The Femme Fatales of the marketing world knock out the competition by making their brand irresistible and their customers starry-eyed with devotion. They inspire and empower their teams to create their own starring roles. And they do it all with verve and flair.
These Leading Ladies are the inspiration for the Direct Marketing News Marketing Hall of Femme. The award celebrates achievements of the most accomplished and influential women in marketing.
These exceptional female marketing chiefs have risen to the apex of their profession as champions of customer-centric, data-driven marketing. Their methods have improved marketing performance and have yielded measureable results—from revenue growth to increases in customer engagement. Their stories are ones of daring and determination, of savvy and ingenuity.
Read on for the narratives behind the 2015 Marketing Hall of Femme honorees’ success stories. Or, download the eBook to read the honorees profiles, enjoy photos from the awards ceremony, get an overview of the awards keynote, and more.
*Tagline courtesy [email protected]
Michelle Bottomley, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer, Mercer
If any member of the 2015 Marketing Hall of Femme class can stake a claim to be among those pioneering data-driven marketing, it’s Michelle Bottomley. She was bitten by the accountable-marketing bug, as she puts it, at the start of her career in the early 1990s at Bonner Slosberg Humphrey, an agency now better known as Digitas.
“Those were the days when databases were so big we had them loaded on supercomputers so we could go and look at profiles of who buys a certain thing. One of our first analyses was for Lotus, to find out whether people who bought word processing programs also bought software bundles. The sexy channels back then were direct mail and the call center,” Bottomley recalls.
She took her targeting skills to OgilvyOne, where she played a key role in transforming the direct agency into a data-fueled integrated marketing force. Over a 10-year career there, she rose through the ranks from chief CRM officer to GM of the consulting business to co-president and COO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. Her next stop was Barclaycard, where, as CMO, she herded most of the marketing budget into digital pastures, set up retention and cross-sell desks in the call center, and drove the cost per account acquired down from $100 to a much more reasonable $10. It’s a ratio she likes to work in. At Mercer last year, Bottomley turned a renovated brand and a new demand generation capability into a 10:1 ROI in the effort’s early months.
“I think about three things,” she says, “how to grow the business through client relations and sales effectiveness, how to differentiate the brand, and how to build the digital experience.”
Marketing strategy: In a word: leverage. Invariably, the Pareto Principle [aka, the 80/20 rule] is at play, and opportunities exist to retain and expand existing high-potential relationships while acquiring best customer look-a-likes.
Winning ways: Mercer is transforming our go-to-market program and outlined the vision and strategy for delivering an increasingly data-driven and digital approach. We’re on the path to delivering a substantial change program that puts our clients and our colleagues at the center of everything we do.
Defining moment: Working at Ogilvy for Carla Hendra, Bill Gray, and Shelly Lazarus during a time of significant growth was energizing. Ogilvy—itself a transformation partner for some of the world’s best brands—taught me how to help transform global organizations leveraging digital, data, and a powerful brand.
Trend watching: Mobile payments. This will further push consumers and businesses into the mobile commerce space.
Words to live by: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” –Goethe
Good read: Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman
Good advice: Master data analytics to drive marketing programs that lift revenue, and become adept at digital.
Blair Christie, SVP and CMO, Cisco
Blair Christie is a self-described extreme extrovert. And as SVP and CMO of Cisco, she doesn’t shy away from delivering bold results. Generating more insightful leads and better aligning marketing with its sales team has enabled Cisco to produce an additional $2.8 billion pipeline.
Marketing strategy: Brand-to-demand—and all of the way through [the demand funnel]—is really the broader way of describing Cisco’s approach to marketing. We’re tying everything together. We have a dashboard that goes from awareness, to response, to reach, to revenue…. Content and our digital engagement are the core foundation pieces to [our] brand-to-demand approach.
Winning ways: If I stay on the theme of brand-to-demand, I’ve been extremely proud of the revitalization and the refresh of Cisco’s brand that we kicked off in 2012 and we continue [to run]. We just had our recent installment of that campaign in January. And by all ways that we measure it, it has been successful and continues to drive not just thought leadership and awareness for Cisco, but [also] a compelling and inspiring story that drives directly to what we’re selling today. The other thing that I’m proud of is the revenue marketing work that we’ve done.
Defining moment: First, I made a move to Cisco, which meant that I moved across the country. I went from a small technology company to a very large [one]. At the time it was almost the largest market cap…. I was in the world of investor relations. Then, about four or five years into that I had another idea where I wanted to consolidate corporate communications at Cisco. [Finally,] stepping into the CMO role was a big change; I went from [overseeing a team of] about 250 people to 1,200 people.
Trend watching: It goes back to the basis of what we think is part of this next wave of the Internet; we call that the Internet of Everything. It’s more than just bringing things together. It’s really the connection of people, process, data, and things. It’s a huge opportunity for business in both the private and public sector, and it’s what I think is going to quadruple or be five or six times the impact of what we saw with the first wave of the Internet…. But I also see huge impact for society.
Words to live by: “If you can see it, you can achieve it.” –My mother
Good read: Thrive by Arianna Huffington.
