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Kelly McDonald

Kelly McDonald

A marketing and communications expert with specialization in how to connect with people not like you. She was rated #1 on the list of "26 Hot Speakers" by Successful Meetings Magazine.

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Price range

  • $20,000
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  • Corporate Culture
  • Customer Service
  • DEI
  • Diversity
  • Employee Retention / Hiring
  • Female Speakers
  • Generational Issues
  • Internet Marketing
  • Leadership
  • Marketing/Merchandising
  • Sales
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  • Advertising
  • Marketing
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  • 22 Years
  • About

    Kelly McDonald is a marketing and advertising specialist and considered one of the nation’s top experts in consumer trends, generational differences and leveraging the customer experience.  She is the founder of McDonald Marketing, which has twice been named one of the “Top Ad Agencies in the U.S.” by Advertising Age magazine and ranked as one of the fastest-growing independently-owned companies in the U.S. by Inc. Magazine.

    She has been featured on CNBC, in Forbes Magazine, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, on and on SiriusXM Radio.

    Her client experience includes iconic brands such as Toyota, State Farm, Nike, Harley-Davidson, Miller-Coors and Sherwin-Williams.

    In addition to her extensive public speaking experience, she is also the author of four bestselling business books. 

    Her latest, “It’s Time to Talk about Race at Work:  Every Leader’s Guide to Making Progress on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion debuted at #1 on the list of Bestselling Business Books of 2021.

    Her first, “How to Market to People Not Like You”, was #7 on the list of Bestselling Business Books of 2011

    Her second book, “Crafting the Customer Experience for People Not Like You”, was #5 on the list of Bestselling Business Books of 2013

    Kelly is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  She now lives in Denver, Colorado.  When she’s not speaking and traveling for business, she enjoys hiking in the mountains and being outside.  And shopping for high heels.


    Kelly speaks to organizations and associations of every size. She does 80-100 professional speaking engagements a year.  

    Her style is a mix of high content and high humor.  Kelly’s energy and humor keep audiences riveted and engaged.  She employs audience interaction to foster learning and engagement, giving audiences a means of discussing the content and how it applies to their roles, their challenges and their opportunities.

    There is no such thing as a “canned presentation” in Kelly’s world.  She works with each client to customize the presentation for the client’s audience, industry (including language and terms specific to their industry) and geography, if applicable.  Industry-specific and relevant examples are used, and audience interaction is welcomed.

  • Video Clips
  • Topics

    Keynote | Educational | Humorous | Inspirational

    The word ‘ally” is wildly popular in business now as organizations of every size want to “do better and be better”. This means companies and organizations aren’t just focused on diversifying their talent, they expect employees to be allies with their coworkers.

    Allyship is proven to be effective for employee performance – and employee retention. For this reason alone, it’s important to cultivate allyship at work.

    But what does that look like in practice? It encompasses communication skills, empathy, being an “upstander” (not a bystander), opening doors to professional opportunities for those whose accomplishments may not be well known within an organization, mentoring and more.

    For women, especially, allyship is important, because often women are not at the professional levels that their male coworkers are, and they may not have access to professional growth and development opportunities. For men, being an ally for women at work demonstrates big-picture thinking and a growth and success mindset.

    This session will focus on what allyship is – and isn’t, what allyship looks and sounds like, and why it’s important for all members of a team. It also specifically illustrates how to cultivate allies and how to be an effective ally. Allyship is about supporting others, not carrying them. Specific tactics and do’s and don’ts will be shared.

    Keynote | Educational | Humorous | Inspirational

    “Assertiveness” is a widely misunderstood characteristic. Some interpret it as being “bossy”; some interpret it as “standing your ground” or “speaking your mind” and some interpret it as “taking charge” or being aggressive.

    Assertiveness is none of these things, yet it’s an essential skill in business and a quality that all successful professionals have. And it IS a skill – it can be developed and honed, like any other skill.

