May 23, 2022

Brand Marketing: Look in people’s closets (Podcast Episode #18)


You are not the customer. I am not the customer. So, we can’t assume that what we want is the same thing the customer will.

However, that is no excuse not to work your hardest to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. So, I took notice when I got a recent podcast guest application that had a great example of living this value.

The application was from a leader working at a brand that exists to get people outside. One of the stories focused on the company’s new headquarters and its outdoor working spaces. What a great way to inspire employees, while putting them in the shoes of the customer.

You can hear that story and more in the latest episode of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast. Listen now hear lesson-filled stories from Lindsey Lindemulder, Brand Marketing Director, Merrell.

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

Brand Marketing: Look in people’s closets (Podcast Episode #18)

This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

“Remember the prospect is a person. Do not talk AT them; talk TO them.” This quote comes from Flint McGlaughlin in Above-the-Fold Psychology: How to optimize the top 4 inches of your webpage.

And it exemplified the conversation with our latest guest, who literally went into people’s homes and looked in their closets to better understand and communicate to her brand’s customers. Lindsey Lindemulder is the Brand Marketing Director for Merrell, where she manages a team of five. The hiking footwear and outdoor gear company is a wholly owned subsidiary of shoe industry giant Wolverine World Wide.

You can 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 Lindemulder that emerged from our discussion:

“There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”

Lindemulder referenced this Desmond Tutu quote when she discussed how she led her first huge project for Cat Footwear.

Strong customer insights are the foundation of great creative.

Lindemulder’s team tapped into a deep customer insight – we replicate lots of things in nature in our search for selfcare – in Merrell’s current More Less marketing campaign.

Look in people’s closets.

Doing customer research for Cat Footwear, Lindemulder and her team went into people’s houses all over the world to better understand customers.

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

Lindemulder also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with:

Janice Tennant, Chief Marketing Officer, Merrell: Mindfulness at work is essential.

Tenant helped teach Lindemulder about the importance of mindfulness at work, a value espoused by the entire organization. Merrell has a new office that has encouraged collaboration and cultivated a sense of shared energy with creatives spaces – like outdoor working spaces employees can utilize during warmer weather.

Chris Hufnagel, Brand President; Merrell: Women can and should be in leadership positions

Hufnagel has been an amazing champion of women, as can be evidenced by all the female professionals working there – Janice Tennant, CMO; Kelly Warkentien, Creative Director; Manon Belley, VP of Product Development; Audrey Langejans, Product Colorist; Jane Smith, Sr Digital Marketing Director; Lisa Sheldon, VP of Finance; all of Merrell. Lindemulder feels Hufnagel lives the “get the right people on the bus” lesson from the Jim Collins book “Good to Great.”

Kelly Warkentien, Creative Director, Merrell: Work hard, do cool shit, and be humble.

When she thinks back on her career, these three characteristics stick out in describing Lindemulder’s most successful and fulfilling work. These characteristics are most exemplified by Warkentien.

Related content mentioned in this episode

Corporate Creativity: Managing your marketing team (and career) to balance innovation and execution

Not Enough Lobster In The Ocean: Trusting their gut leads to 90,000% revenue growth at Mint Mobile (Podcast Episode #11)

The Hidden Side of Email Marketing: The once-and-done option, A/B testing and a supersmart kind of dumb

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 just yet? Interested in searching the content? No problem. Below is a rough transcript of our conversation.

Daniel Burstein: You are not the customer. I am not the customer. So we can’t assume that what we want or what we do is the same way the customer will react. However, that's no excuse not to work your hardest to put yourself in your customer shoes. So I took notice when I got a recent podcast guest application that had a great example of living this value.

The application was from a leader working at a brand that literally exists to get people outside and shared that the company's new headquarters had outdoor working spaces. What a simple but great way to inspire employees while putting them in the shoes of the customer. And in this case specifically, that would be the iconic, comfortable Merrell Shoes. So joining me now to share this lesson, along with stories illustrating other lessons about empathetic leadership and setting boundaries, is Lindsey Lindemulder, Brand Marketing Director for Merrell. Thanks for joining me, Lindsey.

Lindsey Lindemulder: Thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Daniel Burstein: So let's take a quick look at your LinkedIn and your background. So you were an intern in the U.S. House of Representatives in college, and that might sound moderate to someone listening, but I had the good fortune of being a page in the House of Representatives in college. And I think there's something about being in Washington in that building and around those people. And even at an early age, it teaches you about messaging. So I think that's a great that's a great background.

Lindsey Lindemulder:  It's true.

Daniel Burstein: But then since then, you have been at Wolverine Worldwide. You started 14 years ago. Since then, you've worked on the Harley Davidson Footwear brand, the Cat Footwear brand, and now you're Brand Marketing Director of its Merrell Division, where you have five direct reports. So tell us about your current role. Tell us about Merrell quickly and being a Brand Marketing Director, what does that mean?

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yeah, so Merrell is one of the is the leading outdoor footwear brand in the world. We've been around for just over 40 years. Last year we celebrated our 40th birthday. And I always say if you aren't familiar with Merrell, if you imagine a pair of hiking boots, like close your eyes and imagine a pair of hiking boots you probably in your brain are like imagining our Merrell Moab.

