August 10, 2022

Advertising and Brands: Details matter, know when to quit, …be nice (podcast episode #27)


Get ideas for growing your career, managing your team, and innovating your campaigns by listening to episode #27 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast. I had an interesting and analytical conversation with Dr. Mara Einstein, Professor of Media Studies, Queens College.

Dr. Einstein discussed vetting the talent, pushing your team to believe they can do more than they think they can, building relationships with colleagues who have your back, and much more.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

Advertising and Brands: Details matter, known when to quit, …be nice (podcast episode #27)

This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

“Details matter.” That is a key lesson from our latest guest on How I Made It In Marketing. In fairness, it’s probably not a breakthrough new idea to you, right?

But what she said next is the beauty (in my biased opinion) of what we do on the podcast – she told the story of how she lived that lesson with a fascinating example involving Stevie Wonder.

Everybody knows “details matter,” but as Stephen Covey said, “What is common sense isn’t common practice.” That’s why the stories our guest tell can be so helpful – it can give you the information and inspiration to turn these lessons into common practice in your career.

Here’s what her story did for me… while I will never create a VH1 award for Stevie Wonder, her story inspired me to think where I can be more detail oriented as a writer.

And my mind landed on a test I saw Flint McGlaughlin teach in Effective Headlines: How to write the first 4 words for maximum conversion, where he showed how dropping four words from a headline lead to an 88% increase in conversion.

I hope our latest guest sparks ways for you to connect the dots in your daily work and overall career. Dr. Mara Einstein is Professor of Media Studies at Queens College, part of the City University of New York system, where she recently launched a program in advertising.

Dr. Einstein has written six books, most recently Black Ops Advertising: Native ads, content marketing, and the covert world of the digital sell. At the time of our conversation, she was deep into researching her latest book (on multi-level marketing) having just attending a conference hosted by Bill Keep.

Listen using the embedded player below or click through to your preferred audio streaming service.

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Stories (with lessons) about what she made in marketing

Some lessons from Dr. Einstein that emerged in our discussion:

Always vet the talent.

When Dr. Einstein was an account executive at the advertising agency Backer Spielvogel Bates (BSB), the last commercial she made for Miller Lite was called Football Wives.

She hadn’t worked on the prep for the ad, but when she showed up on set, she helped discover that there were issues with some of the actresses that could reflect negatively on the brand.

She tried to remedy the issue by putting both actresses on the same side of the camera so executive creative director Bob Lenz and his team could cut them out of the final commercial.

Tell the interns that when they aren't doing the job, you’re not going to do them any favors.

Dr. Einstein had two interns at NBC at the same time. One was sharp as a whip and worked with her on demonstrating to record labels that sales increased when talent appeared on the Today show.

Another was only there for the line on her resume. Dr. Einstein asked the intern to work on an expense report (this was before it would have all been done electronically). The intern left it on her desk and didn't get it in. The company charged Dr. Einstein for getting it in late.

She uses this example with students all the time – tells them to be like the first intern and not the second intern.

Details matter.

While at VH1, Dr. Einstein and creative director Cheri Dorr worked the first VH1 Honors awards show, which was supposed to be VH1’s version of MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs). The show featured incredible talent like Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, and Prince. The design team created individualized 3D awards for the talent. The one for Stevie Wonder didn’t have the glass on the front so he could feel the elements that represented him.

...Be nice.

When she worked on the Uncle Ben’s account while at BSB, an ad almost went out that reversed the side-by-side comparison, showing Uncle Ben’s as the worse rice. One of the traffic people she built a relationship with caught it and saved her before that mistake went out.

Another example Dr. Einstein provided was her current colleague, Douglas Rushkoff. Even though he’s a respected author and has every reason to feel like he's better than everybody else, he is “salt of the Earth” and is willing to help anybody.

Know when to quit.

When Dr. Einstein went from VH1 to NBC, it wasn’t the right fit, but she found a way to make it work because she felt that she needed the broadcast experience on her resume. After a few years, the fit was still off. For example, her colleagues were excited to see if “Seinfeld” would be picked up for another year and NBC President and CEO Bob Wright even sent the GE airplane to pick up Jerry Seinfeld and bring him to the Upfront meetings.

When she didn’t care what happened with “Seinfeld” (even though she went to undergrad with Jason Alexander), she realized it was time to make a career change.

She read the book “I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was” by Barbara Sher and went back to school to get her PhD. She studied with Neil Postman (a media theorist best known for his books in the late ‘80s and early ’90s who is still relevant today, haven’t just been profiled by Ezra Klein) which helped her realize she wanted to become a professor, a job much better suited to who she is.

Stories (with lessons) about the people she made it with

Dr. Einstein also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with:

Help push people to believe they can do more than they think they can.

via Leslye Schaefer, Senior Vice President of Marketing, VH1

Schaefer believed that Dr. Einstein could handle more responsibility before Dr. Einstein herself ever thought she could, and Schaefer promoted her to director or marketing. She moved from overseeing one coordinator to overseeing the internal creative group and being the client to the outside agency.

There are people who have your back.

via Ann Brown and Kelly Coogan-Swanson, NBC:

NBC was still very much an old boys’ club when Dr. Einstein worked there. She built relationships with Brown and Coogan-Swanson, who helped her navigate NBC, by sitting and having coffee in the morning and talking about their lives. She also thinks this is the downside of people not going back to the office. It’s not the same over Zoom.

As a final piece of advice, Dr. Einstein shared David Ogilvy’s famous quote, “The customer is not a moron. She's your wife.”

Related content mentioned in this episode

Hospitality Marketing: Have a Gumby attitude to any launch (podcast episode #20) – Discussion with Chad Brown, Chief Marketing Officer, JC Hospitality (owner and property manager of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas)

Evidence-based Marketing: This blog post will not solve your most pressing marketing challenges…yet

Content Marketing: Harvard Business School’s Michael Norton discusses surprising consumer behavior research

About this podcast

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.


Not ready for a listen yet? Interested in searching the conversation? No problem. Below is a tough transcript of our discussion.

Daniel Burstein: Why is my next guest different from all other guests I've had on How I've Made it in Marketing so far? Well, it's one of the reasons why I was so glad to see her podcast guest application and invited her on. It's not because she's an academic. We've had other academics on before. It's because I would describe her as someone who critiques our industry.

Now, your first visceral reaction may be how dare she? And Daniel, why on earth would you prominently amplify her voice? You know, fair enough. After all, as Upton Sinclair said, it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. So if that's your feeling this episode, it's just not for you.

But this is the way I think about it. I want to do my job with eyes wide open. Of course, we in the marketing industry stumble even when our intentions are noble. We need to learn from it. And when we work for our brands, if we do not do right by our customers, another brand will come along. If we do not do right by our customers as an industry, someone else will step in. Just look at the discussions in Congress right now around data.

