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EP.8 Show Runner – Dawn Claymore

EP.8 Show Runner – Dawn Claymore

•Digital Relationship Marketing•

Dawn considers her firm to be people experts that build relationships. Her group represents large partners in retail, education, arena entertainments, hospitality and more. She brings her unique insight and over 30 years of experience to our discussion about the ongoing management of marketing strategies.

Dawn Claymore, President at Midwest Marketing LLC

Lessons you will learn from this podcast:

  • The concept of “being greater than” and how it can lead to success for you, your team and your clients
  • Digital accountability, digital sharks, and when to say no to digital recommendations
  • The single most important behavioral change you can make to win more business
  • How to use word of mouth and referrals to build successful brands
  • Why resisting technology can help your brain
  • A simple tool, better than attribution models, for measuring results
  • What CMOs can learn from their marketing partners

Listen to Next Episode


Intro: Congratulations, you’ve joined The Show Runner, a network of accomplished business women who are running the show, where you’ll find the inspiration and the inside information you need to take your marketing expertise to the next level, bringing her 25 years of experience as an agency owner and her thirst for continued learning. Here’s your host, Kathy Cunningham.

Kathy Cunningham: Hi, everybody. Welcome to The Show Runner Network. It’s Kathy. Today, my guest is Dawn Claymore. Dawn is the president of Midwest Marketing in South Dakota. Dawn represents a diverse group of clients and she considers her firm to be people experts that build relationships. Her larger partners automotive education, construction, professional sports, arena entertainment, and hospitality. Her group is a proven leader in strategy, as well as planning, execution, analysis, and ongoing management of marketing strategies. Dawn, welcome to the show.

Dawn Claymore: Thanks for having me today, Kathy.

Kathy Cunningham: Oh, it’s great. Thanks for spending your time with us this morning. Dawn, you have more than 30 years of experience in marketing and media. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your marketing journey?

Dawn Claymore: Sure. I was actually born and raised a Cheesehead in Wisconsin. My first job was at a grocery store. At about 14 years old, I started scooping ice cream. I stayed with the grocery store all the way through high school and college working my way out as a customer service manager and eventually working with the advertising department for the grocery store with changing out their specialty each week. After I graduated college, I joined a newspaper chain called, “Lee Enterprises,” and I quickly advanced through their system working in newspapers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and eventually I arrived in South Dakota in 1994. Shortly after that, I was recruited by a local automotive chain. They had a partnership with an advertising agency in Iowa for about 20 years. The businesses were going from first generation to second generation, so changing of the guard. I became the in-house agency for them and that was a very fun four years. They went through a lot of different acquisitions, so we went through a lot of different purchases in different states of different dealerships. At one point, we had 16 different franchises. Yeah, then in 2005, I pursued my dream of opening up an advertising agency and that clients that I was looking for in-house stayed with me, so that was a phenomenal complement and here we are today 13 years later.

Kathy Cunningham: Wow, what a phenomenal story. So from ice cream scooper.

Dawn Claymore: Yes, ice cream scooper.

Kathy Cunningham: Making way through newspaper, which is a great media to get started in. Then working in an in-house agency is really what started and launched you into your own agency business.

Dawn Claymore: Yes, and that was interesting, because especially coming from a newspaper background although I had three degrees in marketing, I had been just completely concentrating on traditional newspaper. So, I had to stop and refresh and go back to some books as far as the rest of advertising was considered, but it was a good challenge.

Kathy Cunningham: Yes, and we know you love challenge.

Dawn Claymore: Definitely.

Kathy Cunningham: Dawn, can you tell us a little bit about your responsibilities at Midwest Marketing? What is it that you do?