And so the brand has been really cool. And to me the coolest thing about it is that even though or although Merrell is a leader in the space and in the biggest in the outdoor space, in all of our time we've existed for this reason of getting people out there and trying to get more people to enjoy the outdoors and to experience what it has to offer.

And even before we sort of had sharpened messaging about like being welcoming in the outdoor space. When you ask consumers like if you described Merrell as a person, like who is it? And they are like they're a guide, they're going to show me the way, they're going to teach me the outdoor way. And so it's super cool to be able to be a part of the brand at this point in time when the outdoors is really having a moment.

And in my role today, I lead the Brand Marketing Management team. And so we get to champion marketing strategy for the brand, our territories and what types of products and categories we are playing in and where we're bringing to market. And then also like creatively, how that comes to market. And so getting to build cool campaigns and programs that hopefully is introducing the Merrell brand not only to our existing consumers, but to new consumers in a way that makes them consider the outdoors and consider the brand in a way that maybe they haven't before.

Daniel Burstein: Let's talk about the career that led to this, that led you to be able to do this. And we're going to start talking about some of the things that Lindsey's made in her career. It's something we get to do with marketers. We make things. So here's your first lesson that we're going to talk about how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, and you got that lesson from Desmond Tutu. You mentioned the quote from it. You mentioned this is something that you had to live recently during this kind of COVID time. So how do you do that?

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yeah, it was a lesson that I learned a couple of years ago when it was one of my first, like, real experiences and real opportunities to lead a big new project. It was when we were on the Cat Footwear Brands, the program that we were going to launch. And the line of shoes that we were going to launch was like teed up to be our biggest launch of all time.

And we were doing it, of course, in half the amount of time that that we needed to. And I got the awesome opportunity to lead it from a marketing perspective. And there were many moments during that that I was like, How are we going to do all this? Like overwhelmed and like, I think people like being overwhelmed is like a feeling that happens probably more than we're all comfortable with.

And I can just remember in it being advised and also, like, feeling like this was the only way that I was going to get through it was the notion of like, how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time, like one day, one week, one month, and it's this combination of like having the vision and seeing like this is the direction that we're going to go and ultimately we're going to get to this place.

But the way that you get there is really in the like every day, every week, what are the things that we're going to accomplish at this point in time? And so that's really stuck with me. Like when I came into the Merrell brand and Merrell's the biggest brand in our organization and thought, like, how are we going to do all of this? Or when you look at the work, that's at how we're going to do all this and just taking the moment to say, like, you're going to do it one day, one week, one month at a time.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I love that. You know, as a writer, you know, starting out, any time I would get a new creative project or new marketing project, at first it's funny, even after all these years, there's always that terror of, oh my gosh how am I going to do this, it's like I'm never going to come up with any idea it's going to fail. You know, and but it just always starts. And then, like you said, you kind of take a deep breath and be like, alright what are the steps to get there? I've done this before how we get there.

But I want to also mention something recently during COVID time that I think it's maybe a version of doing this. You mentioned it seems like a simple lesson but I think it's pretty profound. Taking the first half a call from your car so you can make school drop off rather than from the office. And so something, you know, I've noticed or I've learned over time in COVID is you used to do all these video calls, you know, and then I learned sometimes, you know, a lot of these just don't need to be video calls. And if it's a chance to kind of walk away from the computer and do these other things, you have to do at the same time. So is this kind of like an ethos you're leading in your organization where you encourage your team? All right. I don't need to see you on video the time. But let's also live our lives because we also need to live our lives. One bite at a time, too, right?

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yes. Yes. You know, and that's so true. And I think I am a working mom. I have two kiddos. And when I was young, it's weird, but I didn't think I'd be a working mom. Like the working moms I knew were like teachers and nurses who are amazing but also have like cool schedules I think? At least they seem like cool schedules to me cause I don’t have it.

And it's sort of the same way with like with my life and like with the balance of kids, it's like, how am I going to do all this? They're going to school and I've got work and all of that. And honestly, like one of the huge silver linings to me out of COVID is this ability to, like, work from anywhere. And this shift in the notion butts in seats, like we don't all have to be sitting at our desk at 8:01 to like be effective.

And I often like sometimes 8 a.m. meetings do get scheduled like for better or worse they get scheduled. But there's so much more acceptance and willingness to not be on zoom. To take your first meeting from home and then show up at the office when you can get there if you have to like do whatever. And or in my case like be able to drop my kids off at school and take the meeting from my car on my way into the office and I walk in like in the last 2 minutes the meeting I'm like, here I am and I've been part of the entire meeting.

And I just think that that's a huge shift for us as like people to have lives and work and make those things work well together. And it doesn't take anything away from the hard work and effort that people are putting in. And I think that, again, that notion of like all of life, like life and family and school and work and big programs and marketing programs and all that can feel like, how am I going to do all these things? And literally like one bite at a time.

