The Marketing Stir Podcast with Casey Hurbis, 05/02/2023

Intro: Maybe big data has gotten too big. Whether you’re a B2B marketer or a consumer brand, your data needs to be viable, relevant, and accessible so that Stirista can help you retain customers, acquire customers, and make it personal.

Vin Lapsley: Welcome to The Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista, probably the most entertaining marketing podcast you’re going to put in your ear. I’m Ben, the producer here at Stirista. The goal of this podcast is to chat with industry leaders and get their takes on the current challenges in the market, and we’ll have a little fun along the way. In today’s episode, Casey Hurbis, Chief Marketing Officer at Rocket Mortgage chats with us about being bold with taking risks and investing in new technology to help build a brand. Give it a listen.

Vince: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of Stirista’s The Marketing Stir. I feel like it has been such a long time since I’ve talked to you, but that’s impossible, I come to you every single week. Thank you so much for listening, my friends. It’s been great. Thank you also, I love the emails that I’ve been getting. I also love, it’s conference season. People are back out there. And guess what? Thank you for coming up to me and telling me how much you love The Marketing Stir. That’s a first for me, that rarely happens. A little bit in New York City, because of the standup comedy thing, but very minor. My wife hates it, by the way, when people come up to me. I’m like, ” Come on. It’s so rare. Leave me alone.” Anyway, it’s so good to be here. I am riding solo today, ladies and gentlemen. My commander in chief, my CEO, Mr. Ajay Gupta’s not here. I believe he is in the Boston area. Close enough to New York City, you’d think he’d come in for a visit. I sound like my mother. Would it kill you to call? Anyway, it’s great to be back. Let’s pause just for a second to talk about Stirista. We only talked about Stirista for 13 seconds, 13 seconds. Stirista, we are a marketing technology company. We own our own B2B data, B2C data, and our own technology. We help customers get new customers through our email marketing platform, through our DSP, through connected TV, OTT display. Email me, You do email me for that, inquiring about the company. You also email me about guest suggestions, you also email me to speak into the microphone a little bit closer. I’m like, ” I’m pretty much eating this thing.” So, thank you for the feedback, it is great to be here, ladies and gentlemen. Also, a quick announcement. You will also be able to see me on May 3rd. This episode it’s going to be right before the day after. It airs May 2nd, May 3rd, you will see me on… I was going to say Comedy and Cocktails. That is a whole other show that I’ve done in the past, Comedy and Cocktails. No, this is Coffee and Conversions, C and C, nonetheless. C + C Music Factory. Remember them? They were great. What happened to them? Comedy is not what I’m doing on there, although may be a fun anecdote, but Coffee and Conversions with the great Meg Ugenti. She was a past guest, so tune into that. There’ll be a webinar for that. There’s a link, you’ll see it, but that is where I’ll be May 3rd. Also, my wife’s birthday, May 3rd. I haven’t forgotten, Lauren. You’re the best. You don’t listen to this, but it’s okay. Also, ladies and gentlemen, an amazing guest today. An amazing guest. I’m so glad he is here. I talked to him before. We never met in- person. That’ll change. We’ll bond over football, we’ll bond over our love of Tracy Morgan. We’ll get to that in a moment, but ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, from Rocket Mortgage, yeah, that Rocket Mortgage, if you don’t know who they are, you live under a rock, pun intended, but the chief marketing officer, Casey Hurbis. What’s going on, Casey?

Casey Hurbis: Hey, Vince, good to see you again here again today. Sorry Ajay’s not here, but that way, we’ll be able to bang out more questions and spread some love and Marketing Stir knowledge. So, thanks for having me here today.

Vince: Yeah, no, it’s good to see you again, Casey. I love your love of sports. I see if you’re tuning in to us on YouTube, most of you consume us via audio, and great, we appreciate that as well. He’s got the Barry Sanders Detroit Lions helmet, the legend, nine years, that’s all he needed.

Casey Hurbis: The Goat.