Dawn Claymore: I do everything from lead and train the team, to take out the garbage, and shovel our parking lot. I really believe in having a unilateral organizational chart, so I play our staff as we’re all adults, we’re supposed to do what we’re supposed to do in the best interest of our partners. I have a really good group of people and I don’t have to do a lot of babysitting. I also work with staff one on one, but day to day, I do still call in an account list. I would do a lot of work with our larger partners. I also do a lot of work with the other marketing strategist in helping them, I write scripts, I do research, I meet with clients weekly and staff, and obviously the brainstorming to do campaign. Involved from ice cream scooping all the way up to the big picture, so.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah, it sounds like it. I think that helps give people an idea of what the owner of an agency does. It really is just about everything. You wear a lot of different hats.

Dawn Claymore: Yes, you do. Yup, for sure.

Kathy Cunningham: It sounds like your team is really great and responsible, reliable, and they know what they need to do and they do a good job at it.

Dawn Claymore: I am very blessed in that respect. For sure, I have a great team.

Kathy Cunningham: Dawn, what do you think is the most significant misconception regarding marketing?

Dawn Claymore: I really think with today’s technology that it’s really changed our society and the thinking that just because you can work in Photoshop, you think you’re a graphic designer or because you like something or you watch a certain TV show, that that’s where marketing should be. I just feel like with technology, more and more people think that because they take a video on their iPhone or because they can work in certain things, it doesn’t make you a marketer. Everyone who works for me has a four-year college degree and there’s a reason for this. I think that really the CMOs need to let the agencies lead marketing, because we really do know what we’re doing and we don’t make decisions based on ourselves, our own emotion, we’re making them based on data. I just think people need to step back and remember that it’s not about them, and just because they can work in a certain program that happens to be on a computer doesn’t make them an expert.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah, that’s interesting the way you describe that. Technology is at everybody’s fingertips, so basically you can do a video or you can use Photoshop to create a graphic design, but that doesn’t make you a marketing expert.

Dawn Claymore: Absolutely. Working in Photoshop and being a true graphic designer are two different things. Both our creative lead artist can still draw by hand and I don’t think that many people who deem themselves graphic designers anymore could do that. They think that if they can work in Photoshop that that makes them a designer.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah and I think it’s interesting how your take on CMOs to allow the marketing team to lead the strategy, because it really is strategy based. They may be getting some input from people that think they know marketing, because they understand some of the tools, but really it’s, you’re saying your people have degrees, and this is strategic, and there’s marketing principles that drive everything that you do.

Dawn Claymore: Definitely. I think CMOs have so much pressure on them from inside and they’re listening to people that are surrounding them in their industry. Getting an outside perspective gives a fresh look at what some of those true business problems or solutions would be.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Dawn, can you tell us about a marketing challenge you faced and how you overcame it?

Dawn Claymore: Interesting. That was a big challenge in life about I guess in 2013. So, coming up on five years I guess it is, my largest client, which was the in-house automotive dealership that had grown that I worked for decided to go through a partnership split. The two second generation business owners decided they were going to split the businesses. The good news was I obviously was going to be working with one side. The bad news is I was going to not be the agency of record for the larger side and it was going to be about a half million dollar loss in income, so loss of our number one client.
The biggest thing that I went through, which I’m not saying was the right decision by any means, but I chose to not cut staff and work our way through it that year. So, it took a very big financial hit, but I felt that we did have a good staff and we could work our way through it. Going back, I don’t know if I would maybe make those same decisions, but it was an interesting year and an interesting time.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah, that’s tough losing one of your biggest clients. Then the big question is when to cut staff or not.

Dawn Claymore: Right. In hindsight, I probably should’ve cut some staff, but I didn’t and I made it work.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah. Dawn, let’s talk a little bit about branding. Can you tell us what the role of branding is in your eyes? Where is branding and marketing headed these days?

Dawn Claymore: I wish I had the magic answer to that one, but that is interesting. I think branding has changed or needs to even continually change to be more simple. I feel that we live in a very busy, busy time. We are all multitasking and we’re coming more and more impatient. I feel that when we look at doing branding or rebranding for a company, we need to make sure that we’re keeping it simple. I do still believe though that no matter what size of a client or what’s going on today that the foundation of the campaign is their brand and they need to live, breathe, and make everyone know their brand in order to attract new customers and retain current customers.

