Off-Mic with Masterful Marketers: How Ian Cleary Does Great Work

April 18, 2017 Heather Hurst

ian cleary

This is the second post in our “Off-Mic with Masterful Marketers” series. We sat down with some of the most inspiring, influential speakers to discuss productivity, making work meaningful, and managing teams to do great work. The first post featured Ann Handley on creativity and productivity.


“I believe in sharing everything I know, even with competitors . . . . This keeps me on my toes and coming up with new ideas!” - Ian Cleary

Knowing your work is meaningful is a crucial element of job satisfaction. We need to see the value in what we do every day, to connect it to the bigger picture, in order to value the effort ourselves.

For marketers, sometimes proving that value is a challenge. The twists and turns of the modern buyer’s journey make it trickier to properly attribute our efforts to the success of the business—to say nothing of improving people’s lives.


For tips on proving the value of your marketing efforts, see our post "Effective Stakeholder Management: 10 Tips For Better Communication."


Nevertheless, marketing is at its best when it is meaningful for marketers and consumers alike. There’s a dizzying array of tools at our disposal to work more efficiently, achieve better results, and prove the effectiveness of our actions.

Ian Cleary is a master at making sense of the digital marketer’s toolbox. Ian is the founder of consulting agency RazorSocial and a tireless contributor to the RazorSocial blog. In his speaking engagements, Ian selflessly shares the tools and processes that help his team create meaningful work and prove its value.

We sat down for a Q&A with Ian to learn how he makes work meaningful for his team and RazorSocial’s clients.

ian cleary quote

What do you love most about marketing?

I get bored very easily and marketing constantly changes, which keeps it interesting. I love that there are constantly new tools and tactics!

You’ve done great work in your career, but really, what does “great work” mean today?

Great work is when you make a positive impact because of your work. 

Through your work you get ROI for your customers and you strive for better ROI than anyone else in the industry. But you also want to have work that creates opportunities for people. That could mean your employees, your family of people who you want to help. 

What are the biggest obstacles keeping marketers from doing their best work?

Customers can have some restrictions, which means you can’t deliver everything you want or work at the pace you want.

What has your experience in the software industry taught you about the importance of process and technology for running a successful business?

When I ran software groups I used to think about people, process, and technology. The same still applies in my current business. I hire people to allow me to work on what I’m best at and will be most profitable for the business. 

I also ensure that I build a process that my team can implement and they also need to have the right tools in place. The process is so important to ensure that you make the best use of your time. I have a family that I need to spend time with also!

In your experience as a corporate trainer, what are two to three key elements for success when planning, implementing, and measuring a social media marketing initiative?

  1. Start Tracking at Source – When you are sharing links for a campaign you want to be able to track the results of those links shared on different social networks. Starting your tracking at the source will help analyze results at the end.
  2. Attribution – A lot of social media activity doesn’t immediately result in sales, so you need to see how it contributed towards the sale.
  3. Goal Tracking – When you do drive that traffic to your website you want to be able to track the results. 

How do you make the work of marketers around you more meaningful?

By networking and knowledge sharing with other marketers. I believe in sharing everything I know, even to people who may be competitors. This keeps me on my toes and demands that I’m always coming up with new ideas!

In the work you do as a marketer and thought leader how do you prioritize your time and energy?

ian cleary quoteI start work at 6:00 a.m. and work until 12:00 p.m.  At that stage I go to the gym for 90 minutes and I then work until 5:00 p.m.  I generally don’t work evenings or weekends.

I have found that setting boundaries and limitations doesn’t mean you get less done.  

My gym time during the day helps me to keep my energy high for the afternoon.

In the morning I have a five-minute routine to prepare myself for the day:

  • One minute exercise to get the blood flowing.
  • One minute thinking about what I’m thankful for.
  • One minute thinking about my goals.
  • One minute thinking about my day ahead.

Can you share an example of where you were able to do your best work, and what made it successful?

My best work for me was when I created a blog and it became one of the top ones in the marketing industry. This led to so many opportunities and lots of business. 

It’s difficult to pick out one particular customer case study, but recently I worked with a large global company helping to retrain some of their staff in social media. We applied a very practical approach to training and had project work as we went along. 

What was nice was that the project work was implemented in their organization and resulted in a significant increase in sales. Too often training is not implemented in the organization so this project-based approach worked extremely well.

Meaningful Work Requires Collaboration and Evaluation

As Ian says, doing meaningful work and proving its value comes down to people, process, and technology.

Let your team share the load so you can focus on your best work. Stay productive by keeping the lines of communication open and creating efficient processes. Finally, use technology to help organize, automate, and demonstrate the value of the work you do.

And if you can swing a 6:00 a.m. start time with a mid-day workout break, that may be worth exploring, too.

Thanks to Ian for sharing with us how he does great work. In our next "Off-Mic with Masterful Marketers" post, we’ll chat with TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden.

Lee shares how he maintains a balanced leadership style that provides direction while encouraging innovation, and how he structures his team to be both productive and effective. 

Subscribe to the Talking Work blog to catch Lee’s post and more work and productivity advice from our team and beyond.


See our on-demand webinar called "The Future Of Marketing: What To Expect In 2017 & Beyond" for Ian Cleary's thoughts on the future of marketing.

About the Author

Heather Hurst

Heather has enjoyed playing the game of marketing for the past 15 years, at the agency and corporate level, in both B2C and B2B companies. She's run PR campaigns that took her from the MTV Beach House to NASDAQ and many media outlets and content channels in between. She is currently the Corporate Marketing Director at Workfront.

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