My colleague [and] really good friend of mine—actually our CIO at Cisco—has encouraged me to read it for about nine months now. I recently had a lot of change in my personal life…. But also, we’re always busy professionally. She kept encouraging me that [the book] was going to hit me right where I needed it most.
Good advice: Be authentic and be you. It’s easier to be yourself all of the time than be someone else for even 15 seconds.
Lucille DeHart, CMO, Tristar Products Inc.
Here’s how garment industry veteran Lucille DeHart shook up the direct response TV world in her first months at Tristar Products, the “As Seen on TV” powerhouse responsible for brands such as the AbRoller, the Perfect Toaster, and the Genie Bra. One of the company’s top sellers is the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer, but DeHart immediately recognized that Tristar was failing to squeeze maximum revenue from the brand. Instead of taping another 30-minute infomercial, DeHart hired a professional filmmaker to create an hour-long documentary about the legendary fitness guru called Anything Is Possible, which was shown at the Miami International Film Festival in March 2015. Brand building and cutting-edge content marketing come to the infomercial business.
“Though the direct response business had already figured out that high recognition of brands is the secret, they treated their brands too much like products,” DeHart says. “Now, by telling the story of Jack LaLanne in a true documentary, not an infomercial, we intend to leverage that platform to introduce a line of new products under the Jack LaLanne brand.”
DeHart, who was CMO at Maidenform before joining Tristar, is concurrently padding out the brand potential of another shining star at Tristar: the Genie Bra. “Genie was the number one bra brand for three years based on terrific marketing that really explained the product, but it was not merchandised within an entire category,” DeHart says. “We’ve now launched Genie large sizes and slim jeggings and secured endcaps throughout all Walmart doors.”
DeHart is fully aware that infomercials are often the butts of jokes, but she’s just where she wants to be. “I truly believe that direct response is at the forefront of what’s going to be important in marketing,” she says.
Marketing strategy: It’s essential for marketers to drive their company and brand vision forward without falling victim to the short-term demands of quarterly revenue. I’ve always believed marketing was an investment, not an expense, and that successful marketers align their businesses to drive long-term ROI.
Winning ways: When I joined Tristar its lead brand was in decline. This was a cornerstone product for the company and we needed to invest in its future. Within my first six months here we were able to create a full marketing and business plan, build a brand site, redesign the packaging, and air a new commercial. The new site doubled conversion and we have launched two successful new products. The sales trend reversed from -53% to less than -30%.
Defining moment: I was enlightened with the true essence of branding at Ralph Lauren. Ralph’s philosophy was to say no more than yes, to sacrifice short-term gains for long-term protection. Keep your vision strong and unwavering and trust instinct over science to create and keep the magic of the brand alive.
Trend watching: Social commerce and interactive digital devices coupled with smart mobile technology and textiles.
Words to live by: My junior high English teacher once told me that life is unfair and that I will be disappointed by that fact my entire life. This has always been a motivational notion to me, because I never gave up on trying to prove the world wrong.
Good read: My Life in France by Julia Child
Leslie Dukker Doty, CMO, Reader’s Digest Association
Reader’s Digest doesn’t only publish stories; it also helps customers write their own and form emotional connections with the brand. This is Leslie Dukker Doty’s specialty. And last year the CMO led the initiatives that helped the publication acquire 800,000 new customers.
Marketing strategy: I have a clear methodology and a specific approach. I call it inspiring action. It’s based on building and inspiring brands while optimizing the levels of response…. It’s [also] based on the idea that people need to tell themselves stories and then try to live out those stories. You just do better when your brand is part of that story and becomes part of their lives.
Winning ways: We relaunched [Reader’s Digest] January 2014; we’re growing, acquiring, and rebuilding the customer base; and we’re rebuilding our database…. [The relaunch] started with the rebranding and then [focused on] doing things well that we used to do very well from a direct marketing perspective and product services. Most recently, [we’re] launching into new adjacency products that are more relevant to the next generation of audiences or to people who don’t know that we’re still around.
Defining moment: Earlier in my career I was made the business lead for the Citibank AAdvantage Card business. It was one of the first co-branded cards within the industry and was a program with American Airlines…. The co-branded card was positioned around aspirational travel in terms of using the card to get to a destination. We had a hypothesis that it was more than that. We did very expensive brand-positioning research and we reached that aha moment where we understood what that connection was with the customer and with the prospect. People did get free travel, but that wasn’t why they were inspired around that card. It was about the gaming around collecting miles…. It was a breakthrough concept and that’s how the “Or Was It the Miles?” campaign was born, which was not about travel, but was about how you collected miles and why. And by bringing that campaign into the marketplace it changed the industry.
Trend watching: I’m watching mobile, mobile traffic, and mobile behavior; I’m developing products and services that can be delivered on mobile; and [I’m] looking at how people are behaving and interacting.
Words to live by: A lot of times we get wrapped up in what we’re doing…. When the team starts to meltdown, I say, ‘We’re not doing brain surgery here.’
Good read: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s just a great read about courage, ingenuity, and perseverance in life-threatening situations where there’s a lot of evil…. Those themes are meaningful to me.
