Heather McLeod (Authority Brands) - Pop Star Dance Moves

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This is a podcast episode titled, Heather McLeod (Authority Brands) - Pop Star Dance Moves. The summary for this episode is: <p>Ajay and Vincent chat with Heather McLeod, Chief Marketing Officer at Authority Brands. She talks about how a hybrid work schedule allows for more creativity from varying locations. Ajay gets into football, and Vincent approves of Ajay's haircut.</p>
Intro to episode
00:32 MIN
Heather shares her new role as CMO
01:22 MIN
How Heather got into marketing
01:20 MIN
Channels that are working for Authority Brands marketing
01:10 MIN
Fun and interesting brands Heather works on
02:19 MIN
How to get yourself out of a rut
01:11 MIN
Platforms that are effective for Authority Brands in spreading brand awareness
01:15 MIN
Goals Heather is focusing on
02:18 MIN
How to get marketing a seat at the revenue table
02:38 MIN
Experiences unique to women in the marketing industry, and is there a path forward for more women in leadership?
02:51 MIN
LinkedIn Messages: What works and what does not
01:50 MIN

Speaker 1: Maybe big data has gotten too big. Whether you're a B2B marketer or a consumer brand, your data needs to be viable, relevant, and accessible so that Stirista can help you retain customers, acquire customers, and make it personal.

Ben: Welcome to The Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista, probably the most entertaining marketing podcast you're going to put in your ear. I'm Ben, the producer here at Stirista. The goal of this podcast is to chat with industry leaders and get their take on the current challenges of the market, and we'll have a little fun along the way. In today's episode, Ajay and Vincent chat with Heather McLeod, chief marketing officer at Authority Brands. She talks about how a hybrid work schedule allows for more creativity from varying locations. Ajay gets into football and Vincent approves of Ajay's haircut. Give it a listen.

Vincent: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of Stirista's The Marketing Stir. I, of course, am your host Vincent Pietrafesa, the vice president of B2B products and partnerships here at Stirista and still general manager. I dropped the interim. I gave myself a promotion, ladies and gentlemen, I am now the general manager of whatever it is I do. I don't know. But thank you so much for listening. I'm so excited to be doing this episode for a variety of reasons. I'm just happy today. But people are like, come on. Those of you who listen are like you're happy every day. We get it. But especially today, right? We've got great guests. We're talking to Ajay. We'll tell you why I'm happy to see him. It is going to be fun. Let's just pause, though, talk about Stirista, just for like 15 seconds. That's all we do is we talk about us for 15 seconds. You can handle that. We are a marketing technology company. We have our own business- to- business data, our own business- to- consumer data. We then have the technology to reach those individuals. Email marketing through our DSP. Our DSP that we own, AdStir, display, OTT connect TV, help reach them to help get new customers, get your messaging in front of them. Who could not use new customers? That's all, ladies and gentlemen. Email me vincent @ stirista. com. I won't include my last name because you won't get it right. It's a long one. So a nice simple version. It's so good to be here, and it's so great to have my co- host on. Ladies and gentlemen, if you were listening to the last episode, he said he was going to get a haircut, and I made fun of him because every time I see him, he gets a haircut and I think he gets ripped off, not because it isn't a good haircut, but the fact is, it seems like they take four snips and then they charge him like$ 68. This time it actually looks like he got a haircut. Good job. Ladies and gentlemen, Ajay Gupta. What's going on Ajay?

Ajay: Hey, Vincent. I'm glad you approve of a barber that's not your own.

Vincent: Yes. Yeah, I know. Well, if he were here in New York, forget it. I would make sure you had a haircut every two weeks. Not like me. I'm going later today. I go every 10 days. It's weird. I don't know. Maybe I'm vain. Who knows? Probably. But it's good. I'm finally glad you got some taken off this time.

Ajay: Yeah, it's bad when it's getting too long for me, so it definitely looks a little bit better, I would say, so.

Vincent: Good. It's about time. So I'm sure when I see you in December, that... There's no haircut from now until December happening. Am I... Is that a true statement?

