Stacey Kracher is the dynamic Director Of Marketing at Philadelphia law firm Zarwin Baum. When she’s not in the office working on Zarwin’s marketing strategy, you can find her out and about connecting people and planning her next charity initiative. If you were to meet Stacey at one of her many charitable events, you would never guess that she was a shy child growing up in Mullica Hill, a small rural town in New Jersey. When she discovered marketing during a high school elective class, she worked her way into the business world at just 17 years old by commuting to an internship Philadelphia three days a week, eventually enrolling in Drexel University’s marketing program.
Read about her journey in the interview below…
When you were growing up in Mullica Hill, did you know you wanted a career in marketing?
Growing up, I wanted to pursue a degree in art and graphic design as I was a talented artist and had a love for drawing. My senior year of high school, I was accepted in a marketing program that placed students in part-time co-op jobs in their chosen field. I worked for a small marketing and advertising firm in Philadelphia and was able to see the graphic design and marketing side of the business. This experience led to me to Drexel University’s marketing program.
Who did you look up to during that time in your life?
I had an amazing female boss during my first Drexel co-op job at GlaxoSmithKline. She was a director in telecom, which at that time was a male dominated field. She was smart, confident and respected, and I wanted to be just like her. She taught me the importance of being a confident woman, how to take risks, and most importantly that I didn’t have to change who I was to be successful.
After Drexel and your co-ops, what were your next steps?
I worked for GlaxoSmithKline for four years while attending Drexel, staying part time in between each co-op rotation. I planned on moving into pharmaceutical sales after graduation but decided to take a risk and work as a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual. It was a time in my life that I could afford to take a risk in a position that was commission only. I spent 5 years meeting people, networking and trying to build a business. It was tough but it taught me discipline, persistence and most importantly how to network and build relationships.
Leaning on the centers of influence that I built at Northwestern helped me transition to a legal marketing role at Duane Morris. After two years, I was recruited to Zarwin Baum as the firm’s first director of marketing.
When transitioning from one position to the next, were you at all anxious? Did you feel like you were taking a risk? How did you overcome that?
Yes, of course but I learned early to take risks and follow the path I thought was best for my future.
The toughest decision was leaving Northwestern Mutual as not only did I spend 5 years working to building my practice, but I had great relationships with many of my clients. The position at Duane Morris was a stepping-stone for me… I learned all aspects of legal marketing from one of the most respected firms in the country.
I was excited to join Zarwin Baum but I was also extremely nervous as this was a huge transition and big step in my career. Thankfully I had support from a great mentor and also from the firm’s managing shareholder during the transition. I overcame the rest by working hard and believing in myself.
During your journey— coming from Mullica Hill and having great co-ops at Drexel, working your way into great jobs, was there anyone in your life who doubted you?
I am not sure doubt is the correct word, but I would say that my father had a hard time understanding my journey from my decision to attend college, move to Philadelphia, to each job transition I made.
Being the first from my family to attend college, I am sure my father’s fear was from the unknown and risks I was taking at a young age. He was worried about me. Last year he attended one of my events and was able to see me at work and also meet all of the great people at the firm. He is definitely now very proud and supportive of my career.
Do you think you have a different approach to marketing?
Zarwin Baum does the traditional marketing with website, social media, marketing materials, seminars, etc. but I think what differentiates us is the charitable events we host. The firm has given me the freedom to think outside of the box and implement programs and events that effectively engage both our attorneys and our clients, and encourage them to give back to the community.
My addition of a charity element to Zarwin Baum’s annual March Madness event has raised over $100,000 for Philabundance in 5 years. The event has grown to be one of the largest networking events in the city of Philadelphia; and a truly one-of-a-kind event to raise funds for Philabundance, the region’s largest hunger relief organization fighting hunger and malnutrition in the Delaware Valley.
The success of March Madness led to the creation of several other charitable events. In 2013, the firm introduced the PHILAlympics which is held at the Wells Fargo Center. Companies battled it out in games that tested their wits, athleticism, and general Philadelphia knowledge all for the title of ‘Philadelphia’s Phunnest Company’ and to raise $20,000 for the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House.
Every year the firm also hosts a Celebrity Casino Night, which raises money for the Easter Seals of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The past two casino nights have raised $40,000 for Easter Seals.
Other events include a holiday toy drive for Little Smiles Foundation, Cinco de Mayo for Fresh Smiles Foundation and we are currently planning a new event for Big Brothers Big Sisters that will be announced this fall.
What makes you good at your job?
Many things, but I would have to say most important is my passion for my job. I am part of a great firm, a firm that I believe in. I truly love what I do and thankful to be part of a firm that believes in giving back to the community.
It seems like a lot of your success has come from your ability to connect with others, what is some sage advice you would give to someone who is not so comfortable with networking?
Networking can be overwhelming. Not everyone has the personality to walk into a room of people and have the ability to network. I learned the value of networking during my time as financial representative with Northwestern Mutual. It was either cold calling or attending networking events to try and meet qualified people who could potentially become clients. I would set a goal to meet 2 or 3 qualified people and follow-up with a call or email the next day. That's it.
My other advice is to not give up. Building a network takes time. The relationships I built over the past 15 years have helped shaped my career in so many ways.
You seem to have a very integrated work-life spectrum. How do you manage that?
It comes naturally to me. I was told recently by someone close to me, that I talk about work too much (laughs) or that I'm working too much. The firm is a huge part of me. It spills into all aspects of my life, but I don't mind it. I like that people identify me with Zarwin Baum; that they know me as the marketing person for Zarwin Baum and they know about all of the great things we do for the community.
My personal and professional life is very much one. For me, I always have the firm on my mind. I might be out with my friends and meet someone, and think 'Oh! They could be a client of the firm, or help me with this event'. That is how my mind works. This is not a job to me… this is my career, my passion.
What advice would you give to a woman who wants to enter the marketing world?
Believe in yourself, have confidence and always continue to educate yourself. Partner and learn from your peers; work together and support each other. Don’t forget to give back to your community. Find an organization that you are passionate about and get involved.
Lastly, do you have a mantra?We make a living with what we get, but we make a life by what we give.