Susan Baier helps marketing agencies build ROI and reputation with research. As one of the few, and certainly the best, attitudinal segmentation researchers, she helps clients understand how their customers think and feel in order, which in turn helps them deliver the best possible experiences to their audiences.
A far cry from being a nurse – something she aspired to be until she passed out getting her ears pierced, Susan earned an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Marketing from the University of Arizona. Before she and her sister started Audience Audit, she held senior positions in Brand and Category Management at Dial, Circle K Stores Inc, and ConocoPhillips.
Fiercely independent, Susan surrounds herself with a community of mutual support that she feeds and taps into as a researcher and business owner. Something she wishes she had done earlier in her career. Collaborative by nature, Susan got caught up in the title-chasing and prove-you-wrong rat race early on in her career. Corporate success brought increasingly complex and pressure-filled gigs. Susan excelled but just about burnt herself out. When the recession hit in the late 2000s and she lost her job, she took that opportunity to start Audience Audit. For 12 years, it was just her, and now she has a team, and it is, as she says, “a full-fledged agency”.
Finding the balance of growth, leadership, and delegation has been a back-and-forth process. “It’s challenging to let others run something you’ve built” because some of what makes it successful lie in the head and heart of the founder. Almost a decade and a half later, Susan has found that balance, for the most part, after some back-and-forth. “Each week brings new opportunities to grow and set a slightly different path,” helping her see that there is still so much to learn. She is also keenly aware that the decision impacted more than just her; she has a sense of responsibility she takes to heart.
Today Susan focuses on and embraces the idea of being relentlessly helpful – “Give all you’ve got because this is the only time you have to do that”. But she warns you to ensure you have boundaries for whom and when you give that relentless help. There is power in being able to say no – “we need to get practice in saying ‘Nope’ – easily, positively, and without regret.”.
You can meet up with Susan in Chicago at the Build Better Agency conference
Learn more about Audience Audit