Daniel Burstein: One bite at a time. I, like you mentioned the butts in seats too. I'm sure there are some professions like, for example, security guard or something might be hard to do remote. But, you know, from a marketing role, especially for a consumer brand would think the marketer would be better, not always being in the office. Right. Kind of living life and being around. I know I've come up with some of my best ideas being in bed, sleeping a night, taking a shower, going for a hike or something like that. So I think that's a great point.

Lindsey Lindemulder: 100%.

Daniel Burstein: So and speaking about speaking of customer insights, the next lesson you mentioned is strong customer insights is the foundation of great creative. And you've even got a second lesson that's going to go deeper into this. But so tell us about your most recent campaign and where you got the customer insights for it.

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yeah, so with Merrell, we just launched the more or less campaign we're calling it more or less, and it is targeted at women. And so of course most work from our instance comes from like either a really strong business insight or a strong consumer place. Like it has to start in one of those places and you need but I think you need both of them to have effective work, like what are we solving for the business? And then what are we solving for the consumer? I think is like part AB. And usually where we start in our in our creative briefs.

But from a business perspective, we knew more women were coming into the outdoors. Merrell needed to overexaggerate, we needed to over target women in particular for business or for our business. But then it went hand-in-hand with this, it’s kind of sad but awesome consumer insight, which is the notion of self-care has been skyrocketing. Like, look on Google Trends last five years, make sure you click global because it's happening everywhere in the world. But consumers are seeking more and more and more self-care. And I would say before the pandemic, it had already started like the digital age and the age of anxiety. And all of those things have people seeking out more ways to disconnect and care for themselves.

Then COVID happened and it only accelerated. And we found through research that women were actually, in many instances more negatively impacted by some of the elements of COVID, like taking care of the home, taking care of others, losing their jobs, like more women lost their jobs during COVID than men did. And it teed us up for sort of this like perfect opportunity. Because what we saw in the self-care industry and the self-care market was that everybody's like chasing stuff.

It's like the newest, latest, greatest potion, the newest, latest, greatest trinkets, the newest, latest, greatest exercise routine or what have you. And there were things that were like self-care rose all day, self-care, like, whatever. And all of those things are good. There's none of it that's inherently bad. The thing that we really wanted to poke at, though, was this like, chase of it. Like that you have to try the latest, greatest gimmicks in order to achieve this sense of like self-care.

And the reality, and people had been starting to discover this, is that the most available, consistent form of self-care scientifically is getting outside and getting your body moving. And we're like, there it is, like you don't need all the gimmicks. You literally just need to go outside and get your body moving.

And it's funny, even the gimmicks now are replicating outdoors. Like, one of my favorites is that people are selling an earthing mat or a grounding mat where you can pay like $100 to have like a mat in your home that replicates the feel of the ground. And again, if maybe you live in a space that like you don't have grass or you don't have nature outside, and I can see how that's relevant in that situation, but I'm like, Don't spend $100 doing that. Like go outside, like just go outside. It's right out there.

But that notion of like the really strong insight of like women feel like they need to keep up with all the latest, greatest stuff. Or spend like a lot of money finding the latest, greatest things, really was the foundation for the work and then we knew we were on to something when everything just flew from there. Like the creative went like the creative went really fast. The video concept came together, so quickly. Our global partners all around the world, from London to Asia to Australia to Latin America, they were like, We get yeah, we get this. Yup. This is real for us too in our markets. All of it just like came really quickly. And then, you know, you've got some marketing magic there, right? Like when the ideas sort of don't stop that's when we always say it has creative potential and we know that it's going to be on to something.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, you know, it has legs. I always feel like a campaign is good when it has legs when you're really tapping into this universal human insight. Right. Which is what I think you did. One of my favorite lines from the campaign, if I butcher it, feel free to correct me. But something like you don't need to go to an oxygen bar. Just go outside there's oxygen. I thought that was great it tapped into a real human insight.

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yes. We replicate lots of things of nature in a search for self-care, and it's like we should all just go outside more.

Daniel Burstein: That's great. You tap into a real human insight. And you know, the empathy for the customer. We actually, we have a free digital marketing course, and as Flint McGlaughlin taught In Session 14, remember, the prospect is a person, do not talk at them, talk to them. I think it's great I think that's exactly what you're doing. To me, like the talking at them is like, hey, buy the self-care mat or you know, go to the oxygen bar, you know, talking to them is like, hey, just step outside.

So I want to get into you talk about these, deep customer insights, how you get these customer insights. And you had another great lesson and it just blew my mind. Look in people's closets. So tell me from your career, like, how have you done consumer research to tap into these customer insights?

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yeah, consumer research is really fun. And if I look back like 14 years ago when I started with the organization, I think we were sort of, who the consumer was, was often like, who is the person who's currently buying our shoes at whatever store we're currently selling them at? Versus sort of like having a deeper understanding of consumer segmentation and consumer segments. And I've been incredibly fortunate both at Cat Footwear and at Merrell to get to be heavily involved in understanding and helping define and put a really sharp point on who our consumer target is.

