you get to decide, okay, let's only work with someone that's a good fit. So you're single. That's the change that can be scary. Just overall, I believe moving into this industry is a change that can be scary and that is one of your lessons.

Change can be scary, but you have to trust the process. So you want to take us through kind of that career change you went through and how you're able to trust the process.

Hilary Young: Yeah, I, I started working in television when I was 18, actually. I was in a special program in my high school. I grew up right outside New York City, and the program allowed me to essentially be signed out of the high school second semester to intern full time. And I landed an internship at ABC News in Manhattan. And I, you know, were so slack, I said, and commuted in on the train every morning.

And I was working at 18 and I ended up becoming the assistant to Deborah Roberts, who is an amazing correspondent. And I think she was coming back from a maternity leave and didn't have an assistant at the time. And they put me in with her and we really loved each other. I loved working for her. I learned so much from her.

She let me partner with producers and produce my own pieces and they actually asked me back like I stayed beyond the internship and worked there for her until I left for college. But by the time I, you know, and then I would come home every summer and I would intern, I always found a production and her internship. I worked for Curious Pictures down in the East Village.

We produced commercials and music videos. I was essentially a P.A. on a lot of those. And then ended up with The Daily Show and then obviously got hired at Carl there. But by the time I was 28, I had been doing this for ten years. I was exhausted. I really just felt burnt out on all of it. And I think I was also really disillusioned by a lot of the egos I encountered throughout my experience.

I think also being a woman and I'm I mean, I look, yeah, I was young, but I look young. I look younger than I am even now. And I think that really worked against me at the beginning of my career. I don't feel like I was taken as seriously as I should have been or would have been if I were a man or maybe even looked a little bit older.

And I was just tired. I was tired of all of it, and I was considering a move out to L.A. because I thought, All right, at least if I am immersed in it and just like in a town where this is all that there is, like maybe this would be easier for me. But I ended up meeting my husband, my now husband, and he was based in Philadelphia and, you know, had a real job.

Air quotes from you and obviously can't see me. He's an engineer. He works at a big firm here. And he was like, just move here, like, move here and we'll figure it out. And I think I was just so ready to jump and to start my life that I did. I jumped and I didn't really think about how it would work out.

And I knew I really couldn't work in TV anymore, making that leap down to Philadelphia. And to be honest, I did not know how my skills translated to anything else. I did not know what I could do. I went to college for media studies and television and film, and that was literally all I ever wanted to do. And I.

I had gotten a dime, you know, because of my resume. I was able to connect with a lot of the TV, like the news studios here. And one of the executive producers at NBC really loved me. She put me in touch with someone that had a start up here and was looking for a director of content, and they hired me to be their director of content.

It was a startup. They didn't have a ton of funding, but it was it was a lot of I mean, a lot of what I was doing, I realize now in retrospect was marketing work. And they went under within six months and I was like, I can't believe this. Like back to the drawing board again. What am I doing with my life?

But what's what have I done? And I decided to just stop, you know, the wheels spinning. I was like, I need to just immerse myself in something. And I started volunteering for nonprofits here just to, you know, get out of my own head. And I noticed very quickly at these nonprofits that all of their marketing departments needed help, and I was able to very seamlessly help them.

And yeah, I applied for a for profit position and actually as a content marketer and because of this, for the nonprofit experience that I had on my resume, they took a chance on me and hired me and that was medical Guardian. They were medical they are a medical device company. And at the time I think I was like, maybe the 18th person hired at the company.

Today, I think they employ over 400 people. They've grown exponentially since I've been there. And it was it was wonderful. And we also did a lot of video work there. They put me in charge of all the video production. I wrote scripts for them, you know, So it was a really seamless transition and also a really good reminder that, you know, we should do hard things and that sometimes the the scary iest things can yield the best results because now I truly cannot imagine doing anything else.

I really feel like I've found my calling. And to be honest, there isn't that much of a difference between what I did in television and what I'm doing now. It was really always about the storytelling telling, compelling, interesting stories, connecting with audiences and, you know, really just finding ways to connect with people. That was always what I love the most about TV, and it's actually what I love most about what I do now.

Daniel Burstein: I love how you went into the nonprofit realm. You know, I know a lot of people there, they are trying to either, you know, change an industry or break into an industry. And it's just like they want that big job right away. And that's a great thing. Just go into the nonprofit realm, you start volunteering, find things, and you're getting some experience that way, too.

