Innovative Marketing Agency

Rachel Leake of PureRed On How to Lead a Successful Marketing Management Team

Collaborate across departments — Marketing plays an integral role in a brand’s success, but can’t thrive in a silo. By collaborating across departments, we gain valuable insights that shape our customer-centric campaigns.

Marketing Management helps you understand the way customers think and react when they buy a product or service. Good marketing management drives a company’s success. What are 5 ways to lead a successful Marketing Management team? To address this, we are talking to marketing leaders who can share stories and insights from their experiences. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Leake, Creative Director at PureRed.

As a hybrid Creative Director and Brand Strategist, Rachel develops creative strategies that move hearts — and the needle. In her career as a marketing leader, she has built brands, developed award-winning creative, and planned ad campaigns for businesses of all sizes, from startups to Fortune 500 companies. She has a proven track record leading high-performing, global teams that deliver business results, while fostering inclusive and collaborative cultures.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your personal backstory with us?

Sure! I grew up loving art and photography, which eventually evolved into experimenting with Photoshop and visual communication. I became interested in what motivates human behavior and how design could impact opinion and influence action.

After college, where I focused on both design and communication, I led marketing efforts for several high-growth startups before making the leap into the agency world. I love my job because I get to blend human-centered design with data-driven strategy to build brands that genuinely connect with people.

Oh, and fun fact: While I’m originally from the Washington D.C. area, I’ve bounced around quite a bit during my career, and now I call Barcelona home. Working across different cultures and being trilingual has really made me more adaptable and empathetic as a leader. It’s been quite a journey, and I’m excited to share my experiences with you today.

Can you share with us three strengths, skills, or characteristics that helped you to reach this place in your career? How can others actively build these areas within themselves?

1. Empathy

Take the time to really get to know your team members on a personal level. Listen, connect, and give them the recognition they deserve. It’s important to understand their passions, milestones, and even their preferred communication and feedback styles.

Creating a safe environment allows them to show up as their authentic selves, feel valued, and be more comfortable taking risks. Building a successful environment starts with empathy.

2. Network

Building a strong support system is key. Find a community where you can lean on others for mentorship and guidance.

On a corporate level, get to know your colleagues in other departments, like Sales, Product, and Customer Service. Collaborating with them unlocks valuable insights into customer pain points, brand perception, and product knowledge. This direct customer feedback is key in building your marketing strategy.

3. People first

As a leader, invest in building a world-class, diverse team. Marketing is all about collaboration, and your team’s success depends on the diversity of its members.

Remember, your value as a leader isn’t about being a one-person problem-solving machine. It’s about empowering and supporting your team to reach their full potential.

Fantastic. Let’s now shift to the main part of our interview. What are some strategies you use to identify and attract top talent to your marketing team, and how do you ensure they are a good fit for your organization?

Attracting top talent begins with cultivating an authentic brand and core values that people can rally behind. People want to work for companies that they believe in. This combination also leads to better cultural fit and higher employee satisfaction.

Studies continually show how diverse companies are more successful. It’s not just about race, age, gender, or sexual orientation. Look for talent beyond the traditional marketing pool and embrace those with unique career paths. Non-linear thinkers often bring fresh perspectives that breathe new life into your team’s dynamic.

Plus, effective marketing teams thrive on a blend of analytical and creative minds. When hiring, I aim to bring in talent who complement our team’s existing skill set and who have the right attitude, as missing skills can be developed on the job.

What specific backgrounds, qualities, or credentials do you look for when hiring for management and senior positions?

When it comes to hiring for management, my focus is on candidates who have demonstrated leadership experience, possess strong analytical skills, and bring industry expertise to the table. I also delve into their management style to evaluate their active listening skills, decision-making abilities, and how they navigate challenging situations.

It’s important to find leaders who not only have the credentials, but also embody the qualities that align with our company’s values and promote a positive work culture.

When it comes to managing large teams, WFH, and different time zones, how do you prioritize communication and collaboration to ensure a cohesive marketing strategy?

Communication is the key to ensuring a cohesive marketing strategy. It’s essential to establish a cadence of check-ins and team meetings with defined communication channels. By setting clear expectations and providing feedback, you can create a culture of open and transparent communication. Embracing technology like shared calendars and collaborative tools enables real-time collaboration, regardless of geographical distances.

Additionally, it’s important to understand and respect cultural differences and work hours to foster trust and collaboration among team members. Celebrating achievements and creating opportunities for team bonding both play a crucial role in building a positive team culture, even in a remote work environment.

Lastly, a good balance of support, autonomy, and flexibility is the recipe for success. Focus on your team’s output, not hours logged. Trusting your team and providing them with the freedom to work in a way that suits them best will contribute to their productivity and overall success.

How do you stay on top of the latest trends, technologies, and AI to ensure your team is implementing the most effective marketing strategies?

At PureRed, we have a strong focus on staying ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest trends and technologies. We foster a growth mindset by actively seeking opportunities for continued learning, such as attending conferences, conducting industry research, and organizing knowledge-sharing meetings within our team.

I encourage my team to challenge conventional thinking and experiment with new technology in a supportive environment that encourages risk-taking and innovation.

For instance, I currently lead a think tank group dedicated to exploring AI’s potential in revolutionizing our client services. By leveraging AI’s capabilities for efficient data analysis and personalized campaigns, we streamline processes, automate workflows, and boost productivity.

However, it’s important to remember that while AI has its strengths, marketing still heavily relies on human creativity and empathy. AI can respond to inputs and prompts, but it won’t generate the next big idea on its own.