Kathy Cunningham: Branding is really important in that and I think your wisdom there is to keep it simple.

Dawn Claymore: Don’t make it too difficult. We all hear this, but Coke, the real thing. Nike, just do it. Those just simple things make a big difference and trying to get into someone’s head and be remembered.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah, that’s a good tip. How about your personal brand, can you describe for us your personal brand?

Dawn Claymore: Yeah, our brand that we came up with when we opened the agency in 2005 was to become greater than. So, that’s our brand is to become greater than. What we mean by that is pushing ourselves to be greater than each other and greater than our competition, challenging ourselves and our partners to never quit learning and always continuing to strive to the next level. I think we can all always become greater than our lives and not to stay stagnant.

Kathy Cunningham: I love that. That’s great, become greater than. How do you communicate that within your agency?

Dawn Claymore: Each staff is required to do educational training each year. I really push them to get out in research conferences or things that are going on local that help them better themselves. Time to time, when I come across a good book that I think is important for them to read, that’ll become required reading whether they like to read or not and then we’ll talk about that. In our weekly staff meeting, I typically will have a YouTube video that I found that has something to do with motivation or something that I think is important that they can learn a lesson from. I think that we try to bring it out all the way through.

Kathy Cunningham: Wow, that’s great. That is an example of not just having a tagline for a brand, but really integrating that in to everything that you do.

Dawn Claymore: Definitely. Even when we’re going out, if we’re deciding to maybe bid on a new customer or whatever, we talk about ways right from the beginning and the brainstorming of how can we make this customer become greater than.

Kathy Cunningham: I love that. That’s great. Thank you for sharing that, become greater than yourself and for your clients.

Dawn Claymore: Your competition.

Kathy Cunningham: Dawn, can you tell us what you think the best way for products, services, and brands to get noticed these days?

Dawn Claymore: Boy, that’s a challenge. Just like we were talking about, things have changed so much in the past years, because we’re just consuming so many different things and doing so many different things and our brains running a million miles an hour. I still think a business needs a combination of marketing methods to be noticed. It’s not just digital, it’s not just traditional. Some of the ones that come to mind that I think are most important would be word of mouth and referrals I think are very important and strong way to get your brand noticed today. Facebook ads, paid Facebook ads are pretty popular right now, but not only are they popular, we’re really seeing some good results and good engagement when we’re putting out the right message there. Online reviews and then of course a strong media spend and frequency with a good message is what it all comes back down to.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah, that sounds like a full product list there of everything working together basically.

Dawn Claymore: I think that’s what we need to do for our clients is to make them a strategy that does involve different types of marketing that all comes together that will stick in a person’s head.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. Dawn, when thinking about 2018, can you talk about the marketing challenges that you’re seeing? What are you seeing is the things that are most significant that you’re going to be addressing in 2018?

Dawn Claymore: I think the big thing that I see in evolution of coming up in 2018 is the accountability of digital marketing companies. I think there’s a lot of I guess I’ll call them digital sharks out there that are, I think you have two things right now. I think you have larger digital companies that are placing thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of clients that the majority of those dollars are not necessarily going to placed ads or going to those company’s pocketbooks. Then I think on the flip side of things, you have a lot of traditional media such as newspaper, yellow pages, radio, that are trying to now enter and chase that digital dollar, because obviously they’re losing their numbers. They don’t know what they’re doing and so I don’t think they’re necessarily serving clients right either, because quite frankly, if a client doesn’t have enough money to play in the digital realm, we should advise them not to, because it’s just going to put a bad taste in their mouth because they’re not going to get good results. I think 2018, I really think that digital is going to have to do a better job at proving what percentage of the dollars is actually being placed online versus fulfillment of a contract.