Good advice: Track how much time you spend with your customers and your perspective customers versus marketers and businesspeople…. All other things being equal, if you know your customer, you’re going to win.
Mish Fletcher, Worldwide Managing Director, Marketing, OgilvyOne Worldwide
As a yoga instructor, Mish Fletcher knows a lot about balance. And as the worldwide managing director, marketing for OgilvyOne Worldwide, Fletcher steers the agency’s messaging about balancing data and creativity to win in today’s marketplace. She also puts that balance into action. In 2014 she led the launch of the agency’s new global data offering OgilvyAMP. That same year, under her guidance, OgilvyOne Worldwide won more major creative and effectiveness awards than in any year prior.
Marketing strategy: It’s very much about putting clients at the center of your thinking and focusing on their needs. All too often we want to think about the services that we want to sell, not what clients want to buy. It’s about using the language that clients are using and then framing offerings around that.
Winning ways: We have a proprietary, strategic planning methodology. It’s called DAVE, which stands for Data-inspired, Always-on, Valuable Experiences. It’s also a cheeky homage to David Ogilvy. I actually applied DAVE to the agency itself. This enabled the creation of complete and personalized profiles of all of our clients…. We were able to segment our client base and then map the journey of the individual client persona so we could understand what it’s like to become a client of OgilvyOne. That then enabled me to make recommendations as to how we should realign resources so that we were creating the right platforms and undertaking the right sort of outreach, and to ensure that we were squarely centered on clients’ needs.
Defining moment: Recently, I was appointed to the OgilvyOne Worldwide board…. It’s an incredible feeling to be part of the leadership team that’s driving the agency forward first and foremost. The way in which it’s propelled me forward is that it’s given me a much broader perspective on our business and enabled me to better understand the role of the marketing function and how it can support the business and deliver value to the organization.
Trend watching: I’m fascinated with this trend of B2B transformation. I’ve been thinking of it as the humanization of B2B marketing…. You’re not talking to an office building; you’re talking to people. So, we need to ensure that our messages and the way in which we’re reaching out to our B2B clients are emotionally based, that we’re looking to make an emotional connection, and that we don’t get bogged down in business speak or too much jargon.
Words to live by: “Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” –Chinese proverb
Good read: The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. It takes a deep dive into understanding how women are wired differently and how to ensure that we’re able to understand the nature of confidence and acting in a confident way as much as possible. [The authors’] message is just pure women power, and I’ve really enjoyed it.
Amy Hoopes, CMO and EVP, Global Sales, Wente Vineyards
Amy Hoopes is hardly a stranger to the celebration of outstanding women in traditionally male workplaces. Wente Vineyards operates a restaurant on its estate in California wine country and runs a Guest Chef Series featuring the “Bay Area’s Most Acclaimed Women Chefs.” The in-person event is emblematic of Hoopes’s marketing taste profile, which combines a full-bodied brand with a bouquet of bonhomie. She learned to put people in her four P’s of marketing with a fashion industry promotion early in her career at E&J Gallo, and continues the practice at Wente. She’s connected with Food Network on product placements and personal associations with celebrity chefs.
“One of my greatest learnings from the Ecco Domani experience at Gallo was that people make the difference,” Hoopes says. “It was truly a team effort and I was fortunate to work on one of the most impressive cross-functional teams in the industry.”
Hoopes looks to ply people-connections in a multichannel fashion. On National Chardonnay Day last year, for example, a live toast involving Wente family members sparked a million tweets among wine enthusiasts in two hours.
“When it comes to making a wine purchase, today’s consumer is less impacted by wine reviews and more heavily swayed by opinions of their friends and family,” Hoopes says.
Marketing strategy: It’s all about people: observing, understanding, and interacting in ways that resonate with each individual and their lives.
Winning ways: Education is the key to success. Not only is it imperative to teach your consumers about your brands, but it is equally important to ensure that your employees are knowledgeable and engaged in sharing your brand story and your values.
Defining moment: Early in my career at E&J Gallo I was given an opportunity to think differently about brand building for Ecco Domani wines. The mission was to connect an Italian table wine with high fashion (think Milan), and be the first brand in Gallo’s import portfolio to make imported wines accessible. I learned that people make the difference. It was truly a team effort.
Trend watching: We’re continually adapting our marketing approach to ensure that we’re connecting with our consumers.
Words to live by: We don’t lose. We either win or we learn.
Good read: There are too many to choose from. I can’t just read one at a time either. On a continuous quest for knowledge, I look to feed both sides of my brain—business strategy and creative inspiration—and then there’s always an extra book for pure pleasure.
Good advice: Communication is a two-way activity. Sharing your brand’s POV is just the start, listening is where the real action and insight take place.
Elizabeth Jackson, CMO and EVP of Corporate Strategy, HookLogic
Elizabeth Jackson insists that marketing should be fun. “That doesn’t mean easy—but fun,” she says. And for Jackson, marketing certainly has been, and continues to be, hard work. In fact, Jackson made the not-so-easy transition from marketing for major B2C companies—such as Procter & Gamble, Campbell Soup Company, and Summer Infant—to the B2B space. She says, however, much of that same know-how has enabled her to dive right in, excel, and take those B2B-specific challenges head on.
