3 ways to work successfully with multiple marketing organizations

My company has a (not so) unique challenge.  As is the case with most companies our size or larger, we have multiple marketing departments with multiple teams.  The corporate marketing team is grouped into 4 organizations, which has several sub-organizations in each one.  In addition corporate communications sits in investor relations and each product has the option to develop their own dedicated marketing SMEs.

To be successful you need a carefully crafted balancing act.  Who does what, when and why?

I’ve been in this role for nearly a year.  In that year I have learned a ton about managing expectations, collaborating with other departments and keeping my cool when people tell me things can’t be done.  Here are a few lessons learned I’ve developed that you may be able to leverage too.

1) No one likes a know-it-all

Image result for know it allI am the first one to admit I struggle with this one.  I’m the first one to raise my hand and explain how my point-of-view is the right one.  Over the last year I’ve tempered this part of my personality.  The fastest way to get people on your bad side is to embarrass them in a meeting – especially with their boss or stakeholders.  Intentional or not, correcting people is never the way to go.

So how do you let someone know that what they’re doing is wrong or dumb?

I have gotten really good (if I do say so myself) at saying two things:

  1. Playing devils advocate, what if…
  2. I like that.  We could also…

No one is going to fault you for saving their ass, but the more you correct someone in public the more they will circumvent you in private.  Many books call this, “giving them an out.”  Don’t leave them with egg on their face.  Give them an opportunity to still look professional in front of their stakeholders while course correcting from the rocks.

2) Include them in the process

Image result for include others memeRegardless of which marketing department you’re in, don’t go it alone.  I struggled with this a lot in my product marketing days.  One day corporate marketing came to me and said, “We love all your ideas, but if you don’t include us we can’t help you.  Let us know what you’re doing so we can be there to support you.”

They had a point.  I wanted to keep all the glory, but I was also taking on all the work – and failing at both.  When I started leaning on them for support, not only was I able to move projects along faster, but had more success in other ways.  They had visibility into dynamics, politics and sometimes budget I didn’t.  And by involving them in the planning process, they had a vested interest in supporting my programs, which made everyone more excited.

Now that I’m in corporate, I have to do the same thing the other way.  By involving vertical marketers, product marketers and business development leads in the planning phase I get more resources and more buy-in earlier.  It raises my professional brand and sets me up for success longer term.

3) Share Success

Image result for thank you memeJust like no one likes a know-it-all, know one likes someone who hogs the spotlight.  If someone helps you reach success with a project, or in your career, acknowledge it.  No one gets where they’re going alone.

In my previous role, I introduced SEO to the company by piloting it on my own product.  I paid for it.  I hired the company.  I reported the outcomes.  But corporate helped too.  They helped me implement my vision and did a lot of extra work to make my experiment a reality.

As a thank you, I would never dream of not giving credit where credit is due.  In every read out I would use the phrase, “We partnered with the website team to…”

Even if they don’t own the vision, outcomes or barely lifted a pencil, share the love.  If they see you do it, they will reciprocate one day.

(Plus, everyone knows what you did.  No need to wallow in it.)

Say Hi at The Colorado Marketing Summit

I am so excited to be speaking at the upcoming Colorado Marketing Summit on “The Colorado Brand”.  Colorado is home to some of the most powerful brands in the world. How do Chief Marketing Officers project their brands globally and what local challenges do they have growing industry and community instate?

The Colorado Marketing Summit
June 19, 2018
Ritz-Carlton, Denver, CO

The Colorado Marketing Summit hosts marketing leaders from major brands, corporate & cultural institutions, public agencies and nonprofits.  Approximately 450 attendees will be there – 70% brands, 30% agencies & vendors.


Inspiration from Smartling

I recently received a prospecting email from Smartling, with a really nicely designed signature line graphic.  The white top makes it look seamless with the email.  I am not attending Adobe Summit, but thought I’d click to see what happens.

