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EP.4 Show Runner – Megan Devine

EP.4 Show Runner – Megan Devine

•Turning Failure into Success, B2B and B2C Marketing•

Megan has worked for many types of marketing companies in her career – from creative agencies to data analytics companies – developing successful marketing strategies and tactics in B2B and B2C marketing; with expertise in retail, financial services, education and other industries.  She shares some great stories about learning from your mistakes and finding your footing in marketing and business.

Megan Devine, Owner of d.trio Marketing Group

Lessons you will learn from this podcast:

  • How to turn career failures into real success
  • How a mentor can actually change the way you see yourself
  • The digital results that really matter
  • The role of testing and attribution
  • How customers are shaping your brand
  • Innovation in responsive web design and mobile.
  • What channels hold the key to communicating with your best customers
  • Why you should never apologize for your true authentic self
  • No No No Yes!

Listen to Next Episode


Kathy: Welcome to Showrunners everybody! Today we’re talking with Megan Devine. She is the owner of d.trio Marketing Group. Megan has worked for many types of marketing companies in her career. From creative agencies to digital analytics companies developing successful marketing strategies, and tactics in B to C and B to B marketing. She brought it all together in the company she owns with two other partners. She’s been doing that for the past eighteen years; developing strategies and creative, managing multi-channel, direct response and digital marketing campaigns for small and large corporations – with experience and expertise in retail, financial services, education, and other industries. Wow, Megan, welcome to the show!

Megan: Oh, thank you Kathy, I really appreciate you letting me do this with you.

Kathy: It’s great! I’m so happy to have you on the show, you have so much experience in marketing and advertising that we can share with our listeners, so thank you so much for your time this morning.

Megan: You’re welcome.

Kathy: Well I gave you a little bit of an introduction. You’ve been working in marketing and advertising for, well let’s just say, twenty plus years now?

Megan: Yes, thank you for that, I appreciate it.

Kathy: Tell us a little bit more about your background and your journey.

Megan: Well my background and journey are pretty eclectic, which I think has really contributed to success as a business owner because I didn’t take any one track. I really explored the different interests I had in my career. I went from client side and behind the scenes to more of an active client related career where I was guiding them. Which was a really helpful transition.

Kathy: Tell us a little bit about the types of responsibilities you have at d.trio.

Megan: Sure. Every day is different. The three partners all work on general operations kinds of things together. We share responsibility for accounting and managing the business. I personally work on strategy and business. Both business and marketing strategy for clients. I also do the marketing and content generation for d.trio. So, I help manage the website and the e-newsletter. So, that type of thing.

Kathy: So, a variety of responsibilities?

Megan: Yes.

Kathy: Is any day the same?

Megan: No, no two days are alike which is really what I like about it.

Kathy: What do you think the most significant misconception is regarding marketing?

Megan: I think the most significant is that a lot of people believe that there should be one right way to do it – that there’s a silver bullet solution for everything. So, if you’ve done it before for another company, you just replicate that for their company, and it’s just not the way it works.

Kathy: So, they think that it’s easy and that you have a template for success?

Megan: Correct.

Kathy: Tell us about a marketing challenge you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome it.

Megan: Well in 2009 we faced the ultimate marketing challenge, and that is the phone stopped ringing. Marketing changed altogether with the recession. We had to figure out how to present d.trio, our business, in the new normal, within the new normal, and really figure out who we needed to be, to be successful. We had to figure out what strengths we had that we could apply to the new path going forward. We just kept trying things and getting the word out, and we managed to really retool who we are today.

Kathy: So, it sounds like, Megan, that you actually had to turn the focus onto your own company and how to market that.

Megan: Yes, that is true. We tackle many marketing challenges for our clients. It’s actually better because you can be more detached from it. When it’s your own thing you really have to be willing to try and take a step back and get out of your own emotional way.

Kathy: Very interesting. What is the role of branding and marketing today?

Megan: Well branding is really the face of a company. It’s what you put out to the world. It has to be authentic and you really need to create an experience that your customers expect. You can’t create a brand that isn’t authentic to your business. Customers won’t accept that. They really want to have a say in what your brand is. So, you have to let that dialogue and engagement happen.

