Perfecting the Art of People Marketing

Guest: Jeanniey Mullen Global Chief Marketing Officer, Mercer

With growing demands from the C-Suite, (often) low budgets, and pressure to keep up with today’s current trends, marketers constantly face the challenge of creating authentic content that builds brand awareness and inspires action. Every CMO knows how difficult it can be to recruit brand ambassadors to create compelling content that cuts through. But what if the answer could be found in the co-workers around you? A recent study showed that brand messages posted by employees achieved 561% more reach than posts made by the company itself—resulting in 8 times the engagement for those posts! You’ve probably heard of different employee advocacy programs, but Jeanniey Mullen’s concept of “people marketing,” through her role as CMO at Mercer, is a brilliant concept of building big brand awareness with no media budget at all. There is no formula and no equation to adhere to in order to get the best results. Jeanniey’s philosophy is simple: trust in your people to tell their stories.

Mullen has a deep background in advertising, start-ups, and entrepreneurship. Looking back at her career, she credits her renegade spirit to the Davos Squad initiative at Mercer—a content marketing success that created a one-of-a-kind buzz around hundreds of Mercer employees enthusiastically interacting with the brand on social media. On this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite, Drew and Jeanniey dive into how brand ambassadors can be formed within your own company. Jeanniey also explains her top three takeaways from initiating a “people marketing” program and demonstrates how to overcome any obstacles in your way.

Listen here to learn how to market engaging content in completely new ways.

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What You’ll Learn

How can you use people marketing to create brand ambassadors?

Simply put, Jeanniey explains that “People marketing is the process of leveraging your company’s people in a way that’s so powerful, it takes your brand to new heights.” The first step in the people marketing strategy is to develop impactful content. Jeanniey created the AIR concept – content that is Authentic, Inspirational, and Relatable – in order to develop better material. Developing that content is only one part of the people marketing journey. You must then make your employees brand ambassadors. These ambassadors then share your content to reach new markets like never before.

Overcome the challenge of staying “on voice” by following these guidelines

With dozens or even hundreds of new employee brand ambassadors, how can a company stay “on voice” with the message? Jeanniey explains that the answer isn’t found in strict guidelines. If you provide authentic content to people, let them choose what to share and when, and allow their individual personalities to shine through, your people marketing strategy will be effective. If you want a brand ambassador’s post to be authentic, you can’t script their social media.

Jeanniey’s 3 key takeaways from successful people marketing campaigns

Throughout her time at Mercer, Jeanniey has learned 3 main lessons when handling people marketing campaigns. Here they are.

  1. Break the rules! Don’t be afraid to pursue new options.
  2. Don’t default to email (there are better, more creative options available)
  3. Nobody will pay attention to your content unless it’s really cool

People marketing has the power to forever change how you view marketing – be sure to learn from Jeanniey’s career.


  • [0:29] Jeanniey’s Renegade Rapid Fire segment
  • [13:01] What is people marketing?
  • [21:18] Overcoming the challenge of staying “on voice” in people marketing
  • [25:42] People marketing is not just a single moment in time
  • [31:17] Tackling hurdles while pursuing this marketing strategy
  • [34:04] 3 key takeaways from using people marketing strategies

Connect With Jeanniey:

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Drew

Meet the Guest

Jeanniey is Mercer’s Global Chief Marketing Officer, focused on building a more agile and transparent marketing operation accountable for driving revenue growth through demand creation and strong brand reputation. She believes in leveraging innovative and digital initiatives to help achieve her goals, and her background in education fuels her passion to inspire both consumers and the teams she works with.

Prior to her role at Mercer, Jeanniey was Head of Marketing and Growth for Barnes & Noble, where she drove the transformation of the NOOK business from hardware to app based. Her previous experience includes launching the world’s first digital newsstand for Zinio, growing the business to more than 20 million active consumers. She also launched and ran the global Digital Dialogue business for Ogilvy and Grey Direct’s Global Email Marketing business, establishing the world’s first email marketing practice inside an advertising agency.

Jeanniey holds a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Pittsburgh. A recognized “Woman in Business” and an entrepreneur, she has authored three books and launched five companies, including Ringblingz and the Email Experience Council. Jeanniey was recently named Networker of the Year by the Internet Marketing Association and is the Chairwoman of their Women’s Leadership Group. She also serves on the board of MarketingEDGE and as an advisor for select high-potential start-ups.

Quotes from Jeanniey Mullen

  • Rather than doing a media buy and then telling the company to go look at the website we just launched, we decided to launch it to all of our employees in a way that they could personalize it, could put their voice around it, and could share it with their networks.
  • If you can engage that many people, then that starts your people marketing strategy.
  • The building of trust is imperative for large companies because once you have that trust, then you can explore new marketing ideas you never thought possible.

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