Let me ask you, you said things are pretty similar. I wonder with pitching, though, is pitching different? And if anything, you're of pitching because in the entertainment industry, I think it seems, you know, definitely like sometimes TV executives get a bad name, right? But those are all kind of people in a creative field and they can kind of envision things a little better.

And I think sometimes in marketing, yes, there are creative marketers, but there are a lot of other things too marketing. There's very technical marketers and process oriented marketers and business oriented marketers. And at the end of the day, they are business leaders in a corporation, in a business organization. And so that kind of ability to look past the numbers and see the vision of the story can be challenging.

I wonder, from your experience in in the MTV entertainment news business, I assume there's a lot of pitching there for stories. Did you learn anything about pitching that that you're using now?

Hilary Young: That is a really good question and something that I really haven't I haven't thought about that. I'm sure there is. You know, I think I think I was afraid of pitching when I was on the television side. There was something that felt like, I'm not I'm not part of that world, You know, like I'm not a writer, I'm not a director.

You know, I was always just kind of brought in to, like, help facilitate a creative vision and also help figure out creative ways to achieve things that seemed unachievable. I think being in the marketing space, I have become more fearless. I have no fear about pitching now and I don't know if it's just because I'm older, which, you know, I think a lot of the time this comes with age or that I'm really good at what I do.

And so I have a level of confidence about it now that I didn't have back then. But I think no matter what, you know, whether you're you're launching a new campaign for an external, external audience or pitching internally to anyone, right. Or to a client or you know, just giving out an idea like any sort of vulnerability about a new account that you have.

It really always comes down to like, what is the story? What are you trying to get across here? What is what emotional appeal am I making here? How can I like who is the audience, who how can you know? And really being sorry, I don't think I have the same level of thought about that when I was working in television as I do now, I think I've so much more insight about people and making emotional appeals to people than than I did in my TV days.

I think if I if I had brought that with me into TV, who knows where I would be now? I would have been unstoppable. I don't know.

Daniel Burstein: And stop marketing. Is that. Well, we got to we got to pitch people. We get to work with people. That's a great thing we do as marketers. We get to collaborate. We don't just make things. And in the second half of the episode, we'll talk about lessons that Hillary learned from people she collaborated with. But first, I should mention that the How I Made It and Marketing podcast is underwritten by Mac Labs Institute, the parent organization of marketing Sherpa MacLeod's.

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All right. Let's take a look at some lessons from people you collaborate with. But before we talk about some really nice lessons we have here, Hillary, I got mentioned, she was really emphatic about that. She learned more lessons from people she worked with that were not good. And I have a great career, actually, She said a lot of people are really terrible.

So, you know, we do the second half of the episode where people kind of mentioned people they learn from and the lesson, all the stuff that I'll tell you just real quick, and I want to hear about these terrible people, about names at any moment. But the reason I did it was because I ten or 15 years ago, I don't remember the last lecture that was real popular.

And so I had it was a professor who was dying and it was the last lecture he gave and is all about life. And so I had an idea to do the last blog post and it was like a group blog post. The effort, work with all these like bloggers, Guy Kawasaki and others, and we'd all post at the same time like we had to write a last blog post.

What would it be? What it turned out mine was, and a lot of people were. It was a lot about the people we we learned from and thanking them and saying the lessons we learned and kind of thinking them. And it kind of made me realize when I was kind of building out how to do this, Joe, that that's something we probably overlook in our careers.

We just we go from campaign to campaign and nothing and deadline and deadline, we forget like, man, you know, there was this person there that even just maybe in this one meeting, they were so influential or they they mentored me throughout my career. It was this thing I learned. And so it's kind of become this beautiful thing where people, you know, they see the lesson and it's a way to thank the people in their career every now and then, some will have a negative blast.

I try to keep it to one. I'm like, All right, that's fine, but let's keep them positive to name someone. But Hillary? No, she's like, again, I will directly quote A lot of people are really terrible. I will say, in fairness, before I let you speak, when I did interview, I was a CMO of a tractor beverage company that the beverages at Chipotle, like organic drinks, actually had one yesterday.

They're great. And his experience was in starting the movie industry and and one of his lessons and please excuse my language it was basically don't be a dick and he talked about working in that industry. He's like, you got these people in this industry. It's a dream job. No, it's great thing. And they are the worst people to work with.

So before we get.

