Marketing Leader Q&A Series

On this episode of Noetic’s Marketing Leader Series, we’re thrilled to hear from Julie Zito, Assistant VP Marketing at American University. Julie discusses ingenuity and re-imagining efforts focused on your target audience and the importance of leaning into your community and collaboration. 

1.      Listen hard and be authentic – be responsive to what is happening in the country and the world in a way that’s authentic to your brand. What do the events mean to you, your customers, and your community?

2.      Lean into your community – although we can’t be together in person, the virtual environment allows us to connect with colleagues and people we otherwise might not have. We’re all in this together and people are willing to lend a hand.  

3.      Use changes to your advantage to re-imagine what you can do – in this virtual environment, it’s even more important to really listen to your audience and what they need and want. Find ways you can provide that to them. For example, American University re-imagined their commencement to make sure graduates were as emotionally fulfilled as possible with a meaningful memory, being a virtual event, by thinking outside the box and creating a well-wished video with clips from alumnae that otherwise may not have been possible. 

To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. 

CSR: Does Your Brand Take a Stand?

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

This year we have seen an increased number of brands speaking out and taking action against racial inequality and injustice. No longer are companies releasing a generic PR statement in condemnation. In a study done by IPSOS and Edelman earlier this year, 60% of consumers stated they believe brands should publicly speak out on systemic racism and racial injustice. Consumers are placing greater emphasis on social responsibility when deciding which brands to engage with. 

Setting the bar high on taking action, some Noetic friends and colleagues are great examples of how to “walk the talk,” putting actions behind their words to condemn racial injustice and violence: 

  • Lumina – Supporting their mission, “to prepare people for informed citizenship and success in a global economy,” Lumina has actively worked with partners since 2017 to “pursue racial and economic fairness.” In response to the racially motivated shootings in Charlottesville, VA, they granted more than $2.5 million to improve conditions for students of color at universities and colleges worldwide, increasing dialogue about racial injustice in everyday life. In 2020, they have committed $15 million over the next three years to Lumina’s Fund for Racial Justice and Equity, “the beating heart of our work is a commitment to achieve racial justice and equity.”
  • Nike – At the forefront of brands taking action against racial injustice and inequity, Nike has infused their efforts into its DNA. In 2017, it launched the “Equality” campaign focusing on how sports can break down barriers. In 2018, Nike signed Colin Kaepernick to be a brand ambassador after facing criticism for kneeling during the National Anthem in 2016. Despite the criticism and calls to boycott Nike for supporting Kaepernick and social justice issues, sales increased, and its brand has strengthened in the two years since, according to a Harris Poll. Known for its “Just Do It” slogan, Nike flipped it to “Don’t Do It,” releasing a one-minute video in May 2020 focused on race. Over the last five years, it has invested $417 million to drive a positive impact worldwide. It also announced another $40 million over the next four years to support the US’s Black community on behalf of Nike, Jordan, and Converse brands.
  • The Mayo Clinic – Known for its world-renowned healthcare, The Mayo Clinic is taking strides to eradicate racism and improve diversity and inclusion across its campuses. As a ceremonial gesture, they closed the Plummer Building Doors, symbolically closing the door on Racism. This gesture of closing the 4,000-pound bronze doors has only been performed 11 times since 1992. This year, Mayo announced they would be investing $100 million over the next ten years to address health disparities across the country and internal equity initiatives from recruitment to technology. 

How do you find the right marketing partner? It’s all about fit.

Photo by William Warby on Unsplash

In these dynamic times, we need a strong strategy, speed, and agility in all of our efforts – and especially with our partners. Sometimes finding the right business partner can even feel like finding the perfect pair of jeans – the discovery process can be challenging – even unappealing, but it can feel magical when you find the perfect fit. Being a boutique consultancy, Noetic can tailor our approach ensuring we are fitting your needs and your culture, ensuring you are strongly positioned for growth.