Ajay: Yeah, yeah, for sure. By the way, since I'm into football now, the Giants seem to be doing pretty good.

Vincent: The Giants are doing pretty good. The Jets are doing pretty good here in New York. Our guest coming up-

Ajay: inaudible. Yeah.

Vincent: Yeah. Our guest coming up, she is a big Jets fan. It's not a... Where she grew up in New York, normally they're Buffalo Bill fans in that area.

Ajay: Yeah.

Vincent: So we're going to talk to her in a moment. We're very excited. We have a great guest today. See, she's a New Yorker, Ajay, originally. And then she also grew up in Texas. I'm like this is the best podcast guest ever. We've got New York and Texas covered. She lives still on the East Coast now, I guess. Yeah, Maryland's the East Coast. They consider that the East Coast. But ladies and gentlemen, I can't wait for you to hear this episode. We are going to have so much fun. The chief marketing officer of Authority Brands, Heather McLeod. What's going on, Heather?

Heather: Hey. Thanks for having me guys.

Vincent: It's great to have you. A New Yorker. I get the sense. So you grew up upstate New York. I went to college upstate New York. I went to school in Oswego, New York, which is really why my second favorite football team, Heather, are the Buffalo Bills. A lot of Buffalo Bills fans are like, we're the only true New York team. It's like, all right, take it easy, Buffalo. You haven't won anything. Take it easy. I don't care where the Giants are from, New York or New Jersey. We just historically had a better team. But you grew up in upstate New York. You were born-

Heather: I was born in upstate New York and grew up in Texas. Yeah. Yeah. Been all over. Military kid...

Vincent: Okay.

Heather: ...of two Air Force parents. Yeah, so.

Vincent: Yeah. Well that's... Yeah, that's awesome. Thank your parents for their service. We also... And then now, a Jets fan though. So you chose the team that a lot of New Yorkers don't choose. But, hey, that's it. You stuck with them. And now you're representing them in the Maryland area. Love it. I love it. Heather, we have a lot of things to cover today. So when you and I first met, over the last four years... You've been at Authority Brands for about, what, seven or eight years?

Heather: Yeah, going on eight years in January. But it was actually... I've been at Authority Brands since before Authority Brands was Authority Brands. So eight years in Maryland.

Vincent: That's like the title of a book, Eight Years in Maryland.

Heather: Yeah.

Vincent: So, no, when you started out, so you were the VP of marketing for the Cleaning Authority, which is actually one of the brands within Authority Brands.

Heather: Yeah.

Vincent: And then you're chief marketing officer of Authority Brands, rocking and rolling the last four years. But when this episode comes out, you're actually going to have a new title. You keep doing your thing, keep growing. We love that. Talk to us about the new role.

Heather: Yeah. So I joke that I was at Authority Brands before it was Authority Brands. So like you said, I was the VP of marketing for the Cleaning Authority, which was the foundational brand that became the platform to kind of house all of these home service franchise brands. So we have 12 today. I'm sure by the end of the year we'll have maybe one or two more. And I've been the CMO leading the marketing team for the last four years, and I am transitioning now into a chief growth officer role sitting over the marketing function as well as our franchise sales and development teams. Which is really exciting, because I think for a lot of marketers, it's kind of hard to see what happens next after CMO, right? It's kind of like the culmination of a marketing career. What do you do next? And so for me, it's really exciting to think about the levers that drive our business forward being... opening new locations and getting new entrepreneurs in our system, in our franchise brands, and then on the marketing side, helping them grow and helping drive revenue to them. So those are the two growth levers in the organization, and so being able to strategically drive forward both of those areas is really exciting for me.

Vincent: I love it. Congrats on that. It is a great, amazing next step. Like you said after CMO, it's like now kind of overseeing a few different areas. We love that. And this is like an exclusive you're dropping. I feel very, very, very important where you're announcing it here. It's like you know when Barbara Walters or Oprah... I'm not comparing myself to them in the slightest, but it's almost like we have the exclusive. That is amazing. Let me just... Before we get into one of our signature questions about how you got into marketing, let me just share some of the brands of Authority Brands, the Cleaning Authority, as you mentioned, Mosquito Squad, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, Monster Tree Service, Color World house painting, just to name a few. Love it. And question I have again, so people love hearing this because of your amazing trajectory, talk to us, Heather, how you got into marketing in the first place.

