Interview by Angela Brutsche.
If there’s one thing you learn after speaking with Michelle Taylor, Founder & CEO of The Zella Company, it’s that any successful marketing strategy is built on a true understanding of the business challenges at play. In leading a marketing agency that puts clients’ business objectives first, Michelle uses her experience to help customers better understand and align their voices to match aims.
Tell us more about The Zella Company.
One of the greatest values we bring is our knowledge of solid marketing fundamentals. We provide our clients with the resources they need to be pro-active in addressing the needs of the markets they serve. We work with all types of organizations; many are mid-market companies that have strong, sustainable revenue but aren’t quite large enough to have a large marketing department.
When taking on a new client, where do you start?
We work with executive teams to provide guidance on how marketing can and should enhance their businesses. A client can really benefit by better understanding their voice and their story — we always start with the story. We work to translate integrate that throughout the organization to convey a consistent message that resonates with each specific audience.
How did you know you wanted to be a marketing professional?
Starting my career about 20 years ago in New York, I met an entrepreneur at a networking event who mentored me and taught me a lot about the different aspects of business. Marketing was intuitive for me; I enjoyed looking at things from the perspective of both a consumer and a producer of goods. My background spans from marketing a fun, young Hispanic web portal in Puerto Rico to large companies like Microsoft.
What do you love most about your job?
As I’ve grown professionally, it’s become more important to show people a different way to do business. Bringing the marketing profession to life by showing people that it’s not just a cost center is essential. I also love nurturing an environment that is empowering to women. My company is named after my daughters Zoë and Ella, and it’s been personally rewarding to create an environment that encourages women to grow and succeed.
What do you think is the most important characteristic of being a leader?
I’m still learning how to be a better leader every day. One of the most important things a leader can do is to listen. Giving as much run-way as possible for others to succeed is also critical. I dedicate time each week to my team so that they can talk about their projects and solutions. My personal investment in them helps me grow, too.
What advice would you offer to those who are new to the marketing profession?
Be open-minded…be open to anything! No matter where you are in your career, give what you can and don’t be afraid to keep learning. Early in my career, I tried to figure things out on my own and avoided asking questions. Now, I ask questions and encourage others to ask questions, too. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They’ll help you grow. There are a lot of people in the industry who know a lot more than you do – you can learn from them. Respect and value that.
What is your favorite resource for staying current on marketing trends?
AMA publications do a great job of pulling together content in a meaningful way. MarketingProfs is also a great resource. I read a lot of newspapers, magazines and biographies. Biographies are an interesting way to learn how people think through problems. These resources give my brain fuel to look at challenges from a bunch of different perspectives.
What prompted you to join the American Marketing Association (AMA)?
I’m a big believer of networking, and I value what an organization like AMA delivers. AMA brings together marketing minds, regardless of background. Having a place where ideas new and old come together under one umbrella is pretty awesome.
The Zella Company holds a group membership to Austin AMA. We thank Michelle and her team for their time and support. To learn more about AMA group membership, visit http://austinama.org/membership or contact our VP of Membership Recruitment at firstname.lastname@example.org.