So you may be able to get away with those tricks and hacks in the short term, but it tends to catch up to you, to use another great quote as Dr. Martin Luther King famously said, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. I think the same is true for marketing. Which is why we specifically don't teach the marketing hacks and tricks on Marketing Sherpa. We sit down with marketing leaders, discuss the most powerful stories from their career, how they've wrestled with these decisions, made mistakes and learned from them, and ultimately better serve the customer and achieved business results. And that is the conversation we will have right now with our next guest.

All that said, she's not here to teach any critique specifically. She's here to share her own very unique lived experience in the marketing industry and what she's learned on her path from being a Marketing Director, just like you, to ultimately moving into academia. She can share from a unique perspective a bird's eye view of the industry, if you will, because she is no longer bogged down by day to day clients concerns. But she says she is still sympathetic to what it's like to be a marketer. So it's my pleasure right now to welcome Dr. Mara Einstein, Professor of Media Studies at Queens College. Thanks for being here, Mara.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Thank you so much for having me. And let me also add to this. I may critique marketing, but I am also the biggest fan of really good marketing. If you do something that is really powerful and moves people in a positive direction, I will applaud you from here to the ends of the earth.

Daniel Burstein: Hear, hear. I love that. And that's the challenge. And that's why we have this podcast. You know, on this podcast, you'll see the discussions happen. We don't have any good ideas, right? We just we say from our experiences and stuff. But we can spur and hopefully inspire someone listening right now to get that next great idea, do that great marketing and maybe you'll see it and cheer them on, right?

Dr. Mara Einstein: Absolutely.

Daniel Burstein: So let's quickly look at your background so people know who I'm talking to you. You started majoring in theater at Boston University, went on to get an MBA in Marketing from Northwestern and then a Ph.D. in Media from NYU. You were the Director of Advertising and Marketing Communications at VH1, a Director of Marketing at NBC. You've written six books, most recently Black Ops, Advertising, Native Ads, Content Marketing and the Covert World of the Digital Cell. And for the past 23 years, you've been a Professor of Media Studies at Queens College, part of the City University of New York system, where you just launched an Advertising Major. So tell us, what is it like? What's your day like as a Professor of Media Studies?

Dr. Mara Einstein: It can really vary. I mean, one of the things I really love about being a Professor is that your life sort of changes every four years when you start writing a new book. And so your life becomes immersed in what it is you're studying at that particular period of time. But if it's a day when I'm teaching, I usually teach work for 3 hours in the morning and then I spend the afternoon in a couple of hours in office hours with students.

And then if it's a writing day, I get up and write in the morning and then I spend the afternoon doing interviews with people. So right now I'm working on a new book. It's not all about MLMs, but it's partially about multilevel marketing. So I'm spending the morning writing about about how people get enmeshed into, into multilevel marketing.

And then I spend the afternoons either interviewing people or finding people who I want to interview who are either working on the marketing side of that, or are additional people who have been a consultant or stylist or whatever they call it, depending upon what MLM it is.

Daniel Burstein: When you're researching and writing like that. So I found one of the biggest challenges is always to get in the shoes of the marketer. So do you actually try to go and like purchase from MLM companies or did you get deep into this you know native content when you were doing this? Because I found, you know, as marketers, when I'm creating something, when I'm writing something or, you know, when I'm working in that boardroom and everyone's on the same page, it seems to make so much sense. But then when you put on the shoes of the marketer and you see it from that perspective, that's the biggest challenge. And you're like, Wait a minute. So like, have you actually like gone and now are you buying from MLM companies to see what that customer experience is like?

Dr. Mara Einstein: I haven't done that yet, but what I have done is hired one of my former students to become a consultant. Okay. And so I can see because I look, I'm of a certain age, I don't have the same sort of facility with social media as my students have. And so I've hired a student to become a consultant and to see what kind of pushback she starts to get in terms of, you know, oh, you need to work harder, oh, you need to sell more, oh you need to buy more and see what happens to her in that respect.

But there has been a lot of good work. A guy by the name of Bill Keep who did a conference on multilevel marketing and it's just terrific if anybody's interested in that. And it's both a combination of academics, people from the FTC, where there, former MLM’ers it was, it was the whole shebang and it was really incredibly well done.

Daniel Burstein: Okay, fantastic. Well, let's jump into, like you said, the stories, what you've learned from your industry, which goes way beyond MLM to all types of marketing. So you were an Account Executive at an ad agency, VSB, and there you learned always that the talent. How did you learn this lesson?

Dr. Mara Einstein: That was when I worked on Miller Lite and I was actually the only woman working on Miller Lite at the time. And let me tell you, that's battle training for a woman in the industry. But one of the last commercials that I worked on there was a commercial called Football Wives. And if people know the Miller Lite brand, they know that sports talent was used over many, many years to sell the brand. And most of it had never been done with anything other than the sports talent. And if the sports talent was in the commercial. Then the talent people would vet them, right? Make sure that they weren't an alcoholic, though I think there was an issue with Billy Martin and people just overlooked that and that wasn't the case when we did it with the wives.

And so I hadn't worked on the prep for the ad. They just sent me down to Florida, which was nice. It was one week down in Florida at a nice resort, and we were shooting an ad with four wives. And the women were walking ahead of me the day before the shoot, and I was walking behind them with the producer. And we heard one of the women say to one of the other women that she was pregnant. Now, the last thing you want to have happen is to have somebody find out you've shot a commercial for an alcoholic beverage with a pregnant woman.  So the producer and I did the equivalent of a spit take and look at each other and say, okay, that's not good.

And then we say, oh, I wonder if anybody's vetted the other women in this. And it turns out one of the other wives, her husband, had been picked up, I think, on 13 DWI’s. And so he obviously had some sort of a drinking issue. So we called to New York and we're like, okay, what do we do? What do we do? What do we do? And so we were trying to shoot it in such a way as to have the two women that would ultimately need to be cut out of the ad on one side and the other two on the other side. So we didn't really tell them they were going to get cut out. The commercial was shot. We brought it back to New York. The head of the agency, I think it was guys named Bob Lenz at the time was like the head creative guy was trying to cut the spot. I don't think it actually ever ended up being able to be cut appropriately and they had to junk the whole thing. And I think which doesn't sound like a lot of money now, but back then it was like $350,000 down the tubes.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, better to figure that out before you start shooting. Right. But at least we might have saved them from a public relations nightmare.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Daniel Burstein: When I hear about vetting me, I think some place that companies and brands could also get a little bit of trouble is with their channel selection. So I was wondering, like and I think this gets to last book how well brands are vetting their channels. So on an earlier episode, I interviewed a CEO named Chad Brown and he launched Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas, right in the middle of COVID. And he had limits on what he could do with talent, money and channels. And his lesson was that have a Gumby attitude, right? In other words, always be flexible.