“Marketing is more than just brand building and marketing communications,” Jackson says. “It’s understanding the voice of the customer [whether a shopper or an enterprise], and leveraging all facets of our brand and company to build value for them.”
Marketing strategy: The approach that I always take to marketing is the who, the what, and the how. The who is the audience—in other words, who am I talking to? That could be broad segments, different industry verticals, [or] psychographics. The what is the thing that our brand stands for and what our value proposition is, and how we communicate that to our target consumer. The how is simply the way that we bring that brand equity to life, which includes all of the different vehicles and strategies that we put into place to make that happen and keep our promise.
Winning ways: My background is actually B2C. And when I came to HookLogic, what I felt was missing from our lead-generation effort was a reason to engage with our advertisers. So, I put in place a content strategy in which we had primary research and fantastic data with our retail partners—all about buying behaviors on e-commerce. That is, I set up a content strategy that was relevant to the target audience. We engaged advertisers—the who—with meaningful content—the what—which HookLogic had uniquely—the how.
Defining moment: When I look back on my journey, one of the biggest defining moments…was when I first became a mom. And with that comes navigating those career choices and balancing the professional with the personal. In 2004 I left corporate America to start my own consulting business, which had more flexibility. Two of my past clients hired me later on down the road.
Trend watching: The major trend that I’m seeing is clearly digital. It’s why I joined HookLogic.
Words to live by: Do the best that you can.
Good read: I love the touch and feel of a physical book. Right now I’m reading Caleb’s Crossing, a novel by Geraldine Brooks, for my book club.
Good advice: To be a successful marketing leader, it’s important to have a broad range of experiences.
Ashley Johnston, SVP, Global Marketing, Experian Marketing Services
Ashley Johnston’s answer of “everything” to our question about what trends she’s watching may seem like a cop-out, but in actuality it’s the product of personal experience. The mom of Luke (a.k.a. Lucky), 8, and Ava, 5, has a front-row seat to the marketplace of the future.
“Ava loves to bake and is already learning how to use YouTube to find recipes. When you watch young children, you can see that technology is just like breathing,” Johnston says. “I heard someone recently saying that children today won’t be able to think on their own. I couldn’t disagree more. I see my children finding their own ways through these connected devices.”
Johnston approaches such all-encompassing issues with aplomb, firm in her conviction that every day is another day to prove one’s self. In one year she wove a single brand story around five legacy brands at Experian Marketing Services and told it in 33 countries. The “Intelligent Interactions” campaign installed a new identity at the data-driven marketing powerhouse, and won Johnston and her team the coveted internal Masters in Marketing Award.
The two words that sum up Johnston’s recipe for success: Be fearless. “When I was in college and trying to decide which area of marketing to go into, someone told me to do what scares me the most,” she says. “That was technology.” Upon graduation, she took a job at Racer Computer, a supplier of white box computers to CompUSA. She learned how computers work, and now instructs marketers the world over in the best ways to use them.
Marketing strategy: Tell your story. Storytelling is not just a buzzword, it’s your ability to make an emotional connection.
Winning ways: In 2014 we launched the Experian Marketing Suite. We took disparate products and combined them to deliver on what we believed clients will be looking for tomorrow. We put clients at the center of our portfolio so they could put the customer at the center of their businesses.
Defining moment: I arrived at Experian through a startup called CheetahMail. The passion that ran through our small office was palpable and made going to work exciting and challenging. The owners cultivated a culture of empowerment and innovation that inspired us to take risks.
Trend watching: Everything! You have to. The generational gaps are larger and more significant, and that puts more pressure on brands to evolve and adapt their story.
Words to live by: Deliver value every day. I believe opportunities are earned through how much I contribute. The fact is, nobody is irreplaceable, you just need to make yourself harder to replace.
Good read: I’m fascinated by the concept of “grit” and the research Angela Duckworth is working on. It explores how some people achieve more success than others who have intellectual or athletic advantages.
Maly Ly, VP of Global Marketing, Sojern
Maly Ly’s marketing genius is distinctly a product of her background. Arriving in the U.S. at seven years old, Ly learned to overcome language barriers by connecting with people psychologically. Having worked in two of the most disruptive and consumer-driven markets around (music and video games), Ly further honed her ability to connect with people. This work, combined with her experience as an early hire at AdRoll, helped solidify Ly as an expert at crafting powerful messages without compromising brand purpose or identity, or alienating consumers. Now, Ly applies her marketing savvy to Sojern, working to establish the brand as an industry leader.
Marketing strategy: The foundation of my marketing strategy starts with a deep understanding of customers—their needs, problems, and motivations—and how a product or brand can best serve those needs, problems, and motivations. [That knowledge underpins the] unique positioning that resonates with customers. And to approach channels that best engage customers, you have to be willing to listen, to experiment, and to optimize. Additionally, the modern buyer journey—which involves self-directed research, evaluation, and social proof—doesn’t follow a linear purchase journey, so content, programs, and channels have to be mapped to all phases of this journey.