In an industry that is often focused on data and metrics, how do you balance the importance of quantitative data with the qualitative insights and instincts needed for success?

This is a great question because it really gets at the heart of effective marketing strategies. Being data-driven is important, but knowing what the data is telling you is even more important. It’s about digging deeper to uncover the “why” behind the numbers, which gives you a holistic view of your users’ motivations, emotions, and psychology.

Empathetic marketing is all about prioritizing the user experience over just focusing on metrics. It’s about building an emotional connection rather than simply pushing for a hard sell. The marketing trends we’ve seen in recent years, like storytelling, authenticity, and personalization, have all been driven by qualitative insights.

When you truly know your customers’ needs, pain points, and desires, you can create more authentic and meaningful interactions that foster long-term customer loyalty.

Marketing is a beautiful blend of art and science. By incorporating both quantitative and qualitative approaches, you can make well-rounded, informed decisions that not only drive business and brand metrics, but also create meaningful connections with your audience.

It’s about finding that balance between the analytical and the intuitive to create impactful marketing strategies.

What tips do you have to motivate and inspire your team to consistently meet and exceed their goals?

Motivating and inspiring your team to consistently meet and exceed their goals is all about creating a positive and empowering environment through empathetic leadership. It’s important to go beyond just knowing your team members’ roles and work histories — take the time to truly understand who they are as individuals. Open up conversations by checking in on their well-being and validating their emotions.

Embracing radical candor, as coined by Kim Scott, allows you to provide honest and direct feedback while also showing care and empathy. Building a foundation of trust and fostering open communication helps to cultivate a supportive team culture. When employees feel supported, they are more motivated to improve their performance and productivity.

Empowering your team with autonomy and a shared purpose will naturally drive their professional growth and push them to exceed expectations. As a leader, your value lies not only in your problem-solving abilities, but in your ability to create an environment that empowers your team members to thrive and succeed.

How do you handle underperforming team members?

Handling underperforming team members requires an empathetic approach. As a leader, it’s important to ensure that your goals are clearly communicated and that you provide regular feedback to your team. By addressing any signs of underperformance early on, you can prevent the issue from escalating.

Instead of assuming the worst, I believe in understanding the “why” behind their actions through honest conversations and open-ended questions. Are they overwhelmed with their workload? Are there personal challenges they are facing? Do they need additional resources or support?

I also want to stress the importance of creating a safe environment where your team feels comfortable discussing failures and brainstorming solutions. Some of the most innovative ideas are founded on failures, so embrace the learning opportunities that come with them. However, it’s also important to differentiate between failures, which are unsuccessful outcomes, and mistakes, which are unintentional errors that should be promptly addressed.

If repeated mistakes persist, parting ways may be necessary to maintain team performance and company culture, and allow the individual to find a better-suited role.

What would you say is the most valuable marketing software in your tech stack?

While I don’t want to play favorites with specific software, a Customer Data Platform (CDP) has been the most valuable. With it, we create a unified customer profile that gives us a comprehensive view of their behavior, preferences, and interactions across various channels. This kind of insight is gold when it comes to crafting personalized and targeted marketing campaigns.

Here is our main question: Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Lead a Successful Marketing Management Team.”

1. Collaborate across departments.

Marketing plays an integral role in a brand’s success, but can’t thrive in a silo. By collaborating across departments, we gain valuable insights that shape our customer-centric campaigns.

For instance, while working at a SaaS startup, our collaboration with Customer Service revealed a new use case for our software, prompting us to create tailored content that resonated with our customers in a whole new way.

2. Adopt a growth mindset.

Foster a learning culture where team members are encouraged to share new ideas and seek professional development opportunities.

At PureRed, we emphasize continuous learning and reward team members for taking on new projects outside of their comfort zone. It’s about keeping an open mind, embracing innovation, and being humble enough to admit when there’s more to learn.

3. Build a diverse team.

Diversity fuels success. When we have a team that represents different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, we become stronger. Research consistently shows that diverse companies perform better.

As a leader, I’m passionate about creating a diverse, inclusive workplace. For instance, I mentor self-made creatives at D&AD Shift with Google, a night-school program of self-made creatives to challenge recruitment assumptions and diversify the talent pool.

4. Prioritize clean data.

Data is the lifeblood of marketing, but it must be clean, accurate, and reliable. Operating on outdated or inaccurate data leads to errors and ineffective campaigns.

In a past experience at a SaaS startup, we discovered incomplete data was skewing our results. Through collaboration with IT and Product teams, we rectified the problem and uncovered valuable insights about an overlooked customer persona.

5. Embrace agility and new technology.

Marketing teams must be agile and adapt to new technologies to thrive in today’s business landscape. For campaigns, testing and refining ideas quickly and efficiently are crucial. For internal processes, leverage technology to automate workflows to free up time for innovation.

At a previous e-commerce startup, I applied agile thinking to our approval process by shortening the review cycle for social media, allowing us to capitalize on posting timely, trending content.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

This is oddly the hardest answer to give because there are so many causes that I’m passionate about — advocating for mental health, dismantling racism, empowering women, supporting equal access to healthcare and education, and the list goes on.

However, if I had to inspire a movement to bring the most amount of good to the greatest number of people, it would be centered around kindness in our everyday interactions. Treating others with respect, recognizing our shared humanity, and making a positive impact in our own communities can have a profound ripple effect.

How can our readers best continue to follow your work online?

I’d love to connect with your readers! The best way to follow my work online is by connecting with me on LinkedIn.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

You’re welcome! It’s been a pleasure sharing my thoughts with you. Thank you for having me and creating this opportunity for discussion.