The link sent me to a landing page where I could request a meeting.  The landing page was a clean, vertical design with a very short form – two spaces.  Simple.  I had a quick overview of the company and details about their booth.  The landing page also matches the signature graphic, which makes the process feel cohesive and intentional.

Smartling Landing Page

I typed in my personal email to see where it would take me and I got the best marketing error message I’ve seen.  “Please enter your business email address.  This form does not accept addresses from hotmail.com.”

Smartling Error

Finally, when I went to their main website, guess what I found at the top of the page?  Another invitation to book a meeting.  Hard to miss, yet non-intrusive.  Wow.

Meeting Request Banner

Food for thought for anyone looking to drive success through conferences by scheduling meetings with real professionals:

  1. Keep it Simple.
  2. Everything should match and be cohesive.
  3. Maintain a clean email list with validated contacts.

From one B2B marketeer to another, well done Smartling.  Well done.

Know Your Goals: Takeaways from SXSW

Image result for sxsw expo

Zayo recently hosted a series of events at South By Southwest (SXSW), a music, movie and interactive festival held in Austin each year.  SXSW is an over-the-top event, that genuinely takes over the city.

While I was there I wanted to explore the expo floor.  My purpose?  To understand what types of organizations exhibit at SXSW, their goals and if it might be a good option for my organization in the future.

Who was there:

Image result for sxsw expoTo say it was a hodgepodge would be an understatement.  The expo floor contained everything from well-known brands like Lockheed Martin and no-name startups looking to attract investors, to cities and countries trying to attract businesses to move and stand-up desk manufacturers.

My plan of attack:

I worked my way from booth to booth asking if there was a representative from marketing present – which there usually was.  I needed to talk to people who spoke my language and knew where I was coming from.  As Anne Handley would say, “My People”.

I introduced myself and told them why I was there.  Then asked a simple question.  “What is your goal for SXSW?  How do you know if you this event was a success?”

My Shock:

Image result for sxsw expoI spoke to 30 marketers in total.  Of them, only 2 could clearly tell me how they would measure success.  Some were even outraged by the question, citing that hosting a booth with measurable financial goals is ridiculous.

To say the least, I was shocked.  In a decade of marketing, I’ve never seen such disregard for ROI-based metrics.  I honestly have no idea how I would do my job without them.

This is the reason marketers have a bad rap and people think we just spend money.  (see earlier post on topic) A campaign without goals is just work.  At that point you’re just collecting a paycheck to look busy.  What’s the point?!

It my not-so-humble opinion that all marketers should know their metrics inside and out, upside down and backwards.  We should recite our ROI metrics in our sleep.  This is how you earn the trust and respect of an organization.  Not by throwing epic parties, but by explaining why.

I have previously written about the 3 metrics every marketer should know (post).  These metrics will help you answer the “why” question and will earn the respect of the most staunch financier.  Otherwise, don’t learn them and risk getting sideways looks from those that operate the budgets the rest of your career.

Your choice.

Virtual Reality & Marketing: Lessons Learned

Image result for virtual reality cartoon

I’m a huge proponent of the power of video for marketing, especially B2B.  It has the power to transport prospects seamlessly, explain complicated concepts simply and introduce information in an engaging way.  Virtual realty (or VR) takes this to another level.

HIMSS is the quintessential healthcare technology conference held in spring each year.  My company supports over 500 healthcare organizations globally, so it was a clear spot for us to have a booth and host meetings.  This year we debuted our virtual reality experience for HIMSS attendees, showcasing our Network Control Center, our Ashburn data center and taking guests on a journey through the internet itself.

Given that VR is a new conversation for most of us in B2B marketing, I thought I would share some of the lessons I learned going through the process of developing and launching our experience.

1. Define the problem you’re looking to solve upfront

When we decided to explore a VR strategy, it was in response to two very real challenges we were facing as marketers.

First, we provide fiber routes and data centers around the world.  You can tour our data centers, but you have to travel to see them.  You can understand a fiber route, but you would never dig up a line to look at it.  How do I sell products I can’t show?