High-quality, relevant, and well-designed content is the key to strong marketing programs. I’m a fanatic when it comes to details, data, and design. Marketing is most powerful when the story, the data, and the visuals work together. These approaches have transformed my two most recent companies, Sojern and AdRoll.
Winning ways: Sojern’s global marketing and sales enablement efforts have helped the company grow at a rate of more than 1,000% on average over the past three years. The company is the only travel technology company to top the Deloitte Fast 500 Technology list for the past two years.
In the past year our team produced news and materials that garnered upwards of 300 million impressions, leading to a 36% increase in webpage views, and a 32% increase in site users. Across social media, in the past year we’ve increased Twitter engagement by more than 500%, and Facebook by more than 700%.
Defining moment: AdRoll secured the number one marketing/advertising company and number seven overall on the Inc. 500 list when I led marketing there. I’d just joined three quarters earlier as the first marketing professional at the company. With a tiny startup budget, little market awareness, undifferentiated positioning, and few sales enablement programs in place, I quickly developed and implemented a marketing plan that helped transform AdRoll within three quarters.
Trend watching: Cross-device. The modern consumer doesn’t follow a linear purchase path. Getting a deep understanding of how and when consumers interact with different technologies is essential for being able to engage with and influence them.
Words to live by: “They sicken of the calm who know the storm.”
Good read: Just Kids by Patti Smith
Good advice: Learn to listen well, write well, and to interpret data well.
Natasha Raja, VP of Marketing and Customer Service, Dice
Natasha Raja is a firm believer in following one’s passion. And if there’s one thing Raja is passionate about, it’s delivering results. Through her leadership, the tech career site Dice has experienced a 55% increase in registrations and a 70% increase in candidate applications.
Marketing strategy: I truly believe in customer centricity; especially ‘voice of customer’ and ‘how do we create loyalty for that customer.’ It’s really a two-way street on how you take care of your customers, how you make them feel special, and how you understand their wants and needs and make it a perfect CRM.
Winning ways: One of our campaigns was “Hottest in Tech.” [We invited] real techies—a real programmer, Hadoop developer, and Big Data engineer—and had a photo shoot. We were actually up on [a] Times Square [billboard], as well. The engineers were in their boxers and we put “find the hottest tech talent on Dice.” It worked so well because it really caught people’s attention…. It’s about changing perception, and we started getting more product awareness and product sales due to that.
Defining moment: When I first came to the U.S., I never wanted to live here…. I was going to gain a few years of work experience and go back [to India]. But working at eBay was life-changing because you’re working with the smartest people, but you’re [also] following your passion. You can see the work that you’re doing—whether it’s behind the cube, in front of Meg Whitman, in front of the camera, or in front of your customers. You are making a difference, and it was very rewarding to see that you don’t always need to own a company or start a company to build your success or make a difference in the world. You can work at a very good company, and you can still achieve your dreams.
Trend watching: It’s all about the data…. There’s brand, there’s product, there’s integrated marketing, but data speaks for itself. Data tells the story, and today the data is deeper and richer and marketers are smarter than ever before.
Words to live by: “Make a difference.” No matter what company or what job you’re doing, at the end of the day you want to feel like you made a difference in your life and in somebody else’s life.
Good read: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.
This book is Ayn Rand’s gift to the world, and to any person, young or old, who strives to live an individual and independent life, free of the societal forces that want to crush the bold and spirited energy of the creative mind.
Good advice: Follow your dreams. Find your passion and follow it. Do not settle for less. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
Alicianne Rand, VP of Marketing, NewsCred
Alicianne Rand is the personification of a marketing unicorn. She has a head for analytics and marketing science and a heart for creative and design. And, as anyone who knows her can attest, Rand is passionate. It’s that passion that earned her an early position at NewsCred, where she’s grown her team into a powerful revenue center for the company, with 70% of NewsCred’s 2014 deals having touched at least one piece of marketing from her team. Rand led the charge when NewsCred kicked off its Content Marketing Summit in 2013, and has doubled the event’s audience since. Rand shifted the mind-set at NewsCred toward its current design-oriented focus, which helped the company score Digiday’s 2014 Best Content Marketing Tech Platform Award.
Marketing strategy: I come from a creative background doing brand design, so I believe a strong brand purpose is critical. I’m into the science and analytics in marketing, as well. We work to show that marketing is not a cost center, but a revenue driver in the business.
Winning ways: Building such a phenomenal team has been a great accomplishment. We’re a small team, but we come out with tons of creative ideas, and we’re inspired by the bigger mission of our company. I’m also proud of the fact that marketing contributes to more than 30% of the revenue at NewsCred on a first-touch basis, specifically in our B2B departments.
Defining moment: There wasn’t one single defining moment for me. It was my intense curiosity that helped get me here. With that, and the experience I got from my work as an intern at ABC, I landed at NewsCred. I’ve been here since the beginning because I really believe in the founders, and what we’re doing.
Trend watching: I’m really interested in understanding how content creation, consumption, and sharing are intersecting with the latest innovation in technology. Take a platform like Facebook, and look at the rise of BuzzFeed, and note how intertwined the two are. They really power each other. The pace of innovation is incredible. Look at the Internet of Things; the way software is intersecting with our regular lives.