Heather: Yeah, I mean, so, funny enough, when I was in high school, so we'll go way back when I was in high school, I really wanted to be on the dance team and I did not make the dance team. And so my mom said you need to find a new hobby because you need to be involved and you need to be doing things. And my high school had a Business Professionals of America organization. And so I joined that and thought, hey, this is kind of cool. Maybe I want to go to college and get a business degree, and I think marketing is where I want to focus. So I'm kind of one of the few who maybe actually went to school for what they ended up doing.

Vincent: Yes. Yes.

Heather: And I got into franchise marketing specifically because I was struggling to get a job during the recession in 2008. I went back to grad school and started interviewing for marketing roles and got offered the marketing job at a restoration franchise based in Waco, Texas, and thought, I don't know anything about restoration, but I know a lot about marketing and I think these people all seem really nice and awesome. I bet they can teach me about restoration. And the rest is kind of history.

Vincent: That is amazing. And we rarely get... Especially high school? My high school didn't have anything like that, Ajay. I don't know, maybe that's just a Texas thing where you have that. And before Ajay asks his question, were you a good dancer? Was your mom right? Was the team right? Or you were like, no, I'm a really good dancer and they just made a mistake?

Heather: I really wanted to be a really good dancer. I really did. That was back in the day too, where you could buy the VHS tapes of people like teaching you how to do your favorite teen pop star dance moves. And I was a committed participant, but safe to say, maybe not the most graceful. I mean, I was very tall, very young, and so it came with some clumsiness, you might be able to say.

Vincent: Right. inaudible.

Heather: So they got it right.

Vincent: Thank you for sharing.

Heather: And I ended up just fine. I ended up just fine. So no complaints.

Ajay: Well, it looks like, Heather, you've accepted your fate. I'm still trying to be a professional athlete in some capacity. So, Heather, tell us a little bit about how you're marketing today. What are some of the channels that you focus on, and what's really working for you?

Heather: For most of our brands, we're pretty diverse in channel with kind of a blend of what we would consider traditional and digital. So for us, it normally means a decent amount of direct mail, a decent amount of paid search, Google. Local service ads are a really big driver in our space. If you can imagine, when people are searching for home services, normally it's a really high intent search, so things like water heater replacement, normally, things that indicate that they really want service more than people who are maybe searching with the intent to research and then make a decision. So we've got a good mix across the board. We're doing some CTV now. We're doing a good amount of social, social video. So it's a little bit of a blend, but for sure the biggest drivers for us traditionally have been paid search. And over the last few years, that shifted into LSAs, as much volume as we can get and LSAs will take, and then a good amount of direct mail.

Ajay: inaudible hard to pick your favorite children, but you have a number of brands that are under you. Can you share kind of your top three, which ones are your favorite?

Heather: Yeah, well, I won't pick favorites because that would be, just like you said, you can't pick a favorite kid, right? But I will say the brands that I think are doing some of the most interesting things that are fun to work on for a variety of reasons. So one of the brands that's really exciting for me right now is actually our newest brand. It is Woofie's, is the name of the brand. It is a mobile dog grooming, dog walking service. And this kind of falls in our emerging brand category because it is pretty new and up and coming in the franchising space. But this is one that, my guess would be, in two or three years when we look back, this brand will have exploded. Because if you have a dog and you experienced during COVID trying to get that dog groomed, could be incredibly difficult. And having a mobile service I think is really the way of the future. It's so easy for a consumer to take advantage of that service. So it's also a fun brand to market because, I mean, who doesn't love pets? And one of the cool things we've got going on in that brand, so all of our franchise owners, on their grooming vans, they get to feature any dog they want. So whether that's their personal dog or some have done contests in their market for a casting call to cast the dog that's on their van. So it's just a super fun brand. And while, of course, I love our traditional home service brands, it gets the team a little excited because there's some new stuff they can do. So got to love Woofie's. Of course, I love the Cleaning Authority. It's my original brand, and who doesn't love recurring business model? It's a low- cost service. I also personally hate cleaning my house, so can't fault that. And then who else? I think One Hour HVAC, the things that are happening in that brand and the growth that brand has seen over the last couple years is just out of control. So I think the sky's the limit for them too. So I love all of the brands for different reasons, but I think those three kind of have some exciting stuff happening right now.