Hilary Young: The.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, Hillary, before we get to this, let me Larry, let me let you hear it out here. A lot of people are really terrible. What did you learn from that?

Hilary Young: I well, I learned how to deal with my own stuff because I think what I realized raised over the years of, you know, and it was in the marketing world, too. I mean, the TV world is not the only place where egos and, you know, people come to work with like unresolved issues. But I think that the two main lessons I learned is that, number one, just because you're good at your job doesn't mean you're good at managing people.

So I think a lot of people blindly get promoted or are responsible for managing people because they are good at this. One thing that they're good at and they are not good with people or managing people or managing people differently, or managing people to their strengths or even being curious about people. I think a lot of a lot of people I talk about a lot of these terrible people that I've learned from really did not have any of that curiosity.

I think they were solely focused on themselves and their own ambition and in a lot of cases weren't willing to impart any knowledge like they would gatekeepers, essentially. And, you know, especially it was especially disappointing with the older women I worked with on the TV side because I felt like they saw me as competition versus let me help and nurture this talent because I know how hard it was for me coming up in this world as a woman.

Let me make sure that they have more support than I did. It was a very it actually reminded me of like I did a sorority, I was in Greek life in college, and I hated the experience of rushing. I didn't like hazing. I didn't want to be hazed. And then when it was my turn to be on the other side of it, I did not want to participate in the process because I said I hated this so much.

I don't want to do this to anyone else. And I saw a lot of other people have the experience of, well, this was done to me, so they deserve it. I'm going to do this to them. Because why should why should it happen to me and not anyone else? So, you know, it was very much that mentality. And then, you know, on the second side, I think I especially being so young, I came in to the industry expecting adults to be working there and very quickly realized that like a lot of the adults in the room are not actually adults.

They can't regulate their own emotions. They, you know, take things out on people or they have a bad day and they'll take it out on you, you know, like you're kind of walking on eggshells around a lot of people. And so it was a really good reminder to me of like, I want to be an adult adult by the time you reach this level.

And so, like, I'm going to have to also work on my own stuff in order to be a full person at work. And those were really I mean, they were also amazing life lessons and have served me really well. And, you know, and I've I've gone on to I've mentored people, I've run teams. And most of the feedback I get is that I'm the best boss that people have ever had because I'm a good listener.

I encourage, you know, I don't micromanage. I encourage them. I empower them to to really, like leave the nest and fly. And that's something I do with my clients, too. I don't want my clients to need me forever. I want to build them up and then have them leave the nest and be able to to fly on their own.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I mean, it's a very minor version of it because this is for very serious things in people's life more than having a tough manager. But that idea of hurt people hurt people, right. And I've seen that in the medical industry. I know, you know, they stay with medical residents, like everyone agrees kind of the way medical residents are treated isn't working, but they don't want to stop because they went through it.

So they're trying to. Well, let's talk about the flipside of that. Let's talk about the sunshine on the other side. People and you said operate without ego, which seems like one of the exact anecdotes to what you were talking about. You said you learn this from hunts. They do it just co-founder of Torch Light Technology. So take us into that.

How did you learn that lesson?

Hilary Young: Helen I truly can't say enough good things about her. She brought me into the fold, brought me on, as, you know, essentially put me on retainer for her company, but but immediately made me feel like part of the team and even brought me into projects that really kind of pushed me out of my comfort zone, was open to teaching me about things like I wasn't used to, you know, like you said, there's all these different parts of marketing and I'm really used to being on the creative side of marketing.

I'm not used to having to really make or manage budgets. I'm not used to doing the technical data side of it. I can deal with data a little bit, but that's really not my forte. And she really encouraged me, you know, like I didn't feel uncomfortable telling her, I don't know how to do this. And she's like, All right, let's go through this together.

And we would put multimillion dollar marketing budgets together and we'd go through it and she'd walk through the process with me and never make me feel stupid and always be open to teaching me about, you know, how to operate. And even, you know, eventually her company was acquired and I stayed on to serve as interim director of brand strategy through the acquisition and because we're managing a lot of brands at the time and the new I guess the new CMO that had come in was very challenging to deal with.

And Helen was always the most diplomatic person on the call. If the room, you know, always diffuse situations, always could see both sides. I mean, she really operated with such a cool head about everything that it was really amazing for me to see and really inspirational. And also just like a reminder that that is possible. It doesn't always have to be fiery and listen to my idea and this is what you know, that there is some gray area that exists between two people butting heads.