Vince: The Goat, I think so. A lot of people, him, Dickerson, Peyton, I like Sanders. Sanders was like, I’m going to rock this out in nine years. Watch Casey, we’ll get an email. I’ll get an email, not you. People are like, ” What about Emitt Smith? Cowboy fans. Yeah, they’re interesting people, Cowboy fans, but I love the Aaron Donald helmet back there, Rocket Mortgage sponsoring Super Bowl. That was last year’s or the year before technically, right? But anyway, it’s great to see you here. Casey, let’s get right into it because Rocket Mortgage, people certainly know Rocket Mortgage. But in your words, talk about Rocket Mortgage and then your role as Chief Marketing Officer. We’d love to learn more about that.

Casey Hurbis: Yeah, I joined Rocket Companies, which Rocket Mortgage is part of Rocket Companies. It’ll be six years actually next week in. It’s been a wild, crazy awesome ride. Prior to that, I spent 25 years in automotive. I’m born and raised a Detroit guy, and when you’re born and raised in Detroit, you work in automotive. Right next to your binky, you get a set of car keys. And so everyone’s destined to work in automotive, and I did that for 25 years, and lo and behold, I was blessed enough to be offered the opportunity to move about 35 miles down I- 75 to downtown Detroit and join what was then Quicken Loans, now Rocket Mortgage and Rocket Mortgage, Rocket Companies were a 37 year startup, if you will. Our chairman and founder started what was called Rock Financial, then Quicken Loans and now Rocket Mortgage, 37 years ago, Dan Gilbert. A lot of people know Dan from certainly Quicken and Rocket, but also as the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. And drafted LeBron, got LeBron back, lost him again, but rolling towards the playoffs. Vince, we’re a large company. We’ve got 20 some odd thousand team members, primarily in Detroit, but also Cleveland, Phoenix, Charlotte, around the country. We’re actually a larger employer than General Motors in downtown Detroit, which is interesting, and we have over 100 companies within our portfolio. A lot of folks know us, obviously for Rocket Mortgage, and we also have other FinTech brands, which we’ll talk about that we support here as the Rocket in- house marketing team, but we also own companies like StockX, right? If StockX, sneakers, the stock market of everything, sneakers, bags, shoes, collectibles, 100 Thieves in eSports, dictionary, thesaurus. com, Gas Station TV, Robb Report, Shinola, I mean a lot of interesting companies within the portfolio. But the primary focus of us here at Rocket in downtown Detroit is in the FinTech space, starting with mortgage, trying to help Americans achieve their American dream every single day.

Vince: I love that. I love that explanation, and I feel like Detroit is the American dream. It’s where automobiles, you think of hardworking people. I love Shinola. It’s right here in the neighborhood in New York City. I own a watch from there. I love it. And yeah, it’s great. And yeah, hey, you got LeBron back and they won a championship. That’s awesome. You love Cleveland and Detroit, those are just areas-

Casey Hurbis: It’s a 25 minute flight across the pond, three hours to drive it. I’m a Detroit guy all the way through, but I’m a Cleveland guy, the secondary, and you’re right about Detroit, Vince. I’m a very typical Detroit kid in that both my grandparents and my in- laws, they immigrated to the US and they got jobs in the factory. The middle class was born in Detroit back when Ford Motor Company and General Motors and Chrysler, that afforded a lot of people a middle-class life. And that’s where at certain points, Detroit was two and a half, the city was built to handle two and a half, three million. Obviously, the size is not there today, but that’s also part of our story is being part of the urban renewal and rejuvenation of a great American city like Detroit. We’ve seen it out in New York, and whether Brooklyn, Harlem and the Chicago and the West Side, you can go around major metros around the US and talk about those type of rejuvenation and Renaissances in the midst of one right here in downtown Detroit, and it’s awesome to work for a company and a culture that does so much for the city.

Vince: Yeah, absolutely. It does so much for the city in a variety of different ways, including helping people finance their dreams and live their dreams out of home ownership. So that’s one of the things obviously you do. But let’s take a step back case. We ask all of our guests this, it’s one of our guests’ favorite questions. It’s about two or three questions that we ask all of our guests. But how’d you get started in marketing? CMO there for six years, which is obviously you’re doing something great, something really good. The CMO, that’s longevity. That means you’re making a difference there. How’d you get into this? Is it a straight path? I studied marketing and here I am. Usually not the case, usually not the case, but tell us.