Vincent: Yeah. Nice. And I have actually joked on this podcast, a semi joke, where I'm like, I have a favorite. I have a favorite child because I have a five- year- old and a two- year- old, and my two- year- old is all about my wife. He doesn't pay any attention to me. So guess what? As of now, I kind favor the five- year- old. I'm not going to lie. I don't know if you feel that way, Ajay, but my kids are not... My wife doesn't even listen to the podcast.

Ajay: Yeah. It used to be like that. But my four- year- old daughter is really coming around now, so I'm starting to her more in response. So they'll all come around.

Vincent: I know.

Heather: It's very cyclical. It's very cyclical for me in that all these things that we do, especially things that my team is working on that are fun and exciting, what brands have more of my attention at any moment, it changes so frequently throughout the year because there's just so much that the team is doing. I mean, it's 70 some- odd people on a marketing team, right? So the team is big, they're doing lots of cool stuff, which is cool because it means that I kind of get the opportunity to ping- pong a little bit and shift my focus based on what's going on. So it's exciting. And then, of course, my next favorite brand is always the next brand we buy, because it's fun to expand and learn more about what other brands are doing and see what some of the brands that we acquire have kind of in their marketing system. So it's fun to have options, I should say.

Vincent: Yeah. No, it definitely seems like that. Because of the fact that there's so many different brands and there's just a variety of them, it's never a dull moment, I would imagine, at Authority Brands. Heather, let me ask you this. I'm always curious to see, when we talk to a company that it either represents franchises or is in itself a large franchise organization, are you responsible, as far as marketing- wise, to market your current brands to help get people interested in maybe becoming franchise owners? And/ or is it also helping those individual franchises market their services to some areas maybe regionally? Talk to me about that.

Heather: Yeah. So it's both, and the approach that I've taken with the structure of the team is that there are dedicated teams working on both. So if you are a franchise owner in our system, you have a dedicated team of marketers who works on your brand and on your brand only, who love it, live and breathe it, know it forwards and backwards. Ambassadors for the brand, right? They're focused on helping you grow your business. And in six of our 12 brands, they're actually executing your local marketing for you. So they're actually responsible for inaudible, how many calls are coming in, how the call center is booking those calls, how those are converting to estimates on your calendar. Basically as far as we can get that lead down to being booked revenue, the team is handling. So that's kind of one piece of the team. And then there's a second piece of the team whose job is basically to support the growth of the franchise system in helping attract and identify business owners, entrepreneurs, people who are interested in expanding their portfolio. They might already own several businesses already, and we're trying to expose them to just the opportunities that home services provide and the stability that comes from home services. Safe to say, we were probably one of the least affected verticals by COVID and all of their shutdowns. So it's a whole separate team that's focused on that, and they're really focused on telling the stories of the owners we have in the system and highlighting all of the just amazing people we have in the network. And then focused on trying to find more people like that in markets where we might have open space to open new locations.

Vincent: Thanks for answering that. I was curious about that. So you really... Wow, that's a lot involved. And, Heather, you touched upon a question I was going to ask as well where, what makes an ideal franchise owner? Is it kind of someone who maybe owns a small HVAC company already? Is it a business executive like me and Ajay who may think about another source of income? I'm just curious. It's fascinating, especially the brands that you have.