Kathy Cunningham: Wow, that was really good stuff. Thanks for sharing that. The accountability of digital marketers in 2018 and I love that word you used, “The digital sharks.” You got to be careful about these people that are pushing this digital. Also, you mentioned some people that are selling digital that really don’t know what they’re doing.

Dawn Claymore: For sure.

Kathy Cunningham: Then the consultive part of that, that piece that you brought in there is helping your clients to navigate through all that and making sure that if they don’t have enough money to get in that space to think about, okay, what’s the right thing for you. Digital is not always the answer.

Dawn Claymore: Correct. I really think we’re now at a shift where the talk of digital versus traditional should go away. It’s all marketing. I don’t think that we should have those different conversations that it’s all now one in my eyes.

Kathy Cunningham: Great. Let’s talk a little bit about you some more. Can you tell us about your personal learning experience or a situation in your career where you faced a professional obstacle and how you overcame it?

Dawn Claymore: I think one thing I have realized over the last couple years especially, because for some reason when we are bidding on new business, we have a tendency of winding out second and I think I have came to the realization that the reason why is because I am terrible about talking about myself and my company and what we do. For some reason I just assume people know and so I think that I need to get better about bragging about ourselves and our accomplishments, which is not something that comes natural to me. I think that people know those things, but when I go back and reflect on why we’ve not been the agency of choice, what the feedback I’m getting is that we are just not selling ourselves as much. We spend more time talking about the client and their business problem than we do about our self, which is how we feel. At the same time, we have to prove to them why we can do the job.

Kathy Cunningham: Really good mentoring there, because I think a lot of our listeners can learn that lesson, that maybe you’re not brought up to talk about yourself or to brag about yourself, but it’s really important in business to be able to do that.

Dawn Claymore: Agree and that’s something I need to work on for 2018.

Kathy Cunningham: Dawn, let’s continue down this path of mentoring. Do you have a daily habit or two that contributes to your success that you could share with us today?

Dawn Claymore: Going back to the become greater than strategy, I try to learn something new every day, whether by reading, watching, listening, and not just necessarily to professionals, but just every day people at the same time too. I’ve always said, if you’re not growing you’re dying, so I believe that we’re here to keep learning. Probably, another strategy that I’ve had is I like to take very short vacations. My husband and I both own businesses and we both have a real heavy load. It’s amazing what just out of the office for four days over a weekend, leave on a Thursday come back on a Sunday can do to get your life back in balance. I think that work and home life is important thing to keep in balance. I guess if I had to say two things would be try to learn something new every day and just take sometime for yourself. It may not need to be a vacation, it just needs to be a place to regroup.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. That’s part of why I wanted to start this podcast is because I think you really do need to try to learn every day. Talking with people like you, I learn so much from these conversations and wanted to share this with other people that are interested in just taking a few minutes every day to learn something new.

Dawn Claymore: That was a great idea, Kathy. I love it.

Kathy Cunningham: Dawn, what’s your favorite marketing innovation? How are you using it?

Dawn Claymore: You’re going to be surprised at my answer to this, I think, but I’m weird. I fight marketing innovations. I feel like the more I let technology do for me, the more things maybe I don’t allow myself to do. Things like I’m probably one of those weird people that still can dial the majority of my favorite numbers in their phone instead of press one. I’m driving a car that is a self-driving car, but automatically the brights come on when they come on and the heater comes on when it’s supposed to do the right level, and I fight all that stuff all the way around. Although there’s a lot of cool stuff out there to make my life a lot easier, I still try to make my brain work. That’s so weird and you probably wouldn’t expect me to say that, but I’m a little fighter of marketing innovation.

Kathy Cunningham: I can’t believe that you can dial phone numbers. That’s one of the things I am totally lost the ability to do.

Dawn Claymore: I don’t think my husband could even dial my phone number, so he’s in your same boat.