In Merrell, it's been a little bit different because I've spent the majority of my time at Merrell during like COVID days, like I joined Merrell in late 2019 and COVID hit in 2020. And so as when everyone like travel stopped, everything stopped. But when I was at Cat we were doing consumer research work and our leader was like, get in people's houses, like get in their closets. Like see where they are, see them in their natural environment. We literally got to be in people's living rooms in Shanghai, in people's closets in London and sitting around like in a group chatting with them in Santiago, Chile, as well as like places across the United States.

And the thing that I learned in that was like humans are all unique and different and special. But they're all the same we're all human. Like, we're all human and we all just want to be like appreciated, understood. Most humans, I think, want to just work hard and, and like live enjoyable lives. And then the thing is, is with the consumer segmentation, you could see with our customers in those places that they really had all these like really strong similarities that laddered up to the brand.

And we found that to be true, of course, in Merrell as well. When we've gotten to do research in China and UK and Canada and the United States, that there is these consistent things about people, their desire in Merrell, their desire to spend time outside and how the outdoors is core to who they are. Their desire to make the world around them a better place and their choice to do that by making the person next to them better or making their home better or their small community better.

And so that's been really interesting. But the look in people's closets is great because people really are, like if they're willing to show you their closet, like they're being really real with you. And I can remember a guy standing there holding a shirt and talking about like, this is my favorite shirt. If I'm going to go on a date, this is what I wear. Because do you see how the stitching is a special color? And I was like, I do now, I do now. And those details really are the things that I think have mattered in the long run. And we've taken them into consideration. Like even when we're styling out talent on shoots today, it's like well, what color is the stitching of the shirt? Because that's the thing that this customer cares about. Or you know, do they have the right level of style? Because when they go out on a hike, they're probably going to brunch with their friends afterwards. And so are they wearing what's appropriate to that or what have you?

And so when you get to look in people's closets and a lot of people are very willing to show you when you approach it with the spirit of like, I want to know you and I want to learn more about you. And I think being a marketer, one of my very favorite things, the reason I like went into marketing, is because I like people ultimately I was like, I like people and I feel like I get people. And so I think this is a thing that might work for me and I just think that people are interesting and everyone comes from a space, right?

Like everyone's got a story and everyone comes from a different space. And when you can stop and say like, well, I don't know their whole story, I don't know it, and I shouldn't assume to know it. And so what they bring to the table is like there for me to learn and learn and understand and learn something new.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. You know, as a writer, there's always that max like, don't write to a whole bunch of people, write to one person, write try to write one person and figure that person out. And so, you know, some have tried to replicate where you're talking about. And some ways for people who are listening who don't have the resources to actually physically do what you're talking about is pretty much anthropology.

You know, online now has given us so many options, like looking at customer reviews, looking at social media, all these ways, even just pick up a phone and talking to a customer. To your point, to have not just some like two-dimensional customer persona, some three dimensional, real robust understanding of who these people are and what they do and are interested and passionate about outside of your product.

Because most of their life, other than a few superfans really is just your product is a very small part. But let me ask, you know, you said people were very open about this. Maybe this is because I'm a huge introvert, but it seems really awkward. Was it really awkward?

Lindsey Lindemulder: You know, it was before you did it. But then once you were doing it, it wasn't. And it was just like and I did think to myself, like I'm a huge extrovert, but I'm like, I don't know if I'd let three people and a camera in my house to like look at my closet. But it was cool again, like people are cool and they're interesting.

And so in some instances, it was more awkward than in others. I'll tell you that much. Some, it was like very, very easy and natural. And you're like, tell me more, tell me more. And they're telling you more and more and more. And, and other people you're like, okay, here we go. But overall, it was it was a super cool experience for sure. And I think to, to your point of like, you can find consumer insights anywhere. Like we were one of the favorite places like in the digital world is seriously Reddit. Like Reddit is a rabbit hole and man. But people like just the snippets of things that they say. And then I think the thing when with consumer insights is like, why, why, why, why are they saying that?

Like, what's behind that? What's the thing that sort of motivating that? And people just all around you like I was traveling in L.A. and somebody, we had given them a pair of Merrells and they're like, I'm so excited for these. I love hiking. And I've never worn these shoes before. I've never worn Merrell's before. And I'm like, what do you hike in? Why do you hike in those shoes? And her answer, I was just like, that makes perfect sense to me. She was like, because I've just never bought them, and I just use whatever's in my closet. I'm like, that makes perfect sense. And that's an opportunity. I went home. I was like, found an insight, really? Oh, great.

Daniel Burstein: That's perfect. Yeah, Reddit actually in an earlier podcast we had the CMO of Mint Mobile on Aaron North, and he talked about Reddit is like this real time focus group where, you know, after they drop an ad or an email, like very quickly they'll see, you know, feedback and he'll get in there and interact with people as a CMO of Mint Mobile, really, to try to get an understanding of what's going on there.

So that's great. But let me ask you, too, though, so we talked about the campaign that you currently launched, and it's very focused on getting women outdoors, a feeling that maybe women haven't gotten outdoors as much. And you talked about, which I think is great, not only you, but  kind of the whole team behind it was all women. So it's kind of like this really good understanding.

