Annalisa Hilliard

Episode Transcript

Jen: Welcome to Meaningful, Measurable Marketing. We are the Dames of Data Dames Marketing. I’m Jen Carroll.

Annalisa: I’m Annalisa Hilliard.

Jen: We are digital marketers and our purpose is to help clients align their marketing strategies with their business goals and objectives, which can be much bigger than any marketing campaign. In fact, our mission is to provide every client with meaningful online marketing that’s measured by metrics that matter. Mmmmm. Lots of M’s in that.

Annalisa: We’re good at alliteration. (laughs)

Jen: Yes, we are. So if you like what you hear today on this podcast, you can connect with us at, and we’re also on LinkedIn (JenAnnalisa) and Twitter. You can find me on Twitter @jencwriter.

Annalisa: And you can find me @ahilliardm.

Jen: So this is our first podcast.

Annalisa: We want to break down what meaningful marketing that’s measurable really means.

Jen: Yeah, actually, first I was going to say we’re huge podcast enthusiasts, so we couldn’t resist giving this platform a try.

Annalisa: Yes.

Jen: And yes, we do want to take some time to break down meaningful, measurable and what those have to do with marketing.

We had to, we had to jump in with this with some…

Annalisa: Cheers!

Jen: We’re drinking a Market Garden…

Annalisa: Chinook Strike.

Jen: Yeah. We’re giving a shout out to Market Garden in Cleveland.

Annalisa: Good beer.

Jen: Good beer! They rock. So, cheers!

Annalisa: Cheers! Feel free to send us a free case. (laughs)

Jen: Right! (laughs) Thanks, Market Garden.

What do we mean by meaningful marketing? Anytime we meet with a client for the first time or talk with a prospective client, we really want to hone in on what their objectives and goals for business are. That’s a much higher level question than what kind of marketing do you want to do. Because if we don’t know where they want to go as a business, if they want to grow a certain segment, if they want to grow in a certain market, if they want to improve customer loyalty, if we don’t know those kinds of things, we can’t align any type of marketing, digital or otherwise, with those goals. In the end, marketing will probably end up failing or at least not accomplishing what they wanted to accomplish.

So, meaningful marketing is marketing that’s aligned with objectives and goals. And we are focused and we are defined in what the business wants to accomplish, what our client wants to accomplish.

Annalisa: Yeah, it’s really directional, too, because defining where we’re headed gives us the ability to then measure outcomes and kind of focus what we’re looking at, what we’re trying to achieve. In the measurement part, then we can look at metrics that are tied to those goals and say, well, you know, we either hit those goals or we missed the mark. It allows us to look at where we need to move forward from there.

So it helps not drive strategy. It really actually just informs strategy. But it’s a big part of the whole marketing piece.

Jen: Yeah. And I think you really kind of transition there to the measurable piece of marketing.

Annalisa: I know, right? (laughs)

Jen: Cause you are, you are truly the data. Are we going to go by Data Dames or Data?

Annalisa: I say data, you say data.

Jen: Right? Tomato, tomato.

Annalisa: Right.

Jen: So, yes, of course, as the true data analyst in this business partnership, she loves the outcomes side of it. I guess on the measurable side, you can drown in a sea of data or data. How do you ensure that doesn’t happen?

Annalisa: Well again, if you look at measuring the outcomes that are tied back to the goals. So, you’re not looking at every piece of information because there is so much of it out there that you want to look at specific things and that really helps your client know whether they’re being successful or not.

Jen: Yeah. And helps you again, know how you can move forward, but sometimes, you can’t move forward on the trajectory you’re on. And then I know, kind of a popular word in the industry right now is pivoting. So, talk a little bit about pivoting when we’re measuring.

Annalisa: As you go along and you implement the different marketing strategies that you put together and the alignment plan, you know, you start seeing maybe this isn’t being as successful as we want, or maybe, we have a good foundation but we need to continue to tweak it and improve it. And that’s really where I’m looking at reports. And at data really helps determine whether or not you’re going in the direction that you want to go and if it’s not getting the results that you want, you either make adjustments on that segment or you pivot in a whole different direction.

Jen: Just to kind of summarize the meaningful side, and actually we kind of forgot one. One key component I’m gonna put in here, is again, knowing that the objectives and goals that you want to accomplish as a business and aligning your marketing plan to that. And another aspect of meaningful marketing is helping your customers or clients overcome their challenges so that every time you craft a message, whether it’s a message about your brand or a message about a product or a service, that you have your customers clearly in focus and your narrative, your messaging narrative is very clear on how you’re helping them overcome or deal with their challenges.

That’s another aspect of the meaningful marketing. And then the measurable, as Annalisa said, is helping you to know if you’re actually going in the right direction. And hopefully you will be in most cases, but sometimes you’re not. And that’s what the data is there to tell us. And then we can either, you know, continue moving forward or pivot as she was talking about.

Some of the things that we’d like to explore in this podcast going forward. We’re always going to come back to those two defining words. Is what we’re sharing meaningful? Is hopefully what we’re sharing is in some way measurable? So, we’re definitely going to be focusing on that in this podcast. We want to give you marketing ideas that you can apply in your own business. We plan to have some interviews. We already have some folks in mind. We might have some episodes where we share ideas and experience but whatever the structure we promise to deliver on meaningful and measurable concepts.

So, we thought this would also be a good opportunity to talk about who we are, and our background and experiences.

I have been in marketing and advertising in some shape or form for 24 years. My first job out of college was at an advertising agency, but I also worked in-house at a global manufacturer. Interestingly enough, I had some stints in human resources and actually in a manufacturing plant itself. Definitely some, you know, I wanted to say boots on the ground. I don’t know if that’s quite the right term, but very close to the day-to-day functioning of the manufacturer. And I had my own copywriting business for 10, 11 years and also worked in-house at a hospital for seven years, as well, before starting out on our Data Dames Marketing adventure.