Kathy Cunningham: You bring definitely a different angle to the answer of marketing innovation, because it’s all around us. It’s interesting that you say you’re fighting it. I’m sure that means a lot of people feel the same way you do.

Dawn Claymore: I don’t know. Pizza Hut actually has like this next year is coming out with an app that you can actually order a pizza from your car. I think there’s a lot of really cool innovation things, innovative things that are happening. They’re awesome and they do make our life easy. I just think that it’s going to make me lazy, so I’m trying to fight it a little bit.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah, really if your car could start ordering you pizza, oh my goodness. That’s not going to be good for our waistline.

Dawn Claymore: No, not at all.

Kathy Cunningham: Let’s talk a little bit about results. Results are so important in what we do in marketing and advertising. How do you measure results?

Dawn Claymore: Obviously with the metrics that are available to us, I will say one good thing with the birth of digital is the dashboards, and the metrics, and the reporting that we can actually see from looking at when people pop on the site, when we’re potentially running a TV ad that inspired them to get on and looking at the attribution model. Although we got to be careful with analytics on how we read them and look at them. We can also track phone calls and all of that, but at the end of the day, I think it comes down to getting feedback from the customers and getting feedback from the frontline at the businesses. Managing the expectations of the customer, did they meet our goal? If so, what do they think, what did they hear that went right? If we didn’t meet our goal, what do they think contributed to that? Dialing down to the people who are actually answering the phone or working with customers can tell you a lot. It doesn’t always have to be the guy leading the organization.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah, that makes so much sense. We talk about that a lot. There’s so much strategy that goes on at the top, but it really has to come to life at the point of sale. So, talking to the people in the frontline sounds like such a great idea when you’re really trying to talk about results what’s going on down there.

Dawn Claymore: Yeah and Kathy I’m sure you run into those a lot as well over the years, but for me, it seems like the majority of businesses will run this huge campaign and the one person who doesn’t know anything about it is the person who’s answering the phone. It really does start at the bottom.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah, that’s amazing. I was talking to somebody just yesterday in HR and she was in our marketing meeting. She had asked us about what techniques we’re using to get the people on the frontline involved with the marketing strategy. I thought, man I had to sit there and think about a couple of things that we’re doing, but when we’re done talking, I pulled her aside and I said, “I’m so glad you asked me that question, because I don’t think we’re doing enough. I’d love to work with you to do more of that, because it’s so important.”

Dawn Claymore: That’s awesome. That’s a great strategy. I don’t think a lot of us do think about that until we get a question like that asked of us.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah, so I’m so glad you brought that up that we have all these analytics and these dashboards, and we were tracking phone calls and TV ads, and attribution models. There’s all that great stuff, but it comes down to getting a feedback from your customer and the feedback from the people on the line and talking about did we meet our goals.

Dawn Claymore: Absolutely, because it’s all about managing expectations.

Kathy Cunningham: That’s great. Thanks for sharing that. That was a good wisdom there. Let’s talk a little bit about mentoring. This podcast is a little bit about mentoring. We’re all mentoring each other here. Can you tell our listeners Dawn what mentoring has meant to you. Are there any lessons that you’ve learned and applied that helped you become this successful businesswoman that you are today?

Dawn Claymore: I believe very strongly in mentoring. I’ll thank my mom for that. As a child, we were not raised in a wealthy family per se, and we would always be volunteering our time at the things, serving Thanksgiving dinner for the needy when the truth be told we should’ve been sitting there eating dinner for the needy. I think that my mom did a very good job of raising four girls by herself and making us all become contributing members to the world. I think that’s what it comes down to. I think that God put you on earth to do good things and that means mentoring. I love marketing, so I should help other people who love marketing become better at marketing.