Heather: Yeah. I mean, I think a good franchise owner can be any of those things. They could already own a business in a similar space and want to expand. They could be in corporate America and be ready to get out of that and to start working for themselves and building something for their family. I think the most common shared characteristic is they have to have a strong support system and they need to have a desire to succeed, right? And it's hard to test for that, identify that. Resilience is really the word. If you can imagine, if you have a bad day at a corporate job and come home, it's a little easier to shake that off then maybe if you've had a bad day and you've invested money into a business for yourself. If you don't have a strong support system at home and your spouse or your partner or your friend is saying, well, you made a terrible choice, you shouldn't have done that, that sits way different than, you know what, it's going to be better tomorrow. You got this. We can do this. Right? So it's hard to identify that for us sometimes, and that's really what we're trying to get down to. How resilient are you? And when you have a bad day, how are you going to get through that? Because that type of person can come from any of those spaces you mentioned. Right? There are successful people that come from all of those different backgrounds. It's really more kind of the characteristics of an entrepreneur that really kind of get down to how is someone going to perform when they have a day that maybe is a little tough. And when you're in a business running a business on your own, you don't really get... The support you get is normally on the phone. There's not other people in the office with you in the same way. There's not really that water cooler like, oh man, this is really tough. The people that are around you are people who work for you and are on your team. So the dynamic is a little different. So the biggest thing, is just trying to identify how resilient is someone and what is their desire to succeed and how willing are they to push through things when they get a little challenging.

Ajay: Yeah, there's so much related to that. How do you get yourself out of a slump when you find yourself in sort of a rut?

Heather: Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, honestly, I think one of the things for me that's been really beneficial about the post- COVID world is kind of having a hybrid work environment, where I'm in the office some days and then in my home office some other days. Because for me, kind of having some changing dynamic of where I am is really good for me. If I've been home for a couple days and I feel kind of in a rut, then going in the office and seeing my team re- energizes me. If I've been in the office for a while and that's kind of starting to wear on me a little bit, coming home and having my animals all around me all day... So for me it's just being able to vary my surroundings to kind of vary maybe the structure of my day, because most of the rut feeling for me comes from being on the phone 24/7/365, like back to back to back to back to back of the same kind of activity. So when I can change it up and change my location, change who I'm around, restructure my calendar, maybe work things out a little bit different, that normally helps shake my creative mind free a little bit.

Ajay: Yeah, I'll agree with you there. The hybrid work environment, it definitely helps break up the kind of daily monotony that one can get into. Social media, I'm guessing, is a big part of your brand awareness. What are some of the platforms that work effectively for you in spreading that brand awareness?

Heather: Yeah, we're primarily focused really on two, I'll say maybe three as a stretch. So Facebook is a huge platform for us on the consumer side, as well as Instagram. And then on the development side, from building our brand awareness with entrepreneurs and potential franchisees, LinkedIn is really where we kind of focus those efforts. So those three are the big ones. We've got a little bit of dabbling happening in TikTok right now, but I think one of the things that my team loves to say that people outside of our space, people outside of marketing, I think, sometimes take for granted is the level of effort that goes into content production by different channel. And it's really easy to say, well, why don't you guys just get on TikTok? Well, there's a lot to that, right? And you guys know that. So that's one where I think we'll probably start to do maybe a little bit more over time. But the amount of just production work that it takes and legal and all of those other things for us, we're slowing the tread into the water on that one.

Vincent: And, Heather, I wanted to talk to you about some of the goals as we end this year here for Authority Brands, some of the focus that you have, and then going into next year. I think at this point you'll, you'll be into this new role, and so talk to us a little bit about some of your focuses as a whole for Authority Brands.

