Perspectives is a series uncovering routines, inspiration, and insights by marketing leaders shaping the future around the globe.

Perspectives ft. Ricky Murray, Senior Marketing Manager, Zpryme Future of Marketing

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ricky Murray is the Senior Director of Marketing for Zpryme, a media research and events company. 

In his words, he shares: 

  • Why it’s important for marketers to be users of each platform
  • What his favorite social media platform is (and why)
  • The rise of video content and what this means for the future

What do you do for a living?

As the senior director of marketing, I oversee quite a few departments – our digital and physical marketing – and I lead a team internally at Zpryme. 

A typical day-to-day for me involves meeting with various teams. We have a VR vertical that we are producing and a new platform that we’re launching, so there are lots of things at Zpryme that really keep us busy across the whole county. 

We are a team of five, so I oversee event professionals, our digital marketing team, our social media team, and our graphic design.

What blogs or websites do you follow for your industry insights?  

One of my most recent discoveries pre-COVID was an organization here in Austin called Best Practices Media. Social Media Week is another really big one that I always advocate for and I also follow a few influencers across various social media platforms.

What’s your favorite social media platform?

At the moment I’m going to say it is TikTok.  I can’t get enough. And it’s the content that I need in my life. I’ve learned it’s my love language – a lot of my friends will just send me TikToks. 

What’s something interesting or surprising that you’ve learned in the last few months? 

As marketers, we’re all naturally creative people and I’ve learned, over the past year, that if I’m not mentally fit or my mental health isn’t in the best shape, I can’t be as fun and creative.

I’ve really learned to take care of myself and find different outlets – such as TikTok – that really help stimulate my creativity when working and in life. 

I’m learning the dances… I’m not posting them, but I’m learning them.

What do you think everyone in marketing or social media should stop doing? 

Worrying so much about their competitors.

I’ve had a few personal clients reach out and say, “my competitors are doing this and we need to focus more on this” and that is not what social media users want. On social media, your people are longing for connection and are trying to find a way to hear different stories.

When we’re too busy focusing on competitors, that’s when we start to lose that other part. 

Video chats give us a more personal lens, for example, where we’re now seeing into people’s kitchens or their living rooms – and that’s a little bit of a personal connection that we really didn’t have before.

TikTok is similar in that sense… a lot of TikToks are recorded in people’s homes, on adventures that they’re having throughout the world, so it’s personal. 

What’s something that you think marketers should start doing or doing more of? 

Something that I talk to my team a lot about is oversimplification. I think we were very used to, “we’re doing this job every day – Monday through Friday – and I know these products like the back of my hand.”

Sometimes people start to form the conclusion that people know more than they really do, so a rule I have is if it’s simple enough for a fifth-grader to understand, then it’s good to go. Our attention spans are so short that it needs to be simple.

Let’s talk about authenticity. Why do you think user- and employee-generated content are so valuable for brands? 

Most of the time, I don’t want to hear from a corporation; I would rather hear from someone who’s speaking really well about that corporation. I might follow Subway, but I don’t want to hear from Subway; I want to hear from the consumers of Subway. 

User-generated content is one of my favorite things. I love when people do hashtag testimonial Tuesdays where they’re showing their customers. You’re getting that personal experience that you don’t typically get from a bigger brand. 

What do you feel most marketers tend to struggle with? 

I think most marketers really struggle with how fast-paced marketing is sometimes. Whether it’s a different social movement that’s going on or one of the latest trends, or one of the funniest memes happening at the moment – those things are great. A mistake that people make is waiting too long to capitalize on those moments and let them pass by. 

When you post that two weeks later, that’s something that when I see it, I’m like, man, that’s a missed mark. You look a little behind the times – and that goes back to the red tape of organizations. 

Building that connection is needed through social media, but then there are so many layers and that’s a struggle that the marketer then faces of how do I stay current, but also do this in this timely fashion.

If someone were to come up to you and ask you how do I stay on top of these trends, what would you tell them? 

That you can’t just be on the giving end of social media. You can’t be the one who’s always producing it. You also have to be an active consumer. In order to really stay with those fast trends, you have to be on social media yourself. You can’t just think, oh, I’m doing marketing at work, I’m posting these things all day, and now I’m at home and that’s it. 

You have to be the person you’re trying to reach on the other end. Otherwise, it falls flat in the end. 

What do you think the future of marketing looks like to you and how can brands or teams prepare for this?

Marketers will slowly start to see that their email communications may not hold as much value as a return on investment as a social media thread or a TikTok video. 

Number two: video and YouTube content is on the rise. I know so many people who, at night, turn on YouTube on their TV because it’s now a streaming app (just like Netflix and Hulu and everything else), so it’s much more easily accessible. 

What was the turning point in your career? What’s a person, book, podcast, or event that shaped your career? 

Early in my career, I started in education and my very first supervisor gave us a book when we joined her team – and it was the strengths finder. 

I had never really taken a deep personality assessment or anything like that, and the strengths finder taught me that my top five strengths are communication-influencing traits, which I didn’t know. 

I just thought, oh cool. I’m just personable. I get along with people. And I didn’t realize the power that came with that – it doesn’t come naturally to some people. It’s that book that helped me realize the marketing potential that I could have.

Did you always know you wanted to be in marketing or did it just happen once you went into education? 

It happened by accident. When I went into education, I became a board member for an after-school organization as their communication chair. It was their only chair that they had available, but I really want it to be on the board.

I was like, I’ll just do it. I’ve used social media my whole life. I can email some people. And then it snowballs and here you are… and then I did a whole career change after that. 

Who, where, or what do you look for inspiration? 

My current team that I work with now provides inspiration to me every day. We are a diverse group of marketing professionals who all have a completely different style, but somehow through the magic of our marketing department and Zpryme, we all gel really well together.

We really draw a lot of inspiration from each other… It’s an inspiration tank.

On a social media side, I follow a local weatherman here in Austin. His name is David Yeomans and his Facebook and Instagram accounts are the perfect blend of weather updates, personal life education, and just authenticity. He does like the series on climate change and weather and how there is a correlation there, but he also gives weather updates and shares personal information – like him and the meteorologist team at the lake. It’s really such a balanced content. I look at his newsfeed specifically, and I know it’s weird, cause he’s a meteorologist, but that gives me so much inspiration for the diverse content that I always try to tell people we need to have.

What advice do you have for marketers or creatives who look up to you?

Flexibility and adaptability are going to be your number one pillars of success. Social media and marketing move fast, so you have to be flexible when things can go out (if they should even go out), but you also have to be adaptable to platforms. Maybe you’re working with a client who isn’t really on some social media where the audience is really big, so what do you do to bridge those gaps and how do you adapt in those situations? 

How do you wind down after a long day of work? 

Pre-COVID, I would wind down with Prosecco and TV shows. I’ve just added to that mix… I’ve now included plants.

I’ve recently gotten into indoor plants. I bought my first plant in April and I probably have 60 house plants now. I don’t know how it happened. It was a true overcommitment, but now I tend to my plants with the Prosecco, which is nice.

And then my husband and I have two dogs, so they’ll check on the plants with us because they just follow us around.

What are you excited about or looking forward to?

Zpryme has been producing a lot of digital events over the past year and a half, and we never really produced digital events before – but we’ve been a remote company for as long as I’ve worked here… actually, since the creation of Zpryme, so pivoting to digital events was super easy for us. 

But what I’m looking forward to the most is we’re now having talks of physical events… I’m looking forward to being back around people and building connections. 

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