So I was thinking of that and your discussion of vetting talent and I wonder what your thoughts are on vetting channels and tactics and you know, cause sometimes use uses excuse, everyone's doing it. I feel like I have to use this channel or this tactic because everyone else is. But that flexibility lesson and your vetting lesson. It's a good reminder to all of us that, you know, there's always another option. That's the thing of creativity. It's not just creativity in the ad, it's creativity in our channels, in our tactics. If we're worried about how these might reflect on our brands, we just have to find another way. So what have you learned about brands vetting their channels and their marketing tactics they use?

Dr. Mara Einstein: Well the question makes me have two thoughts. The first thing I thought of was Sleeping Giants, right? And these were the folks that went after advertisers shortly after Trump came out and they found out that a lot of name brand advertisers were on Breitbart, for instance, and most people didn't know that they were there, mostly because of programmatic ad buying. Right, because nobody had set up the program to say, no, we don't want to be on this.

Daniel Burstein: So let me interrupt you real quick So we're clear, when you say most people didn't know they were on there, you're not talking about most consumers. You're talking about the marketers of the brand himself that didn't even know they were advertising on Breitbart because with such dramatic advertising they are not ticking a buy on a specific channel.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Correct? Correct. Because what happens with programmatic, right, is that you're you're looking for the eyeballs. You're looking for the eyeballs based on the specific demographic. And you don't care about what the content is anymore. That's one of the real major downsides of programmatic. And some of what I talk about in black ops, you know, you have to you can't just let the technology do this for you. And I think that's really one of the downsides of not having a person in the system somewhere. Because, you know, way back in the old days, we looked at where every ad ran, made sure that it ran, where it was supposed to run and all of those sorts of things. And now it's all allowed to go by the programing without any kind of consideration about the environment within which your ad is being seen.

I don't think you want to do that as a marketer. It's not helpful to you as a marketer to be next to Breitbart or to be next to OAN or wherever it is where your ad might end up. So that's one thing about vetting. The other thing I started thinking about vetting in terms of talent is really influencers. The influencer that's really cool today could be a real problem tomorrow. And everybody wants to be an influencer. And now you have the influencer networks where you don't often times have the same sort of ability to be able to vet the talent in in the way that you want to be able. Take the extra time upfront in the same way you would want to take the extra time upfront to vet the talent for a commercial.

You want to take the extra time upfront to vet the talent for your influencers. Because not every influencer is created equal. And especially now when marketers are looking to use more nano influencers as opposed to the big celebrity influencers. And I think that's right,  I think nano influencers, the ability to be able to connect people is a much better use of the technology. It is about making those connections. And if somebody has a feeling and a connection with a particular influencer, they will be more likely to connect to your brand and trust them. If you know, if they suggest that your brand is something that their listeners or followers should buy. But if you're talking about an influencer with a smaller following base, they also probably are somebody who needs to be vetted more carefully.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I love that. You know, like I tried to say in the opening is be careful for the hacks and tips and the tricks. And we see these all over the web. And, you know, what happens is we as marketers, where we own that message, we own that the how the brand is perceived and the brand is perceived by more than just what we say. It's how we say it so I loved what you said there.

So this is a very practical next piece of advice for any Manager or above, or actually anyone in college now who's interested in going into marketing, tell the interns when they aren't doing the job you're not going to do them any favors. So tell us about your experience with interns, how you got burned, how you decided to well, I got to make sure these interns know that they need to help me out or I'm not helping them out.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Right, right, right, right. I ended up being the Internship Director at Queens College for 15 years after I left corporate. And part of the reason why is because I'd hire and fired an awful lot of interns over that time. And the example that I like to give to students about what to do and what not to do. Whereas two interns that I had at NBC toward the end of my tenure there, I had one intern that we were trying to make the argument that if a music label put their talent onto the Today Show, that they would see a spike in sales. And so we were working with SoundScan and I taught her how to use SoundScan. And it got to the point where the producers out in California were calling her instead of calling me. So she was taking work off my plate, which is what's supposed to happen. You train somebody and then they're able to take it on and they can take ownership of that piece of work.

I had another intern who I had asked to do an expense report for me. This was before we did it all on computers. And so I had given her my receipts and I had been out to Burbank because when you work for NBC, you go out to Burbank once a month, and she just left it on her desk and left it on her desk and left it on her desk. And it got to the point where the billing department was asking me where the expense report was. I thought she'd already done it, frankly. And I went in and I found it on her desk, and it turns out they charged me. The company charged me because I was too late in getting the expense report in. So I always say to my students, you want to be the first intern and not the second intern.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. And I think there's a great lesson there for personal branding, too. So for internships, for sure, for any job, you know, I mean, one of the reasons you get an internship, you get college credit, you're, you know, hopefully learning, but you're also starting to build your personal brand and network within the industry. And you want to build a personal brand where someone you know, because you always get asked after, would you refer this person? You want someone that is going to say, Oh, I've had this great experience, you know, right? That personal brand is grown.

So I think that's a great lesson there. Actually. It brings up another question about personal branding. I want to ask about your name now that I think about it. So Dr. Einstein, right, I don't know if that's something that you were born with or came to later in life. But I've noticed something, you know, with my name, for example, Daniel Burstein. So when I was young, when I was a kid, I did not love the name Daniel Burstein because Berenstain Bears, nobody knows what Daniel Burstein is. I wanted to be Mike Smith so I was jealous of those guys. But now that I've grown in my career and especially in publishing and stuff, it's great to be Daniel Burstein because, you know, there's actually Dan Burstein and a Danny Burstein., that's why I specifically go by Daniel. But, you know, people can find me. There's a brand out there, and any time I'm working with the Mike Smith’s or the Jane Smith’s, it's really usually hard to find them on social media. So one lesson  I've learned is if you're Mike Smith, you know, be Mike Billings Smith or, you know be Jane Ann Smith or, you know, so someone can actually find you.

So I just wonder, it's such a unique name. Dr. Einstein is both a compliment, right? Some would say, Oh, Dr. Einstein, it's also kind of a kind of backhanded compliment, like, oh, what a Dr. Einstein. So just like how has that effect that brand affected your career?

Dr. Mara Einstein: Well, I married into the name. My maiden name was Schwartz, and I actually divorced my first husband. But I decided to keep the last name because really, Schwartz or Einstein, that's really not a fair fight in terms of the decision making there. It's really interesting that you say that I'm in the middle of a personal rebrand right now, absolutely. It's so funny, it’s so great that you're asking this question. I mean, one of the hardest things for anyone to do is their personal branding. Even as a marketer, it is so hard to do. And so I’ve spent the last two months really thinking through, okay, I'm going to redo my website, I am going to do all this stuff, okay, what am I going to do?

