Mandy Facer and Cookie-Cutter Free Digital Strategy

6 min read


Recently, we sat down for a conversation with Well Done’s new Director of Digital Strategy. Mandy Facer arrives at Well Done after honing her craft in a variety of industries, most recently as director of marketing at OneAmerica. Keep reading for serious takeaways, like how to bring more humanity into digital strategy. But be sure to stick around for marketing lessons we can all glean from Taylor Swift, what haunts Mandy from her childhood search history, and more.

Let’s start at the beginning, Mandy. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Urbana, Illinois; better known as Champaign-Urbana, home of the University of Illinois. Think sprawling cornfields, great campus food (#papadelspizza) and a constant emphasis on education. I’m grateful to my parents and public school teachers who poured their knowledge, wisdom, and hope into me and fed my insatiable curiosity.

Sprawling cornfields sounds like home. Growing up next door to the Illini, how do you feel about our beloved Indiana Hoosiers?

Well, I consider myself a Hoosier now, so I think we’re alright.

A very diplomatic answer. We’re suspicious. Tell us a little bit about your career, and what led you to our door?

One of my first mentors encouraged me to “dip my hands into as many pots” as I could when I started my career. I spent the next 12 years immersing myself in a variety of industries: e-commerce, publishing, beauty, financial services, bridal, wellness, gaming, sustainability, nonprofit, and apparel. No matter which industry I worked in, each of them had talkers, doers, and dreamers. I strive to be a builder who can set the vision—and empower the team to make it reality. One of my former team members who previously worked at Well Done referred me, and now I get to work alongside this talented group!

That diverse experience should serve you well at a marketing agency, where we’re constantly getting pulled in a dozen different directions. Is this your first time in an agency setting?

Hey thanks! In terms of my previous agency life, I worked as a media strategist at Branded Entertainment Network during college. I specialized in influencer marketing, specifically for YouTube and Instagram, when I was there. In more recent years, I’ve sat on the client side of the table and hired a fair amount of agencies.

How did you become interested in digital strategy in the first place?

As a child, I knew the internet only as a dial-up screech from my dad’s office as I fell asleep. As a teenager, I had a Facebook account, an iPhone, and a Safari history filled with the unspoken questions of adolescence. Growing up while the digital landscape matured alongside me created both an inherent reliance on technology and a longing for the simplicity of my previous untethered existence. I’m interested in digital strategy because I see the beauty of a connected world and the danger of a fully-automated one.

Talk a little bit more about the juxtaposition between a connected world and a fully automated one, and how you navigate that as a strategist.

One study found the average human consumes 74GB of information a day, which is the same amount we’d experience across an entire lifetime just 500 years ago. Our technology has evolved faster than our brains, and the jury’s still out on how that affects us. It’s incredible to live in a time when we can find answers to almost any question within milliseconds; that efficiency can also push us to our devices first instead of each other, and that concerns me.

Some of life’s wisdom isn’t found on a search results page, just like some problems don’t have clear solutions that can be automated away. I worry that our expectation of immediate, clean answers or processes can hamper our willingness to dig in on the topics that need deeper exploration and/or human connection.

Why does every marketing team need a strong digital strategist?

Our perception of life moves more online each day. A strong digital strategist can master the technical requirements of this ever-evolving online ecosystem while remaining grounded in the heart of our human experience. It wasn’t about the ads in the Mad Men era, and it still isn’t—even if we have more channels to play with than ever before.

That’s interesting you say it was never about the ads. We work at an advertising agency. Can you elaborate on that?

I believe our work is about people; our tangible output includes advertisements, but the ads themselves aren’t why we’re here.

How can we bring more humanity to advertising and these digital spaces?

We serve our audiences as people, not just users or consumers. We build the foundation of our work through data, but we recognize people’s lives are bigger than single touchpoints. We orient our offerings and experiences around them instead of trying to convince them to fit around us.

Are there any Well Done clients you’re particularly excited to work with?

I’m eager to help all of our clients! I’m also looking forward to helping grow and evolve the Well Done brand.

How does your approach to tackling strategy for an agency differ from working with a client, if it does?

The best strategies start with the right questions, no matter who you are or what you’re selling. Just like with a kickoff for a client, I’m digging into who we are, what we offer (and want to offer in the future), where we stand in our current competitive landscape, why we’re succeeding in some areas and have opportunity to grow in others, and how we can elevate our service to become the preferred strategic partner for clients in Indianapolis and beyond.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

In the evenings I walk my dog, Harold, through our local park. I love to be outside and watch the trees, deer, birds, clouds, and sunsets. When it gets cold, you’ll find me baking cookies or sipping a vanilla latte while I read.

What’s the best concert you’ve ever attended?

Attending Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour with my younger brother was one of my top moments thus far of being alive.

It seems like Taylor has a strong strategy behind her brand. What marketing lessons can she teach us?

Taylor Swift’s understanding of (and commitment to) her fanbase is unparalleled. She knows how to give the Swifties what they want (releasing the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” and then a surprise film is a great example) and build obsessive interest in her next move through Easter eggs and smart PR. Taylor is also the master of merchandising and has an exceptional e-commerce strategy.

What else should we know about you?

I’m an “all-in” personality; I read books in one sitting, stalk Reddit threads for theories on my favorite show (Severance), eat the same snack over and over until I can’t stand it, etc.

What’s the next book we should all binge and why?

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. What was marketed as science fiction when the book came out in 1993 feels much closer to reality now in 2022, and not in a good way. I highly recommend moving through the book chapter by chapter alongside the “Octavia’s Parables” podcast episodes by Adrienne Maree Brown and Toshi Reagon.

Thanks for the reading recommendation and lessons on what makes T. Swift such a powerhouse. We’re excited to have you on the team, and we can’t wait to see how you help shape the digital strategy (and the cookies) at Well Done.