Carrie Martz: Learning from Challenges

by Alison Stanton

Carrie-MartzAs Carrie Martz, chief executive officer of Martz Parsons, has learned first-hand over the years, there is not one main ingredient to becoming successful in a highly competitive field. Instead, she notes, building up her full-service and integrated marketing, advertising and public relations agency to where it is today has required a combination of approaches, combined with a willingness to learn from various lessons along the way.

Martz, who opened her original Martz Agency back in 1980, says her company was acquired in mid-October by MP Agency, L.L.C., an organization owned by GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons. Martz says she and Parsons both share a common passion for treating their clients as Number One. “What created a strong synergy between me and Bob was that my basic philosophy has always been to listen to my clients and deliver great service at fair prices,” she says. “If you do this, they will become clients for life and will refer us to others. This is Bob’s philosophy, too.”

One of the other things Martz has done to help her company succeed is to be very involved in community causes. Over the years, she has served on a wide variety of boards and nonprofit committees. “The agency also supported this cause by doing a lot of pro bono work. Community giving is a ‘feel good’ part of what we do, and I also feel it is what any business — small or large — should build into their DNA.” Giving back to the community and providing the pro bono work also introduced her to a lot of larger business owners, which, in turn, allowed her to get her foot in the door with the companies. “They saw our work ethic, and that gave us the opportunities to work for them.”

Martz also cites joining the Transworld Advertising Agency Network as being a crucial part of her agency’s overall success. Thirty independently owned agencies from around the country would meet two times a year for “very intensive” three-day meetings, Martz recalls, adding that she was the only member from Arizona. “What the meetings allowed me to do was share some of the bigger concerns that I had about my business with others, like handling staff issues, or trends in advertising law. We all learned so much from the speakers, and from talking with each other about what we’re experiencing. I was the only woman in the group, so it was like having 30 big brothers watching over me and guiding me in that growth.”

As for challenges, Martz says she has learned the hard way — twice — not to buy a building for her company, but rather to be content with leasing. “I should not own buildings. In 1996, I said it, but I didn’t learn my lesson and so I did it again in 2006, at the height of the real estate market. I’m always challenged in regards to growth and getting the right size building,” she says, relating she misjudged her space needs but was stuck with what she had purchased. “Both times it has been catastrophic for me.”

Another lesson that Martz says she has worked hard to learn is to not overwork her team while trying to grow her business. Although she would constantly work to pitch new business, she felt she could not afford to hire new people until the new clients were on board. “Not burning people out has been a big challenge for me, so I ended taking a lot more work on myself. I have an incredible amount of energy, and I will never ask someone to do something that I will not do myself.” But she adds, “This was not a good long-term solution.”

When Martz’s company was acquired by Parsons, learning his core philosophy was “music to my ears and to my team’s ears,” she says. “His MO is to expand with people before you need them. That way, people come to work with fresh minds, and fresh minds do great work. Bob is giving us opportunities to hire before we need them, and hire the most skillful people that we will keep, and that will be well-rested.”

Martz is optimistic that Martz Parsons will continue to evolve. She expects huge opportunities for growth within the next three years, and she hopes the agency will be known as one of the best places to work in the Southwest. “Business will come to us, if we have right people in place.”

Carrie Martz: Quick Facts

  • Martz formerly served on the boards of Childhelp USA; Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation; and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Arizona Chapter (its advisory board). She was a board member with Phoenix Suns Charities for 20 years.
  • Martz has also served on the advisory board for Citizenship Counts, founded by Gerda Weissman Klein and her granddaughter, which is dedicated to teaching youth the tenets of citizenship and encouraging them to appreciate their rights, responsibilities and opportunities as Americans.
  • Some of Martz Parsons clients include yurbuds, Pacific Links International, YMCA, OneNeck IT, Fennemore Craig and Olympia Group.
  • Martz graduated from Arizona State University with a B.S. in Marketing.
  • One of Martz’s more innovative projects is the Home of Miracles program. Considered one of Arizona’s most successful charitable events, it raised more than $7.5 million in its last six programs for Phoenix Children’s Hospital and various other local charities.

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