Happy February 3. If a marketing consultant sees their shadow, it means there will be six more weeks before that invoice you sent gets paid.

So much for net 15.


I was going to write about a bunch of things I’ve been seeing and hearing as I shift gears with what I’m working on.

But then, I started writing about some mistakes I made in the past and figured that’d be way more useful for a lot of readers here. What you’ll read below is as if someone went on my site and typed, “ChatDB, write about your previous experiences consulting — in the style of Stephen King.”

First though, I should share a little clarification.

I updated my profile on LinkedIn yesterday to announce that I joined the Executives in Residence program with Progress Partners. When I was first introduced to them about this, I was most astounded by the people I knew in their orbit. As I learned more about the approach and structure, I became all the more excited.

Note that this is not a role or a job. But there’s a ton of value creation that I’m already getting a taste of via their network. I’m sure I’ll have more to share soon. In the meantime, I might not be able to answer many questions about them just yet, but if you are ever looking to get in front of someone there (whether a partner or an EIR), please let me know.

You don’t want to hear about me adding new roles that confuse LinkedIn followers though. You want to hear about my mistakes!

Here are some of the biggest ones that come to mind from past stints consulting.

1) Being too quiet.

What? Me? In my ‘free’ time, I write a weekly newsletter, run a marketing community, co-host monthly networking events, and speak on any virtual or physical stage where someone relents and unmutes my mic (these are odd hobbies for someone who has always identified as an introvert).

And yet, when I was having a rudderless stretch for at least a couple of years, working with some fascinating clients but underbilled and without any safety net, I wasn’t out there putting some version of the #OpenToWork frame on my LinkedIn profile.

It was all a missed opportunity. Ironically, while I was working with certain clients during that span on a fractional or interim basis in hopes of a full-time role materializing, I’d have served them much better by having another client or two that could have literally helped me sleep better at night.

When my job situation changed most recently, I shared the news on LinkedIn that day and promptly updated my photo to add the #OpenToWork frame. And I continue to talk about my openness to opportunities, albeit in my own way (e.g., aisayshireme.com). I have some more coming. I may need someone to set a cap on how many domains I can buy on GoDaddy though.

2) Not having an ‘ask’

In the past, I’ve mentioned my 3-1 List spreadsheet, and it’s worth revisiting. It was March 1 of 2016 when I got word that my time at the agency where I worked was very likely winding down. I’ll never forget the date because I made the 3-1 List that I’ve used in other forms since. It had a list of contacts I wanted to reach out to, along with other tabs like one with people I knew who were actively looking for work, another with folks I could refer business to (with or without a referral agreement), and much more.

When I needed to update the list over the past couple of months, I added a column to my main outreach sheet: “what to ask about.” So, I might ask one person to keep an ear out for any needs with their clients, or another person to see if they might have any writing projects, or another person for a specific kind of advice.

At the very least, it reminds me to do something so stupidly simple: make it clear why I’m reaching out to them. There may be some reasons to save that reason for a call (if they accept) rather than the initial outreach, but I’d still be ready to make such a request.

A couple of weeks ago, when I talked to a former CEO I worked with whose input I find invaluable, I told them I’d love their take on something but didn’t say what until I got on the phone. Then, when we spoke, I asked what they thought of me consulting versus looking for something full-time. I’ve thought about their advice every day since we spoke, and I cite it often in conversation. (It’s better for a conversation than the newsletter, but it involves listing clear criteria that matter to you when assessing potential opportunities and offers.)

Since then, I’ve been working on a new approach that could be a path for the future of the community. When I get on calls with someone whose feedback I value and they ask if they can do anything for me, lately I’ve been asking them to review my deck draft about this. Each person who has given me feedback has given me at least one useful item, and now when I go through the deck, I start telling people, “This was John’s idea; that one came from Nicole.”

The ask is everything.

Oh, also, on my 3-1 List, I have a new column that says “ask them for contacts?” when it’s someone who – shocker – offers to share contacts. When such needs arise for me, I know who to go to first.

Maybe in time, this needs to be an Airtable database with some new features. In the meantime, this list is one of the most useful assets that I own.

3) Throwing money at the wrong problems

When I was doing consulting and freelance work in the past, I went down this rabbit hole all about scaling. I wanted to find a business that scaled — that could run without my constant direct involvement. I invested a lot in training, networks, and technologies that could help me do that. And I never figured it out.

