Nick Westergaard

By Nick Westergaard on May 6, 2019

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Mapping a Customer-First Journey with Nancie McDonnell Ruder

nancie mcdowell ruder on brand

“Leading with the who is something people want to jump right past.” No, my guest this week wasn’t talking about the band The Who. We were talking about why it’s so important to start with the customer—the who—in mind. This seems easy enough and yet … I discussed being a generalist, naming, and customer-journey mapping with Nancie McDonnell Ruder, founder of Noetic Consultants, this week on the On Brand podcast.

Enjoy This Episode Now

About Nancie McDonnell Ruder

Nancie McDonnell Ruder’s 25-year career began at the Leo Burnett Company where she worked in account management and strategy for Procter & Gamble, Eli Lilly, The Gap, Lexmark Computers and Hoerchst Marion Rousseau. In 2002, Nancie founded Noetic Consultants with the goal of becoming an effective extension of her clients’ teams. The word “noetic” is related to one’s intellect and thinking. Nancie chose this name for the company because it reflects her team’s commitment to helping clients strategically think through their challenges so that, together, they can take the actions necessary to get to the best possible outcomes.

Noetic’s clients have included Samsung, PepsiCo, Nike, Marriott, Mayo Clinic and Discovery, Inc. She is also the author of Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science, and the creator of the Noetic Art & Science Assessment ™.

Nancie is actively involved in many industry, education and community endeavors:

  • 2018 Enterprising Women Champion: an international award for female entrepreneurs whose fast-growth companies also invest in significant community efforts
  • Speaker at the 2016 and 2017 4A’s Strat Fest
  • Adjunct professor at Georgetown University (my undergraduate alma mater) teaching Marketing Strategy
  • Member of DC Chapter of the Women’s Presidents Organization
  • Advisory Board member of Accelerent, a business development consortium designed to serve the business community and Enterprising Women Organization

Episode Highlights

What does Jack and Jill have to do with marketing? Nancie used this classic storytelling framework to tell stories on how marketers succeed today. She also used it to address the common misconception “jack of all trades, master of none.”

“Today it’s important to be a generalist.” This runs counter intuitive as many—especially in the agency world—are told to specialize. That doesn’t matter as much as being a good leader and, as Nancie notes, deciding “who you assemble on your team.”

What are the biggest things most marketers and marketing students miss? As an educator at Georgetown and ANA workshop leader, I couldn’t wait to ask Nancie this. “Starting with the customer in mind.” How can we do better at this? “I’m a big believer in the Who, What, How Framework. We also do a lot of customer journey experience mapping.”

What brand has made Nancie smile recently? Nancie pointed us to Casper Mattresses. They have a “make-you-smile voice” that reinforces our “love affair with sleep.”

To learn more, follow Nancie on LinkedIn and Twitter and check out her marketing book Jack and Jill Went Up a Hill on Amazon.

As We Wrap …

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

On Brand is sponsored by my new book Brand NowDiscover the seven dynamics to help your brand stand out in our crowded, distracted world. Order now and get special digital extras. Learn more.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!



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Nick Westergaard
Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.


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