But there's a challenge that we face sometimes as marketers where we're not the customer. So like I was mentioning to you early in my career, right out of college, I was a copywriter writing for, you know, ski in ski out condos in Vail and Bachelor Gulch Village, just as, you know, third homes for very wealthy people. And I'd write a campaign of like, oh, sleep in and enjoy skiing. And my boss is trying to explain. No, these are the titans of industry. They're waking up at 5 a.m. and checking the markets in Asia or something and just blows my mind. I'm like, Why be rich if you can't sleep in?

So you, I get, kind of you live one version of, you know, being a woman every day, but you also have products for men. So how do you try to tap into men and understand them? And what do you kind of segment to them specifically?

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yeah, I mean, we have products for men for sure. We have products for elite athletes who are literally running to the tops of mountains, which I'm like, that's not me that's not in my future. I think part number one, or the important part of that. Is acknowledging that like this might not all be for me. Like the world is so much bigger than me, right?

And when I can say this is the perspective that I bring to the conversation or to the work or what have you, but also like the world doesn't revolve around me. So like this isn't for me. There's a lot of other people out there like this isn't for me. And I think it's this, like, eagerness and willingness to learn, like if  I can offer from a female perspective how I would approach a day of hiking. I can't offer that from a male perspective, but I've got a bunch of male colleagues. I have male consumers. I have men on Reddit who can tell me, like what's important to them when they're approaching it.

So I think that it's just sort of this acknowledgment that it's not for me. And that's cool because it means I can figure something else out. And then this willingness to, like, ask and hear back and listen to what other people are saying. And I think too with, with marketing, in my like baby marketing self would have been like make something that the most people like. And we've learned though, right, that like making something for everyone is not effective like and it's cool to do things and it's impactful to do things that it's like this is for this group of people and not for that group of people necessarily. Because there's other things for that group of people. It's not going to resonate necessarily with that group of people. So I think just that openness to learning and actively seeking out new information.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, that's a great insight. When we talk about, we teach about the value proposition. The first part of the question when we teach about value proposition is if I am your ideal customer, right? There are some people that probably, you I’d be guessing if you had a conversation with them and you sat down, understood them you would probably say no, you probably shouldn't buy Merrell shoes. Maybe you should just buy a simple brand of flip flops and walk on the beach or something like that. And, and so really understanding and tapping into that ideal customer.

You know you mentioned we live an outrage culture or be offended culture. And I think something that boy brands are just trying to navigate now and some are doing it and some are not. It's difficult, there's no one right answer, is how do you navigate that. So with some of your campaigns that are very targeted and really trying to excite a group or just what you're doing in general, how you navigated that?

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yeah, I think for me that the my like hot take on outrage culture, be offended culture, is closely related to my opinion about people needing to be more empathetic. And that if we all could appreciate that not everybody is like me, but that everybody has something to offer like everyone's perspective, there's something to learn from that even if it's only a moment in time. And that's why the outrage culture kind of drives me nuts because I'm like, let's stop being so outraged and let's try to learn about another person's point of view. Or just, if you don't want to learn about it, fine. But like, at least appreciate that they're not just like you, and that's okay.

And I think from a brand perspective, working for Merrell is truly been amazing, like, because it's so fun, even though I will readily admit, like, I do not fit to a tee like Merrell's target profile for sure. But, I feel so passionately about what Merrell stands for in wanting to get more people outside of wanting to make the outdoors a place that not only everybody feels welcome in, but that everybody feels like there is this sense of belonging. And so I think when it comes to like Merrell navigating an outrage culture and all of those things, it's hard to argue with the outdoors, right? Like it's hard to argue with spending time outside is good for you because there's like real science to it and go do it. You'll feel better. Like, I promise.

And I think that Merrell's mission and commitment to being more inclusive and to trying to make the outdoors a welcoming and belonging place for all people, allows us to take a point of view that's like it's not like we're for you and not for you. We want all people outdoors. Even though we're going to make campaigns that this one's more targeted at men and this one is more targeted at women. Our overall mission in the brand exists to get more people to experience the power of the outdoors.

Daniel Burstein: Okay. We were talking about empathy, which I think is great. And that really leads us to the next example we're going to talk about now. We're going to shift into the part of the podcast where we talk about the people that you've collaborated with and learned from. Like I said, as marketers we do two things, we build things fun, exciting, cool things, things that serve people and help people, and we also do it with other people.

So let's see what in Lindsey's career. Who those people are that she's learned from. You mentioned Janice Tennant, Chief Marketing Officer of Merrell, mindfulness at work is important. And one of the examples you gave we can talk about others, too, is about how Merrell's new headquarters offers outdoor working spaces now, to utilize more and more. And I think that's great, it just goes along with our conversation of putting yourself in the customer's shoes, literally. So kind of tell us about these new headquarters and also how you learn from Janice about mindfulness at work.

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yeah. Janice has been one of the most influential people in my whole career and like on me as a marketer in general. And I'm so thankful that I've had the experience, like to work with her and learn from her. And that notion of like mindfulness really like rings true with Janice. We do have new offices for Merrell, which has been awesome. And probably the coolest part about it is that there is this like indoor outdoor experience that we're able to have. So not only is the outdoors sort of like right there, but something many people might not know is we are located in Michigan, in West Michigan, and I don't know that people normally think of Michigan as this like outdoor state but it is and it's super cool.