Heather: Yeah. I think right now my biggest focus, as I'm kind of shifting myself around a little bit, is making sure that my team and everyone on my team feels supported and feels like they have the resources they need to do the job that they've been tasked to do, which is a really flowery answer to what my goals are. But I think, for me, being able to build this team and have this team of marketers so rock solid is really the only way that I've been able to even think about expanding what I'm doing. So making sure that that continues to kind of be the foundation of everything that I'm doing with my team specifically. I think from a bigger picture Authority Brands focus, of course we're focused on acquisition. It's part of our growth strategy to identify and bring in other franchise brands that are the right fit in spaces where we don't currently have a brand. So safe to say, next year we'll probably be full of acquisition as we look at other brands. And then there's a couple things for my team that we're focused on. We're focused on how do we think about selling across our brands. That's one that we've started to kind of tackle, but as you can imagine, it requires a lot of technology and infrastructure that we don't necessarily have in place to do it the way that we might ideally. So it's a little bit of thinking how much juice... Is the juice worth the squeeze on some of these activities? So that's one that's top of mind. And really we're just thinking about what are the impacts of what might be maybe a recession, if it's safe to say the R- word, or inflation. How do those impacts in the broader economy as a whole impact our franchise owners? How do those impact our relationship with our customers? And are we thinking about that and doing everything we can to protect our owners and their revenue against whatever might be coming down the line? So there's a lot of things kind of on the radar as we're looking forward, but it's definitely an exciting time for us at Authority Brands.

Vincent: And I loved this question for you before, but I even think it applies more now with your new role, Heather. It's how are you getting marketing involved... How are you getting marketing a seat at the revenue table?

Heather: Yeah. That's one of the things that has been such a joy about being in this organization, because I will say that I have had experiences before where marketing was kind of an afterthought, right? The strategic conversation was operations and maybe finance and then marketing go and execute against this vision. And I will say, I referenced earlier that we execute marketing for six, soon to be seven, of our 12 brands where my team actually does the execution, they're doing all their local marketing. And that dynamic really changes how the entire organization thinks about the role of marketing. It's not just a team to give advice. Which in franchising, a lot of marketing teams are kind of strategic advice givers. Here's what to do, here's a playbook for how to do it, here are the people to call to hire to help you do it. And in our organization, we are the executors. We do it. So if call volume isn't there, that's on us. If lead volume isn't there, that's on us and we have to focus on driving and protecting revenue. So I think really at the end of the day, the focus for me here has always been on a partnership with operations. Understanding that marketing can't work well without operations being bought in and supporting us and operations can be more effective by partnering with us and treating it as a partnership. I think it's really easy sometimes, because marketing teams are used to being not at the table, that they can tend to get defensive and protective over this is what we should do and this is how we should do it and I know because I'm the marketer. Don't tell me what to do, Operations. And I think really trying to focus on understanding how every other department's view of something that marketing is recommending will be taken and then really focusing on collaboration has been very helpful for me and helping me get a seat at the table and therefore getting other people on my team seats at the table, viewed in a slightly different way, viewed as more strategic marketers than just executors. But it's a great question, and it's one that I wish more people were asking and thinking about because it can be really challenging sometimes as a marketer to get out of execution view, the team/ company viewing you as a doer versus someone who really can contribute to driving top- line revenue.

Ajay: Are there experiences you believe that are unique to women in this field? And do you see a path forward for more women in leadership positions in the field?

Heather: Oh my gosh, that's a little bit of a heavy question, but yeah, I mean, I think, especially in marketing, it is exceptionally challenging because even today... Well, even beyond marketing, right? I read a stat the other day that said there are more Fortune 500 CEOs named John than there are Fortune 500 CEOs that are women. That's a little frightening, isn't it? And I encourage everybody who heard that to fact- check me, to make sure that it's really 500 and not the Fortune 100. But I will say it was a New York Times article, so I trust it to be accurate. My memory of it though... And that's crazy. That's crazy to me. So when I think about what I'm trying to do with my team, there are a lot of women in marketing, there are a lot of women who don't reach the senior role within a marketing department because there's still a lot of male domination of that space, and it can be really challenging because you have to be viewed as young enough to understand digital channels, but not too young to not be a senior level, C- level peer to other executives. It's a little delicate still. So it is a little challenging. I think my goal for the next 10 years would be that my generation, if you will, of women leaders who, in a lot of ways, holistically are maybe the first group to more aggressively support and lift each other up... Definitely, I think, was more challenging for the women that came before us because the seats were incredibly limited, and I think it made it harder for them on occasion to openly support each other in the same way. Not that everybody did or didn't, but it was just more... it was harder for them. It's getting easier for us for sure, and I think my generation has the benefit of really wanting to support each other's growth. Success for one does not come at the expense of success for someone else. We can all succeed together. We can all lift each other up. But yeah, it can be challenging. But I hope it's changing. I hope I'm doing my part to try and change it. And at least in the small microcosm of my own team, it's definitely something that, hopefully, they can see what I'm trying to do, not as something necessarily just for myself, but for them as well. That was heavy, y'all. I didn't know we were going to get so heavy on women in marketing and...