Words to live by: Our CEO once said, “Be irrationally optimistic in everything you do.”
Good read: I read a ton of blogs and books because a lot of the latest innovation can’t be taught yet. As far as books go, I’m reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt, and Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. The blogs I follow are the NewsCred blog, GrowthHackers, and TomTunguzl.
Samantha Skey, Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer, SheKnows Media
SheKnows produces content that allows women to inspire other women, which is just one of the reasons Samantha Skey says she joined the team in March 2013. “When I think about our approach to building the SheKnows brand and communicating with our core audience of moms and those women who love lifestyle, I think about that core value that we try to engender: women impacting women,” Skey says. “Part of our jobs is making sure that every piece of content we put out there is informing, inspiring, and amusing.”
With more than 20 years of experience in digital media, including time at marquee media companies, such as The Walt Disney Company and CNET, Skey has also spent a chunk of her career in for-profit causes. Interweaving personal and business goals, she became the CMO at sustainability company Recycle Bank and carried that passion for doing good to SheKnows Media. “I discovered that although I love [issues like] sustainability, I found that the area that I was going to have the most impact was in women’s issues and how women use media,” Skey says. “So, the flip to SheKnows made a lot of sense. And it allowed me the opportunity to continue that double bottom-line approach, where there are monetary goals and social goals in one company.”
Marketing strategy: Understanding the marketing math is really important in scaling a business. But when I think about building the SheKnows brand and just communicating to our audience—women who love lifestyle—I think our overall marketing strategy is based on those core values that we try to instill in women.
Winning ways: We hosted a workshop [called] Hatch in celebration of MLK Day. During this workshop we collaborated with tweens to talk about the gifts that they’ve received and the changes in society as a result of the Civil Rights Movement. We created a really inspiring project for these kids, discussing racism. The video that we created with these tweens focused on micro-aggression—or unintended insults and discrimination. The video has gotten more than 150,000 views and taught people more about these terms and what people can do. It’s the work we’re most proud of.
Defining moment: I left media for a minute in 2008. And I decided that I wanted to work on social causes that are for-profit. It was a chance to use my financial skills and do social work. I brought that to SheKnows when I re-entered digital media.
Trend watching: I’m seeing a lot of so-called femvertising—that pro-female and female empowerment messaging from brands that are looking to differentiate themselves and develop relationships with head-of-household females. So, I think that’s a strong trend right now: advancing women’s causes and female issues through advertising and through brand support.
Words to live by: As long as you try hard to succeed, failure is fine.
Good read: Euphoria by Lily King and The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel Levitin
Good advice: Make sure that the product or service you’re marketing has strong, clear, distinctive value.
Corinne Sklar, Global CMO, Bluewolf
Corinne Sklar says that taking risks, driving creativity, and fostering inspiration are the steps that will create a passionate and successful marketing team. “If you have an organization that’s willing to allow people to go beyond—to extend themselves—there’s a sense of pride and a sense of creativity that’s born out of that,” Sklar says, “which I think has made me a better marketer—and a better leader.” In fact, Sklar says that she takes a personal pride in her marketing team at the digital-
focused business consulting firm because when people are themselves they bring their individual talents and views to their work. “I’ve been able to grow—and so have the people who I work with—because I have others around me, mentors, who encourage me to always be myself,” she says. “That’s key to success.”
Marketing strategy: I look at marketing as three legs on a stool, and, ultimately, if you want to be a successful marketer, I strongly believe that you need to have a focus on all of these: a blend of creative and brand strategy, a focus on technology, and data.
Winning ways: I’m extremely proud of an internal campaign we have at Bluewolf: Going Social. We have gamified external and internal collaboration. In other words, our employees are earning points and rewards for collaborating and sharing knowledge. So, just by sharing posts on their LinkedIn pages or earning a certain Klout score, they’re rewarded for being social. It’s a program that we’re constantly iterating on.
Defining moment: The defining moment—or moments—for me has been having people around me, particularly my leadership and mentors, who’ve encouraged me to be myself. They helped me realize that people want my ideas. I felt empowered.
Trend watching: One trend is the focus on the mobile mind-set. Recently, Google announced that it will rank sites and properties on whether they are optimized for mobile. So, anyone who’s doing search marketing should think mobile first. A second trend is to stop thinking about marketing as B2B versus B2C. The lines and barriers are starting to fall away, and you’re seeing less distinction between the two.
Words to live by: Speak your mind; have ideas. Be a thousand times yourself, and think freely. People look for authenticity. It drives your career.
Good read: I usually read several books at once. Right now I’m reading two business [books] and one personal book: Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business; Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage; and a recent biography about [Abraham] Lincoln.
Good advice: Pay attention to technology, and get to know data. And don’t forget what it means to come up with creative campaigns. Be bold.
Kate Spellman, CMO, Penton
“Success is all about making a true impact.”
That’s the fervent advice Kate Spellman has for marketers looking to drive action. In fact, Spellman says that if marketers want to succeed they need to provide potential and current customers with one thing: value. “Understand the true value proposition for the customers,” she says. “So, focus on the user, the audience, or the customers. Know the actions that you want to drive and the end result that you want to see. It’s really about the what, the so what, and the now what. In other words, it’s all about impact.”