So the first thing that I did was change my Internet handles to The Dr. Einstein.

Daniel Burstein: Nice.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Dr. Einstein was gone. So I had to go with THE Dr. Einstein. But I actually, like it, you know, The Dr. Einstein. I'm also about to launch a new newsletter called Marketing Straight Talk. It's not really for the industry, it's more for well, you know, could be for people in the industry, but it's more for a general audience to understand how marketing, what marketers do, how marketing affects us, you know, could be anything from MLMs to I've also done work on marketing higher education, I've done work on influencers and so on. So yeah, but I'm digging The Dr. Einstein these days.

Daniel Burstein: It was cool cause fun fact. Albert Brooks, the actor Albert Brooks was actually Albert Einstein. That was his birth name, he rebranded.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Yes, he's related branded.

Daniel Burstein: That's very cool. Well, I think that's a great lesson for anyone with a unique name. I love how you leaned into it. I've seen Sally Hogshead talk before. We had her out at the Marketing Sherpa Summit, she gave a great talk about the same thing, kind of when she was younger. That name was not really something beneficial. But if you've ever seen her brand she's heavily leaned into Hogshead and talks about the Hogshead name and its branding, It's memorable. And then you remember Sally Hogshead. So anyone out there, if you've got a unique name like Dr. Einstein, lean into it. If you got a very common name, find a way to make a unique put in a middle name. Do something else there. So, you know, people will remember your personal brand.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Just so you know, Danny Bernstein is a graduate of Queens College.

Daniel Burstein: Is he really? Yeah. For those who are listening, don't know. Danny Burstein is actually a Broadway star. He's in he's in Fiddler on the Roof. I think he's in French play.

Dr. Mara Einstein: He was in Moulin Rouge.

Daniel Burstein: Moulin Rouge, that what it is. And so every now and then on Twitter, someone will congratulate me for being such a wonderful Tevye the previous night and to meet with them. But again, that's where it gets to. The minor thing I did is this – Dan Burstein is actually a published author and a VC guy and well-known, and Danny Burstein is the actor. So I make sure, you know, colloquially, if I'm talking someone, I don't care if I'm Dan or whatever, but if I'm publishing or if I'm doing something like this is Daniel Burstein. So I've got kind of that unique name, that unique brand, that unique value proposition we all want. Someone can find me and they don't think I'm going to, you know, show up and do a great you know “If I were a rich man” because I would not, I would mingle.

Speaking of which, this is perfect for our next I think details matter. So the details in in your name, you know, for your name, for your personal branding matter, details matter for other things. I love this because this is a great example as I was telling Mara in the beginning you know we're not looking for thought, we are not just looking for people talking about the same thing, details matter. You hear that everywhere. But she has a great story. She was working for VH1, the VH1 one honors award show, the first award shows. She had incredible talent there Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, Prince. Tell us, how did you live that details matter?

Dr. Mara Einstein: Well, I won't take all the credit for this. I actually have to give the credit to our Creative Director, and her name is Cheri Dorr, and she is just brilliant. Cheri Dorr is brilliant and she's still working in the business now. What she did, what she decided to do for the award show, and VH1  created the VH1 Honors as the kind of response to the VMAs, right. MTV had the VMAs  and we know from a ratings perspective, you can really game up the ratings by having an awards show. So we did this awards show. And rather than give like a Moon Man, which is what MTV gives for their awards, was to create individual sort of tableau for the talent. And they were all specific to what the talent was. And they all had a glass front on them, except for the one for Stevie Wonder. The one for Stevie Wonder didn't have a glass piece on it. And I remember there was a face in it, and I don't remember what the other pieces were, but the front part of it was open so that he could feel what the parts were to the award that he was receiving. And that was that kind of attention to detail that made the difference between just giving something away and really giving something memorable to talent, who then feels like they want to give back to you.

Daniel Burstein: I love that. That's beautiful. And if anyone just happens to be younger is unfamiliar with Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder is a famous singer who is blind he couldn't see. So being able to feel that is beautiful. And it got me thinking that detail. It's great for your talent, but what details matter when it comes to the customers brand experience or what are the small details companies are overlooking?

So one example that comes to mind for me, we have a free digital marketing course and in FastClass #11, Flint McGlaughlin teaches remember that the customer is the subject and your offer is the object. And as an example, he shows a test with a company that had the headline We can help you lower your payments by up to 50%. And simply by changing a small detail, you change it to lower your payments by up to 50%. They got an 88% conversion increase. So I just wondered, you know, what have you come across in your experience or in your research Mara, what details matter when it comes to the customers brand experience? What are the small details that companies are overlooking?

Dr. Mara Einstein: The first thing I thought of was a terrible experience I had because that's also really key is what consumers remember is the terrible experiences they have. They don't remember the good experiences they have quite as much. Can I name the company? Is that okay? For a bad experience. I bought a new iPhone at the Verizon store and of course the guy upsold me to get a watch. And I then went online and saw that they were charging me all kinds of stuff for the watch. He ended up charging me for insurance that I specifically told him I didn't want. It was like one thing after another, after another after another. I was like, seriously? And it was three phone calls later and all this kind of stuff. And I returned the watch because I said, No, I'm done. I went to the store, the guy gave me his phone number. He sort of patted me on the head, really not the way to deal with this.

When I called them back again, there was somebody who got on the phone with me. She was able to help me maneuver my way through some of this stuff. And then she said to me, I can give you $25 off a month. I said, Really? I said, Just this month. She goes, no for the life of your contract. I said, Really? It's like, okay, I'll take it. But  I didn't understand why it took me complaining so many times and having to had such a bad experience to begin with to get to the point where that was going to happen. And I think that that's something that it left such a bad taste in my mouth. I'm not sure that when this contract is done that I would stay.

Daniel Burstein: Well, I think the lesson to that for me,. One, first of all, what you said is great about, you know, negative experience rests more with a customer than a positive experience. We've actually done research with 2400 customers. We asked them both about positive and negative experiences they had with a company. And it turns out to be very likely to work with a company again, you need like a five out of five basically, I'm simplifying it. But to be very unlikely to work with a company again a three out of five in experience you’d start losing customers. So it wasn't one out of five and five out of five. It was the positive you needed a five out of five, just that three out of five with the customer they're starting to leave.

