Houston Marketing Moguls: Recognizing Rachel Gottschalk


Imagine one of the brightest, wittiest, A-game marketing professionals in Houston with a knack for effectively building marketing plans that align perfectly with strategic goals and enter Rachel Gottschalk. She’s just one of those gals who has got our ambiguous profession that IS Marketing figured out. With a work roster that includes the likes of the Houston Rockets and Memorial Hermann – clearly others have figured her out too. Enjoy.

Meet Rachel Gottschalk: Marketing Director – Orthopedics/Sports Medicine

Memorial Hermann Health System

Maintains extensive experience in developing, implementing and executing, marketing, communications and corporate development strategies.

CMG: How did you wind up in sales/marketing?

RG: I actually majored in marketing in college so it is something that has always appealed to me. I thought I would end up in the advertising world as opposed to marketing, but through my experience in media buying at an agency I realized I was more interested in the campaigns our clients were running rather than how to best place them. I also realized that working directly with clients and stations played perfectly into my strengths and therefore I migrated to that role.

CMG: Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why? 

RG: My former boss at the Houston Rockets was truly a mentor to me (ahem – Dawn Keen.) She saw a lot of potential and afforded me the autonomy and flexibility to create and implement new ideas as I had them. She trusted me and therefore played more of a support role rather than micromanaging my efforts. I also learned how to effectively manage people – different types of people – from her. She allowed me to observe and learn from how she dealt with various situations with employees and co-workers. The good, the bad, and the ugly, so to speak. That education has proven invaluable.

CMG: What in your marketing experience are you most proud of?

RG: While I was with the Rockets, a co-worker had left the organization and there was a shuffling of the deck where I was given several large, critical sponsorship accounts to manage. For a couple of those accounts, the partnership had become very strained. With focused efforts, I turned the relationships back into positive ones and secure a renewed, long-term partnership with each. I am proud that the relationships I built with those accounts and contacts continue to exist today and I still keep in touch and/or work with them in some capacity even now.

CMG: Where do you come up with your most creative ideas?

RG: Creative ideas are everywhere! I think I have gotten just as many great ideas from meetings and conferences as I have at sporting events, concerts and cocktails with friends. If something I see or hear strikes me as “interesting” or “cool” then it worked! I am still a consumer first – before a marketer – and it is worth trying to apply that “something” to what I am trying to accomplish in my role as a marketer.

CMG: One word that describes you?

RG:  Accountable.

CMG: In the Houston business world – what do you want to be remembered for?

RG: I make an effort not to just do things because they have been done before. I’d like to be thought of as someone who is able to take a step back and look at initiatives and opportunities objectively and only execute those that truly have the ability to bring value to my team.

CMG: What is one hard lesson you’ve learned about marketing?

RG: Just because you think it is the greatest idea since ‘Happy Hour’ – that is the saying, right? – doesn’t mean that everyone will agree with you. Or, that it will in fact turn out the way you expect. I have learned to be as diligent as possible when trying to predict or sell others on the value of ideas before diving into them. 

CMG: How do you integrate your marketing efforts? Can you give us an example? 

RG: Good ol’ communication is the key here for me. I have been fortunate to work for multifaceted organizations with many departments all focused on their own areas of expertise with the idea that all of those strengths will come together for an outstanding final product. Easier said than done when, in reality, everyone gets caught up in their own departments’ projects and goals and deadlines. It is easy to lose sight of the “big picture”. Communication can help bridge that gap – whether it be regular, cross-departmental meetings or off-site, team-building outings.

CMG: Do you have any tips or best practices for measuring ROI?

RG: Two lessons I’ve learned here. 1) Set target goals before activating if at all possible. 2) If you have no benchmark and cannot set a goal beforehand…DON’T! It does no good to set an arbitrary target. If you meet or exceed that target – it doesn’t mean it was a success. If you fall short of that target –  it doesn’t mean it was a failure.

CMG: What is your secret weapon? ff

RG: This will sound odd, but I try to remain a bit removed from my current position. Over time, it is easy to “drink the Kool-Aid” and not remember what it was like before you became a part of your company. This sounds like a good thing and probably what HR execs dream of at night. However, I believe that by attempting to stay closer to who you are targeting (the “consumer”), you have a better shot at actually reaching them. You become a bit jaded when you live and breathe a certain product or service or vision every day at work. It is important to remember that most people receiving your message don’t know, or frankly care, about it as much as you do. Our message can speak truer to the audience if we can still think like that audience. 

CMG: Amen.