Kathy: Well that’s interesting. Can you tell us a little bit more about how does the customer get involved, and how do they have a say in what your brand actually is?

Megan: Well for instance, if you’re looking at retail – social media has really played a huge part in creating retail brands and expanding retail brands. There are great customers, advocates, who want to post videos about retail product or a brand that they love. The best retailers are allowing that to happen, and using that to help fill out what their brand promise is, and what their personality is. That sort of thing as opposed to you know keeping up the walls and trying to present what they want to present.

Kathy: So, that’s interesting – the walls of your brand are actually coming down.

Megan: Yes, absolutely

Kathy: It’s more of an interaction with your consumer.

Megan: That’s correct.

Kathy: Wow, that is a different way to look at branding.

Megan: Yeah, it is.

Kathy: Can you describe for us your personal brand.

Megan: Well I would say, you may correct me if I’m wrong, but I would say my personal brand is pretty direct and pragmatic, but I also have a sense of humor about it. There has to be a little bit of fun in the mix. I can be very intense and very serious, but there’s always going to be a little bit of fun in the mix.

Kathy: Well as a part of the consumer of your brand, I would agree with that. I do know Megan, so I can attest to that. In talking still about branding, what is the best way for brands to get noticed these days?

Megan: I mean you know Kathy, there are many places brands can be in terms of channels, delivery – all of that. So, every brand has to figure out where their customer is, where their best customer is, and be on those channels and be relating through those channels, with relevant messaging to be consistent with customer experiences across all of the channels. They really have to look at their brand holistically and make sure that they’re creating the right experiences across every potential place their customers are going to interact with them.

Kathy: So, the best way for brands to get noticed is to really make sure that they’re everywhere their consumer is?

Megan: Correct.

Kathy: And the consumers are everywhere these days.

Megan: Exactly. So, a lot of it ends up being testing. It’s just go out and create your social media presence. Have it be authentic to your brand. See who engages with you. Be willing to be flexible in terms of how you proceed with that, as opposed to having this hard and fast plan that has to be executed in a particular way.

Kathy: Yeah, I think that’s really interesting the way that you put that. So, for your brand to get noticed, you do have to do a lot of testing, and you have to be flexible?

Megan: Yes,

Kathy: What you were saying before is; we used to be able to say, “push out our brand” and say “this is who we are.” But now we have to listen, get feedback, and develop the brand in a more organic way.

Megan: That’s absolutely right.

Kathy: Very interesting. thank you for going a little bit deeper on that.

Megan: Sure

Kathy: So, let’s talk a little bit about you and your experience in marketing. Is there a personal learning experience or a situation in your career where you faced a professional obstacle, and how did you overcome it?

Megan: Well, I’ve faced many obstacles during my career. It’s a rather lengthy at this point. I’ve lost my job, I’ve run into managers who didn’t like me because I’m a strong woman, and that sort of thing. So, what I usually try to do, and when I’ve lost a job, is to take that opportunity to really look at why did it happen? How does it play to my strengths? How does it play to my weaknesses? And fine tune the career path that I was on to figure out a better direction. Maybe I lost my job because it was not a great fit for me. Maybe I lost my job because they didn’t like an outspoken person in that role. So, you have to be willing to take a hard look at yourself, and learn from that. Obviously, I lost my job before I started this business. I was working for a previous agency, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Kathy: Wow, thank you for sharing that. I think that’s a great lesson for us to remember. They always say if a door closes a window opens. So, I think the self-reflection that you talked about, looking at your strengths, refining, tuning your career path, and being open to something new. That’s how it worked out for you.

Megan: I think it’s important to understand that there isn’t a black and white failure. Just because you lost your job doesn’t mean you’re a failure. You’re only a failure if you don’t learn anything from the things that happen to you and you keep making the same mistakes over and over. It’s a part of life to flex with what happens.

