She’s Her Own CEO® Guest Interview: Marianna Morello, NYC Advertising Executive

She’s Her Own CEO® Guest Interview: Marianna Morello, NYC Advertising Executive

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 SHOCEO® Reading for Success: Five (5) Minutes.


For this edition of the She’s Her Own CEO Guest Interview, we are excited to introduce the CEO of Manhattan Media Services, Inc., Marianna Morello!

Marianna is a marketing and advertising executive and entrepreneur with over three decades of experience.  Upon founding her own advertising agency some 22 years ago, Marianna initially focused on print advertising and became the unrivaled leader in the category, delivering unprecedented ROI for blue chip brands as well as direct marketers.  Based upon this success and the trust she has built over the years, Marianna and her team have branched out into digital and social media, out-of-home advertising and broadcast television and radio commercials.

Today Manhattan Media manages fully integrated campaigns and collaborates with clients and their internal resources.  This has resulted in a broad spectrum of clients that range from established brands, product marketers, and start-ups.



Kathryn Brooks, She’s Her Own CEO®:  Hi Marianna, it is such an honor to hear about your career achievements and perspectives.  What are the educational and career experiences that have made you into the fabulous and successful CEO that you are today?

Marianna Morello, Manhattan Media Services: I am a recognized marketing industry thought leader and have served on the Electronic Retailer magazine advisory board and have written for trade journals that have included Response magazine, DM News, and Electronic Retailer magazine.

In addition, I was featured in author Steven Dworman’s book, $12 Billion of Inside Marketing Secrets, as well as Timothy Ferriss’s Wall Street Journal Bestseller, The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.  I still get press inquiries about my quotes in Tim’s book to this day!  I have also presented at numerous industry conferences and has been featured on the cover of Response magazine.  In 2015 I was inducted into the Direct Response Hall of Fame.


Kathryn Brooks, She’s Her Own CEO®:  You are a successful advertising entrepreneur.  Please take us “behind-the-scenes”.  Tell us your favorite example of how you Lead, Provide, and Create in your professional and/or personal world!

Marianna Morello, Manhattan Media Services:  I am blessed to be honored this June by FOLIO Magazine as an Industry Trailblazer: a woman who has had an exceptional impact on the direction of her industry in ways that are measurable beyond just her own company.

In 23 years, I was able to conceptualize and establish my advertising agency from my kitchen table, and then grow into one of the leading companies of the industry.  My company serves an extensive portfolio of clients such as Tito’s Vodka, Bosley and Naturade.  We have managed 2,882 campaigns representing over $2.1 billion in direct sales and have placed over 10,000 pages of print advertising.

It is amazing to think that I started Manhattan Media Services, Inc. 23 years ago.  Prior to that I led a print agency where we put ads into magazines and newspapers.  Everything changed in our DR (Direct Response) and marketing world once the dot com era hit in 1999.  My views on everything in marketing and DR shifted during the late 1990s.

From there, we quickly moved into internet and social media.  We now have an entire division of our company focused on social media and virtual sales, led by my son.  OOH (out-of-home) marketing also came into prominence at that time.  It is still very effective, and includes taxi tops, the Microsoft cube at Times Square 11, and bus kiosks.

I have constantly changed and evolved my business.  I remember feeling like a trailblazer in the industry during my many conversations with publishers in the late 1990s convincing them about the importance of digital.  I can’t count the number of hurdles we had to overcome by pitching this new way of marketing.

I create products for my clients using my Integrated Media Schedule.  One dimension of marketing doesn’t work anymore – it has to be multi-dimensional to be effective.  The same synergistic message that is communicated via print + digital +TV…that is what resonates and what works.

I am excited about every new client that walks through the door.  I think immediately about how we’re going to position and sell their product.  No client is too small or too large.

People wonder how I keep up my enthusiasm.  I have a “fire in my belly” that never gives up.  If you have it – never let it go!


Kathryn Brooks, She’s Her Own CEO®: Tell us how you Lead, Provide, and Create in your professional and/or personal world!

Marianna Morello, Manhattan Media Services:  Believe in yourself first and foremost.  “I can, I will.  I will get this accomplished.”  Maintaining this attitude helps others around you to believe in you as a leader as well as in the project itself.


Kathryn Brooks, She’s Her Own CEO®:  Being the CEO of your world can take many forms (for example, volunteering in your community, holding a formal corporate position, engaging in creative pursuits, or being a reliable mom/sister/daughter).  In your opinion, what is the best way to achieve success and to become the boss of your world?

Marianna Morello, Manhattan Media Services Speaking of trailblazing, I was always impressed by the marketing industry being on the forefront of opening its doors to women…and accepting them as leaders.  I started my career at another firm, and always felt like the leader of my career.

The most impactful mentorship in my career really inspired me to create my own business.  David Geller was a Cornell lawyer who got into the publishing/DR business by way of the National Enquirer.  Under his guidance, I took a temporary position to fill in for a woman on maternity leave.  During this time, David saw my enthusiasm, talent for selling advertising, and commitment to the job.  At that point, I still had thoughts of becoming a psychologist.  David opened my eyes to my talents and steered me away from psychology.

When I opened my business, he was super proud of me.  He was like the godfather…if you got a blessing from him, you were extremely lucky.  I got that blessing and I felt blessed.  He welcomed me to the business with open arms and encouraged me as my mentor.

I have lead a boutique agency since 1995.  When I am approached by a new client, I bring them in with those same open arms.  I talk to my team, bring them together, enlist their individual collective strengths, and we do what we need to do to help our clients using an integrated approach.

My team is close-knit, with little-to-no turnover.  They like what they do, and I treat them like family.  Though several members work virtually, we are close as a team both inside and outside of the business.  Unlike a large firm, we get things done immediately.  Our clients don’t have time to wait around and neither do we.  This is the beauty of leading a boutique agency!

Over the last twenty years, our firm has physically moved among very high-profile addresses in Manhattan.  We started on Fifth Avenue, moved to Madison Avenue, and we’re now on Avenue of the Americas.  The advent of virtual working has changed the dynamic and pace of our business, but not the quality results we deliver to our clients!


Kathryn Brooks, She’s Her Own CEO®:  Any additional advice you can share with motivated, aspirational ladies?

Marianna Morello, Manhattan Media Services:  Love what you do.  If you love it, it’s not work.  It will show in your work product, the way you present yourself, and in the end result.  If you do it well, you see the success.  Instead of being bogged down during the process, you’re excited about it.


Kathryn Brooks, She’s Her Own CEO®:  Thank you, Marianna, for sharing your insights.  Your impact on the marketing world and New York City is apparent, and this interview should be required reading for any aspiring marketer.


Do you have a mentor that changed the direction of your career?  Subscribe to the blog and share your thoughts below!

xo Kathryn


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