Adina Zaiontz Founder & Director of Napkin Marketing |

Adina Zaiontz Founder & Director of Napkin Marketing

Adina Zaiontz is the founder and director of napkin marketing, based in Toronto. napkin marketing is an advertising and web design firm that works with small and medium sized businesses to reach new customers online. Prior to starting napkin marketing, Adina was the Trade Marketing Manager at Yahoo! Canada and a Board Member at the CMA.

Adina was kind enough to send over her notes from the call so we’ve included them below…

What does your typical day look like?

I usually wake up with a kid literally on my head… Our son and daughter crawl into our bed at night. They are 1 and 3 years old, and we’re having some issues with them sleeping through the night…In the morning you need to get your children dressed, peed, fed… So that is more efficient on some days than others.

After we get them ready and off to daycare I can start my business day… Which is usually Tim Hortons and being on my cell phone to a client or supplier, then at my home office getting into news, to do lists, email.

When do you first check your email? And how many emails do you get a day?

Round the clock … Probably 100 plus.

Do you have any tips for dealing with email?

I use CRM  software called Avidian Prophet. It plugs into Outlook to track prospecting emails to clients. I also use Outlook folders for client projects, and Outlook rules to organize incoming mail.

What’s the most interesting thing about your job?

Creative challenges. No two projects are alike since I started… So I need to come up with a lot of different approaches. We’re getting into some video work with animation, scripts and story boarding. We were recently asked to do some POS – another new area for us.In each case I researched best practices and competitors and the clients were really happy with what I came up with. So I love the creative challenge of meeting a business’s marketing need.

What is the main focus of your work?

60% client work/ 20% sales/ 10% marketing/ 10% admin and education – not always in that order.

How do you approach productivity?

Parenthood definitely challenges productivity. I used to work 80 to 100 hr weeks, whereas now I’m lucky to get 40 to 50

I try to prioritize. I also try, when possible,  to avoid commuting and traffic. I set clear goals, and monthly and daily to do lists

Do you have a good work-life balance?

Yes and no… The challenge is parenting and raising a family, while also growing a business. They both need ALL of your time.

Sometimes I’m writing a script for a client video, while on my iPhone, at the same time tucking my son in to bed. But you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to get the project done.

Sometimes Dora and Diego and Strawberry Shortcake are the only babysitters I can get on short notice. And sometimes I say “screw it” and take the kids for a play day instead of working … You’ve gotta take it by day.

Can you share a personal or business challenge that was hard to deal with and how you overcame it and what you learned from it?

In my past career, I have dealt with job loss. Once a layoff struck when my husband had also lost his job. I was 7 months pregnant with a young daughter at home. It was a Huge challenge. But it also girded us  – if we can overcome this – we can do anything. It also made me realize – being laid off doesn’t take away your experience, talent, skills and abilities. It makes you question yourself: What do you really want to do with your life? And how long are you going to sit in that cubicle in your corporate job, googling your business ideas instead of living them? How many times are you going to walk through the doors of that corporate office feeling like a bit of a coward cause you’re still there instead of starting a business and realizing your potential.

As a corporate marketing manager, I used to manage and design alot of client events and run conferences for ad agencies. At one meeting of ad agencies in Halifax, I remember sitting in the room and being quite jealous of all these agency owners- they were doing what I wanted to do – which is run an agency.

It made me think: Why aren’t I doing this? I don’t know if I’d be so jealous now…J

But the point is… You’ve got to ask yourself: How many more years are you going to put off your dreams? You only get one life. And the last thing you want is to one day is be old and gray and saying “I should have tried…”

Don’t get me wrong – I loved my corporate life. I was traveling all over the world. I had amazing training and mentors. I could not run my business now if I didn’t have this background. But sometimes a major life/ career change makes you examine what it is you truly want, and pushes you over the edge to go after it.

What keeps you motivated and passionate about your work?

Helping my clients tell their story and helping them get more business.

It’s gratifying when I hear that a client had napkin marketing designed brochures and signage at a trade show, and were able to attract the interest of new partners. I’m inspired and humbled when we are able to help a client share their story in a meaningful, effective and creative way that influences their audience and is able to propel their business forward.

I heard from one client last week that they were able to land a huge US client- someone they’ve been working on for years, in part due to the credibility of marketing materials and brochures and presentations we produced for them.

When an email or social media or pay per click program or landing page we built for a client results in them getting 150 leads per month…and before they were lucky to get 5…That’s an Amazing feeling for me- that I’m helping them grow their business.

napkin marketing will only grow if we can continue to deliver outstanding  results like that, while also delivering breakthrough creative work.

What is your favourite quote of all time?

I’m a big fan of Theodore Roosevelt and this quote:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

What is one thing that your coworkers, clients or friends may not know about you?

I once enrolled in the Canadian army.

In your industry, what is the biggest trend or opportunity you are seeing right now?

Ten or twelve years ago marketers had to go from being traditional “generalists” to being web marketers, now we have to add social media marketer, search marketer, mobile marketer, email marketer to that skill set. You don’t need to become a specialist in each area… But I do think the emerging trend is that the marketing manager is going to be like the family doctor-  a GP… Who will bring in or refer specialists when needed.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be working on some other entrepreneurial venture, but perhaps one that allows me more time with my kids while they’re small.

  • Grayg

    great and interesting interview. I would like to hire you to raise my grandchildren from Bubby Bubby

  • Miryam


    You sound wonderful on interview. Your presentation on this page looks terrific.
    Good Luck


  • Brendag1956

    Great interview. The Army – WTF!!!!