    For women, in particular, being assertive can be challenging, because we tend to be “people pleasers” and we often put the needs of the group (your team or your boss) before our own needs. Being assertive is not at odds with teamwork – in fact, it is constructive for your team and your organization. Assertiveness is a high-performance quality that is charismatic and appealing.

    In This Session, You’ll Learn:

    • What assertiveness is – and what it’s not
    • How to develop your assertive style in a manner that appeals, not repels
    • How to communicate, empower and lead in a male-dominated industry
    • How young executives see you – and what inspires them most

    Keynote | Educational | Humorous | Inspirational

    Diversity in the ag industry is a hot topic.   Agriculture as an industry is changing rapidly:  more and more ag workers are immigrants, speak multiple languages, and are unfamiliar with American customs.  More farmers are women.  And farmers under age 40 is a rising group.  These differences can create friction in the work environment, because different people don’t always see eye to-eye or approach work in the same way.

    “People not like you” takes away the baggage that is often associated with the word diversity and frames the subject in a more relatable way.  We are ALL dealing with people “not like us”.  Sometimes that can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be.

    When the you’re working alongside is different from you, those differences can be glaring. Their communication styles may be very different.  Their comfort in working with technology may be miles apart.  Cultural backgrounds and norms can differ.  Even men and women can see situations differently.  How do you work alongside someone who may be quite different from you, respect those differences and be effective in your role?

    And what about leading a diverse team?  Leaders in Ag face daily the challenges of inspiring, communicating and executing strategy with their teams.  Now imagine the challenges of leading teams that may be incredibly diverse!   How does one motivate and lead groups of people who come from different backgrounds?  How do you do that when people are motivated by different values and view the world and work through different lenses?

    There are dozens of speakers and sessions on management, leadership, and working with difficult people, yet none tackle these business issues from the standpoint of working with people not like you.  This is a fresh take on a very important topic – and a timely one.  Much news coverage is devoted to what companies and organizations are doing to make their workplace more diverse and inclusive.  But what is that like for the people who work there, day in and day out?  How do they adapt to different people and work approaches?

    This session takes the topic of work and leadership to a new place – one that is getting more attention every day and will continue to do so.

    Learner Outcomes:

    ·       You’ll learn why it seems so hard to work with people not like you. And why that makes you NORMAL, not a bad person.  You’ll learn why it often comes with stress, complex emotions and even fear for some people. 

    ·       Specific tactics will be shared for how Ag employees can succeed in today’s diverse workplace without losing their minds or becoming frustrated by approaches to work that may differ from theirs. 

    ·       For those in leadership positions, or those who aspire to manage and lead others, three key steps to make a diverse Ag team work more cohesively, more productively and enjoyably. 

    ·       The four key words that will transform how you interact with your colleagues and associates in tough situations to get the best outcome.  How to troubleshoot the complex issues and address the “derailers” and naysayers that lurk within every team and threaten its success. 

    Keynote | Educational | Humorous | Inspirational

    If you could grow your business simply by taking care of your existing customers and raking in more referrals, making money would be a cakewalk. But to generate new revenue, you have to win over the customers and clients you’re not getting but could be.   Now, more than ever, it’s important to reach new prospects in different ways to grow your business.

    For those in the Ag industry, it’s imperative to form a connection with customers and prospects in order to earn their business.  But how do you form a connection with someone who is completely different from you?  Whether it’s gender, age, life stage, race, ethnicity or even communication preferences, you need to be able to break through barriers to connect in a meaningful way, build trust and differentiate yourself from your competition.

    People spend money on what they care about.   Show your customers and prospects how you fit into what they need and what they value, and they’ll show you the money.   By recognizing people’s differences and just tweaking your approach or marketing efforts to reflect their values, you’ll get the business. 