Casey Hurbis: Yeah, great question. I’m actually a rarity, Vince, in that I was an advertising major in college in which it’ll be 30 years actually next month when I graduated from Michigan State. And I go back, actually, I’m going up tomorrow. I’m on the alumni board for the College of Arts and Sciences, and you don’t find many people that they were advertising majors and 30 years in. A lot of times, when you meet senior level marketers, it wasn’t a very clean path, if you will. And I started like everyone else, right out of school working for free as a traffic coordinator. I used to send TV spots to TV and radio stations back before there were computers. So, we did things over fax and some computer system, Lord knows what the operating system was. But people ask me a lot, Vince, did you want to be, and did you think you were going to be CMO, and the answer is no. And even though I’ve also been doing this for 30 years, Vince, what I also share with folks is I don’t know what else I want to be when I grow up, and that’s okay. I had this fallacy that when I graduated from school, someone’s going to sit down with me and almost process map out my life and my career the day. And I just met with a bunch of students from Michigan State, they were here the other day, and I was like, the first time anyone sits down with me, and process maps out my life or my career, that will be the first day. And people, ” Well, how’d you get here?” I’m like, you know what? A couple things. One is when I started in this business a long, long time ago, the world was a lot simpler. It was TV, radio, newspaper. The media world was very finite. And then obviously, all of a sudden, we started to ask ourselves, all right, outside of the dark web, could digital be used in e- commerce? And I was an early adopter, and I was in the automotive, like, how will people’s mindsets start to shift with the internet when it comes to cars. I remember sitting in meetings 20 plus years ago, laughing at the notion that people will buy cars via the internet. We’re like, well, I wouldn’t be surprised if people buy shoes. But you look back on those moments and you kind of chuckle it to yourself. But over time, anytime emerging technology, a new way of doing things and the immersion of whatever it might be, I’ve always like, I want to learn. I want to learn, and how could this make me a better marketer? How could this help the business, the client, or whatever piece of business I’m working on? So now, as I sit here and I think about, I’ve done it all and I’m second or third best at everything. I’m not first best at anything. That’s what also being a leader, I think being a true leader is, is you surround yourself with others that are very, very good at what they do, and you serve them as a humble and a servant leader to help them do the best job they can to help either the business, the company, the client, or whatever it might be. That’s where I don’t freak out that I don’t know what I want to do next. I think sometimes when you talk with particularly younger people, they’re like, ” I don’t understand, I’m 25.” Calm down. It will be okay. Everything happens in life for a reason. I’m a firm believer of it.

Vince: Yeah, I’m the same way. And I knew I liked you because I’m unique in that sense too, where I actually studied. I studied communications, broadcasting, marketing, and look, we’re on a podcast right now that I’m hosting. It’s like, yeah, we’re doing everything. I did that. But still, I never feel like I know what I want to do when I grow up. I truly believe that. That’s great advice. I’m glad you’re giving back to your alma mater there because we do have a lot of students who listen to this and they always appreciate when people are doing that. So that’s great. Casey, let’s talk about different marketing channels. This is The Marketing Stir, so we get into the nitty- gritty here. Obviously, people know Rocket Mortgage, you’re watching television, you’re watching the Super Bowl, we’ll get into that in a moment. But what are some other channels that people might not know that Rocket Mortgage is in that have been working for you?

Casey Hurbis: Great question, Vincent. I will tell you, I would be hard- pressed for you to say, to give me a channel that we haven’t been in tested or we’re in the process of being, in which we’re very blessed here at Rocket. Budgets are healthy, as you mentioned, people see us a lot, share of voice is very strong. I’m very thankful that our executive leadership with Dan Gilbert and our CEO Jay Farner and Bill Emerson, they see the value of having a healthy brand in which we invest heavily in this brand. And when it comes to channels, again, knock on wood, even in these challenging times, we are a 365, 24/ 7 advertiser. We might not be as deep as we were a year or two ago in some of the channels, but to answer your question, we’re in all the channels. We’re still, primarily, if you will, a heavier linear broadcast marketer, we call it the traditional media channels, mid- upper funnel in broadcast, linear audio, both terrestrial and streaming, investing more and more, obviously in the connected OTT space. The world is going to much more one- to- one targeting. And then if you were to ask, ” Hey, what’s TikTok strategy in emerging media?” I am a big fan of testing and learning. I’ll never forget four years ago, as I was watching TikTok, I was like, okay, I’m now at the point with TikTok where I don’t feel like it’s going to be a platform that has a moment in the sun and then that goes away. So, what are we going to do? And I gave my team, I don’t know, 100, $200, 000 or something like that, and I was like, ” Come back with a TikTok plan. You’re not going to screw up the brand. Why not learn now?” And I believe in what we’ll call a TikTok in the space at that time where that’s going to go. Obviously, you’ve seen the other big portals try to come up with their own competitive products. And so, I’m always a fan of, as we see emerging technologies come about, let’s invest, let’s test and learn. Worse comes to worst is we make an investment, it doesn’t have a ROAS, or maybe it affects our CAC a little bit, but that’s okay. How else are you going to know unless you try? And let’s not be afraid to take some risks.