And the thing that your story really gets me thinking is I don't personally blame the individual you were working with. I blame the incentive scheme that they came up with at Verizon. Because likely what happened is, hey, they're looking for like a lot of companies are, we need to just boost that revenue in the next quarter. Let's get some spiffs to our salespeople. We get some of those extra things in there that really are very high margin because they don't cost us anything. Then, you know, we're going to be able to kind of boost some of that revenue. But as I said in the beginning, you know, the arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Over time you're going to burn and lose customers that way and someone else is going to come in that's going to serve them better. And I know personally when I've had those experiences and they burn me, I am always like, fool me once, shame on me, but I am never getting burned by that company again. I'm going to find another way. And I'm not as good as you sometimes and reach out. And because not every customer is going to be like, you know Mara and reach out. A lot of customers are like me and just think, okay, I'm not getting burned again. I'm not dealing with them again.

Dr. Mara Einstein: One thing I would say, and I have a good example because I don't want to come off as negative, so I want to give you the good example. But the other place I would say that this is more of a consumer announcement is going into drugstores and the drugstores telling you that the price for your prescription is a certain amount. And then you say, well, do you have a coupon? And they come back and tell you you don't know anything. I mean, that's something that I don't feel like consumers have to do, but that's a longer conversation, andmuch more complex.

Good story. Wonderful story. There's a company called Life Therapy, Life Therapy, and they make really wonderful smelling lotions and all of this sort of thing. And I bought from them a couple of times. And one time I actually gave a bottle away to a friend as a gift, and she opened the bottle in front of me and it had already opened and the soap was all over the place. And so I just sent them an email and I said, you know, I was really kind of embarrassed because I gave this to my friend and it fell apart. And they couldn't have been nicer. And she said, Oh, we check everything before it goes out. I feel really terrible about this, don't worry, we'll ship something to you right away. Not only did she ship it to me right away, she had a handwritten note in there saying, We really stand behind our product. We are so sorry this happened to you, you know, here, take this. And then she included a couple of samples. You know, I have, not surprisingly, ordered from them multiple times since.

Daniel Burstein: I think it actually ties well into our next lesson, which you say be nice. So you were working on the Uncle Ben's account. Where was this? Was this that the same ad agency?

Dr. Mara Einstein: Yeah. Backer, Spielvogel Bates, BSB. And so when I worked on Uncle Ben's, I am embarrassed to say I worked on Uncle Ben's nobody likes Uncle Ben's anymore. But we always did a side-by-side comparison of the rice. And there was always one side that was the sticky rice and one side that was the rice that was floating in the air. So I gett a call from somebody in traffic saying, you need to come down to the bullpen. And so I go down to the artist bullpen and this is in a day when people used Exacto knives to pull stuff up off of a piece of paper, right. And he said, take a look at this. It's like, okay, he had to teach me. Take a look at this. I was like , oh, I was just shocked because the separated rice was under the competitor and the clumpy race was underneath Uncle Ben's. And so we were able to switch it before it went out to the magazine.

But I think the reason why he called me was that I used to go down to the bullpen and hang out with the guys and the women who work down there. And I would say, do you want coffee or I would bring homemade brownies or whatever it was. And I didn't do it to put money in the bank. I did it because that's who I am. And artists are really fun people and I like to hang out with them. So it was I think that I treated them like people and not, quote unquote hands, which is what we used to call them. They weren't hands. They're people. And they're people who are doing their job and working hard and we were all there at 8:00 at night trying to get this ad out. And they saved me.

Daniel Burstein: That's great. You know, on an earlier episode of the How I Made It Marketing podcast, I interviewed Paul Krasinski and he told a story. I'm a big fan of Pearl Jam, not just because I like their music a lot, but also because of the way they run their business like they're very well known for treating everyone very well, you know, like not, you know, the old rock star attitude in the eighties was tear everything apart and act like a jerk and everything.

And he told this story, actually, he’s the brother of John Krasinski, of how he got, you know, invited to be backstage at Pearl Jam and hang out with them. And after the show, even, you know, this big show at Fenway Park, they were hanging out with Eddie Vedder backstage and then how, you know, they do things that after show. And he got to see upfront. He's like this guy, because I hate seeing people’s LinkedIn now Marketing Rock Star, Marketing Rock Star. All right, I hate that. And he said this guy is literally a Rock Star. He had just rocked out Fenway Park. And I saw how he treated everyone, these people backstage who no one would ever know, you know, some fans they were children and stuff, you know, and it's to me, it's such a reminder and inspiration. Once we move up in our marketing career, we get egos. You know we’re a Marketing Director, we’re a CMO, we have a podcast, whatever it is, we have these egos. To remember that all of these people involved in making this thing happen. Maybe if you're at the top of the org chart or you're a bit of the face of something, you feel more important to them.

But it doesn't happen without that collaboration with everyone pulling it off. So having that attitude of not a rock star, again a great quote by Eddie Vedder, he once asked, What's it like to be a rock star? He said, It's such a weird thing. He's like, I don't want to think of myself as a rock star in music. I want to go myself as a plumber of rock stars. I always said that was just such a great way to go about it. We're all just plumbers, we’re all just trying to fix those pipes and get everything done at the end of the day.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Well, I want to give a shout out to one of my colleagues who people may or may not know. I think they probably do is Douglas Rushkoff. He's written an awful lot of books he's written. He was the one who created the term media virus throwing rocks at the Google bus. Present tense, I think is one of his books. He's got a new book that's coming out shortly, but he's just salt of the earth. I mean, he's had I don't know how many New York Times bestsellers he's done Frontline documentaries. He's got, you know, graphic novels he's written. I mean, he has every reason to feel like he's better than everybody else, and he never does. And he is willing to help anybody. He will help people, you know, in so many, many, many, many ways. And I often look at him as my sort of North Star about how to treat people.

Daniel Burstein: I think that's beautiful. I think, one, if you're just 100% cynical listening and you're like, I could care less about anyone else. If you care about marketing success, I think you're probably going to be a lot more likely to be successful if you see everyone's role in what you're trying to create. But I think to not to get too deep, but there's going to be a time when these marketing careers are over and these academic careers are over. You know what I mean? It's all going to be over at some point. We're going to be lying in a bed, hospital bed somewhere, looking in the mirror or whatever. And I would like to know that. Okay, had maybe a hopefully, I hope a slightly more positive impact on people's life than a negative one. And so. Well, let me ask I want to ask you about this be nice lesson when it comes to customers.

So you gave a good example before about being nice to customers in general, how, you know, a company was rewarding you. But when it comes to media and content specifically, I wonder how brands can essentially be nicer to their customers. And I think about it for this reason. You know, we take a very content forward approach with Marketing Sherpa with MECLABS Institute and something I notice in content, and this is maybe where I'm cynical and I see there's a lot of content out there,  it's written for keywords or it's written for an algorithm or it's like, how can we just get it placed everywhere? And do you put like a trick headline, or put some native content with a platform and get people pulled in.

