Sarah Zalewski jokes that her husband thinks that all she does is attend Microsoft Teams meetings all day, but as a field marketing director, she and her awesome team offer support and implement marketing programs for agents throughout the St. Louis, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Central Pennsylvania areas – so yeah, that’s a lot of meetings!
She’s driven by her love of helping people – as evidenced by her previous service-based experience at the National Association of REALTORS®, among others – and you get the sense that despite her busy schedule, Sarah still takes time to make you feel heard and appreciated.
Read on to learn more about one of Coldwell Banker Realty’s outstanding field marketing directors!
Your previous experience includes working in multiple roles for the National Association of REALTORS®, with your last position there being marketing manager. How did your experience there shape or prepare you for your current role as field marketing director?
I am so grateful for my time at NAR and with other non-profits because it allowed me to really see marketing support from a variety of different lenses. In marketing, we have so many audiences to consider: the sales associate, the consumer, leadership and our company (or in that case the membership organization). Having that experience, from day-to-day interactions with REALTORS® on the member service side and supporting trade shows for larger brokerages or planning large-scale conferences, allowed me to shape a service-based mindset that I think really helps me in my current role with Coldwell Banker Realty.
I think we’re better in our role as marketers if we can answer the ‘why’ and the ‘what’s in it for the agents’ questions, because agents have a choice in what organization they choose to affiliate with. It’s just like a membership organization – agents opt in, they’re not employees and we can’t just tell them what to do. So the more we listen and deliver on what agents want and need and the more we can show them our value and support, the more we can make their experiences better.
Walk me through what an average day is like for you.
I’m up early. Or late. Well, both because we have a 5-month-old so that’s just life right now! My typical day consists of supporting the needs of my awesome field marketing teams in St. Louis, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Central Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, meeting with my field marketing managers to discuss the various projects or initiatives we have to deliver on, supporting local leadership and connecting with my colleagues within The Studio. Or as my husband would tell you, I talk on Teams meetings all day!
I will say, if there’s one thing I’m grateful for from the past year, it’s the ability to spend less time commuting and more time with my family. Even though we work around the clock sometimes, I feel like I’ve been given bonus time with my family and I am so grateful to work for a company that’s been so flexible and agile over the past year.
Can you tell me about a recent project or initiative that you’re proud of, or enjoyed?
It’s tough to pick just one but if we’re going with a recent project, I’d have to say my involvement with the task force that developed our #CBGoodNews campaign. In a time when it seemed like the only news we heard was negative, we were able to fill social feeds with acts of kindness, stories of generosity and success within Coldwell Banker.
Our agents have always been the pillars of their community and in times of crisis they often step up and do really amazing things. So we developed the hashtag #CBGoodNews and created a form for agents, admins, branch managers – really, anyone – to submit these wonderful stories, and then we created social assets for it. And during a period when we were completely isolated from one another, we were able to develop a way to connect sales associates and employees and showcase just how important each of them are to their communities.
What’s something you wish more people knew about what you – or field marketing professionals in general – do?
That we got into this because at the end of the day, we love nothing more than helping people. I joke that we are the divorce lawyers of the marketing team because we’re always trying to find the best compromise, so each group is happy. Whether it’s with our local field marketing teams who are so critical in their support of our agent value proposition, to The Studio and our leadership teams, we always strive to see all sides of a project or situation so that everyone is happy. I know it sounds cliché but I think my colleagues would agree, our main goal any given day is to help as many people as we can.
What are you happiest doing when you’re not working?
I miss hugging people, something that sounds weird in an almost post-COVID world. We have two young daughters (3-year-old Emma and 5-month-old Claire) so when I’m not working, I’m usually leveraging my best compromise techniques to convince a toddler that she can in fact show her sister she loves her without squeezing or poking her too much.