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Alison McCoy has been recognized as a 2024 Marketer To Watch for her innovative work as the Vice President of Brand Marketing, Creative Studio & Market Research at NerdWallet. In her role, she oversees the advertising creative, media buying, sponsorships, product marketing, creative development, creative production, and market research/consumer insights—helping consumers and small business owners confidently make financial decisions.  She has been with NerdWallet for over 7 years, and prior to that worked on Integrated Marketing for Gymboree Corp. and in the Brand Marketing practice at Ketchum, supporting clients like ABSOLUT Vodka, Doritos, Cheetos, and Lay’s.  Continue reading her interview to learn about her predictions on the future of marketing, her latest work at NerdWallet, and her best career and leadership advice.

Caucasian woman with brunette hair, smiling with black blouse and necklace against gray background.

What gives me joy outside of work

Being in nature with my family—hikes, beach days, traveling to discover new places, or even just an afternoon playing with my kids in our backyard.

Every marketer should read...

I recommend “The Long and Short of It” and “How Brands Grow” as foundational reads for anyone who joins my team.

Future of Marketing

Q: What’s one thing coming down the marketing pike you are most excited about?

Marketing measurement technology is rapidly improving every year, giving us access to insights we’ve simply never had before. We have new partnerships with measurement tech solutions that are completely changing the way we approach media investment—both for the short—and long-term impacts it has on our business.  

Q: What widely accepted “marketing truth” or concept do you wish the industry would do away with or evolve? 

I’m done with the brand marketing vs. performance marketing debate.  It’s both for me.  Marketing=growth.  When done well, both performance and brand marketing can fuel incredible growth—short and long-term—and you really can’t have one scale without the other.   

Q: What’s a prediction you have for Brand Marketing over the next few years?

I’m optimistic that AI will increasingly play a powerful role in marketing—especially in performance marketing, product marketing, and CRM. While AI can and should help brand marketers move more quickly, it will be difficult for it to replace some of the core skill sets that make a brand marketer great: consumer empathy, brand empathy, and understanding cultural nuance.  I’m excited to see brand marketing grow as an even more critical skill set for that reason.  

Brand Marketing at NerdWallet

Q: What’s something exciting you’re currently working on at NerdWallet?  

I’m so excited about the new brand campaign we launched this year, called “Don’t Make Future You Hate You.” According to research conducted by NerdWallet, consumers leave an estimated $55 billion on the table each year due to choosing suboptimal financial products. We want to create urgency around this insight, so we took a bold swing to make sure the message sticks. Knowing that the feeling of loss can be two times more powerful than the pleasure of gaining, our charming cast (featuring the future versions of you and me from 2074!) delivers a melody of tough love. Their advice: “Don’t Make Future You Hate You! Start making smarter financial decisions with NerdWallet today.” We’re continuing to build on the success of this campaign and are very excited about the progress to date.    

Future You | NerdWallet Commercial

Career and Leadership Advice

Q: What leadership muscle is most important for marketers to exercise?

Curiosity is the top quality I look for in new members of our Marketing team. The human condition is constantly evolving, and so we need to constantly evolve the ways we try to meet consumers where they are. If we aren’t taking risks, we aren’t growing, so I really encourage my team to stay curious about what is working and what is not and to be just as excited about the failures as the wins.   

Q: What’s the most game-changing career advice youve received?

That feedback is a gift.  Once I stopped looking at feedback as criticism and more as a chance to improve, I welcomed it with more open arms. I find myself more eager to hear what’s not working because I’m confident that once I know the problem, I can find the solution.   

Marketers to Watch is a recognition series to spotlight highly innovative and forward-thinking marketing leaders in the community. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for the series, apply here.