Click to download your free copy of the 2013 Marketing Hall of Femme e-book, sponsored by Limelight Networks.
Read on and be inspired.
The inaugural Marketing Hall of Femme event held March 22 in New York City was about more than a gathering of female marketing luminaries—though it was very much that.
The sold-out brunch, which honored the top 15 woman CMOs in the country, was a true meeting of the minds. Following a closed door honoree-only roundtable discussion, attendees were invited to mingle and network, before a keynote address from Christine Osekoski, publisher of Fast Company. A panel discussion on leadership followed, as brunch and mimosas were served.
The exceptional women honored at Hall of Femme have risen to the apex of their profession as champions of integrated, direct marketing strategies in their organizations. Their methods have improved marketing performance and have yielded measureable results—from revenue growth to increases in customer engagement. Their stories, similar to those of powerhouse brands, are ones of dynamism, flexibility, incisiveness, and determination.
And the honorees are—
- Lisa Arthur, CMO, Teradata Applications
- Rebecca Baker, CMO, Alvarez & Marsal
- Emma Carrasco, CMO, National Public Radio (NPR)
- Joan Chow, EVP & CMO, ConAgra Foods
- Beth Comstock, SVP & CMO, General Electric (GE)
- Lauren Crampsie, Worldwide CMO, Ogilvy & Mather
- Vicky Free, CMO, BET Networks
- Anne Globe, CMO, DreamWorks Animation
- Leontyne Green Sykes, CMO, IKEA US
- Denise Incandela, EVP & CMO, Saks Fifth Avenue
- Mariann McDonagh, CMO, inContact
- Richelle Parham, CMO, eBay North America
- Martine Reardon, CMO, Macy’s
- Susan Thronson, SVP of global marketing, Marriott International
- Trish Wheaton, CMO, Wunderman
Marketers who fear the technology onslaught can take courage from the story of Lisa Arthur. After graduating from The Ohio State University with degrees in poli-sci and journalism, she worked at an agency in Cincinnati on the Sisters Chicken & Biscuits account. Fast food wasn’t for her, so she moved into hospitality, where she learned that neither was picking out bedspreads. Research told her tech was the place to be, so Arthur took a job at a small tech firm in Ohio and “from there I just kept moving sideways and upwards,” she says. That led to seven years at Oracle, overseeing its CRM business and E-Business Suite as VP of marketing, and the launch of Cinterim, where she dispensed strategic marketing counsel to Silicon Valley start-ups and stalwarts alike.
Marketing strategy: Good marketers are people who use their creativity and smarts to make other people believers. Passion makes good marketing great! [Also,] marketers today need to be part technologist. CMOs have to focus on providing a compelling customer experience and technology is a conduit to that. It’s our job in the tech sector to help educate them.
Winning ways: I am humbled and honored to be part of the Marketing Hall of Femme. I’m a huge proponent of women in marketing, women in business, and women in academia driving change in leadership roles.
Defining moment: Running my own consulting company, managing the P&L, pitching to venture capitalists, and delivering strong for my clients. It challenged every business bone in my body and made me a better marketer. It’s also how Aprimo—now Teradata Applications—found me.
Trend watching: Growth in data-driven marketing will continue, but never at the expense of the human role in making key decisions. I think marketers will play a central role in helping society balance the protection of civil liberties with freedom of creative expression.
Words to live by: Every year I adopt a new motto. This year it’s “Kill it with Fire!” Only by doing everything with passion can we eliminate obstacles.
Good read: Good to Great by Jim Collins. I’ve developed our “Hedgehog ” [a clear strategy on how to achieve optimal long-term performance] and execute against that with great results. I also aspire to be a “Level Five Leader” [someone who blends personal humility and “intense professional will”].
Good advice: Train your brain to be half business and half analytical/statistical. Marketing is both art and science.
Marketing didn’t used to be so complicated at Alvarez & Marsal, a professional services firm that for years focused on corporate restructuring and turnaround management. When a company’s debt level became unsustainable, its bankers or lawyers would bring in A&M. “The more trouble found a company, the more companies found us,” says CMO Rebecca Baker. Now that A&M has expanded its management services to also advise healthy companies around the world, Baker finds herself dynamically engaged in finding new ways to reach an expanding customer base.
While Baker admits that technology is changing the rules of the game, she doesn’t think it changes the game entirely. To her, defining products and services to customers is always going to be the province of intellectual acumen. “No machine can take the place of that,” Baker says.
Content marketing figures greatly into Baker’s responsibilities—and the English major who started her professional life as a high school teacher in New York welcomes the challenge. Customer relationships, she says, are born of meaningful touchpoints.