The only tangible thing I got out of it was a primer on how to work with VAs. Almost all of the rest of the newsletter after this column is put together by Ellie Rose Almeda. Thank you, Ellie. Ellie is the best, and extremely helpful, but the rest of what I paid for wasn’t worth it.

This time around, I’m much more focused on something that doesn’t scale. The value proposition is, in a nutshell, me.

I don’t scale. But the number one reason someone will want to work with me is not because I scale. It’s because I’m me. And the number one reason someone won’t want to work with me is not because I don’t scale. It’s because they’d rather work with someone who is not me. I hope it’s you. And that’s okay.

As a wise philosopher once said, “You’re the only one of you. Baby, that’s the fun of you.” If you haven’t read that sutra, it’s by Taylor Swift.

I think about scale in other contexts. How can the community create more opportunities for members without my direct involvement? That’s a big one.

But for the work I love doing, I want to be the one doing the work, and I know how much work I need to be doing. When speaking with a good friend in the industry, I’ll be very candid about this. If your goal is 4 $2,500/month retainers or 2-3 $10K/month projects, you might find that there are people who can help figure out how to get there. Or better still, people who can tell you that your expectations make no sense.

Maybe not me. The only thing I know more about than making mistakes is knowing how much I don’t know. To quote another guru, “…I’ve had to pay my price. The things I did not know at first, I’ve learned by doin’ twice.” Billy Joel. “The Entertainer.” My favorite song when I got that CD in 1991.

Ultimately, I was burned out enough by consulting that I found much more fulfillment in leading the marketing team on a contract basis with the agency WITHIN for much of 2021 and then joining Mediaocean, the largest firm I ever worked for. I won’t rule out the possibility of joining and building teams again. I’ve worked with some pretty good ones.

Whatever happens ahead, I’ve come to appreciate there’s hardly a better feeling than finding yourself in a situation where you made a mistake before and then deliberately not making it.


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Thanks to Pauline EcholsPaul RobinsonJames A. GardnerSeth GirksyMichael WinterRichy GlassbergScott MontyBob Gilbreath, and E.B. Moss for spreading the word about the newsletter recently.

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  • 2/10, 12pm: Top of Funnel Revenue – How Do You Automate Lead Gen? Join this roundtable discussion on tips & tricks for revenue generation. Everybody will interact with each other, so come prepared to share.
  • 3/1, 5-7pm: First Wednesdays in-person NYC, Mason Jar on E 30th. RSVP on Meetup! 5-7pm.

February 7 – 9
Washington DC & Virtual
“Email marketing has never been more important than it is today. Marketers rely more and more on email to communicate messaging about their brands, products, and services to customers, making it the most used marketing channel to drive measurable results. Attend the ANA Email Evolution Conference to hear from leading brands and subject matter experts on how to leverage email to grow your business, engage with customers, and expand your knowledge. –Gain insight from brands on building brand loyalty and growing your customer base. –Hear from experts on email best practices, the impact of Apple Mail Privacy Protection, optimizing email performance, and the latest trends in this dynamic marketplace..”

February 7 – 9
Las Vegas
“Join the RLA for our annual Las Vegas Conference and Expo -In Person February 7-9, 2023 with pre-events.  The 19th Annual RLA Conference and Expo is designed to bring RL professionals together for 2 days of powerful keynote speakers, content-driven panel discussions, and an ample amount of networking opportunities. Be sure to check out the pre-event activities too, Top Golf (open to all attendees), Academic Roundtable (open to all attendees), OEM & Retailer Roundtable (open to OEM and Retailer attendees only), Women’s VIP Luncheon (open to women attendees only).”