And you know, for us I feel like and this is maybe tooting our own horn too much, but I feel like it is an honor and a pleasure to be able to serve people with our content. And so being nice is critical to what we do. And I was looking back at, for example, one headline I wrote when we're asking our audience what topics they wanted us to cover, I said, this blog post will not solve your most pressing marketing challenges yet. And so I could have written a headline and hopefully oversold it, clickbait got people in and these things. We really try to make that honest promise and serve people. And so I wonder, especially in your research, like how can brands be nicer to their customers when it comes to how they're using their content?

Dr. Mara Einstein: Well, it's interesting I told you I'm working on this this personal branding stuff. And one of the things I learned from that course is that 70% of your content should be content that is helping your customer, right. What are things that would interest then? What are things that would entertain them? What are things that you know they don't know that they kind of need to know?

I think that was one of the things that Casper kind of did really interestingly, when they had their blog. Is it was really a combination of sleep, but it was also, you know, the Girl Scouts went to the White House and a sleepover with Michelle Obama. You know, so that's, you know, was kind of fun entertainment that they can have. But only 10% of your content should be some kind of a hardcore sales pitch. You know, 20% of your content can be, you know, other things that you don't want to post about your competitors but, you might want to alert your consumers to, you know, what's the latest news from, I don't know, the FDA about, you know, your suntan lotion, I don't know, making this up off the top of my head.

But content is not about you. And that's the difference between content and advertising. Content is not about you, advertising is all about you. And people don't want advertising 24 seven they want content and they want, you know, that's why they call it customer relationship marketing. It's creating a relationship. And you can't create a relationship when you're constantly saying to someone, buy something from me, I'm really fabulous. Buy something from me. Who wants to hear that 24/7?

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. We actually interviewed the CMO of Saatva, which is also one of the early pioneering direct to consumer mattress companies. On an earlier episode of the How I Made It and Marketing podcast and one of the things he said is, you know, programmatically, we were talking about programmatic before, programmatic got us so far, but then we realized the brand became important at some point, especially as some of that programmatic stuff became so expensive.

And one of the things they did is they got into content and they partnered with Time magazine and Time Publishing, and one of their all time best performing blog posst was just something helpful regarding sleep. You know it was helping people wasn't just so much right by our mattress, our mattress is 10% better than the other mattress. Right?

Dr. Mara Einstein: Right, right.

Daniel Burstein: All right. Well, here's another great lesson I love, know when to quit. You were the director of Marketing NBC. And this one shocks me. So you said when you don't care if Jerry Seinfeld shows up for the upfront meetings, you realize it's time to quit. So this shocks me on two levels. One, I'm a huge Jerry Seinfeld fan, but two, at this time, I'm guessing this was the late nineties, Jerry Seinfeld biggest TV, biggest star in the world, I think biggest show on TV. Not just then, ever.

And, you know, one of the lessons we had earlier, in an early episode of the podcast, I don't remember exactly who gave it, but they said, hey, remember that marketing's fun, like these jobs are fun, look around you and realize you're doing something neat and fun. And I realized that's a good lesson. You know, we had Marketing Sherpa Summits, we had these big events. Very stressful when you're doing a live event, is the talent going to show up? What's the next thing it's going to happen? What's going to go wrong? You're solving problems. And it was sometimes, hey, stop and look around. We're at the Aria in Las Vegas. This is kind of fun. You know, you kind of forget that. But you're saying you were at the point Jerry Seinfeld's there, you could care less. You knew you had to quit. So, take us back to that.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Okay. So I worked at NBC for five years. And particularly when you're working in network television, there's a very specific pattern to your year. So you launched the shows in September and you hope everything that you created is really wonderful. And if it's not, you have to adjust. And then in January you get into pilot season and that's when producers are creating all kinds of shows.

You have meetings with producers before then to say, We know we're going to have an 8:00 hole, that we need a comedy, or we're going have a 10:00 slot on Wednesday when we're going to need a drama. And so they start putting things together. And so then you have pilot season, so the pilots start being created and then sort of January to March, you're watching the pilots, and then in March you have the development meetings.

And the development meetings are meetings said used to happen in L.A. and I think since then they're happening in New York. But you would fly out the top advertisers to meet with the top programing people so that they could tell the advertisers what shows they expected to be on the schedule in the coming year. So that's March. You keep working to put everything together and then you have the upfronts in May, right? So the third week of May, everybody presents their programing to the advertisers. And those were huge events, right? They were either at Radio City Music Hall or Avery Fisher Hall. All the talent shows up. After that then you present the same stuff to their affiliates. And then after that you do the Television Critics Association pressers in Pasadena.

And so it was every year it was the same. And after five years of that, it was just like, you know, Mama's getting tired and it was just it was a lot of the same, it felt very the same. It's so it felt incredibly routine. It felt like the scripts are all kind of the same. And it was the last year I was there was the year it was shortly after where you may, may or may not remember that the financial interest and syndication rules had been dropped, and so suddenly networks could own the content that appeared on their air.

And so that was when the Paramount Network was created and the Warner Brothers Network was created, because these guys were producers of primetime television shows. And so they were going to create their own outlets and provide the programing. So all of a sudden the existing networks were like, Oh no, you know, what are we going to do? All of a sudden? E.R. is going to go to the Warner Brothers Network and what are we going to do with our lineup? So the network was throwing tons and tons of money and it was reported that they were paying $11 million an episode for E.R. that year. And NBC was doing the same thing with Jerry Seinfeld. And so I remember that last year, like it was when GE owned NBC and, you know, Bob Wright was sending the GE plane to go pick up Jerry Seinfeld. And it was figuring out, is he going to show up? Is he not going to show up? Are we going to actually have him in the lineup? How much money is the network going to have to throw at him and all this kind of stuff? And it just went, you know, I don't know. I just don't know. And what's really funny, too, is I went to undergraduate school with Jason Alexander.

Daniel Burstein: Oh, wow.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Yeah. So I knew I knew Jay. But you know, the lips are sealed about what was going on. I think he did end up staying after that. But I just went, you know what? It's time for me to go.

Daniel Burstein: Well, ironically, Jerry Seinfeld maybe one of the most famous graduates of Queens College. So then what made you feel like, okay, so I mean, it's one thing to say, I'm going to leave NBC, go to another network or something else in the entertainment industry. It's another thing to say, I'm gonna leave NBC, I'm going to stay in marketing, you know, work for another company, work for a brand, a consumer-packaged goods brand. It's quite another thing to say. I'm not only going to leave NBC, I'm going to leave the marketing industry, I am going to become a university professor. So how did you make that drastic of a change.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Two things. For those of you who are looking for a new career, there is a wonderful book called I Could Do Whatever I Want If Only I Knew What It Was by Barbara Sher. And unlike something like What color is your parachute? It doesn't ask you kind of job you want to have, it asks you want your life to look like.