Marketing strategy: Creative, pragmatic, results-oriented, execution-driven, battle-tested, and experience-based.
Winning ways: Continuously adapting and communicating—internally and externally—are the keys to success. This is especially true in a firm that was known for restructuring and now is evolving into a global professional services company.
Defining moment: Getting laid off from my first job as a teacher after my first year. I had to take stock of what it was I liked to do, where my talents and interests lay. I realized I enjoyed being a communicator. I was good at determining what moved audiences. I just didn’t realize at the time that that was marketing.
Trend watching: There are two basic kinds of marketing: content marketing and contact marketing. Technology now allows us to integrate both and makes campaign management more measurable and reportable.
Words to live by: “Ripeness is all.”—Shakespeare
Good read: True North by Bill George. It’s a book I used to discover what my authentic values and motivations were and how I was going use them to build my team and integrate aspects of my private life with work.
Good advice: Get to work on time. Stay focused. Don’t be distracted by organizational noise. Follow your passion and have the courage to always do the right thing.
In high school in Santa Barbara, aspiring actress Emma Carrasco starred in The Miracle Worker as Anne Sullivan, the teacher who painstakingly made a connection with the deaf and blind Helen Keller. The experience didn’t lead to a career on the stage, but instead steeled the daughter of Mexican immigrants for a lifetime of attempting breakthroughs with consumers.
After graduating from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in communications, Carrasco went to work on the Anheuser-Busch account at Fleishman-Hillard. Her subsequent roles in branding, advertising, and media at Republica and Nortel Networks molded her into a perfect fit for the CMO’s chair. The experiences allowed her to “step back and see what various players might be thinking about,” and then develop cross-culture solutions—not to mention be prepared to help satisfy the wants and needs of the 975 stations in the NPR network.
Marketing strategy: You always win when you place your consumer at the core of your strategy. Understand how they connect, discover, communicate, and share. The resulting efforts will resonate deeply.
Winning ways: At Republica, I led the effort to introduce Goya Foods, an iconic brand in the Hispanic market, to the general market. We did it by tapping into consumers’ desire to explore new cuisines in a fresh, authentic way. Goya is entering its second year as a prominent player at the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival and is enjoying the success of an expanding customer base.
Defining moment: With Nortel Networks, I traveled the globe and met customers from myriad cultures. Respecting differences, but finding common ground in dealing with customers, has been one of the great learnings of my career.
Trend watching: Mobile apps represent an opportunity for brands to develop intimate connections with consumers and to truly be relevant. People are willing to trade personal data for convenience, a customized experience, or time or money saved.
Words to live by: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz: “Be impeccable with your word; don’t take anything personally; don’t make assumptions; always do your best.”
Good read: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is a seminal reminder of the power of creativity, inventiveness, and applied imagination.
Good advice: Be driven by passion, commitment to excellence, and a deep desire to understand consumer behavior.
For Joan Chow, customer insight is more than a passion, it’s a way of life. “If you don’t have consumer insight into what truly motivates the customer, you won’t come up with a good marketing idea,” says Chow, who leads ConAgra’s overarching global marketing team efforts as its EVP and CMO, including planning, social media, and multicultural marketing. Before joining ConAgra six years ago, Chow shone as SVP and CMO of Sears, Roebuck and Co.
Marketing strategy: It all starts with customer insight. From there is where you come up with your creative idea and figure out how to activate it across different channels.
Winning ways: I’m most proud of my marketing team. I’ve had this team for six years, and without what they do every day, there would be no success.
Defining moment: I was never one of those people who couldn’t answer the interview question about what I’d want to do 10 years from now. It’s always been my attribute to be open-minded and try to build on the skills in my toolkit.
Trend watching: The biggest trend right now is the continually changing demographics of the U.S. household. Only about 20% of the U.S. population has “traditional” households today, with a Caucasian mom and dad and kids, so marketers have to think about what the new complexion of the county is like. Most people say the trends are about data or social media, but to me it’s about the people who use them. It’s all about the people.
Words to live by: I’ve never been a quote person and I’ve always admired people who can open their presentations at conferences with great quotes. But I would say my personal motto is to always be curious and to never be afraid to ask questions.
Good read: I love fiction…everything from suspense to horror to romance to fantasy and sci-fi. I read about a book a week and I’m a devoted fan of the public library. It’s a great way to help me relax. I just read a book called If Jack’s in Love [by Stephen Wetta] about a 12-year-old kid growing up in a neighborhood that’s considered white trash and how he deals with it and an alcoholic father.
Good advice: Don’t be afraid to ask for a challenging assignment, and if people are asking for a volunteer, always raise your hand to try something new.