At Noetic, we meet clients where they are, operating as a partner, coach, and trusted confidante. We don’t just provide off-the-rack options; we work alongside CEOs, CMOs, and industry leaders to accelerate growth on a customized basis. Shaped by your needs, we source our tools, expertise, and solutions to help you and your team achieve your growth objectives through three modalities:

  • PROJECT-BASED ENGAGEMENTS:  Some clients need a concentrated effort in a specific timespan. These efforts are a bit like couture – a perfect custom fit for highly focused, high impact work. Often, they require focus on a particular area in our Brand Building Framework – Defining Your North Star, Identifying Your Brand Distinction, Bringing Your Brand to Life, or Improving Your Brand Performance. Using our Brand Health Diagnostic gives you a holistic view of your brand’s overall health, enabling you to identify where you need help. We work with you to develop a targeted plan to address the needs and accelerate growth.
  • EMPOWER & EDUCATE PROGRAMS: A “classic-fit” is when we help a leader looking to unleash the potential of their team, through curriculum development, training programs, and coaching. With decades of experience across industries, Noetic develops thoughtful learning and development programs for team members and executives, utilizing best practices and industry benchmarks. Noetic is also certified in DiSC to help you and your team members understand your workstyles, how that impacts working with others, and how to lean into similarities and differences to build a more cohesive team unit.
  • OUTSOURCED MARKETING SUPPORT: “Ready-to-wear” is ideal for teams and leaders who need extra arms and legs for creating marketing plans, creating content, managing projects, or other outsourced needs. Whether you have a reduced team or more projects than you can manage, Noetic is here to help. We can supplement your team resources in a hands-on, focused way to meet your daily and near-term objectives, wherever you need it most

As you look towards 2021, we encourage you to think about your perfect fit to achieve your growth goals. Noetic would love to partner with you and know together; we can find that perfect fit. Contact us at

Colorism: How Can Brands Support Progress Towards Social Justice?

Photo credit: Embrace Race

Lori Tharps, Author and Assistant Professor at Temple University, recently partnered with Embrace Race for a discussion on colorism. Not as openly spoken about as racism, colorism refers to a person’s, “preference for or presumed superiority of people based on the color of their skin.” As Noetic amplifies Embrace Race’s cause and efforts, and as we partner with our clients, we are sharing our top four takeaways from this discussion on what businesses and brands can learn from experts on colorism: 

  • Engage in conversation and dialog to support the cause: Racism is often viewed as too taboo to discuss in our society openly. Colorism is even more so as it’s not as widely recognized or understood. It’s important more now than ever to have open conversations about what racial issues mean for our country, our society, your brand, and your customers, and what you’re doing to address it internally and externally. 
  • Demonstrate and celebrate the broader diversity that exists: Within the discussion, Lori referred to an analogy comparing human skin tones to flowers – they come in all different colors, tones, and hues, and they’re all beautiful with a purpose. Artist Angelica Dass created a project taking 4,000 portraits to show the spectrum of human skin colors, exceeding the Pantone Library of colors. Brand communications have a unique opportunity to communicate the inclusivity of a wide range of colors and fuel conversations to normalize the diverse range of skin tones. 
  • Ensure a spectrum of voices and colors in marketing, hiring, and communication tone: Various and valued perspectives should be listened to, represented, and shared. Too often, marketing, advertising, and communications default to an ‘ideal’ homogeneous voice, so it is essential to identify your own biases towards skin colors to affect your future choices and initiatives. For example, a 2006 University of Georgia study found that employers of any race prefer light-skinned black men to dark-skinned black men regardless of their qualifications – recognizing this should be able to inform your hiring process. 
  • Change starts early and at home:  the solution to solving our color problem as a country begins in the home – with parents and their children. From day one, if parents of every color start to celebrate color differences in the human spectrum instead of praising one over the other or pretending we’re all the same, we will enable a more public-facing, cross-cultural dialogue about colorism. 

Noetic believes Embrace Race is an important cause we are proud to support. We continue to educate ourselves and work with our clients to support the movement. We hope you also continue seeking to learn so we can all work together towards inclusivity and equality. Visit Embrace Race’s website and sign up to receive updates and invitations to upcoming webinars.  

From squirrels to pigs to…. Mount Rushmore?

Photo by Pascal Debrunner on Unsplash

Noetic and our guests enjoyed hearing Emmy-award winning speaker Joe Schmit (former Minneapolis/St. Paul KSTP Sports TV Director) talk about Influence Through Purpose, Persistence, and Passion.

This virtual event, hosted by Accelerent, enabled us to reconnect with current and former Noetic client leaders to discuss the importance of leadership and the biggest impressions we make on people – especially when we’re not trying to make an impression.

Our thoughtful and entertaining discussion provided great insights into realizing and living our personal values and creating that silent impact on our teams. And we certainly got an ab workout through laughter at some of the analogies shared like:

  • Whenever you encounter negativity, remember – don’t fight with a pig. You will both get dirty, and the pig likes it. 
  • Some days you’re the squirrel who dodges the oncoming car; some days, you get hit. The important thing is to prepare yourself, avoid getting hit, pick yourself back up when you do, and learn from it.
  • Who packs your parachute every day?
  • Especially now, leaders need to make those extra efforts to be human and connect with their teams personally. Being sympathetic and empathetic are essential in the new normal, but they’re also generally core behaviors of effective leaders.