Vince: Yeah, we love that. And I know our listeners will love hearing that because even in these uncertain times where people are like, ” What should I do?” Still test, you still have to.

Casey Hurbis: You don’t know. I can’t tell you how many times I sit at conferences as you mentioned, and people are like, ” Well”… eSports was one where we were very early in the eSports as a brand. And still, I sit in meetings and I’m like, how do you know unless you try?

Vince: Yeah.

Casey Hurbis: What’s the worst that’s going to happen? Obviously, it all depends on budgets and blah, blah, blah. But man, unless you know, jump in and learn, and that’s the best way to find out.

Vince: You have to. You look at something like TikTok where I remember we were talking to a brand that it was very traditional brand, and we were like, ” You’re on TikTok?” They’re like, ” Yeah, this is the future bakers of the world.” This is the future people are going to be buying, looking into mortgages in the future. So yeah, you got to try that. Let’s talk about, we were fortunate to have about four or five companies on this podcast that have done Super Bowl commercials and been in that space. What was that like? As we were saying before, I love the one with Tracy Morgan in it. That was great. But are you part of that? Talk to me about your involvement in that and what that was like for Rocket Mortgage.

Casey Hurbis: Yeah. Vince, I’ve been fortunate. I think I’ve been fortunate to lead I think eight Super Bowl campaigns in my career. Three or four at Fiat Chrysler, and then four here at Rocket. The first year we did here with Keegan- Michael Key, and then two years later with Tracy, with Tracy Morgan and Jason Momoa with Get Comfortable.

Vince: That was great.

Casey Hurbis: And then in 2022, we saw this earlier, with Barbie. Barbie and Anna Kendrick. And Super Bowl is no joke. It is easily the worst 60 seconds of my life, knock on wood, in the course of a year in that it’s seven, eight months of work and not seeing my family and stressing of which that moment comes in the game. And America’s got your vote, and it is an arduous process. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s very expensive, obviously. The average cost of a 60, plus the production plus the sides and the desserts that go along with the Supers Bowl campaign, it’s 20 million bucks in 60 seconds if you really add it up. And of course, what is that return on that? And for us, the process usually starts in May or June. We’re an in- house agency here, Vince. I’ve got 100 people in creative and they pitch, but I also have external agencies pitch as well, of which at the end of the day, if you’re going to make that kind of investment, you have to be guaranteed you have the best idea for that platform. And we’ll start off with about 150 ideas and over three, four rounds, we whittle it down. Ultimately, we get to a point where we’ve got a very short list and we’re trying to line up talent and directors, whatever it might be. And you ultimately go with one, and then it’s hold your breath and go for it. I mean, again, it’s a monumental undertaking for a brand. If you think about it, there’s only 65 brands that advertise every Super Bowl. And CMOs jobs are one and lost the next day. And I wake up when I leave to come to the office, because I don’t go to the game if we’re in the game. I’m here, I work, we run a 50-person war room, digital, social, PR until about three o’clock in the morning, every Super Bowl. And when I kiss my wife and kids goodbye that day, I tell them, I go, ” Just let you know I got to have a 50/ 50 shot. Hopefully I’ll still be the CMO here tomorrow morning, but America will tell us.”

Vince: Yeah. Wow, because that was going to be my next question, Casey. It’s like, are you going? Are you at these games? It’s almost like the NFL draft is coming and going here. You’re in the war room. I love that.

Casey Hurbis: I put too much work in to go to the game and enjoy myself. I have hundreds of people here that have been part of the process and I’m here with the team to work and to celebrate here together. I love going to the Super Bowl, make no mistake. I went this year, we weren’t in the game. I went this year to enjoy myself and it was pretty stress- free. It was awesome. But I’ll tell you what, I got the itch. I love the Super Bowl itch.