Ajay: We'll make it a little bit lighter on this one. This one is a fun question. So I'm sure you get a lot of LinkedIn messages, a lot of unsolicited messages. What's a message that really annoys you? And what's one that you actually respond to?

Heather: inaudible that annoy me are the really long, cold ones. At least if it's short and cold, and I eye- scan read it and I don't have to scroll, I might read it and I might reply to it. Most of the time though, and this is maybe my message for cold LinkedIn people, like cold outreach people on LinkedIn, most of the time if you're someone trying to sell something using LinkedIn to prospect, I am not the person you should be reaching out to because all I'm going to do is tell you there's someone else on the team that you should be talking to, right? But I do look at everything I get via LinkedIn. But the ones that are really long paragraphs about why their company is the right thing, I'm just not going to read it because it's just too much. But the ones that normally get me are the ones that say some connection to something that I actually have interest in. Although, now I feel like maybe I'm going to get 10,000 of them saying like, oh, Baylor football did so great this year, which I know would be kind of a lie if they said that. So there you go. But yeah, I think it's like don't put a novel in your message. Although, I will say the real one that annoys me, because this has happened to me a couple times in the last week, is one where they send me a message and say that they have something that they think will be useful for a company that I don't actually work for. Like I don't work for that company. So I don't know where that happened, but I've been getting a lot more of... Whether it's mail merged errors or just sloppy... That's not actually... Because we have a lot of brands that have competitors that have kind of similar names, so it's something that I'm sensitive to. Don't use the wrong brand name when you're talking to me, because that immediately is like, no, I can't. I'm a purist. I'm a brand purist. I got to protect the brand, right?

Vincent: I love it. We got two peeves today. I love it, Ajay.

Heather: There.

Vincent: She's like and another thing I don't like... Yeah, I don't-

Heather: inaudible about that. Like LinkedIn cold messages? Come on, everybody's got a list of five annoying things, right?

Vincent: No, I know. I love it. And I like... It's our signature question, one of them. We've asked 125 guests, and it's... The long message, I like that. That's a new one. It's like if you're going to be cold, be cold and short. I love that.

Heather: Brief.

Vincent: Yeah. Be brief.

Heather: Be brief.

Vincent: Brief and cold. That's funny. Yeah, I love it. You're like, well, I didn't know you guys were going to get deep on this podcast. Yeah, we have the heavy- hitting questions.

Heather: Yeah.

Vincent: You know why, Heather? We're trying to get the message out there as well. We're trying to get the message out there. We need more female leadership. We need that.

Heather: Yeah.

Vincent: We need that. But yeah, thank you for answering that. And now let's take another side. Let's go back, let's go to the personal side.

Heather: Yeah.

Vincent: We try to have a personal side here. You've lived in many places. You settled in Baltimore. What do you like doing there? Did you move there for the organization? And talk to us about... I know you have your animals. I wanted to see this really large cat that you have, but I know that they didn't make an appearance. You were saying it's like one of the largest cats you've ever seen.

Heather: He's huge. He's huge.

Vincent: I was like, I got to see this cat. But tell us what you like to do for fun. You don't root for the sports there, but tell us about it.

Heather: No.

Vincent: What's the typical weekend look like?