And finally, when you think back on the four people who have had the most significant impact on your life and how you lead it, could you name them? At the end of the day, who would be on your Mount Rushmore? And whose Mount Rushmore would you be on?

Toppled Over, Not Tipped.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

2020 has indeed been a year of reckoning. With the pandemic and a gamut of racial injustice issues, we, as a society, have reached beyond the tipping point. Over the last few years, we have seen demonstrations across the country for many social injustice and violence issues, but this year is just different. As we, Americans, organized in groups to push for change, brands have also stepped up to the plate. Rather than releasing generic statements condemning racial injustice and violence to “check the box,” companies are outlining plans of action to improve their diversity and inclusion initiatives and to actively supporting organizations and the movements.

At Noetic, we use our values as a guiding light for everything we do. As with the rest of the country, after Breonna Taylor’s murder in March and George Floyd’s murder in May, we knew we needed to do more. We leaned into our values of Help First, Curious Spirit, Growth-Minded, and Setting the Bar High to explore how we could further our efforts and impact. As a company, we decided to focus on supporting Embrace Race, an organization dedicated to educating children and adults of all colors to be inclusive. Their four goals are:

  • Nurture resilience in children of color
  • Nurture inclusive, empathetic children of all stripes
  • Raise kids who think critically about racial inequity
  • Support a movement of kid and adult racial justice advocates for all children

Aligning with our values, we decided to partner with Embrace Race to help amplify their message and do our part to educate ourselves to be better advocates. In an interview with CNN, Embrace Race’s founders Melissa Giraud and Andrew Grant-Thomas discuss how “racial bias and inequity is systemic and not simply about interpersonal interaction; we also create the systems. If you want to create better systems, you need to nurture better agents.” Racism isn’t something you’re born with; it’s something you learn from those around you consciously and unconsciously, intentionally and unintentionally.

As part of our commitment to Embrace Race and the Black Lives Matter movement, Noetic has chosen to support its pursuit of “ensuring our next generation is brave, informed, and thoughtful about Race.” By becoming active volunteers and further educating ourselves around this vital work, we hope to further the dialog and progress both at Noetic and on behalf of our trusted partners.

Whether it’s reading a book, attending a webinar, listening to and learning from someone’s experiences, donating, volunteering, or opening a dialogue with our colleagues, friends, and families, we can each make an impact. We, at Noetic, look forward to continuing to learn more about this important cause as we work together to Topple Over too many years of injustice, inequity and, bias. 


Noetic’s Marketing Leader Q&A Series highlights Tina Bagapor-O’Harrow, ZIPS Dry Cleaner’s Franchise organization VP of Marketing. ZIPS is a dry-cleaning company with an owner-operator model. Tina works with its valued franchisees, advertising agencies, and in-house team to ensure marketing and advertising efforts are most effective. As ZIPS has faced a sharp decline in customers’ ability to engage with them, Tina shares her insights on how they have adapted in this unusual climate.

Respond, recover, then re-emerge. With business whose low point represented an 80% decline, ZIPS set a three-phase effort to adapt: response, recovery, re-emergence. ZIPS is not a business that could convert to a completely online model given the inherent physicality of the service they provide. Given the dip in customer traffic and sales that started in spring 2020, ZIPS first needed to downsize staff and eliminate other variable and fixed costs to help its owner-operators manage in a dynamic new economy.

Recovery means testing and learning efforts in safety. ZIPS tested various approaches to see what customer directed approaches resonated the best. Curbside drop off, delivery, and easy drop options gave customers more low-touch solutions. Contracting with state and regional businesses in need of cleaning including fire and rescue and law enforcement presented additional opportunities. They taught ZIPS operators how to look for and pursue B-2-B opportunities.

New campaigns provided focus and relevant reasons to clean. The “Commitment to Clean” campaign helped customers understand ZIPS was taking health guidance seriously in-store and that dry cleaning kills 99% of viruses and bacteria on garments. ZIPS also promoted cleaning household items such as comforters and pillows to increase the level of safety in customer homes.

Ramping up digital and enhancing customer experience. While ZIPS could not convert completely to online, digital efforts were employed as a way to open accounts, make store selection, and text to plan ahead for drop-offs and pickups.