    You’ll learn:

    • Five low-cost / no-cost things you can do right now to grow your business with new customers and increase customer satisfaction and retention
    • The do’s and don’ts of marketing to different customer segments and their values
    • The major macro trends that affect your business – and all of us – and how to leverage them for growth & customer satisfaction
    • How to communicate in a relevant manner to stand out from your competition

    Keynote | Educational | Humorous | Inspirational

    Deliver a better business experience, for every kind of customer.

    The Ag industry is going through a sea change:   new, enormous players in the arena (consolidation), a critical lack of fresh, young talent, technology changing how business is done and what customers expect.  Success in the industry is predicated not only by the products and services you sell, but the experience that customers have when doing business with you. 

    A “one-size fits all” approach to the customer experience is no longer viable. Using real world examples and best practices from successful companies, Kelly will show you how catering to customers’ differences can differentiate you from your competitors and give you the edge in a business that demands more from you than ever before.

    And don’t let the word “customer” limit your thinking.  We all have customers – even if your customer is your boss.  Whether the “customer” is external (prospects and consumers) or internal (your associates, suppliers, your team), each of us is responsible for satisfying our customer constituencies. 

    This in-depth session will kick off with key methods of how companies, brands and products struggling to differentiate themselves in a “sea of sameness” can foster long-term loyalty and brand preference with exceptional and customized customer experiences.  

    Then, attendees will participate in interactive discussions:  you and your peers will identify how to apply the principles of creating an exceptional customer experience to YOUR business.  Group discussion among all attendees will wrap up this highly interactive session. 

    Breakout | Educational | Humorous | Motivational

    Right now, your customers need you more than ever. But not in the usual way. What your customers want and expect from you now is radically different because we’ve changed the way we work in some     fundamental ways. Now, more than ever, you must differentiate yourself and your company on the experience that your customers have, rather than simply the products and services you offer.

    You now have a unique opportunity to “wow” your customers, by demonstrating that you have their back and that you’re here to help and serve them as they navigate whatever is around the next corner.

    You can work with your customers in new ways by being “quietly helpful”. The work you do now, in this way, will position you for the WIN:  how you, your company, brand, people and products will be seen long-term, not just when times are difficult or uncertain.

    In this session, you’ll learn new approaches and mindsets that will make you better, smarter, and more  effective in serving your customers – and you’ll cement the bond for increased sales and loyalty.

    This session will cover:

    • How to address the concerns your customers have right NOW – and how you can tie those into exceptional sales and customer service

    • How to stay visible without spamming your customers

    • 5 low-cost, no-cost action items that you can apply immediately

    • What to do – and NOT do – when things go wrong

    • Consumer trends and insights to leverage to grow business now

  • Testimonials
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    “Exceeded expectations! Good content and food for thought for our audience.”

    Compeer Valerie W
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    “She was great! Very well received and appreciate her coming in for dinner the night before and stayed through the morning sessions!”

    Farm Credit East Tom C
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    “Kelly opened the audience’s eyes to concepts that most people had never considered, and they were surprised but very pleased with her intimate knowledge of the subject matter. Kelly is a brilliant communicator, and I really enjoyed her animated style of delivery.”

    Automotive Service Association President
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    “Kelly’s enthusiasm was contagious and her message was very well received by our audience of utility industry attendees. She was very relatable and left our customers energized and ready to apply techniques to relate to all customers into the work they do every day. We would highly recommend Kelly for any event.”

    Itron VP Corporate Marketing & Public Affairs
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    “Kelly gave an outstanding presentation at our summer meeting in June. She engaged the attendees in a way I have never seen before and the session was standing room only. Not only is she an incredible speaker, but she is such a pleasure to work with. She really goes out of her way to make the whole experience memorable and enjoyable for everyone involved.”

    American Meat Science Association Director

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Kelly’s enthusiasm was contagious and her message was very well received by our audience of utility industry attendees. She was very relatable and left our customers energized and ready to apply techniques to relate to all customers into the work they do every day. We would highly recommend Kelly for any event.
Itron VP Corporate Marketing & Public Affairs