Vince: Yeah. Well, let me just tell you, those are very memorable commercials. You’re knocking it out of the park. That’s awesome. Thanks for giving us a peek under the hood there also. So, Casey, Rocket Mortgage, now the mortgage industry interest rates, you’ve been hearing a lot of this. How has Rocket Mortgage been able to combat that and stay ahead of the competition, stay different from the competition?

Casey Hurbis: Another great question. I mean obviously, we’re the largest retail lender. We’re fortunate, that really rolled out in our Super Bowl in 2018. And make no mistake,’20 and ’21 were pretty good years. Interest rates dropped to historic lows, and you saw a wide rush when it came to refinancing. The housing market is still very streamlined, equity and people in equity in homes. Now granted, obviously interest rates have gone been going the other way, if you will, since really Q1, Q2 of last year. And so that makes it more of a challenging market for refinance. But the housing market and the ability for people to build wealth through equity or using equity to remodel or whatever it might be, is still very strong. So, the purchase market is still, that’s a large focus for us. And what we’re excited about here at Rocket, and it’s a story we continue to tell, we’re much more than mortgage. We’re a non- bank lender obviously, but we also have Rocket Homes, which is buy and selling a home, working with real estate agents. We have Rocket Loans, which is personal loans. We have an organization, a company that we acquired and rebranded to Rocket Money, which is personal finance. We just launched a credit card 60 days ago, which has the best in class rewards program for first time home buyers and existing home buyers where you can help put 5% for first time home buyers towards a new home or for existing homeowners, 2% cash back towards your principal. So those are exciting things that we’re not just mortgage. So if you think about the 5, 7, 10 years, but either first time home buyers or folks that are maybe in between, we have so many different products and services within the Rocket portfolio that we can help our clients along their financial journey.

Vince: That’s amazing. What’s the name of that credit card, Casey.

Casey Hurbis: The Rocket Card.

Vince: Love it. Love it.

Casey Hurbis: Yeah, just launched it three weeks ago and it’s going really well and like I said, it’s an opportunity for people to either build up credit or utilize their spending to rack up rewards and dollars to go towards a new home or existing mortgage principle. That’s pretty unique, it’s all about building value and using those rewards to make your life better.

Vince: I love to hear that. I wanted to get that out to the listeners there. So marketing goals this year. We’re into going into Q2. You talked about a little bit about some of the marketing strategies, but what are some of the goals for the rocket companies this year?

Casey Hurbis: From a brand standpoint, it’s obviously a challenging marketplace, where obviously refinance is not as prolific as it has in the past. But certainly home purchase. And here we are in April, and we are right on the cusp of the home buying season. And so the focus there on purchase. So, when we talk about goals, certainly from a brand standpoint, we’re very fortunate with the amount of money we do spend. We have high level of awareness and share a voice, which is fantastic. But when it comes to this, let’s be honest, this is not a QSR brand, this isn’t a package goods. This is a mortgage, an intangible product that you can’t taste, feel, drive, wear, whatever it might be. And people are very emotional, obviously, as it comes to the first or second largest purchase they’ll ever make. So, for us, we want to make sure that our brand, our brand dollars and our brands spend help improve brand, a positive opinion and consideration. So as folks are thinking about, they’re looking to get to home ready or buy or sell a home, obviously, as they have their short list of brands, ideally, we want to continuously improve our positive opinion and consideration. But quite honestly, the vast majority of our spend is on acquisition. Top, middle, the funnel acquisition where ideally we’re able to have that conversation with a prospective client and if she or they are not ready, well, as I mentioned earlier, all the products and services that we do have, we’re able to have that nurturing conversation. So going back to whether that’s SMS, email, one- to- one, targeting, direct mail, whatever it might be like, how do we create almost personalized communication plans for our clients no matter where they are in their journey. The world that we’re in is going to much more of a one- to- one, one- to- one, I’ll call targeting, but also one- to- one communications. We all want to be able to have that high level of personalization throughout a consumer journey.