So it was it was she's great. I can't say enough good things about Helen.

Daniel Burstein: Is there any specific tactics used or any specific management things you use that you use now? Because, you know, as we mentioned, you're now kind of managing your own team. It's contractors, right? It's not direct employees and it's also all remote. So all of the challenges that you had working directly with her or like our work with, I mean, to me, those are just amplified when you're talking about remote and contractors.

A very specific thing. What she did at a monday morning stand up or whatever it was that that works now for you?

Hilary Young: That is a good question. I would say I think it's really more about having an example of how to treat people and how to build a good company. I think I have a lot of ideas about it in theory, but had never had to really implement it in practice. And she and her partner, Matt Morano, they say, made it their first priority to make their employees happy.

And it was very clear that that was what was driving the culture there. And so people were so happy to come to work. They were so happy to, you know, put in long hours or, you know, work on difficult projects together. And I think that's something that I've really taken away because that was never modeled for me in the corporate space.

This was really the first time I was seeing that in practice. And I think I'm really conscious about a people first approach to work as a result of it.

Daniel Burstein: Okay, you this next lesson you kind of hinted at when we talked about what you say no to for your own business, but you said integrity over compromise in brand vision. And you learned this from Gina Choi, director of marketing at Animalia. So take us through this. How do you learn?

Hilary Young: So Animalia is an Israeli brand pet care pet insurance brand, and they were looking to launch in the US and are both Gina and I, who had worked at Torchlight together, had worked in the pet division for an insurance company. So we were responsible for a lot of different pet insurance brands while we were there, I had left, and then a little while later, Gina had left and she started working at Animalia and brought me on board.

And we were responsible for launching in the US market and she and I were aligned in the vision and the strategy for the brand. But the CEO really had a different approach and he really wanted to micromanage our brand strategy. And, you know, she and I had a lot of different conversations about how this isn't going to why hire experts to do this and who know the market, who know the US market well, why hire us to do this if you're not going to take our advice into account and Gina ended up leaving because they just could not hit any middle ground with it.

And honestly, the direction that the CEO wanted to take it and it ended up being a big flop, which I'm not saying I'm happy about, but I'm just saying that it was, you know, we wouldn't she wasn't willing to sacrifice her own integrity and the integrity of the brand vision that she had. And she ended up leaving and I went with her.

But yeah, I think that, again, anything that's not in alignment with your values or how you're seeing things, you know, you don't I like I couldn't imagine the vision he had. I could not imagine my name being attached to you if it was rolled out like that and I was part of it. So, you know, I think that played a big role in it.

And it's not easy. You know, when you're the director of marketing, that's not easy to walk from. And it was amazing to watch her navigate that. And really the whole team was behind her, the entire team that she had built left with her. So, yeah, she was very brave.

Daniel Burstein: So that I mean, that was awesome there. That's a great thing to do in one sense. But I also I want to challenge that on the flip side just a bit and let's see because, you know, with your previous lesson, operate without ego. So obviously, you know, I don't know the specific situation and I'm not saying anything but this situation, obviously, I feel like if there's anything there are more opposed to or anything like that you shouldn't be involved in.

However, within not having an ego thing, you know, sometimes we as marketers, we have such strong opinions or that's what we think a brand should do or what we think the market you should do. And I've been in very many fiery meetings. I want to ask you if you have any examples. How do you bring data or the customer in to make sure that it's not only your bias or why you would want to do something right versus like, actually the customer won't?

So I'll give you one example with us. We partner with Consumer Reports for an email writing contest for one of our marketing Sherpa summits and, you know, one of the internal debates to reports and we're working with them on is what value elements should they focus on for their brand, where there's a lot of different things Consumer Reports could focus on.

And so the way we did it is we did a public AB test with our audience. It was all, you know, going to this summit where they helped write these different emails that were going out and the different emails tested different value statements. And then we got data back from the customer to see what would actually work. So again, for you, obviously there's something immorally opposing.

There's certain things that we just shouldn't do regardless. However, how do you balance your opinion with some data or with some customer feedback to ensure that it's not just, Hey, we are marketers, we're creators, we have a strong viewpoint for a certain thing, right? How do we make sure it's not a just?

Hilary Young: Artigo That is also a great question. I, I there are times when I do feel like my ego is, you know, creeping into it, but for the most part I really lead with data. Again, I don't I don't collect the data, don't manage the data, but I know how to read the data and I know how to apply the data to smart strategic storytelling.