Marketing strategy: Just make sure that what you’re touching as a marketer is really making an impact on behavior and your desired end result.
Winning ways: My biggest win is the people who have surrounded me [at Penton]. I have the best team in the industry. I would put them up against anybody. And what I’m most proud of is watching my team step up, perform, and have so much impact—that’s in the company and with clients, too.
Defining moment: My latest defining moment would be from the time that I worked at [United Business Media] before coming to Penton. I launched a new division in the company and created it from scratch. It was the digital arm of UBM, called UBM Studios. And it was a defining moment because it gave me a lot of perspective on the importance of building the right team, the ability to let talent do what they needed to do, and bringing the right people onboard. I also think that it gave me a great deal of understanding in running something and understanding how each pivotal area works.
Trend watching: One of the [trends] for marketers everywhere is measuring the value of your user. We all hear, ‘What’s the lifetime value of your customer, and how are you measuring that?’ That’s an important thing to measure. Also, I think that from a marketing perspective, data is more and more important, and we’ll need to be running to that rather than running away from it.
Words to live by: I got this from my CEO, and it stuck in my head: Understand the why. When you start out in your career, so often, you’re just doing. Ask questions, and get the why behind the what. Then you can really do and make an impact.
Good read: A Sense of Urgency by John P. Kotter.
Linda Vetter, VP of Marketing, Yes Lifecycle Marketing
When she was younger, Linda Vetter had “champagne taste and a beer salary.” Thankfully, her waitressing experience taught her how to work with what she had. Fast forward to 2014 and Vetter, now a VP of marketing, applied this same mentality when she led the launch of Yes Lifecycle Marketing, an integration of the company’s existing solutions, in one month without a separate budget.
Marketing strategy: We have this saying that hope is a dangerous thing. We’re not going to focus on what we hope will work, but rather what the data tells us has worked and hasn’t worked. Then, let’s figure out how to make improvements and start it all over again.
Winning ways: Launching Yes Lifecycle Marketing itself…. A ton of our prospects and our clients were dealing with a number of different vendors. We were asking ourselves, “If the whole goal here is to ensure that we as marketers are providing this multichannel seamless experience for our customers…how can we do that if we’re going to town with several different vendors?” The launch of this concept—this holistic approach of aligning technology and services—was really great for us as an organization.
Defining moment: I was with a company for about nine years and had the opportunity to go follow a boy to Europe. I left the company and went and traveled to Europe, and when I came back, I just had no idea what I wanted to do…. I was working at Alterian as an executive admin, and then opportunity presented itself within marketing. I dove in and loved it. That was just one of those moments of being at the right place at the right time, forging this path, growing within the organization, and learning everything that I could—and it led me to where I am now.
Trend watching: We just recently did some research…and we found some crazy numbers of how many [technology and service providers that marketers] are using and the amount of time that they’ve spent coordinating their activities. Think about how much time you spend coordinating six vendors, whereas if you have one or two to work with couldn’t you be putting much more time then toward your strategy and applying that toward your marketing activities?
Words to live by: “Pour yourself a drink; put on some lipstick; and pull yourself together.” –Elizabeth Taylor
Good read: Use What You’ve Got, and Other Business Lessons I Learned from My Mom by Barbara Corcoran
Sometimes what I think books like this do is give you this great reminder of ‘use what’s right in front of you’…. As marketers, we’re often asked to do a lot with a little, and we have to learn quickly to use what’s available to us—that’s often right in front of us—to the fullest extent possible.
Melissa Wallace, VP of Marketing, Splash
Throughout her nearly 20-year career in marketing, Melissa Wallace has attempted to accomplish one thing: do only what she loves. “Since the beginning of my career, I’ve taken all kinds of marketing roles, mainly in entertainment,” Wallace says. “I kept thinking, ‘If I’m going to market something, it’s got to be something that I love.’ And I love entertainment. I love music. I love sports. I love film. So, I was determined to work in entertainment. I just didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go.”
Wallace says that she discovered her love for marketing entertainment brands about 15 years ago in the role of senior marketing manager for communications giant DIRECTV. “Over time I learned that I love marketing to marketers,” she says. Since her time at DIRECTV, Wallace has taken on several senior marketing roles with marquee companies such as A&E Television Networks, URL-shortening service Bitly, and Salesforce.com, which in 2012 bought Buddy Media for nearly $750 million, in part due to the successful marketing campaigns led by Wallace, who was the VP of marketing at Buddy Media at the time: “My role today [at Splash] is now to get the public on board. From the branding, to PR, to driving awareness, I get to do all the fun stuff in this new job. It’s everything fun about marketing.”
Marketing strategy: When I was starting out, digital marketing was emerging. So, the idea that you could associate something like ROI with your marketing efforts became something that I was focused on. But I’m also very split between being creative and analytical. I believe that when you’re marketing to consumers, and even to other marketers, creativity is extremely important. So, my approach in this B2B space is to find a way to entertain the marketer.