Kathy: I love that. That’s a great thing to leave our listeners with. You’re only a failure if you don’t learn from your mistakes. That’s a good piece of advice, thank you. Well, what about the daily habit? Do you have a daily habit or two that contributes to your success?

Megan: Well, Kathy I have been exercising almost every day for most of my adult life. When I was younger I ran. Now I do other things that are a little easier on my knees, but it helps me stand, even kneel, feel good, and be able to eat want I want to eat; that sort of thing. But also, I’m not a morning person, but I get up early so I’m ready for the day. I don’t just sort of drag into the early part of the day, and I think that’s made a big difference too. Also, I make a point of connecting with people socially. One way or another I like to go out to lunch, I like to have a happy hour every now and then, and that’s an important part of success as well.

Kathy: Well, I think that’s great. It sounds like you really know yourself and what fuels your energy. It sounds like exercise, getting your day started early, and I like that social piece. That’s something that really vitalizes you.

Megan: Yes, exactly.

Kathy: What is your favorite marketing innovation and how are you using it?

Megan: Well, I actually like a lot of the innovations that have happened along the way, but the one that I really love for business is responsive web design. This is because when you’re talking about having a consistent experience across your brand, responsive web design is a simple thing to do to have that happen. If somebody is on their mobile, their tablet, or their desktop, they can have the same user-friendly experience across those.

Kathy: How are you using that responsive web design right now, is there any sort of examples you can give us?

Megan: Well, we do responsive design for our clients. We understand that’s an important part. First of all, Google is going to reward you for having mobile friendly web design. So, we do that for clients, and make sure that they’re well covered with that.

Kathy: Well it makes a lot of sense what you’re saying. Responsive web design is not only great for your clients, but it’s really great because Google’s going to reward them for that too.

Megan: That’s exactly what I was trying to say.

Kathy: There’s search engine optimization and all of that stuff, so, they’re really going to come to the top. That’s great. That’s a really good thing for us all to remember too.

Megan: As you know, Google really drives success of online marketing. You have to be aware of what’s going on there.

Kathy: Yes, we all have to bow down to Google.

Megan: It’s true.

Kathy: Let’s talk about planning for 2018. We’re all working on our marketing plans now, so tell us about a marketing challenge that you see as being significant 2018.

Megan: Well in 2018… first of all, I’m waiting for the next big thing to happen, like digital marketing came and changed all of marketing. Marketing changes every year or so. I don’t know what that will be – it’s sort of time. But, in general, I would say there will be similar challenges of keeping ahead of the trends, identifying the best channels to use, and also the integration. I know a lot of companies are struggling with the integration of their channels, optimizing that integration, and also trying to understand what the attribution is so that the website doesn’t get all the credit when you’re doing all of these other marketing channels such as T.V., radio, or direct marketing. Because those all drive to your website.

Kathy: Yeah, I think that’s really interesting. Let’s talk a little bit about results, how are you measuring results?

Megan: We believe the results need to be business based. In other words, if you’re trying to sell a product, and you want to sell 100 products, how many channels do need to go out to, how many clicks do you need to have to result in those actual sales? So, then your client can go, “Okay, well your marketing specifically helped us achieve double our goals for our business” which is more important than, “Oh, we opened a lot of e-mails.” Opens and clicks are meaningless unless they’re actually creating some sort of positive business movement.

Kathy: That makes a lot of sense. A lot of people get too tied up in opens and clicks. So, really measuring results, it’s got to be business based is what you’re saying?

Megan: Yes exactly.

Kathy: It has to come down to sales?

Megan: Yes.

Kathy: Can you share some thoughts with us on mentoring? Let’s talk a little bit about that. What has it meant to you? Are there any lessons that you’ve learned and apply that helped you become the successful businesswoman that you are today?