I think you can't really have one without the other. Like you can't just launch a totally emotional campaign on, you know, vibes and the same thing. You can't just have a data driven, only kind of robotic campaign, right? You need a real marriage of the two things. And I think that's what I and I do. But it's one of the things I do best that I understand the stories that the data is telling, and I figure out how to apply that.

Daniel Burstein: Can you think of an example? You don't have to get deep into something private with a client or anything, but can you think of an example where, you know, there were some data and it was telling? It was telling one of those stories and how you tapped into that? Yeah, without getting too private.

Hilary Young: I guess the the best way to put it is there was we were collecting feedback from these videos that he had launched in Israel and worked in Israel and wanted to translate them directly to the US audience. And we had put out like a test campaign to a few people and it did not play well. And his response was, Well, they're stupid and they don't understand that we're being funny.

And we said, You're not being funny, you're being offensive. And that's why the US audience doesn't like it. So yeah, it was some very weird situation and it was just an unwillingness to listen. I think that was the biggest issue there.

Daniel Burstein: Well, I think that's a great example of operating cross-culturally where especially especially launching a brand in a new culture. So I had an interview last night. I guess it'll be the episode before this where we talk about, you know, under it's a company that operates in many different cultures and really needing to understand how different things can have different meanings and different cultures and just come off really differently.

Let's one more or less near you say branding affects more than just the bottom line that affects people's lives. And you learn this from Eileen O'Keefe, the owner of Simply Juicy Travel. How'd you learn this from Eileen?

Hilary Young: So Eileen was my first client when I went out on my own, I, I mean, I guess I, we didn't really talk about, but I ended up starting my business while seven months pregnant with my first child. I knew that I'm a crazy person. If you haven't gotten that from me yet, I Yeah, there was an ice storm here.

I was working for Medical Guardian at the time. I was seven months pregnant and they denied my request to work from home during the ice storm. And I realized then that it wouldn't get easier and more flexible for me when the baby came. And I really had to take matters into my own hands. So I used my first day off to to build a business and I put a terrible website together.

I sent it out to a bunch of people. I had gone through this program at Wharton that helps to launch new businesses. It was a six week program and I had met Eileen through that program and she knew I was very pregnant. She hired me anyway and really took a chance on me and we worked together very intimately, you know, one on one, getting to know each other and building her brand.

And in the process of working with her, she revealed to me that she was planning on leaving her husband and that a big part of why she wanted to put invest in the brand, you know, at this moment in time was to get herself on solid ground. I anticipate the divorce and having something that was her own and that she could put herself into and, you know, be successful with.

And it was this real light bulb moment because I've you know, it's been nine years since then, but I do continue to work with a lot of small businesses, solopreneur wars and, you know, very small operations. I work with some startups in addition to the corporate clients that I work with, because that work is so meaningful. It has such a huge impact on their lives.

And I realized for Eileen, having a solid brand in place and having me help her with it, you know, made her feel more confident about making this huge change in her life. And in the years since, so many of the other clients I've worked with have similar stories that, you know, the work that I do with them has a real direct impact, not just on their bottom line, but on their hopes, their dreams, their relationships, their ability to achieve something big or, you know, I work with a lot of other moms, their ability to own their own schedule and be in charge of their own lives and their own destiny, which I think for working

parents is always top of mind to to be able to do that and juggle what you need to juggle at home. So, yeah, it was it was a truly remarkable thing to be a part of. She and I have a very special relationship still and she is happily divorced. It was actually an amicable divorce. And it's all it's all good.

But, you know, she's older, she said in her late fifties. And I think just having this independent like the branding allowed her to have this independence or this confidence about independence that she didn't have before. And knowing that I'm part of that part of her story is really impactful to me.

Daniel Burstein: No, that's awesome. I was listening to this podcast this morning, Big Shots, which is I really like they were talking about work life harmony, not work life balance, work life harmony. And I think that's a great example of what you're talking about. And marketing plays a role in that because especially like you said, for the small businesses, it's not going to work if they don't get the marketing right.

But I want to ask you see, when you mention divorce, that gets me thinking of, you know, like divorce in in our industry, like in marketing and unwinding of something that went wrong and you have any examples you had to live where you've had to kind of unwind to campaign because hey, it wasn't going how it should be going.