Vince: And I know this is also very important to you, Casey, that in Rocket, you’re constantly doing great things and providing fairness, equitable access to mortgages for all customers regardless of their background, or financial situations. How important is that to you? And I know it remains important. Talk to the one about that.

Casey Hurbis: Yeah. Well, it goes without saying beyond important as we think about inclusivity. Inclusivity and making sure that we as an organization, one is from a mortgage company, but also, we have a more than profit philosophy at Rocket Companies, Vince, where part of our for more than profit philosophy is we believe in education, helping address homelessness and making sure… A great example is our chairman and founder committed$ 500 million to the city of Detroit, and Dan and Jennifer. And one of the first things they did as part of this endowment, if you will, to the city. They went and I’ll call it erased, but they eradicated back tax liens for hundreds if not thousands of residents in the City of Detroit that otherwise they wouldn’t be able to climb out underneath maybe some debt and be able to further chase and experience the American dream. So, we also have programs in some of the urban cores, Detroit one of them, where to encourage Detroit residents and offer residents that may need additional assistance to have additional funding resourcing and resources to help get home ready. And so that’s a very important part of it in financial literacy. And quite honestly, one of the most important things we’re doing here in the City of Detroit, the pandemic shined an unfortunate light, Vince, that if you remember the height of the pandemic and Detroit at the time only, this is unfathomable, only 40% of Detroit residents have internet access. And if you think about how that affects children, adults for job search and everybody from 585 for Telemed. And so, one of the things that is part of for more than profit philosophy here in Detroit, I’m proud to say, is now we’re up to 70% digital inclusivity in the City of Detroit. And that’s one of the key initiatives that we have here at Rocket Companies is how to bring internet access to the urban cores and it’s just helping rise all the ships. So that’s a long way around of there are many programs that its core to who we are. It’s helping the community, but also clients that help them get ready, if you will, if they’re not in a position to be ready to help achieve their dream of being a homeowner.

Vince: That’s amazing. I love hearing that. And again, I love the focus on Detroit and the United States. I love that. That’s great. And you’re right. How do people schooling during those times when you don’t have internet access, if you can’t. It’s virtual, which is tough to begin with. And now-

Casey Hurbis: That was an unfortunate spotlight that Detroit was not… It was not exclusive to Detroit. You saw that all around the country, particularly with children that had to go home, and they didn’t have internet access or they didn’t have hardware. It’s not just internet access, but it’s also hardware, it’s also having digital literacy. To me, that’s a good thing that has come out of the pandemic, is it really fast forwarded a lot of planning and effort and investment in cities across this country that were woefully behind with having digital inclusivity.

Vince: Yeah. Exactly. Some lighter questions, Casey. On the personal side, so this isthe question that people love the most on The Marketing Stir. People come up to me all the time and said, ” This is great. I teach my salespeople this now.” I’m like, ” Oh, okay.” You’re a CMO, a major company. LinkedIn, you probably get so many unsolicited messages to get your attention. What is one that actually gets your attention and what is one that you just hate or more than one that you just hate out there?

Casey Hurbis: Yeah, my wife will tell you and my assistant will tell you, I’m overactive when it comes to social media. I’m more of a mid- adopter, but I enjoy it. I use Facebook more personally and Instagram more from a personal standpoint.

Vincent Pietrafesa:

Casey Hurbis: I love LinkedIn. People ask me all the time, ” Why do you spend so much time on LinkedIn?” And I go, ” Well, one is, it’s the Rolodex that you and I grew up with.” I still have a shoebox of hundreds of business cards. One of these days I’ll figure out what to do with it. But I’ve always used, that’s my virtual Rolodex. But man, I learned so much on LinkedIn and I love engaging and I love doing storytelling. I love sharing who I am and what I’m blessed enough to do here at Rocket in the LinkedIn community. But man, I get a lot of messages. Make no mistake. I go through them two, three times a day. What grabs your attention? What grabs your attention are those that you can tell they’ve spent the time to understand who you are. They’ve researched the company or they understand the brand and they’re trying to bring forth an idea, a thought, a case study or something that is very relatable to your brand or your company. The ones that make my eyes roll in the back of my head are the ones that say, ” It looks like, according to my blah blah blah, you may be the in charge of market,” whatever. And it’s like, ” If not, can you please point me toward… ” It’s very spammy.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah.