And I mean, took me about six months of doing the exercises in the book, but what I ultimately got to was I was still an actress. I really like to read, I like to do research and I can write. And so I was like, I guess maybe I'm a professor. So, you know, at that time when I was at NBC, I was getting my Ph.D. for for the last several years when I was there. And I studied with Neil Postman, who wrote Amusing Ourselves to Death and Technopolis which might which are books that still stand the test of time. Actually, Ezra Klein just talked about Neil Postman on his most recent podcast. So Neil is having a revival, as it were. And so I went back to school and studied with Neil and knew that it was time to go. That was one part of it.

The other was that I knew for myself I needed to do something that was intellectually a bit more stimulating. I also, you know, not that, you know, look, I worked with some of the smartest marketers on the planet at MTV. So don't get me I'm not saying marketers aren't smart. Don't think that that's what I'm saying. I just knew for me I needed something that was a little more intense on an intellectual perspective. And I just lost my mind… I forgot what I was going to say sorry…

Daniel Burstein: That then drove you to make this drastic change to say I want to move from working in the Marketing Industry to working in the Academia. I wonder was there any bit sort of like the mentoring part, you mentioned about the interns and the teachers…, that chance to kind of bring up the next generation.

Dr. Mara Einstein:  You know, I know, I know, I know what it was… Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Some of it was, too, was that I was seeing a lot of the research at NBC, and I was seeing a lot of the research about how people were unhappy. So that made me start thinking about, you know, is getting people to watch more television the best use of my energy on the planet. And that's really what got me thinking that it was it was time to go.

I also wanted to write, I really wanted to write books that were going to help people. I didn't go to be an academic to sit in an ivory tower. I became an academic because I really wanted to write books that would help people navigate through a consumer culture. And the book I'm working on right now is a really personal one for me because it's both a combination of how marketing works, but also how persuasive technology works and how that is ratcheting up our anxiety in the economy. And we're starting to see how that starts to play out for people.

I was a single mother for about ten years, and I saw how that impacted my daughter, particularly as it related to trying to get into college. And, you know, just a real quick story about that. So really smart kid. Last name is Einstein. She actually has the blood. I don't. She does. Right. But she failed the physics research exam at 6 a.m. in New York, which is like a running joke in the family that an Einstein would flunk the physics exam. But she went to Bronx Science, really big important High School in New York that's known for, you know, graduating a bunch of Nobel Prize folks in science and whatever. She applied to colleges, she got into one. She got into one. She was in the 99th percentile in her board scores. So like so we have no idea why all this happened. She reapplied later and as a transfer student and got into 10 out of 12 schools. The system busted, but the system is busted at the expense of the sanity of our children.

And it's a lot of marketing that's going on to play on the anxiety of parents. And marketing in higher education is not that old. I mean, some of us remember view books from when we went to college, but now what has happened is that folks that used to work at Pottery Barn are now CMO's at colleges. So they're taking that consumer learning and using it on vulnerable, anxious adolescents. And I just think it's wrong.

Daniel Burstein: Well, thanks for sharing. I mean, I think one, that's a great lesson for what we're going through what some people call the great resignation now. So for anyone interested in a job switch, I think it's great always thanks for sharing your story to hear from others how they went through that job switch that you went through this many years ago. But also to kind of hitting home that point of the messages we put out in the world, you know, and that's what I kind of said earlier, it's not just we're marketing, we're looking to hit a certain number of certain revenue. The messages we put out in the world have an effect on people.

So there's two things, long term, I think, and from some of what the research shows, when you have a more positive effect on people, you will be more successful. But also, as you said, the things you do with your life, the things you do with your career have a real effect on real people. And keep that in mind, when you're marketing.  I want to talk now about lessons from some of the people you collaborated with. You called out Leslie Schaffer. She was the senior VP of marketing at VH1, and this was a nice positive impact shout in your career as we can all internally on each other, you said help push people to believe they can do more than they think they can. So how did Leslie do that for you?

Dr. Mara Einstein: Leslie was one of the first people to ever be hired at MTV. She was like one of the first MTV’ers. So she'd been around there forever. And I was first hired as a Marketing Manager, and it's interesting, even my interview story, because I came in to interview with her and she was very distracted. And she called me up about a week later and she said, you know what, I didn't give you your due. Can you come in and chat with me again? I was in the middle of budgets and I was really distracted and I know there's something there, but I didn't quite get it the first time. Can you come in and talk to me again?

And I said, sure. And I came in and I got the job. And then about a year later they did a massive restructuring at MTV. And what had existed at the time was that there was a centralized art department, so that if any of the networks needed artwork done, you went down to the art department and they assigned someone to you. And they decided to do a restructuring to have the creative people actually in the individual networks. And that did made make a whole lot more sense because you didn't have to go through explaining what the network marketing strategies and tactics were at any given point in time, because the creative people were already part of the department. They already knew what was going on. So it's a lot more sense.

So Leslie had made it so that I was promoted to Director and I oversaw the creative group within VH1 while also continuing to be the client to the outside agency. And I was like, Oh my God, really? You think I could do this? And she's like, You can do this. You can absolutely do this. And it was the first time that I felt really supported by a boss and also being pushed do something that I wasn't sure I could do, but I took on her trust in me to be able to do this job and to do it well.

Daniel Burstein: So I think that's a great lesson for managers to kind of find those things in our people and raise them up even when they can't see themselves. But I wonder, is there any advice you give to your students or former students or really any advice to employees of like how can they communicate that to managers that, hey, maybe you think I can't do this yet, but I can?

And so one piece of research that always really stuck with me, we had Michael Norton, who's a professor at Harvard Business School. We had him speak at our events before and some of his consumer behavior research, which I love, he calls it trust through transparency. And he showed that when you can actually see the work happen, you value it more.

And he does a lot of research. But one story he always gave that stuck with me is he talks about a locksmith? He said he interviewed this locksmith, and when the locksmith was just starting out, you know, he wasn't very good. And so he’d show up at someone's house, they were locked out. It took him an hour. He was like banging and knocking everything and he's sweating and he's like, you know, he’s just like wrestling with this door and finally breaks it down. And, you know, he's like, and then, you know, he'd say, hey, $200, whatever. And people would say, Hey, sure, here you go. Thanks so much.

But then when he got better in his career, he got more deeper into his career, he’d show up, he’d dink, dink, dink, here and there and it would take two minutes, he’d say your doors open $200. And people would be like what  am I paying you for? And he said you know, the great irony is the second experience is better than the first one. It was quicker. There was no damage, you know, but people were more likely to value the second experience higher. And that's because, again, we value what we see. When we can see the work, we value it higher. And so I wonder if were getting advice to your students, your ex students, you know, who feel like they're just struggling in an organization or managers aren't noticing them. How can they communicate that value to you to do what that manager is able to do for you? Say, hey, I'm able to take this next step in my career.