Winning ways: I want to talk about my time at Buddy Media. I came in to basically do a relaunch of their product. We had only about eight weeks, and we took a creative approach on tools for social media marketers. We recruited five artists from around the world, and let them create a digital and social campaign that told a message of power and connections through their artwork. The result was not just an effective campaign, but we also helped create a new category: social media marketing.
Defining moment: Early in my career I actually thought that I was going to law school. While I was applying to law school as an undergrad, I began temping at the company that my father worked for. I was just in the marketing department kind of helping out. I had never been exposed to marketing in any real way. But immediately I decided not to go to law school and went to grad school to study marketing communications. I decided that this is the path that I wanted to go down.
Trend watching: I’m watching the integration of all of these SaaS companies. It’s interesting to see how they’re working together.
Words to live by: From Star Wars: “Do, or do not. There is no try.”
Good read: Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All
Good advice: I think that women forget to focus on themselves; focus on yourself and what’s important to you.
Lori Wright, CMO, TIBCO Software Inc.
Lori Wright understands the elusive nature of excellence, and has learned when and where the pursuit of this slippery adjective is viable. She also is clear about her priorities, and that clarity has allowed her to excel where it counts in her marketing career. Professionally, this keen sense of self has led to pivotal professional relationships, and substantial progress at TIBCO, where Wright has helped grow the company’s leads by 30%.
Marketing strategy: Know who your customers are, and who you want your future customers to be, then tell them why your products serve their needs better than anything else. Finally, make sure you have the systems in place to be able to tell whether your message is resonating, and your existing customers are staying with you and buying more from you.
Winning ways: On the personal side, I’m most proud of being here with you right now to have this conversation. I had my second child five months ago, and being both an executive in the fast-paced IT industry and a mom to two energetic boys at home is not for the faint of heart.
On the professional side, I’m really proud of the work we did in 2014 to launch a new brand identity for the company, improve demand-generation processes, and deliver the most successful user conference in the history of the company.
Defining moment: The defining moment of my career came when I got a call from John W. Thompson one day to work with him as his business operations leader while he was the chairman and CEO of Symantec. Beyond learning from someone extraordinary like John, this was the inflection point in which I moved my family from Florida to California. This afforded me the opportunity to take on a series of roles where I met a lot of people, did a lot of different things, and honed my skills in areas that I was passionate about.
Trend watching: The expectations of marketing to be a revenue driver for the company are stronger than ever before. As this trend continues to develop, marketing has to be able to demonstrably show the contribution it is making to the organization in a quantifiable way.
Words to live by: I’m naturally wired to want to be a straight-A student, but I realized that if I try and live my life getting straight As, I’m going to either be pretty miserable, or not last too long during the journey. A friend helped me put this in perspective once by devising a system each day where I determine where I want to get an A and where I’m willing to take a C. Being the control freak that I am, this is an empowering system.
Good read: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck, Ph.D.
Good advice: Be bold. Don’t do a lot of little stuff that makes minimal impact. Come up with one big platform idea each year and swing for the fences—you won’t always connect, but when you do, it makes all the difference in the world. People won’t remember the little things—but they’ll remember the big bangs.
Yael Zheng, CMO, Tintri
In making the case for Yael Zheng’s induction into the Marketing Hall of Femme, let’s do it Football Hall of Fame style and lay out the stats. When she joined VMware as VP of support services in 2004 the company’s annual revenue was about $200 million; when she left as VP worldwide marketing in 2009 it was $1.9 billion. Since joining Tintri last Spring, sales continued growing at triple-digit rates, the company made its debut in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, its NPS hit 94, and Tintri was recognized as a 2015 Technology of the Year at InfoWorld. In Canton, that’s the stuff of first-ballot elections.
Zheng is also what would be called in the sports world a “multi-tool player.” With a B.S. in materials science engineering from MIT and an MBA from UC Berkeley, she’s the prototype of the marketing engineer that nearly every company longs for these days.
“Having that engineering background is very helpful to me,” says Zheng, a former violinist in the MIT Symphony Orchestra. “I welcome the fact that marketing is becoming more measurable. It makes me feel much more comfortable doing what I’m doing. It’s combining the Greek part with the Roman part.”
Marketing strategy: Tech companies can learn a thing or two from B2C companies that don’t practice “ility” marketing—agility, availability, flexilibity—or cliché marketing: “revolutionary,” “disruptive,” “transformative.” Marketers should find ways to tell their story without boring people to death or sounding like everybody else.
Winning ways: Tintri was recently recognized as an InfoWorld 2015 Technology of the Year. This puts us on a list that includes Apple’s iPhone, HTML 5, and Docker.
Defining moment: At VMware I created a document I thought was well-written and showed it to the CEO. She grimaced and said she didn’t like it. “It’s too corporate-sounding and perfect,” she said. The writing felt manufactured and contained too many hackneyed tech buzzwords. It took me a few months to grasp the significance. What came out didn’t sound authentic or original. I then started speaking in a new language.
Trend watching: Predictive profiling for lead generation.
Words to live by: No mediocrity!
Good read: I’m currently reading The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power by Daniel Yergin. It’s a history of the 20th century viewed from the perspective of how oil played a role in nearly every major conflict.