Casey Hurbis: But I engage quite a bit. I don’t answer every email. I try or I’ll pick up things or I’ll inquire, I’ll pass them onto teams, a functional area of like, ” Hey, check this out. I saw this really cool way of content development.” Or, ” Hey, have you seen this?” Whatever it might be.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah.

Casey Hurbis: And I get hit up a lot, but I use a lot too. People laugh, but when we’re in the Super Bowl every year or when we have in the past, I LinkedIn bomb in that I figure out who’s in the Super Bowl. Let’s say there’s 65 advertisers. And if I know some people great, through conferences or what have you, but I literally send emails to CMOs all over the country because I’m like, ” Hey, I see you’re with whatever, Dunking Donuts, and we’re going to be in the game. You’re in the game. Hey, you want to do some banter the day of? I saw your spot release, I’ll show you mine.” We don’t release ours. So I use it a lot to network and to bounce ideas off of it. I’m fortunate that via conferences or doing these types of things, I’ve got to know other CMOs. I just had dinner last night with a Cadillac CMO, of which we just talked, two marketers just talking about wins, losses, pain points and bouncing ideas off of each other. And forums like LinkedIn and stuff that are a great opportunity. But yeah, people laugh, the stuff you can get.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I know.

Casey Hurbis: What do people tell you? I’m curious, what is the most common thing your guests say on LinkedIn?

Vincent Pietrafesa: The common thing, no one… Here’s something they’d never say, Casey. They’re like, ” Oh, just send me 12 messages and I’ll respond.” You keep sending me that email saying, ” A, you don’t want to talk, B, you’re busy.” The more personalized, everyone says that. Me, I always give my opinion because some people are like, ” Well, what’s yours?” I’m like, ” Well, I don’t like when it’s different fonts.” Hi Vincent. And then it’s a different… I’m like, ” Come on man.” Or get my name right. You don’t have to get my last name right.

Casey Hurbis: Yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s Pietrafesa. I get it. But get Vincent right. Don’t call me Peter. Don’t mess up my name.

Casey Hurbis: No. My favorite is when I get ones that don’t have my name, I don’t know why, I’ll reply, I’m like, ” Who the hell’s Peter? And tell him to stop.” I’ll do something really funny just to see if I get a response, because I know someone’s embarrassed or mortified or it’s some Salesforce or CRM tool that kicks it out.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. So it’s like it implements. I know, sometimes-

Casey Hurbis: Yeah. I’m like, ” Fix your tool.”

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, it’s like, ” Hi Vincent, VP of product.” I’m like, ” What? Wait, who?” No one talks like that. No one puts my title in a conversation. That would be crazy. So Casey, what about hobbies? I know you’re being sports fan. Love Detroit.

Casey Hurbis: Yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I think Detroit Lions are on the up and coming. They beat the Giants this year. I was very mad at that.

Casey Hurbis: Yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I’m a big fan of the Giants.

Casey Hurbis: And the Jets.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, I’m not mad at that.

Casey Hurbis: Jets, and Lions.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I’m not mad at that at all. But what do you like to do in your spare time? Some hobbies.

Casey Hurbis: I’m a big sports guy as you mentioned, and my kids got a 16- year- old and a 12- year- old, and the 16- year- old is too cool for school with me. And so now I hang with my 12- year- old primarily. And thankfully it’s been just last couple of years, I’ve been able to turn him into a sports guy, thank God, because I was starting to go to things by myself. And so we love traveling and going to sporting events. I’m a father of two teenage kids, so family and spending time with them is very important to me. And what personal things? So I’m 51 years old and I’ve gone through my waves of things. I’m really starting to play a ton of paddle tennis, which is great for old dudes like me, there’s not as much running north and south, east and west. Michigan here you get about three good months of golf. And so I broke out the sticks this weekend and I’ll play once a week, maybe on weekends. There’s nothing better than four hours with friends or people to get to just spend some quality time. But quite honestly, I’m fortunate. I’m blessed enough to be married for 24 years and have two great kids and I really just enjoy spending time with my family. I work hard, work long hours, but that’s where those times together are important.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, no, I love hearing that. I echo that. I have two boys. I don’t know if you said boy, you said one son.

