As the newly named president of Performance Marketing, Sarah Miller is helping her team prepare for another new shift at work. 

Miller is a partner in the marketing technologies collective Anthologic, which umbrellas Performance Marketing, Shift Interactive, Blue Traffic and Vector Haus. Anthologic companies have remained fully remote since the COVID-19 pandemic’s start. This fall, she and other leaders will guide the team into a hybrid work model with brand-new office space -- moving from West Des Moines into the East Village, beginning in September. The new office is designed for team collaborations, with anywhere from 30 to 75 staff members expected to stop by on a given day, Miller said. 

Ensuring her team is well cared for during yet another transition is Miller’s priority. 

“How do we keep everybody connected and keep everyone feeling seen and heard and known? This is a challenge that every employer is facing, and we collectively, as human beings, are facing -- combating this isolation that separates people literally and physically, in every way,” she said. 

Miller has a 30-year career in account management for marketing agencies and previously held roles at CMF&Z, Relationship Marketing and Meredith Xcelerated Marketing. She joined Performance Marketing in 2016 as the director of account service. 

“So much of our work for our clients in Performance Marketing crosses into the other companies of the collective,” Miller said. “We need to cooperate and collaborate, and work together to deliver solutions to our clients in a very seamless way so it doesn’t feel like they’re working with two or three or four companies.” 

As a partner in Anthologic and president at Performance Marketing, how do those two roles work together for you? 

I think now with a larger role in the leadership of Performance Marketing, I’ll have a bigger responsibility to make sure that Performance Marketing is represented at the seats of the table within Anthologic’s partnership. We have solidified leadership in all of the companies of our collective. … So that group is going to start functioning as sort of representatives of all the companies of the collective. My role in Anthologic is about operations across all of those -- how the collective companies work together. 

How has working with clients on marketing campaigns changed throughout the pandemic recovery? 

To a great extent, things feel like they are back to normal. We have a lot of clients that are returning to work in their offices. We’re in a full-time hybrid model -- we’re open to meeting with clients in person again as they are comfortable with that. A lot of things are still being done over Zoom, but it feels like a return to a “new normal.” 

Last year, we were really scrambling to figure out solutions to things that had to be done in person, like trade shows. We have a lot of clients who are very active in the trade show space, so we very quickly stood up some solutions for virtual options for connecting brands with customers to find out about new products. … I think the new normal is going to involve some elements of the virtual world that people found they really liked. 

Clients are back to that mindset of planning ahead. We’ve learned a lot about how to be flexible and nimble when something we’re not expecting is awaiting us around the corner, but still value the old-fashioned, let’s-be-strategic [planning]. 

What goals do you have for this next year? 

One of the things I need to be most focused on is our people, and our ability to continue recruiting and retaining the level of talent that we have. We’ve got some amazing folks that have been with Performance Marketing almost since the beginning. We just literally wouldn’t be who we are today without them, and they’re so important to what this company has grown into and who we are today. 

The people we’ve recruited in the last couple of years have mind-blowing talent, and it has been so fun to see them integrate in with the old-timers. … We’re nothing without our people. They’re literally what drives the engine of our business, and retaining this amazing pool of talent is so important to me. 

Continuing to be in touch with our employees, get to know individuals I haven’t worked with on a one-on-one basis before. Find out how everybody’s feeling -- retaining people through this pandemic has been a challenge for all businesses. I just read an article about the “great resignation” -- people are deciding that maybe they want to do something different with life, and we know we’re not immune to that. I’m focusing on making Performance Marketing a very rewarding place to work in every way, a safe space, a space where people can grow and be challenged, and have the best colleagues and co-workers around. 

What are some of the growing trends in marketing that are new opportunities? 

One of the biggest challenges our clients are facing is just connecting all of the dots. Everyone is painfully aware of the proliferation of channels that our audiences have available to them. I think there is a lot of marketing technology infrastructure that clients are very overwhelmed by and don’t know how to connect. However, their audience or customers want to interface with them as they hop and skip from channel to channel. 

There is a very consistent and connected experience for them. That’s hard to pull off, and it requires a kind of a technology infrastructure to bring that all together so that a person is recognized and known, and treated like the insider that they are with the brand. That’s where a lot of our growth will continue to come from, is our marketing automation expertise, the use of data and analytics to make decisions about what’s working, what’s not working, what should we do more of, what should we do less of, and how to help our clients continue to connect all these channels, and make their audiences more recognized and more relevantly spoken to through use of that technology. 

What have you been reading/watching/listening to? 

It seems like you cannot peruse a news source these days without reading about pandemic-related isolation, exhaustion, fatigue -- that sort of general, collective sucking of our energy that has affected everybody in the last year-plus. For me, [I’m thinking] about getting excited about our return to the office and thinking about how we can keep our employees feeling engaged, cared for and connected when we know that they’re feeling isolated and exhausted. We all are.