February 16
“For creative professionals and anyone who is selling services for hire, a down economy can mean lost clients, shorter contracts, and an empty sales funnel. In this highly interactive presentation, Deb Boulanger will share her proven framework for Reliable Revenue for services-based businesses. She will cover:–How to price your services for maximum profit and advantage. –How to serve fewer clients at higher fees through packaged offerings. –How to create a steady stream of qualified leads excited to do business with you. –How to overcome the most common sales objections and increase your close rate. –Why it’s important to cultivate a success mindset that can weather any storm. USE THE DISCOUNT CODE: Serial

March 28
Free Online Event
“LDV Capital brings together top technologists, entrepreneurs and investors to discuss the cutting-edge in computer vision, machine learning and AI solutions to improve the world we live in. Speakers come from Mural, BioAge, Synthesia, Harvard Medical School, Insight Partners, Useful Sensors, Conviction, Niels Bohr Institute, Air Street Capital, Humanity, Northeastern University, Seedcamp, and more. Expect enlightening keynotes, inspiring panel discussions and empowering fireside chats for free from the comfort of your couch”


Keep checking out the #jobs channel in Serial Marketers for more. You can also see our full list of job resources here. Here are some great opportunities shared in these places or sent to me directly.

Sr Content Designer & Writer
United States
“You’ll apply your extraordinary command of the written word to the ever-changing challenges of our digital landscape. Collaborating with a team of design, product and content experts, you’ll write sharp copy that helps make our customers’ financial lives easier. You’ll also: –Develop and polish content that blends seamlessly across our digital products, applying our existing style, brand and tone guidelines and making them even better along the way. –Tell stories, drive crisp and cohesive narratives for digital experiences that engage users, and enable them to complete tasks — collaborating with multi-disciplinary product designers to present compelling imagery and language. US ONLY (no exception) / Hybrid requiring 3 days/week in office. Preferred locations: Charlotte, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, NYC, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. Bank equipment/laptop required to stay in the US”

Marketing Manager (META paid ads)
United States
“We are looking for a Paid Social Media Manager who will eventually lead our efforts across both paid advertising and email marketing. The goal is to grow into the Head of Marketing. The most important area in which we’re looking to add expertise is in paid social (facebook + instagram) strategy. Further expertise in paid google and email marketing are big plus skills for us, but responsibility for these areas could be inherited over time, as expertise is built. You’ll be managing a small, nimble team of designers and copywriters to produce and publish necessary assets for campaigns across these various channels.”

Senior Account Executive
Via Catharine in the community
“We are looking to fill this position on the East Coast (preferably in the New York City Metro area) as we continue to expand our client roster on the East Coast. The role would work from a home office with quarterly visits to our Denver HQ. Responsibilities Include: –Lead 5 to 6 accounts (a mix of B2B and B2C). The role requires a high level of accountability, being comfortable managing up and down, the ability to successfully juggle strategy development, drive results, and maintain client and media relationships. –Includes: act as main point of contact for client; proactively pitching and obtaining top-tier exposure with targeted media; developing and executing comms strategy; independently leading client status calls; working with account support to ensure media lists are developed and updated to include appropriate target contact…”

Head of Marketing
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Via Erik in the community
“We are growing rapidly, and we are ready to hire a marketing leader, reporting directly to the CEO. The Head of Marketing will lead all aspects of our marketing initiatives, with primary focus on product marketing and messaging—but with the know how to structure and measure demand generation campaigns that build pipeline. To be successful in the role, you will need to be a player-coach and unafraid to roll-up sleeves to see strategy through to execution. This is not a pure strategy role—you’ll need to be scrappy and lead by doing. You should have experience executing on strategy. You will work with a Demand Generation Manager to start, with the opportunity to build the marketing team over time. –Innovative thinker that believes in structure and process. Define the marketing and go-to-market strategy to significantly increase/drive product adoption and revenue growth at scale. Be able to convert creative strategies to tactics.”

Also, check out the Serial Marketers job board

Other job resources (see a full list here):

  • Beeler.Tech: Job listings for ad operations, programmatic account management, sales operations, and more.
  • Braintrust: A freelance platform where you are the owner and where freelance talent keeps 100% of the bill rate.
  • Candidate: Featured marketing and sales jobs
  • ExecThread: Senior roles spanning a range of verticals and cities; membership is free but fully vetted (this uses my referral ID to get you in faster)
  • Lunch Club: Match 1:1 around predetermined goals with accomplished professionals (free)
  • NYC Ad Jobs & Networking: A popular Facebook group
  • Questions to Ask for a Marketing Role: What questions should you ask when starting a new marketing role or job?
  • Serial Marketers Job Board: Post regular and featured listings and subscribe for updates.
  • Venwise: Submit your job interests here and get in front of their roster of hiring leads; select “Serial Marketers” under “How did you find us”
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