Ad Club Honoree Jessica McGlory on Finding Passion and Unlocking Something “Really Special”

McGlory was recently named one of the Ad Club’s “Advertisers of the Year.” We chatted with her to learn more about what has driven her to thrive in a rapidly changing industry.

The Advertising Club of New York – colloquially known as the Ad Club – honors five people each year with its prestigious “Advertising People of the Year” awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in marketing in various categories. This year’s ‘Startup’ award went to Jessica McGlory, founder and CEO of Guaranteed, a company that describes itself as ‘the first state-of-the-art palliative care service’ that aims to foster ‘health care’. end of life designed with the patient and caregiver in mind.

Prior to founding Guaranteed, McGlory was head of digital acquisition at Bombas, a direct-to-consumer apparel company that partners “with shelters, nonprofits, and organizations dedicated to helping communities without shelter, in need and at risk,” according to the company’s website.

With his passion for hard-hitting work and his knack for innovation, McGlory “has redefined how advertising and technology combine leading to consistent recognition of excellence,” according to an Ad Club statement. She was Business Insider’s 2020 Brand Marketing Rising Star, recipient of Advertising Week’s 2019 Future is Female Award, winner of the 2019 Female Frontier Award, 2018 Direct Marketing News Woman to Watch, 2017 AdColor Rising Star and one of the 4As. 100 people who make advertising a success.

We recently spoke with McGlory to find out what inspired her to strive for such great heights throughout her career.

What do you consider to have been your most significant professional accomplishments to date, and how have they influenced the trajectory of your career?

I feel like there are a few things that have been set in motion. But what probably triggered it was when I got into paid social media, and no one was there yet. It is before each brand, of course, heavily dependent on Facebook ads. And I just had to figure it out for a bunch of different clients, because I was the first paid social worker for an agency I worked at. And I had a brand – EyeBuyDirect – that was a startup and was looking to really expand its footprint in the United States. And paid social media was actually one of the channels that they really thought, at first, wasn’t working for them. But when I took it back, it ended up changing the trajectory of that channel. All of a sudden, they were investing more and more in it every month. And it was directly thanks to what I was able to do on Pinterest and on Facebook. It ended up getting my first award recognition in the industry through Adcolor. After winning the award, it was completely different. All of a sudden it seemed like everyone knew my name. And I just wasn’t used to it. But that’s what catapulted me [and enabled me] to have even bigger opportunities with even more customers, by getting the attention of a brand like Bombas, which is a very big direct-to-consumer startup. It gave me the opportunity to really drive all of the digital acquisition. [That’s when I knew I was] able to develop startups [and] to use marketing in a really smart way, and also show results and that’s where I think people were like, ‘ok, it’s not just that she’s able to do on the l ‘agency, she moved to the brand side and was able to make a huge impact.’

Is there any advice you’d like to offer young marketing and advertising professionals who are just starting to chart their own path?

In the beginning, try to meet as many people as possible…not just the people who have already “succeeded”. Really try to reach out to the different peers, someone who is just above your level, and start bringing all the right people together…because they exist in this industry. They’re over there. And if you can bring this great collective together, it will serve you well. And also, then you can be a great [assistance] to people, which is always good. Once you get that good energy out, I really believe the Karma comes back in a really positive way. I would also say that I wish I had never listened for a second to people who wanted me to be smaller so that they would feel taller. I really wish I could get that time back. And I’m really happy not to allow that to happen in my business. I’m going to make sure everyone knows it’s their prerogative to shine, and I just want to help them shine more. I hope people don’t allow others to feel smaller than they are.

What inspires you?

I am ambitious. I like to say that ambition and drive can equal some pretty amazing results. And so I always had that. But I also sincerely wanted to be able to have what I wish I had – I wish I could see someone who was in that part of marketing who looked like me. And it was just rare. At one point, I was actually one of a handful of black women responsible for nationwide growth at a corporate-backed startup. It was just like, how am I one of the couples when there are thousands of people in this kind of role. But I realized that others probably wanted to see someone who looked like them, and who went through a lot of different identities, and that definitely inspired me to keep going when, at times, it was like, I [could’ve taken] a little back seat, do a little consulting and have a pretty good life. But knowing that people need to be able to see someone in those positions and really start to help shift the balance of power was really, incredibly important to me.

The marketing industry, along with arguably everything else in our world, is changing rapidly. What trends do you think will start to emerge and impact the industry?

Over the next few years, people will try their latest tricks. Growth hacks and marketing hacks [are just attempts] to understand every little thing that could possibly lead to better performance for brands. The change will be about actually rebuilding a brand… it will move away from trying to find small hacks that last a month or six months. People are going to have to be more strategic. They need to be longer term thinkers. They must be able to produce value, rather than just trying to produce very short-term results. This change is going to happen, [but] I don’t think it’ll be immediate…but it’s going to be pretty clear from the writing on the wall that it’s going to be the ones that are strategic, that allow the fun in advertising…that’s going to start winning.

What is one thing about you, personal or professional, that has been integral to your success as a marketer that you suspect most people might not know about you?

When I’ve been at my best, it’s because I really cared about the brand and the people behind it. [Whenever] I couldn’t get behind the people behind the brand, immediately I could see my work suffering. I immediately saw that we were not going to obtain the same level of results. Because if I don’t really care and don’t just believe in the brand, the product, [and] the people running it, I won’t be able to do my best. But when I truly believe in the people who run it, the audience we speak to, our brand and our product, that’s how I was able to have the crazy success that I’m very happy I was able to achieve in my life. That’s really what it’s all about… And I know it’s not easy. Sometimes people have to pay the bills, but whenever possible, [it’s important] to be able to really believe in the people, the brand and the product. This unlocks something really special.

To find out more about the Advertising of the Year award, Click here.