We've got all the Great Lakes around us, which if you've never seen the Great Lakes, it really does look like you're at the ocean, except there's no sharks and no salt water. So you can't see across it. It's true. And Michigan just has Michigan has a super cool outdoor culture. There's tons of nature and nature experiences around you. And so on our campus, at our headquarters, not only is there this great indoor outdoor space, but also there's trails, there's like nature trails around us. And so it's important to be able to get outside and really do these things and live the brand and be a part of it in that way.

And in Michigan, winter is sometimes called and long I will tell you that. But I don't know who famously said this. I don't have the quote, but like there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear is something that we also take to heart. We've like had meetings outside in the rain. It's like we'll bring a rain jacket. We've had meetings outside around Firepits in the snow as well. So like put on some boots, that's what we're going to do. So Janice definitely has championed that that spirit of like living the brand and mindfulness.

And one of the cool lessons that I've learned from her related to that, I think is the ability to learn from your experiences and then apply the learning elsewhere, which seems sort of like, duh, you should apply it. But Janice has done it in such a way, like across her career and across industries of having a learning experience and then being able to, to exemplify that and apply that in a totally different career or in a totally different situation or group of people. Like she had worked on the Tropicana business like in her career at one point in time, and you wouldn't believe like orange juice and hiking boots don't feel like they're related to each other necessarily. But like the lessons from experiences there, and how they work with what we're dealing with today has been a huge one.

And then the other one from Janice for me is just an openness to feedback, and like this growth mindset, like being willing to be open and inviting on hearing feedback not only about you as a person, but about the work. And welcoming it and really hearing it because so often if you are surrounded by well-intentioned people, which hopefully we are, the feedback makes you so much better. Janice always says like, let's really interrogate something within our walls or within our campus of Merrell so that when it gets to the world, we've already poked at all the things.

But if you're shut off to feedback or if you're shut off to hearing something like an opinion about it, then you're going to put something into the world and trust me, the consumers or whoever are going to come at you probably with that opinion. And so just being really willing and open to feedback and then being able to apply it and, and make yourself better, make your work better, make the programs better has been a huge lesson that I've heard from her.

Daniel Burstein: Those are great lessons. I think those are the core of what really true creativity is. One, making disparate connections into something new, right? All these different, you know, things that can inspire us. And then to really beating stuff up, I mean that's one thing you mentioned you love about being a marketer, learning about other people, which is fantastic. I love that too.

But the other thing I love is that kind of that creative process where you all work together and really understand it. And something I wrote about earlier my career is corporate creativity, corporate creativity. And, you know, it sounds like an oxymoron and it's one of the most difficult things to do. You're like saying think outside the box inside a box.

And so I used to joke with my art director because sometimes we'd have, you know, such frustrating projects and I'd say like, okay, it's like this. Here's my analogy. It's like, you were a Mustang a wild Mustang and roaming free on the plains. And, you know, lightning would crack in the distance and you'd be, you know, leading the herd to safety. It's like, but now you've come into this corporate environment where you're just kind of like at the county fair and you're tied to that thing that goes around in a circle, you know what I mean? And you're just walking in that circle all day and there's some kid jamming a rock in your mouth and saying, Oh, they like to eat rocks.

And you know what I mean? It's like this kind of way different thing, you take these creative people who are just wild and you try to put them in this corporate environment. And so one of the things that, as I said, it might seem small. I love how you are trying to live your brand with you know, some of the things like the way you set up your headquarters. Because there have been some brands I've worked with, you know, cool, passionate brands. Or you talk to people and you're like, oh, it must be so amazing to work there in that cool you know? And you're like, no, it's for gray walls. And it's like anything else. We've got our marketing budgets and our statistics and all this. And so, I mean, for anyone listening, try to live your brand, that is great.

Lindsey Lindemulder: But that's the truth too. And the thing that I'll say about that is like, you have to take responsibility for that. Like you have to take ownership for that. And, you know, I think as a leader, like part of that falls to me. Like if I'm the leader and you never see me spending time outside, like my team is probably going to feel less able to spend time outside and to take their meetings outside or this and the next thing. And so I think as leaders, it's that's super important to like to model the culture that you want to be. And I'll tell you, like I'm not perfect at it. It's something that I'm like, life is busy, like go, go, go, go, go. And I have to consciously remind myself to like model the lifestyle and the type of leader and work that I want for the people around me as well.

Daniel Burstein: Well, here's a great example of modeling the lifestyle or trying to set up the environment you want your employees to have. You mentioned Chris Hufnagle, the Brand President of Merrell and you learn from him that women can and should be in leadership positions. And the proof point I'll just read out real quick and feel free to correct many of these names. You mentioned those yourself of course, Janice Tennant the CMO who just mentioned, Kelly Warkentien the Creative Director, Manon Belley VP of Product Development, Audrey Langejans the Product Colorist, Jane Smith, Senior Digital Marketing Director, Lisa Sheldon, the VP of Finance, all of Merrell. So what did you learn from Chris? And I think this kind of ties into that thing, which is probably really the most difficult thing to do as a human being. Right? Is that empathy, understanding other people and how to lead them? So how does Chris, a male let's be clear, lead this organization with all these female leaders.