Three things I like to tell people that I take the time to mentor is first and foremost, don’t forget where you came from. You have to work for it. You can’t expect it and you have to remain who you are. Don’t lose who you are just because you climbed a corporate ladder. I also think it all comes down to making great partners. If you have great partners, whether it’d be your staff or your clients or other vendors, that makes for a great life. I mentor to turn around and mentor other people, whether that’d be volunteer their time or take on someone else to mentor. I think that mentoring is a very important thing to do nowadays for sure.

Kathy Cunningham: Wow. You’ve been such a great mentor to us today and shared some great lessons. I got to tell, you get me goosebumps when you’re talking about your mom and volunteering feeding the needy.

Dawn Claymore: Thanks, Kathy. She’s a pretty cool lady.

Kathy Cunningham: It sounds like it. Don’t forget where you came from. You’ve got to work for it and you’ve got to be yourself.

Dawn Claymore: Definitely and make good partners.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah and pay it forward. That’s great.

Dawn Claymore: Definitely.

Kathy Cunningham: Do you have any advice for any of our listeners or for women that want to get into marketing?

Dawn Claymore: I think the biggest thing is number one just be you and number two, you got to get involved. I touched on this, but I do believe very strongly in donating my time and money to many area of nonprofits. I have been on several boards, several foundations. I was the first woman appointed board member of the Rapid City Chamber of Diplomats. Bottom line is when I did open my business in 2005 and today, many of our long-term partners were people that I met by, that were fellow business owners that were serving on some of these nonprofit boards with me. I think the big thing is just be who you are, but you need to get involved in your community. I think that it will open doors for you.

Kathy Cunningham: Yeah and I like the way you explain that is helping people, that’s great. It also is going to help you get more involved too and it’s helped your career.

Dawn Claymore: Definitely. It sure did.

Kathy Cunningham: After talking to you, I can really see how this all goes back to your introduction and how you consider your firm to be people experts and building relationships. I could really see how that is organically grown in your business and how it’s helped you be successful at what you do.

Dawn Claymore: I didn’t look at that way. Thank you very much.

Kathy Cunningham: Let’s wrap it up. You’ve been so generous with your time, and your knowledge, and your mentoring for us today. I thank you very much for that. I know you’re busy.

Dawn Claymore: So are you.

Kathy Cunningham: My last question for you Dawn is, do you have any marketing resources that you’d like to share with our listeners today? Are there any books, or podcasts, or anything that you would recommend for continued learning?

Dawn Claymore: I would recommend Show Runner for one. Again, I’m a pretty basic person. I do read industry journals and I’m constantly trying to learn. Again, at the end of the day, I think it’s about talking to people. I think some of your best marketing resources can just be talking to other people around you. It doesn’t always have to be the mayor of your town. It could be an average person on the street. I think we can learn a lot about marketing from just talking to fellow people.

Kathy Cunningham: I think that makes a lot of sense, because marketing is really about people. We’re trying to attract people and change behavior and sell products and it comes down to people. So, your advice is talking to people.

Dawn Claymore: Yeah, that’s it. Nothing fancy. No act or anything, just talking to people.

Kathy Cunningham: I love that. Look at, you’re still buck in innovation.

Dawn Claymore: I know. It’s crazy, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I do use it, but I’m trying not to lose my frame.

Kathy Cunningham: No, it’s great. It’s really cool. I love that advice, because it doesn’t have to be so complicated.

Dawn Claymore: It doesn’t.

Kathy Cunningham: Dawn, I’d like to thank you once again for being with us on The Show Runner Network. I enjoyed talking to you and learning so much more about your business and how you run it and how you’ve become successful, so thank you.

Dawn Claymore: Thank you, Kathy.

Kathy Cunningham: Thanks, Dawn.

Outro: That’s it for our show today. Our latest interview and show notes have been added to our Show Runner Hall of Fame at Don’t miss an episode by subscribing now to The Show Runner Network Podcast on iTunes and to network, motivate, and gain some more wisdom from the talk. Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn. Keep learning and growing. Thanks for listening.

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