Heather: Yeah. So Baltimore, I moved up here for the job at the Cleaning Authority, packed up my Jeep and drove across the country. And living in Baltimore, I've actually really enjoyed. I didn't really know what I was getting into, but the city has a really great live music scene, which is awesome. So there's a lot of great bars, restaurants that have live music. So if I'm in town for a weekend, I normally try to go to Fell's Point, listen to some live music. I've got some friends that play around town, so I normally try to pop over and say hi. Even though I'm not a Baltimore sports fan, I love watching sports where if you stand outside you can hear the screams from the stadium, right? And that's where I live basically, so it's really fun to just go out and be in the city when things are happening like that. We're two hours from Ocean City, Maryland, and so during the summer I spend a lot of time on the water in Ocean City, which is really, really nice. So yeah, Maryland is a really great place.

Vincent: Yeah.

Heather: I didn't really realize how much there was going on here until I got up here, and I really have enjoyed it.

Vincent: That's cool. You said when you're there on the weekends, are you traveling a lot for work? Do you have to go out in the field?

Heather: Yeah, I travel a decent amount, mostly doing kind of evaluation as we're looking at potential acquisitions. We just actually recently got back from our first ever 12- brand, all franchisee conference, which was very fun. COVID kind of put a kibosh on us for a couple years, but so most of my travel is things like that. And then my team is dispersed, because as we've done these acquisitions and have gotten the opportunity to inherit some really awesome strong marketers, we've let them stay geographically based where they are when we get them, which means I've got kind of a contingent in Texas, you kind of have a contingent in Denver, in Phoenix, in Macon, Georgia. So there's a little bit of travel to go see people and check in with the team and things like that. And then, of course, I like to travel personally. So I like to try to squeeze in... If I get to be somewhere during the week, maybe stay a couple days and enjoy the weekend somewhere.

Vincent: That's awesome. And a final thought... Or also, I had this question inaudible had an I've made it moment yet? I know you're still, you're rocking and rolling, you're still growing career wise, you're doing awesome, but have you had that moment? If so, what was it?

Heather: I mean, I think I've had a couple moments that made me think like... I like to think that I have the personality that, regardless of what path I ended up on, that I would've pushed to do something big. Now, what it looks like... Sometimes some of the variables are outside of your control, right? So it's kind of that mantra of being prepared so when the opportunity presents itself, you're ready. Recently, I gave the keynote speech on the State of the Union of our business for 2000 people at our franchise conference.

Vincent: Nice. That's awesome.

Heather: And that was one of those moments of how did I end up on this stage in front of 2,000 people? Did I miss a meeting and I got volunteered for this? Because this is a lot of people. But that was pretty exciting because there's something about franchising and franchisees, the love that they have for what they're doing, they're just so passionate. And so getting to kind of address that group is really exciting. And then I go back four years, when I first got the CMO gig. I remember thinking, I don't even know when I started my career that I even thought that CMO was something that would've been an opportunity. So those were both pretty big moments. I'll say this new chapter of transitioning to a broader role than just marketing is also something I don't know that I necessarily had plotted on a path. But I think the opportunity is really exciting, and it just gets me excited for what other things might be in the future that aren't even a shimmer in the eye yet. So.

Vincent: Yeah.

Heather: We'll see.

Vincent: Oh no, I love it. Thank you so much, Heather, for sharing your story. You keep rising. You're doing an amazing. We love that you took some time out to share your story with-

Heather: Of course.

Vincent: The Marketing Stir and Stirista here. Ladies and gentlemen, that's Heather McLeod, the new chief growth officer of Authority Brands. I'm Vincent Pietrafesa, that's Ajay Gupta, the freshly groomed. This has been another episode of The Marketing Stir. Thank you so much for joining us, and we'll talk to you soon.

Ben: Thanks for listening to The Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista. Please like, rate, and subscribe. If you're interested in being a guest on the podcast, please email us at themarketingstir @ stirista. com. And thanks for listening.


Ajay and Vincent chat with Heather McLeod, Chief Marketing Officer at Authority Brands. She talks about how a hybrid work schedule allows for more creativity from varying locations. Ajay gets into football, and Vincent approves of Ajay's haircut.

Today's Host

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Vincent Pietrafesa

|Vice President, B2B Products, Stirista
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Ajay Gupta

|Founder & CEO, Stirista

Today's Guests

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Heather McLeod

|CMO, Authority Brands
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