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Have you lost your creative edge?

Posted on Categories BrandonomicsTags

David Brady, chief marketing officer at the Houston Zoo, gives tips on how marketers can stay on top of everything going on in their business while also finding inspiration for new marketing ideas.

Robin: Hello, and welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies. I’m Robin Tooms, vice president of strategy at Savage, and I’m here again today with David Brady, chief marketing officer at the Houston Zoo. So, David, thank you for joining us, again.

David: Thanks for having me back.

Robin: Great. Well, you are a great out-of-the-box thinker, and I love all of your ideas around the creative process. What I wanna learn more and want you to share a bit about is how do you keep that competitive edge in terms of making sure you’re learning about the business and being creative.

David: Well, first off, it’s important to know everything about your business from the ground up as a marketing person. Whether you’re the chief marketing officer or director of marketing or marketing management, or an intern, you need to know everything that goes on in the entire business so you can properly market your brand. And for me, a lot of that comes from job shadowing.

We have over 375 employees at the Houston Zoo, a lot of different department from housekeeping all the way up to animal care. And for me to get out and job shadow is a great way to experience what’s going on both from the guest perspective, but also what our employees and our staff are seeing and doing, and it also helps me come up with a lot of great ideas that we might turn into marketing promotions. We’ve come up with a some great ones just from talking to our animal care staff. So getting out here, being a part of the team, getting to know everyone, not only does it help with creativity, but also helps a lot of with staff buy-in which is very important for the marketing team.

Robin: Okay, great. So if I was trying to implement job shadowing at my company as part of an ongoing training and development, what would I do?

David: Well, first off, everyone job shadows for the most part your first week on the job, right? Part of orientation, you job shadow. And that’s great. You need to know where the bathroom is and the lunchroom is and who Nick in accounting is. But you also need to go back and job shadow later on because then you’ve got enough knowledge of the business, say a year into your tenure with the company. You know the business enough that you can ask the right questions, support that team in the proper way. As opposed to just being there absorbing everything, you can actually contribute and have that synergy with someone in another department.

Robin: I love that advice. Thank you, again, for sharing that with us. This has been another edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies. Stay tuned next week for another show.


The Houston Zoo provides housing, meals, medical care and education for more than 6,000 permanent resident animals. Its mission is to provide a fun, unique and inspirational experience fostering appreciation, knowledge and care for the natural world for each of their more than 1.84 million annual guests.

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Robin Tooms is a consultant for brand, marketing and communications strategies for B2B and service companies. Expertise includes corporate branding, investor communications, employee communications, social media, and marketing with emphasis on effective online marketing and use of technology.

Contact her at or reach her by phone at 713-522-1555.

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