Young Marketer of the Year finalist 2022 – Hannah McLean

Describing her style of marketing as empathetic, Hannah McLean attributes her success in the industry to finding her own way and distancing herself from the stereotypical routine taught at university. Now working at King St Advertising, she has built an extensive, strong and notable portfolio of clients. Over the course of her career, McLean has worked across the board, on non-profits, charities and more. We sit down with McLean to chat about how she got here and what it is like being a young marketer. 

How or why did you get into marketing – what sparked your interest?

In high school I was originally taking all the science subjects, with the intention of going on to study Health Science. But then I was named as the Publicity and Communications Prefect in Year 13 at High School and fell in love with using my creativity to influence people. Once I got down to the University of Otago, each Marketing paper I took was, again, a confirmation for my passion towards this creative and problem-solving industry – marketing just seemed to come naturally.

Briefly, give details of your marketing career to this point.

Having struggled for months trying to find a marketing role due to lockdowns, a small start-up located in Auckland decided to take a chance on me. As a freelance contractor, I was given the opportunity to work with some extremely innovative and intelligent people while helping the marketing team plan the launch into market. A couple of months into this role, I decided to crash a Waikato University networking event to seek more local options. It was here that I met Nicole Cochrane from the KingSt Advertising stall. We exchanged emails and connected on LinkedIn. From there, I went on to become fulltime and permanent in the Digital Marketing team, with Nicole as my Digital Manager and now, friend.

Since October 2021, I have been a part of some awesome client digital campaigns on the strategy, execution, optimisation and reporting side, and have since gone on to build my own portfolio of clients that I account manage. I have also been able to use my love for copywriting in writing client blogs, ads and social media posts. Working in a smaller full-service agency has also given me the opportunity to expand my experiences, such as leading video shoots, editing websites, and putting together eDMs.

What do you love about marketing? Is there a specific type of marketing you particularly enjoy, or specialise in, and why?

I love that every day is different – and that’s not just speaking to working in an agency with different clients, but each client campaign sees variation in how we have to tackle the problems through adjusted targeting, creative and messaging. I also love that marketing can be used to help people. All of our clients have products or services that solve a group of people’s problems, so it’s good to know that the marketing we do is a win-win for both client and user. I have also worked on a strong portfolio of not-for-profit and charity-based clients which are always “feel good” projects to work on. These projects really bring in my passion for helping people and I would love the opportunity to help more organisations from this sector reach their full potential.

While I specialise in Digital Marketing, the area of marketing I particular enjoy is writing. I think organisations will become so enclosed with the information they provide just because they know it as if it’s always on the backs of their hands so to rewrite this in a not so serious, sometimes cheeky, approach while still getting key points across is what I enjoy most.

What are some of the biggest challenges you as a young marketer face in your role?

Being the youngest often comes with the challenges of having the confidence to speak my mind. While being on the quieter side, I found it difficult to voice my opinions without being asked as I began my career in marketing (shout out to the leaders who automatically ask for the quieter voices in discussion). I think the thought of knowing how much more experience in the industry other people have can be intimidating, but I’ve really resonated with the idea that you deserve to be at every table that you’ve been invited to – you’re there for a reason – and try to remind myself this. 

What advice would you give to other young marketers newish to the industry?

Say yes to everything and give it all a go. Times will get busy, but these opportunities may only come up so often. I’ve been able to learn and develop most from the experiences I have been pushed out of my comfort zone in.

I think it’s also extremely important to understand that there is not one marketing style fits all. At university I grew to identify the stereotype that leading marketers were those who are extrovert and outgoing. My style is very empathetic, and I often prefer to listen than feel the need to always have a word in every conversation. I process decisions, while others may act on the spot. And I think that’s ok to work differently and still create a significant level of impact

Where do you see your career headed in the next five to 10 years?

I see myself running my own marketing business, helping a very niche user group (not to give too much away).

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