Megan: Oh, thank you. Yes, I am a big fan of mentoring. I have used it, and I have been a mentor. I think that it makes a difference in people’s lives. At the beginning of your career, it’s a good way for you to understand where you might go, and open your mind to that. When I was young, I was in credit and collections because I took a job that I just had to have. I wanted to get out of that but I wasn’t sure what to do. So, I talked to a whole bunch of business owners and high-level managers in different industries. One of the owners looked at me after we’d had about a half hour conversation he said, “you’re one of the most entrepreneurial young people I’ve ever talked to” and he said, “I think you should be looking for an opportunity to start a business.” I thought, wow, just to have that insight into what I might do, and it changed the way I look forward. Because then all the sudden I thought, well maybe I should look for business partners in my pursuits, or maybe I should look for things that I could open a business doing. So, it really made a difference in my life.

Kathy: That’s really cool. So, somebody put you on the track to actually change the way you look forward, the way you look at yourself, and the way you look at what your path is going to be.

Megan: Yes, exactly.

Kathy: Wow, that’s really interesting. Do you have any advice for women that want to get into marketing?

Megan: Oh yeah, I have a lot of advice.

Kathy: Do share, please.

Megan: Yes, well I think there are always going to be challenges. There are going to be people who like women, who don’t like women, who like strong women, who don’t like strong women. The reality is you have to be who you are, and you have to own it. Be authentic, be confident, don’t apologize. Understand that not everybody is going to like you. Trying to be liked is not going to probably help you in the way you think it will help you. And that is not to say that you aren’t respectful or a nice person or good, or anything like that, but it’s about being really straightforward about who you are and authentic. Also, if you’re going to get into marketing do it because you love it, and you want to learn.

Kathy: That’s great advice. Be authentic and confident. I like what you’re saying about not being apologetic in a certain way. You just have to be who you are because there’s going to be people that respond to that and people that don’t. I think the lesson that you’re telling us here is that if you’re authentic and be true to yourself it’s going to be a lot better in the long run.

Megan: That’s exactly it, yes. It will serve you well.

Kathy: Also, I like what you said about if you’re going to get into marketing, you want to be somebody that likes to learn because we mentioned at the top of our conversation, you were talking about the testing that you do. We’re always testing, we’re always learning. You said that marketing changes every year. So, if you’re a person that can handle change and are ready to learn every day, which is really part of what this podcast is about. It’s about people listening and learning. I think it’s really important that we do that every day in marketing. You’ve got to learn, you’ve got to stay on top of things, and you’ve got to talk to people, like you, who are doing it, and find out how you’re doing and learn from that. Well thank you. That’s why I wanted to do this podcast because I really do want to collaborate with smart women in marketing, because I think there’s a lot of them out there and they have a lot to say. We all have a lot to learn.

Megan: Yes.

Kathy: So, Megan we’re going to wrap up our conversation now. I want to thank you so much for your time because I know you’re busy. You’re in Minnesota, it’s getting cold there.

Megan: Yes, unfortunately. We’re running into winter, but that’s okay, it happens.

Kathy: Well I would like to ask you one last question and if you want to share with our listeners – do you have any marketing resources, books, podcasts, or anything that you want to recommend that we can  dive into for our extended and continued learning?

Megan: I’m a little different in the types of books I’m attracted to. I either read things that are going to help me with my business. So, pragmatic, business related, agency related books or I read things like this book… “No, no, no, no, yes”. It’s about the creative journey and the power of persistence. Understanding no is not necessarily an end point, but a point at which you need to go back and retool and maybe you’ll hear another no. You’re going to hear “no’s” a lot of “no’s” in your lifetime. Especially if you’re in marketing and you’re in sales. You have to understand that “no” leads to something that you can learn about yourself or the situation you’re in. So, I love this book. It’s just a short little book. But it’s this guy, I don’t know how to say his last name, but it’s A-M-I-S-H-A-Y. But it was this guy who was a cartoonist. He was trying to get into the New Yorker, which is the Holy Grail. It was his experience of the “nos” that got him to the “yes”.

Kathy: That sounds great, “no, no, no, yes”. I love it. Alright Megan, well I want to thank you again for your time and for sharing your wisdom with me and our listeners. I enjoyed the conversation, thank you so much.

Megan: I did too, thank you so much for involving me and say I absolutely love having the opportunity to talk about these things that I’m passionate about.

Kathy: We can really tell you have a passion for marketing. Thanks Megan!

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