My team is responsible for planning and executing over 100 events per year, ranging from small 20-person sports suites to 40,000 person conferences.  How do we create consistent messaging and experiences across all our events, regardless of format?

The answer to both of these issues for us was video.  But no one is going to stop watching a football game to watch a sales video.  If we could make it engaging and unique, we would be able to solve both problems while ensuring our events remained fun.  That’s where VR came in.  From there, we had a very clear parameter within which to build a script and storyboard.

2. Watch Your Runtime

Like any good video, runtime is critical for VR.  If you’re planning to use it as part of an events strategy, I recommend creating two versions.  The first version for smaller, less fast-passed events should run less than 3.5 minutes.  We’re assuming someone will sit down and enjoy the experience for about the same amount of time they will watch a YouTube video.

The second version should run less than 1.5 minutes.  This is for your tradeshow booths, kiosks and other environment where people are on the move.  The VR experience is a draw, but it has to fit into your 5 minute booth flow.  Keep that in mind when you’re writing the script in the first place.  How could you re-edit this to be shorter if needed?

3. Invest in animation

Animation will be the difference between a boring informational video and a memorable experience.  Build this into your budget on the front end.  Lean on any videography group you use to include this in their proposal.  Then add 10% contingency to that.  Once you get into editing, you may find that you need to up the animation budget to ensure the experience stays cool and fun.  If not, great!  You’re under budget.

4. Show it on the big screen

Although we all knew VR was cool, most people at the convention had never done it before.  What’s more, they had no desire to try it until they saw someone else doing it.  When we displayed our experience on the large TV behind people’s heads, crowds gathered to watch – taking video and photos of others taking part.  I was a huge draw.  So show it off!

And now for your viewing pleasure…

I’ve Missed You Guys

Hello everyone,

I’m sorry I’ve been MIA since October.  I haven’t been sleeping, that’s for sure.  In October, I began a new position as Director of Global Field Marketing for Zayo Group.  Since then I’ve been busy hiring, on-boarding, training, traveling and managing.  It’s been a wild 6 months!  I’ve got a ton of ideas for new posts based on all the lessons I’ve learned over the last half year.

Stay Tuned.


Team Building According to Coach K

I recently attended MarketingProf’s Annual Conference and wanted to share some of my insights from this event – which I highly recommend.

On-the-Edge-SM_11151One of the keynotes was Alison Levine, the Captain of the First All-Women Mount Everest Expedition.  The story was incredible, and I encourage everyone to read the book, but I want to focus on only one story.  Alison was tasked with building a team of five women to hike to the highest point on Earth without dying.  How do you do that?

She called her friend, Coach Krzyzewski, the legendary Head Coach of Duke’s Basketball team and the USA Olympic Basketball team.  He said he looks for 1 thing when building a team – Ego.

Alison assumed he meant lack of ego, but he corrected her.  He wants two types of ego.

  1. Performance Ego – You want people who can walk on the court and have believe they have what it takes to win. You don’t want folks who are filled with self-doubt and question themselves constantly… Especially on a mountain.
  2. Team Ego – You want someone who is proud to be part of something collectively bigger than themselves.  They have to be happy in the team’s victory, even if they get none of the glory.

Maybe you’re building a marketing department for the first time.  Maybe you’re trying to find slot players to fill gaps.  For those of us who have been individual contributors for years and are not used to a “team” mentality, this can be difficult.  I have recently been promoted to run field marketing across all our regions.  The idea of building a team from scratch was an incredible opportunity, but I did wonder if I had what it takes to build the right one.

As we look for talent and encounter opportunities for growth I think we should challenge ourselves to follow Coach K’s advice.  Do we walk on the court and believe we have what it takes, while celebrating the successes of our team members?  Are we hiring team members who do the same?  I challenge you, and myself, to look for ego when hiring, but the right kind.

Thanks Coach.

Image result for coach k