Casey Hurbis: A girl and a boy. Yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I have two kids, two little boys and they keep me busy. I have a six and a three- year- old and live in New York City and I do the same. You work hard, long hours, but you enjoy your time with them and starting to do the whole sporting events with them. Until a few years, Casey, then they tell me they’re not interested in any of it anymore.

Casey Hurbis: Yeah, you got about six years left with the one, once they hit about 12 or 13. My daughter, she’s, well, 17 now, and we primarily communicate through a door or text message.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, I know I also have that. Right now, what I do is, I probably shouldn’t do this, I’ll tell my oldest, I was like, ” Oh, you don’t want to come with me, I’ll just take Hayden with me.” He’s like, ” No, no, no, no.”

Casey Hurbis: That only works for a little bit, and then they don’t care.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Then they’re like, “Fine, take them. I don’t care. I’ll go with my friends.” I’m like, ” What?” Yeah.

Casey Hurbis: Yeah, I know. Yeah, it’s tough.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Casey, last question that I’d love to ask you in particular, what do you think makes a great leader?

Casey Hurbis: I talked a little bit about it earlier, and this is the world according to Casey, and you could talk to people that have been led by me or have witnessed my leadership and could refute it or give you a counterpoint. I believe, I’m a big observer in that I love watching a room. I like watching people operate. I’ve felt like I’ve been very fortunate. I was talking about this the other day, mentorship. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’ve never once gone up to a human and said, ” Vince, will you be my mentor?” I was talking to college kids about this and they’re like, ” Oh, mentorship.” I’m like, ” Yes, it’s very important and you will have a mentor your whole life.” But I’ve never asked one human to be my mentor, either when younger in my career, I would watch senior leadership and they were my mentor. They didn’t know it, but I was observing them and da da da. And I’ve seen some great ones and I’ve seen some really shitty ones. We all are around leaders that are very good, very bad, or in the middle. And so I believe over the years I became a leader at a young age. I was 27 years old, I was a vice president at the agency, and I was leading people that were older than me and in some cases had been in business longer than I had been alive. That was a humbling experience, all of a sudden leading 10, 15 people that were older and in some cases 30 years of experience.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Wow.

Casey Hurbis: That was humbling to start with. And I really believe over the years, my leadership style continues to evolve. I believe in being humble. I believe in being a servant leader in that I believe the role of a leader is to be the best coach, teacher, leader, feedback giver, listener, and not be afraid to tell your friends or a colleague or someone that works for you or even your leader that he, she or they have food on their face. And be honest. And even, the other thing too is where also I’ve found myself evolving are with different generations. I remember when I was the Gen X guy and the boomers thought the end of the world was coming around because the Gen Xers were running around and now I’m that guy. Now I’m the Gen X looking at…

Vincent Pietrafesa: Me too.

Casey Hurbis: …not the millennials, but the Ys and the Zs and what’s after that. And my leadership style has had to evolve because how I lead necessarily, it doesn’t always relate. It may not be relatable to the younger generation. And so how can I best relate to them? Because what motivates you might not motivate a 25- year- old that’s two years out of school and he, she, or they are trying to find their footing in a company or a culture. And so I learn a lot from the younger generations. I want to learn how, do you want to be led? How do you want to be interacted with? How do you want to receive feedback? Those times have changed. And I believe if as a leader, if you don’t evolve and if you don’t constantly try and evolve and change or take the feedback to adjust your leadership, you got to be careful.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s great advice, Casey. Yeah, no, I’m a Gen Xer myself and now that I had take on a bigger leadership role here at Stirista, yeah, it’s trying to relate to different people. I feel like there’s people who are older than me, a different generation here. There’s millennials, Gen Z, and then I go home and then I talk to a six and a three year. Yeah, it’s just relating. I love the advice. We love talking to you, Casey. Thank you so much for spending some time with us here at Stirista and The Marketing Stir. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s Casey Hurbis. He’s the chief marketing officer at Rocket Mortgage. Check out Rocket Mortgage, you know who they are, of the Rocket companies. I’m Vincent Pietrafesa, Ajay’s in Boston. He’ll be back. This has been an episode of The Marketing Stir. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll talk soon.

Vin Lapsley: Thanks for listening to The Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista. Please like, rate and subscribe. If you’re interested in being a guest on the podcast, please email us at and thanks for listening.

Listen to the Marketing Stir Podcast with Casey Hurbis