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When Melanie Allen graduated from IUPUI in 2008, she had plans to move to Chicago to start her professional career with her new communications degree. Then, one week before graduation, she met her now-husband and decided to remain in the Circle City a little bit longer.
“I thought, this guy is pretty okay,” Allen says. “I think I’m going to stick around a little bit and see what happens here, and I have stayed put ever since. I’m absolutely crazy about Indianapolis.”
Allen has been an Indianapolis resident for 17 years and has a wealth of marketing experience under her belt. This year she celebrated four years of working for and owning Green Loop Marketing, a boutique marketing agency that specializes in getting local businesses noticed. She serves as its co-founder and CEO, and built it from the ground up with her co-founder, Meghan Martin. In her spare time, she also serves as the director of communications for Creative Mornings, which is a global lecture series based out of New York City with a chapter located in Indy.
“In a time where many of us are aching for connection outside of work meetings and those we live with, Creative Mornings has been a home for great, engaging conversations and sharing diverse voices,” she says. “I’m so lucky to be a part of it.”
We caught up with Allen and got the full scoop on owning your own marketing business, how to dig yourself out of a creative slump, and what local coffee shop we should be trying out.
Maven superpower: Showing up. I have a reputation in my friend group for being the friend that will support you on your worst day and celebrate you on your best day, and that’s something that I really pride myself on.
Tell us about your business, Green Loop Marketing.
I met my business partner about six years ago, and we really hit it off and kind of have different strengths that really compliment each other. So we decided to start our own agency and have been rocking and rolling ever since. It’s a lot of fun. There’s never a dull moment when you are managing clients. I like to tell people that I don’t have a boss. I’m my own boss but at the same time, I have 10 other bosses because all of my clients are bosses, in a way.
What’s the best marketing advice that you have?
I think right now there’s a lot of excitement around AI and automation. I think technology and progress are really important, but it’s paramount to not lose sight of the fact that you are a person talking to other people. And so, the way that you write and the way that you talk and record podcasts and webinars and things like that, you have to remember that there are human people on the other side of that, consuming what you’re putting together. My biggest advice is to create content that is for people — not for algorithms, not for search engines, but for people. It takes a little bit longer, it takes a little bit more time and more strategy, but you will be successful more often than not.
What are the characteristics of a good marketer?
Someone who is willing to be curious and have fun. I find that the most inspiring and engaging marketers I know, there’s a lot less ego because they’re less focused on their own idea and more focused on the best idea. They want to hear from other people on the team and bounce ideas off of friends and really anyone who’ll listen because they’re always digging for something great and the best idea possible. If you want to be a good marketer, I say you’ve got to be willing to put that ego aside and just dig in and be fearless.
How do you get yourself out of a creative slump?
I think in the last year and a half that we’ve been in this pandemic, people are finding themselves in slumps a lot more often than they did before. So, a couple of things I like to do are walk away from it for a half-hour or for the day. I just walk away from it for a while and start doing something different. And you are going to gain some clarity, a little bit of direction. You’re going to be able to come to it with fresh eyes. So, I think taking space away from something when you’re stuck is always going to be helpful. I also really like reading fiction, things that are not related to my job at all. I find that it kind of stretches my brain in a different way and then being outside in nature is always a good sure-thing for me, too.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
For leadership and building culture, I love Kim Scott, Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle, and Adam Grant — leaders who show you can be human, vulnerable, and open. I also look to my close group of girlfriends, who are tirelessly working to make things better for the city, their colleagues, and their families.
Tell us about an ad or marketing piece that’s caught your eye recently.
Everything Obedient Agency does is my favorite. They are off-the-rails funny in a way that makes me a little nervous. I love a progressive and fearless brand that is open to trying something a bit bananas. Taco Bell and the beer brands are always up to something.
If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Tamara Zahn. She and I did some work together for the Cultural Trail and I wish I had gotten a chance to know her better. She founded this organization called Downtown Indy, Inc. and was just so pivotal in shaping Indianapolis into what it is today. She was one of the founding board members at PATTERN and a founder of the Cultural Trail. Everything special about Indianapolis has her DNA in it. I just wish I had more time with her, especially to talk about how Indianapolis looks in the next 5 years or so, and what she thinks.
What is your favorite place to visit in Indy?
I love the Marian University EcoLab. It’s not too far from the IMA and it’s this really incredible creek and nature preserve where you feel like you are 1,000 miles away but you’re still right here in the city. I love that space.
What’s your go-to coffee shop and order?
I love GoldLeaf on 46th Street. They have an amazing nitro cold brew iced tea! It’s hard to resist their rotating offering of pastries, too. I’m there at least twice a week.
Name a TV show you’ve been binging lately that we need to know about, too.
I love a female-lead comedy. Broad City and Veep are my favorites to watch over and over. Nora from Queens is another recent favorite that made me cry from laughing so hard. I just started New Girl for the first time and it’s hilarious.
What made you decide to start your own company and be your own boss?
I never would have done this on my own! My business partner, Meghan Martin, is so intentional, strategic, and smart. Having her by my side gave me the confidence to dive in. Running a business is difficult in so many ways, but I know I’m never alone.
Samantha Kupiainen is a regular Indy Maven contributor.