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yeah, I've had the privilege of working for Chris for a handful of years now. And the couple of things that I appreciate about him, one of the lessons, is this idea of like getting the right people on the bus. And it comes from the book Good to Great if anyone's ever read the business book Good to Great, Jim Collins. It's a good one. It's like totally foundational I think. And it talks about getting the right people on the bus. And Chris, I think, just emulates that behavior of surrounding himself with people that he wants to work with. Because they bring something new and different to the conversation.

And he always says, like, I'm not the smartest person in the room. And I'm like, I think you are, but surrounding themselves with other people who have like who have expertise and who have perspective in a way have something to offer in that space. And he truly models that like that's who he brings in. That's who he puts around him. That's who he puts around him as a leadership team. Versus like, I know there are there are tons of experiences that people have where like their boss or their leader, like thinks he or she is the smartest person in the room at all times. And that's a way different work environment than fortunately I get to experience on a on a pretty regular basis.

But surrounding himself and then also giving platform to these people like Chris is often said to me, like I'm just looking to give people platform to do their good work or rise to the occasion. Versus again, I think sometimes people are like well, you have to prove out the 12 ways that you can do something before I'm going to give you a platform or before I'm going to give you the responsibility. And Chris has definitely modeled this behavior of giving people with potential the platform to step into the space or rise to the occasion. He did it for me personally. I've seen him do it for all of the women that you've just listed out and more and more around the marketing organization and other around other roles as well.  But giving space and giving a platform and then letting you step up to the occasion. Trust me, like, you know, you're not successful every time, but I've just seen so many women around me step up and just knock it out of the park. So that's been a huge lesson.

And then the final one that he sort of shares with us on a regular basis is this choice to be great every day. Like you can wake up in the morning and be meh, or you can choose to, like, walk into the office and say, like, how is that how is this day going to be great? And how am I going to be great for the Merrell brand and for the work that I'm bringing? And I again, I like to think a bit consciously when I'm like pulling into the parking lot, like, what is today going to be? I have like a day jammed full of meetings, like it's going to suck the life out of me. And then I'm like, yeah, but how could this be great? And who could be great together in this space? I think has been cool and a consistent message I've always heard from him to.

Daniel Burstein: That's great and I want to kind of lead on and one of those final stories there because that aspect of being great, you know, we've talked a lot about a lot of serious things in this episode and in many of the podcasts, but at the end of the day, it's a pretty fun profession.

So I want to talk about, you know, we could do a lot of other things that are a lot less fun. I don't know, I took Financial Accounting in college it board the heck out me, it was going to be a business minor. Marketing is so much more fun, right? So when I get here with this this final lesson, you mentioned Kelly Warkentien Creative Director at Merrell. You learned it from also just kind of from throughout your career, work hard, do cool shit and be humble. So is this kind of your motto, work hard, do cool shit and be humble?

Lindsey Lindemulder: I don't know if it's my like motto, but when I was thinking and when I've been thinking about the cool work that I've gotten to be a part of, and the cool campaigns or projects or strategies or any of those things, I'm like, what's consistent? And it's that the people that I'm with and the most delightful people that I've gotten to work with are people who have this attitude of just, like, working really hard, like, they want to be there.

They're excited and passionate about the thing, and they want to do cool shit. Like, it's not just like check the box ho hum. Like they want to do cool things and want to surprise consumers and they want to delight people in all of that. And then there's this humility to them all. Like, nobody likes arrogant people. So I've seen just amazingly talented people and I’m crediting Kelly Warkentien with it because she's a phenomenally awesome creative director. She's Merrell’s Marketing Creative Director, she's been with us for just a year and a half. I think at this point. When you see beautiful work coming out of Merrell from a design perspective or any of that, it's totally Kelly and her team and I just have been floored by the way that she is able to be such a expert in a space, but just be really, really humble and super, super fun to work with.

And then, you know, I was on a production last week and we had a photographer there and I'm like, you're awesome. Like, you are so good at what you're doing. But also you're really fun and you're super humble about it and you just want to do a cool shit. And so when I was thinking about like over the years, like through the projects and the partners that I continue to go back to and that I have the fondest memories of working with and making things with. They all have this thread that they want to like work hard, do cool shit, and then they're super humble about it. And they just they're here to have a good time and to work hard and you cool shit. So that's where that sort of came from.

Daniel Burstein: No, I love it. And I mean, really one reason to name this podcast the How I Made It In Marketing was because that is, like I said, the exciting thing about a marketer. You make stuff and so you kind of look back in your career. I used to call my portfolio, you know, my babies, and when I'd show the portfolio, that was almost the most fun thing if you're interviewing around showing your portfolio because each and that is kind of the idea for the podcast to each thing you made, it's not just the thing you made, it's a great story behind it and how you work. Like you said, do cool shit.