So, I mean, for example, I interviewed Natalie, Mark Tulio, the head of growth and operations for Novatek, and she was very transparent. She shared what she called a de branding campaign, and she talked about the importance of being agile when things go so wrong because, you know, we planet, as you mentioned, we have our customer research. We think it's going to go a certain way, but till you pull that trigger, until it goes out there, you know, you're not entirely.

So I wonder for you, like Hillary, have you ever had any, any campaign, have you ever had to do any debriefing or any campaign where maybe you just had to evade or change it once it got out there in the wild?

Hilary Young: I've never really had to do like crisis, you know, any sort of brand crisis work. But I will say, and I think this goes back to the first lesson is fail up, right? Like, don't think of it as a failure. Think of it. And they say this all the time. To my clients, so much of marketing is trial and error.

Unless you're operating at this huge level, like unless you're Pepsi and you have access to all these, like, you know, all the data and all of these programs and you're spending millions of dollars on having exactly what you need to get it right. So much of it is trial and error. So you you're going to have to fail a bunch of times in order to eventually get it right.

And the goal is really what, okay, this didn't work. We thought it would work. I mean, I can even say, like when I was working for Pet Place, which is one of the pet brands I was working for, we were really trying to launch an influencer campaign model for the first time. We'd never really done that before and we had to do a lot of trial and error.

We wasted a lot of money on things that ended up not working, but then also looking at the data realized, these micro influencers are working and we can actually have the same spend but have a larger reach because we're reaching out to more of these micro-influencers like our money will go further with these smaller influencers and they'll yield a bigger return for us.

So, okay, let's not work with these like glitzy influencer is anymore. Let's go, let's look smaller, let's go deeper on that. And it ended up yielding a huge return for us. And it's something that I've carried into a lot of the work that I'm doing with other clients now, because the first thing I'll say is the ROI might not be there on an influencer campaign.

And I think everyone can influence it. Like there's all these like buzzwords now, right? And that people automatically want to do this. Or I even think about when I was at CollegeHumor, I remember having a conversation where they were like, Everyone wants to know what our secret sauce is to going viral. And it's like, we don't have one.

We just are good at what we do. Like, there's no secret formula to going viral. And even now I hear clients say, like, I really want to go viral. And I'm like, I can't guarantee that they're going to go viral. You know, like, we can keep putting it out there, but a lot of going viral is luck, you know?

I mean, it's good campaign, good creative, but it's a lot of it is luck. And I think people don't factor that in enough either. So, you know, I really try to bring people back to Earth and also talk about vanity metrics. I think people are wrapped up in thinking about a lot of the wrong metrics for success, like who cares how many followers you have or, you know, how many likes you have if they're not taking action for if you can't activate that audience, what is what is the point behind what you're doing?

Right? So like, let's take a step back and actually see how this is serving us and how we can be smarter about how we're investing time, money and resources.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, that's kind of a great point about the going viral. You know, it's like everyone sees someone else. Do they want to? I mean, what I say is, what can we do to add some virality to this? So like, give us that chance. You know, I mean, what features or how can we do this? Like give this a chance.

Yeah, that is, you know, up to the gods of social media. I don't know how. Right?

Hilary Young: That's right. The algorithm the algorithm chooses the.

Daniel Burstein: All money algorithm behind the curtain. So, yeah, we've talked about so many different things about what it means to be a marketer with all of your stories. Hilary, thank you for sharing. But if you had to break it down, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer in your opinion?

Hilary Young: I think they have to be a great listener. I think they have to be willing to work collaboratively and I think they have to be empathetic. I think that's I think empathy is the one thing that I see missing most, especially on the storytelling sides. Like you really have to be able to put yourself in someone else's shoes.

You really have to understand what they're thinking, they're feeling what they're scared of. And without that, I think you'll miss the mark almost every time.

Daniel Burstein: Well, thank you so much for sharing all your stories with us. I learned a lot from listening to you, Hillary.

Hilary Young: I want to thank you. I'm so glad I don't. I think everyone can learn from my stories, so I'm glad that something good came out of them.

Daniel Burstein: And thanks to the audience, I think they learned a lot to me. Thanks to all of you for listening as well.

Outro: Thank you for joining us for how I made it in marketing with Daniel Bernstein. Now that you've gotten inspiration for transforming yourself as a marketer, get some ideas for next marketing campaign from Marketing Sherpas. Extensive library of free case studies at marketing Sherpa dot com That's marketing SRH, ERP, Ecom and.