Dr. Mara Einstein: I think that was the one thing that I say to students, certainly to interns, is certain companies have a very structured internship program. And so there are certain advertising agencies, for instance, that they put the students one week in one department throughout the course of the summer. So the students know exactly what they're going to do. There's other places that hire interns, and then they're sort of like, not sure what to do with them. And so I always tell the students to be proactive, and if they find themselves at any point sitting around that they should go into their bosses office and say, What can I do to help lighten the load for you? Is there something you can give me? Is there a meeting I can sit in? If you don't have something for me, can I go talk to Suzy over there? Because I know that she needs help with X, Y, Z. But to never be sitting and to particularly in an internship opportunity and to constantly be asking to learn even if it's what are you reading right now that is helping you do your job so that I know that I can read that too, so I can learn about how to be better at this.

Daniel Burstein: I think that proactivity is a great, great lesson, I mean, in terms of dealing with employees, but they're more junior that kind of had this feeling. So I think when you come out of school, the professor, you know, you start the quarter, you got the syllabus, the professor's telling you exactly what to do, exactly what they expect of you, you know, how you're going to be graded and all these things. And then you get into many organizations and, you know, usually organizations are hiring because they're growing,  they need help, you know what I mean. Som are structured well, but some of them it's not as clear of a structure, you know, how you're going to get judged, what needs to happen and so I definitely noticed some junior employees who just sit back and wait to be told what to do versus those people who are jumping in and saying, How can I help? What can I do? What can I learn? So that's that's a great attitude lesson have always.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Well, that's one of the things that I do in my upper level courses. So my lower level courses, yeah, some of it's much more structured. But when we get to the upper level courses and students are seniors, they're still looking for rubrics. And because I teach in CUNY, a lot of the students come out of the New York City school system.

So they're used to somebody giving them a rubric to do everything. And so by the time they get to a 300 level course, I don't give them a rubric and they'll be like, Well, what do you want, Professor Einstein? What do you want, Dr. Einstein? And I'll be like, No, you need to think through what you think I'm asking you, because by the time you leave here, a boss is not going to do that for you. You need to start thinking through yourself to figure out what you think the person needs. They'll tell you if you're wrong and I'll tell you if you're wrong. And this is a place to learn. So you can do that. And nobody expects you to step out of college and be able to do everything right away, but think through what you think it is, because that's the most important part of the process.

Daniel Burstein: I love that there are no rubrics in life. There are no rubrics in my heart. I love it. I've always felt like standardized tests have given us right. I was very fortunate student that I would just happen to do good in standardized tests. But a standardized test? It's ABCD. There's four options. I have almost never in my career had something so simple where there's four options, there's unlimited options. You don't know where to take it. You don't know where to drive it. So that's perfect.

All right. Let me ask you about one last story here. We talk about people you collaborated with. You called out Ann Brown and Kelly Coogan-Swanson, who worked with you at NBC and said there are people who have your back at the place you work. And I assume there are people who have your back when you build those relationships, right? Tell us about story.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Yes. Well, when I worked at NBC and it was still very much a boy's club. I mean, you have to imagine this is mid 1990s I guess, and I had just come from MTV where the average age was 28 and went to NBC, which was G.E., where the average age was 55. And people were just waiting for their pensions to kick in. So it was a bit of a cultural adjustment for me. I also went over there without a specific, there hadn't been somebody in this position before. It was a brand new position. And so it really needed to be defined. And I'm not even sure that they knew what the position was. They just they just talked to me and decided they wanted to hire me. So they did.

And I found over time that they weren't really sure what to do with me. And so I really had to define that space for myself. And one of the ways that I was able to do that was with the help of Anne Brown and Kelly. Anne did a lot of the advertiser deals with NBC and Kelly worked on the affiliate marketing side. And so the three of us would sit around in the morning. This is when you get into the office and you go in my office at 9:00 in the morning and you talk about your kids and you sit over coffee and you have your muffins and you talk about what's going on with your day. You know how you can maneuver some of the political issues that were going on. You know, at that point, the guys in our department were getting stock options and the women weren't. But it was only because of, you know, talking with each other and being able to pull our own strings, that we were able to find out that some of these kinds of things were going on. So it's I think it's really important to find out who your posse is.

I also think this is the downside of not going into the office. There is something about being in physical space with people that is very different than being over Zoom. And not just that, but, you know that I'll tell my students all the time. When I was in advertising, we took our clients out. Our clients were always outside of New York. And I'm thinking about my dull clients who were coming in from California. They come from California. We take them out to dinner. We'd get them all drunk. You talk about your kids, you talk about your family. You talk about what you need to do for the weekend, whatever it is. And you make that personal connection so that when you present to them the next day, they think of you as a person. They know who you are as a person. And so it becomes a much more comfortable space to live in. And so I understand not going back to work five days a week, but I would certainly push for three days a week so that you can sit down with your quote unquote girlfriends and make sure that you're covering each other's back.

Daniel Burstein: And I think what a great follow up too to what we just talked about, there are no rubrics in life. Figuring out which kind of your posse, as you call them, figuring out, okay, how are we going to navigate this very complex situation where things are kind of tricky? And you know what? Things aren't always fair. Things that they're not always doing the right thing. How are we going to navigate that? You know, school's not like that, hopefully so. All right. Well, great. We covered so much territory. We talked about properly vetting. We talk about so many things. If you had to break it down, if you had to talk directly to the audience, what would you tell them? What are the key qualities of an effective marketer?

Dr. Mara Einstein: I mean, the first thing that came to mind was stay curious, really stay curious. And particularly now when there are so many new ways to look at things and to engage with people, that would be one thing. The other thing and this is my bugaboo. Digital is a tactic. It's not a strategy. It is you know, it is one thing in your bag of tricks. Maybe it's becoming a bigger and bigger thing in your bag of tricks, but don't think that that's the be all and end all of everything that you could possibly do with consumers. You know, there's 360 degree touchpoints with your consumers. Think of them as people, interact with them as people.

As David Ogilvy said, the consumer isn't stupid, she's your wife. And so, you know, not just your wife, your husband and significant other and all of the other and all of those people, you know. But the bottom line we’re people and we want to be treated with respect and I think that's the most important thing to bear in mind.

Daniel Burstein: Well, thank you, Mara. I've learned so much from you in this conversation. Thanks for joining us today.

Dr. Mara Einstein: Thank you so much for having me, this was great fun. Loved it.

Daniel Burstein: Good. I hope it was fun for everyone listening as well. So thanks to you all for joining us.

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