Innovate to re-emerge. ZIPS has launched Laundry by ZIPS, a new system-wide wash and fold service. This effort coincides with back to school, where families are encouraged to take back their time.  Creative focuses on new home working and schooling and more casual scenarios.  With constrained marketing dollars, ZIPS stood-up an in-house agency, backed primarily by PPP,  to create new sub-brands and build and deploy new campaigns.

Have a roadmap and adjust as you need. Being resilient and innovative is like riding a wave: stay in the tube, sense the changes, stay calm and focused, and make adjustments as needed. It will feel chaotic and may change quickly. Try to harness the adrenalin and navigate the ride! At the time of publication, ZIPS has been able to regain more lost ground. Still 35% off of last year’s number, they are hopeful that moving with alacrity and being open to change has helped navigate this unprecedented business interruption.  

Think about the long-term to sustain in the new reality. Leaders and marketers need to ask themselves: What models, products and needs do you have, or could you build to thrive within this constrained environment?

Learn more about ZIPS here. 

To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


Noetic’s Marketing Leader Q&A Series features, Marissa Jarratt, SVP and CMO of 7-Eleven. Deemed an essential business during the COVID crisis, Marissa discusses how 7-Eleven has shifted their business and brand strategies.

Get back to your roots. Understand your history, what your brand truly stands for, and why your customers come to you. This can be a pillar to lean on in times of crisis.

Operate with Servant Leadership. Empathize with your customers and find ways to serve them betterIt’s not only about what you’re selling, but why you’re selling it, who you’re selling it to, and where. Meet your customers where they need you the most, and provide what they’re looking for to the best of your ability.   

Understand the shifts in your customers’ behavior. And provide what they need. For example, 7-Eleven offers bake-at-home food options for their customers who are now buying for more the longterm rather than a quick snack or meal on the go. 

Communicate clearly and effectively in a timely manner.  It’s essential to recognize sometimes there’s a time and a place that you have to simply put out the information to ensure the integrity of the operation, the customer experience, and longevity of the enterprise, rather than focusing on the creative aspect. 

Always put safety first.  Every discussion and decision made should put safety first, protecting team members and enabling them to serve communities in need. For 7-Eleven, it meant PPE, new protocols, and ensuring ensure stocked shelves with critical supplies for those who need it.

To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


Noetic’s Marketing Leader Q&A Series highlights Laurie Gavitt-Smith, VP Marketing at Avalere Health, a healthcare consultancy specializing in strategy, policy, and data analysis for life sciences, health plans, and providers. In a time headlined by healthcare, Laurie shares her insights on marketing and how leaders will need to adapt. 

  1. Have discipline around your messaging. Marketers often feel they always have to be out there and heard. The key is to have the discipline to know when you can contribute to the conversation and be relevant rather than just speaking to hear yourself. 
  • Marketers are critical during times of crisis. They bring new ideas to the table and what we need to stay on brand. It’s going to be increasingly important to show executives why and how marketing is more critical than ever.
  • Traditional tactics will shift. For example, the inability to host live conferences allows for that money to be invested in other areas. Marketers will increasingly need to show the metrics to justify the investments – measurement is a must!
  • Keep clients informed.  Very early on, we put together a client response Team who quickly partnered with internal subject matter experts in creating an online COVID 19 Intel Center, ensuring our clients have the latest factual information.

Learn more about Avalere Health.  To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


On this week’s episode of Noetic’s Marketing Leader Q&A series our special guest is Cathy Davis, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Feeding America. Cathy discusses the ways COVID has impacted Feeding America as an organization and how they operate to ensure they can continue helping as many people as possible, especially during these challenging times. Here are some tips Cathy shared with us.

  • Being able to transform your business based on what the marked demands can be a huge opportunity. Be aware of what has shifted in the current market situation as people’s habits have shifted and pivot to those opportunities.
  • Be clear about what is happening in the news, in the market and in your category. It’s hard but try to prepare and get ahead of what’s happening as much as you can by understanding what’s happening in the world.
  • Agility.  Quick decision making is imperativeFailing fast, Falling forward. Not acting now could cost you later.
  • Optimize what you put into the market on the fly. Spend less time on creative and get your messages into the market. You can adjust on the go, but it’s important to continue to have an active voice.
  • Identify all critical stakeholders and make sure you’re engaging them.  It is important they understand where you’re going and you understand what’s important to them.

Learn more about how you can support Feeding America HERE.

To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.