So, I always think of myself first and foremost as a writer, but more and more now in this part of my career, I think of myself just as much a strategist as a writer because I realize that writing content without having a strategy, without having goals, usually does not accomplish what the client wants to accomplish. So again, I think of myself now as a strategist, as much as a writer. I have spent a great deal of time doing social media, as well. I don’t really enjoy the day to day of social media, but I do love coming up with strategies for making social media an effective outlet for your brand messaging, as well as other forms of messaging that you want to do for your business. So, that’s a little bit about me.


Annalisa: I’ve been in digital marketing for about 10 years now. I started out after college, actually during college, I got a job slinging coffee at a big corporate coffee store that many of you probably frequent. I won’t say the name but anyway, I started out there as an entry level coffee slinger and moved my way up into management. In 2009, when things were a little bleak in the economy…

Jen: Like now.

Annalisa: Yea, ironically. I was let go when they cut their middle management. And so I went on to do some HR and a couple of years after that I started an internship with an agency doing link building, which is kind of like old school digital marketing. Linkbuilding was a big aspect of kind of gaming the system when digital marketing was kind of first a buzzword. We’ll probably talk about that in a separate episode. I started out as link builder and then kind of grew into more of the search engine optimization, doing keyword research, content optimization, and just kind of grew from there as the industry has grown —more into conversion rate optimization, usability and then of course the analytics piece. Which I think it’s really hard to do marketing today without doing analytics. And looking at your data. Again, just for that information piece. It’s available and so, you know, why not use it? It’s super helpful in knowing what’s working and what’s not working. I really love that piece of digital marketing, the data piece. So…

Jen: Before we go further with the background, and I think you hinted on it earlier when we were talking, but there’s a, like a buzz word, buzz phrase in our industry about being data driven. Can you talk a little bit about why you don’t necessarily agree with the concept of data driven and what do you recommend instead?

Annalisa: Sure. I mean with data, there is always a measure of error. You’re not going to get 100% clean data all the time whether it be your tracking breaks or you know, right now we’re dealing with privacy laws that are causing browsers and websites to change the way they collect data. And so as those changes happen, obviously, it affects the data in some way. And so you don’t ever have a perfect set of data to look at. You know, to use data to drive your strategy just doesn’t, isn’t the best approach. It should always be used kind of alongside of again, your bigger business objectives and goals. And used as more just information gathering to what you’re doing and in what you’re implementing, whether it’s helping to achieve those objectives.

Jen: Yeah. I think actually we should explore that in another podcast episode where we really get down in to data-driven versus data informed.

Annalisa: We have so many ideas for future podcasts

Jen: Oh my gosh, we do.

So, Annalisa and I met actually at that agency where she was doing her link-building internship, which turned into obviously many, many years of honing her SEO craft. So yep, that’s how we met.

Annalisa: You were the word nerd.

Jen: I was, I was the chief word nerd there and doing content and social media.

Annalisa: And I think we connected over a certain radio station we both listened to.

Jen: I remember that day.

Annalisa: I was like, yeah, I was listening to this, listening to this radio station.

Jen: Oh, we can say what it was. It’s NPR.

Annalisa: I didn’t want to offend anyone. This isn’t political.

Jen: Right, right. (laughs) But yeah, we discovered that we both loved NPR and that’s where the conversation really took off and also our friendship.

Annalisa: We could be coworkers and friends from there.

Jen: So, nine years later, here we are.

Both of us have a background in traditional advertising and marketing agencies, and while we definitely respect our colleagues who work for advertising and marketing agencies, there are some aspects of the way that they function that has kind of pushed us in the, we, we consider ourselves to be consultants. We really want to come alongside clients and help them again, go figure out that strategy piece that aligns with their objectives and goals as opposed to being in the position of just being people who carry out marketing ideas and campaigns without any input. We really want to be partners and consultants with our clients.

So, I don’t know if we want to talk a little bit about, how we feel that a lot of times, agencies aren’t necessarily involved with the strategy, that we feel like it becomes lost or that there’s a tendency to get cookie cutter, like, everybody needs some billboards and everybody needs some radio ads and everybody needs a website.

Annalisa: Probably that comes from having the structure that they have and the process that they have as an agency. Typically you have a project manager, so they’re really your point of contact with the client. And they’re the one communicating and not necessarily doing the actual work.

Jen: They’re just kind of relaying the messages. So there’s a disconnect there.

Annalisa: Yeah, I would say that’s a good way of putting it. There’s a disconnect between what’s best for the client, or what the client needs in the moment and the actual work that’s being done.

Jen: So, this podcast is going to evolve. We’re, again, just getting started, just kind of figuring this out. If you have liked what you’ve heard so far, again, you can find us at and you can also find us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Annalisa: Right. And join us again in two weeks.

Jen: Yeah. We’re going to make this every two weeks probably. We were joking about, is that bi-monthly? Semi-monthly? You know what I mean? I’ve been doing content. I mean, I’ve been a writer for a long time. Actually, I should have mentioned that my background also included being an English teacher. So you would think, I know, right? I used to have a red pen that I used frequently.

Annalisa: Can’t use that on a computer, right?

Jen: Well, you can.

Annalisa: Yeah, you can, but you don’t.

Jen: Right.

Annalisa: Thank God.

Jen: But anyway, you would think by now, you know, without looking it up, I’d know whether is bi-monthly or semi-monthly.

Annalisa: But every 14 days check us out. We’ll probably be posting about our new podcasts on our social media.

Jen: And on our website, hopefully. We need to get that…

Annalisa: Get that page ready. Yeah. Join us.

Jen: Join us. Thanks so much.

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