Like that is the exciting thing about being in marketing. So I kind of mention one more story we were talking about, you know in the beginning you talked about launching this big project for Cat Footwear and how you were trying to eat the elephant one bite at a time. And you know, part of being a marketing leader is that, the joke there used to be this meme going around. It's like, you know, it shoots up the excitement of the idea and you see it like shoot the graph, shoot up through the roof, and then the graph goes down. It's like, you know, the banality of execution. And so I think what you were talking about, that big Cat Footwear campaign is the banality of execution, the project management role, the business role, the leadership role, the budget role, the making sure everything's getting done.

But you mentioned I think you were in Valencia, Spain, and in the midst of this giant campaign, you were, I don't know, standing on a mountain, look in the ocean or something. And just thinking wow, this is fun. Like, don't overlook that. It's not just spreadsheets, this is fun. You want to tell us about that?

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yeah, that's totally what it was. It was like for me, one of the like high stress moments of my career that we were hustling to, like get the production and make it right and make something great and make something new and all of that. And like literally in a fog, I got myself on an airplane, flew to Valencia, but then was standing there like and it was all going on around me. And we were standing in front of one of the museums there in Valencia and to my right, like, I can still see it was this huge, beautiful, like, pool of water. And I was like, this is amazing. Like, this is beautiful. I'm standing here in Valencia, Spain, like getting to make cool things happen. Like, this is fun and I don't know, you like find yourself in the moment.

We had it in a meeting yesterday where we've got an upcoming launch this summer that we're super excited about. And our digital team was there, and a creative team was there. And I was like, yeah, and then we could do this and then we could do that. And then and I'm going to do this and I'm going to do that. And I had the moment again where I'm like, this is fun. Like, we get to make cool stuff happen. Like, there are so many more jobs in the world that for me would be like, Oh, boy, this is not very fun. And here we are and we get to, like, work with other people and like, take ideas from everywhere and hopefully create something that's really cool and engaging for all of all of the people who know Merrell today or don't yet know more today that we want to know Merrell. And those moments sort of like strike me. And then I never forget them, and I go back to them often and I'm like this is fun. We get to make shoes and make cool marketing programs and this is fun.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah if there's one takeaway, I'm going to copy the Merrell campaign in a sense, okay. So for the Merrell campaign, you talked about self-care for people, for women, for getting outdoors. Here's self-care for marketers because I've felt this same way too. I remember and we used to have these big events at the ARIA Resort in Las Vegas. I remember one recent one, the guy from Freakonomics, Stephen Dubner, and, you know, but it was in the heat of the drudgery really of the execution of all the things you have to do to get a big event done. And I remember like telling a friend who, you know, worked outside the industry about it, he was like that's so cool and blah, blah. And I stop and thought and I kind of forgotten. I was like, that, that is actually kind of cool.

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yeah.

Daniel Burstein: You know what I mean because your focused on speaker contracts and getting the presentations ready and all this stuff. So if there's one thing everyone listening can do, like the Merrell version of this podcast, take some self-care, stop for a minute, look around you and the things you're working on and think what about it is super cool, right? That’s so awesome.

Lindsey Lindemulder: Totally, totally. I love that.

Daniel Burstein: All right. So the last question I want leave the audience with, we've talked about all different aspects of being a marketer today, the fun of it, the empathy of it, you know, even being an internal role model. What are the key qualities of an effective marketer, in your opinion?

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yeah for me there are two that have totally risen to the top in my career, and it's something that when we're interviewing or bringing new people into the team, the two that I sort of poke at all the time. No. 1 is that willingness to take feedback and an openness to take feedback. Which to me is a bit of a display of like that you don't think you know everything and that you're willing to learn new things. And that you are willing to sort of like stuff down a little bit of your own pride and in an effort to make your work better or make you yourself better. Because feedback is hard. Like, I don't know I'd like for everybody to tell me everything I do is wonderful all the time, but it's totally not. So feedback is hard.

So that openness to take feedback, to assume that you don't know everything, to be willing to hear other points of view in order to reach the betterment of both yourself and the things that you're doing is number one. And then my second one is curiosity, like curiosity, curiosity, curiosity. There's always something to learn in every situation from every person, from every project, all the time.

And this sort of like curiosity of like, tell me more. I want to know more about this thing or that thing or the next thing. To me means that you've got this, like, marketing gold spark right? That you are going to continue to be, like, interested in people and connecting with people and creativity and building cool things and and the rest of the things that I think make you a good marketer. So openness to feedback and curiosity are my two probably highlights of effective marketers.

Daniel Burstein: I love that. And that curiosity element. When you said the words literally, I think you saw my life, my eyes light up the first time you said, look in other people's closets. Because one, that you had such a great literal story for that you were literally looking in people's closets. Yeah, but the great figurative lesson is that is the curiosity.

We should be the type of people who want to look in other people's closets, so to speak. Not to be nosy, weird, yet to be able to understand them better, to better serve them, because that is what marketing does at the end of the day, right?

Lindsey Lindemulder: Yeah. Absolutely.

Daniel Burstein: And so anyway, Lindsey, this was so much fun. Thank you so much for joining us.

Lindsey Lindemulder: Thank you so much for having me. This was really fun.

Daniel Burstein: And thanks to everyone for listening. I hope you learned a lot today.

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