When is a big company still a small company? When it has a CMO who sees value in the small. One such marketing leader is Beth Comstock, who helped drag NBC Universal into the digital age as its president of integrated media and now jolts General Electric by welcoming entrepreneurs and inventors into its hallowed halls. For instance, the 2011 version of the GE ecomagination Challenge she masterminded resulted in GE’s committing $134 million to commercializing 20 new clean technology innovations.
GE’s approach is all about connecting with customers in new and compelling ways—a perfect environment for Comstock. Since starting her career in TV news in Virginia, Comstock has always been ready for the next big thing, if indeed that thing has value.
Marketing strategy: We encourage our marketers to always remember that they need to be innovators just as much as our scientists and engineers in research labs. We’re innovating new business plans and entering new markets by listening to our customers on the ground. Cocreating with our customers allows us to spot emerging opportunities and unlock new value.
Winning ways: I’m excited about the successful launch of the Durathon [automobile] battery last year. This kind of symbiotic relationship between big, established companies and entrepreneurs and start-ups is essential. We have the scale, and often they have the inspiration.
Defining moment: I took a job that no one else wanted in a business unit that was not doing well. People advised me it was career suicide. We had nowhere to go but up—and up we went. I got to be part of a dynamic leadership team that encouraged risks.
Trend watching: The emergence of the “industrial Internet” has enormous implications for economies and individuals. The world’s thousands upon thousands of machines are coming online now. We’re connecting everything from medical devices in big city hospitals to turbines at power plants to the Internet.
Words to live by: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” from Thomas A. Edison.
Good read: Daniel H. Pink’s To Sell Is Human is about the salesperson in us all. Early in my career someone told me I would be good in sales. I thought he was crazy. Now I’m in sales.
Good advice: Have a basic understanding of statistics and data analysis. If you’re afraid of data, you’re not ready to be a 21st century marketer.
In her stratospheric rise from business development manager at Ogilvy & Mather in 2005 to its global CMO today, 32-year-old Lauren Crampsie remains grounded, levelheaded, and above all, hungry. A passionate pitcher of new business, under Crampsie’s leadership the agency’s blue-chip client list became even bluer with the addition of IKEA, Walmart, Gap, Tabasco, and others.
Marketing strategy: I always say we’re just as much of a brand as our clients are. The most important thing for me is inside-out branding and making sure our 23,000 employees worldwide know and understand who we are and what we believe in.
Winning ways: I’m most proud of us winning the Gap business because I actually helped run the business through to the launch campaign that put Gap back on the map.
Defining moment: When my first boss left the company it was a moment in time when I thought, “I can either step up to the plate and try to do what he did and run this department, or I can put my head down and continue doing what I’m doing and wait until they bring someone else in”—and I made the decision to fight for it.
Trend watching: There’s so much that I could rattle off in terms of trends, but now more than ever it’s trust and authenticity that matter most. Our philosophy is to bring greatness no matter what trend is happening.
Words to live by: It’s a quote from David Ogilvy: “Hire giants.” When I hire people I make sure they’re much smarter than I am. I’m a big believer in a strong team foundation. I couldn’t do my job without my team.
Good read: Chelsea Handler’s book My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands. There are so many days when I feel like I’m dancing to the beat of my own drummer, and it’s a breath of fresh air to see a successful woman be so open about how different she is. Business books stress me out. You have to be able to step outside of the seriousness.
Good advice: There’s a sort of buzz now around millennials that they’re quicker, better, know more, they’re social, they’re entrepreneurs creating billion-dollar companies. It’s easy to get caught up in all that hype. But when you step away from all that, my advice would be to know what you don’t know.
As the top marketer at BET Networks, Vicky Free delivers on the brand’s promise to “respect, reflect, and elevate” its audience—and then some. Under Free’s tenure BET Networks received 15 NAACP Image Awards nominations in 2012. Prior to BET, Free—who has nearly two decades of brand marketing and media experience—led customer engagement efforts at Turner Broadcasting System. While at TBS she ran campaigns for Cartoon Network and Adult Swim.
Marketing strategy: At the end of the day, you have the big idea and the big insights, but it all needs to manifest the big result.
Winning ways: For the past five years BET has been on a path to revaluate and reframe its brand, and since I came on board in the past 18 months I’ve been able to take those years of brand development work and that vision and build a compelling customer-centric brand campaign that’s been embraced internally and externally.
Defining moment: One of my very early mentors at McDonald’s, where I spent eight and a half years, told me to fail big and fail fast. When you’re young in your career it’s better to be known as someone who makes mistakes and pushes boundaries and tries something different rather than someone who just delivers the status quo.
Trend watching: Your best marketing asset is your customer. Customers are the media channel now, and the question is how do we make them a part of the marketing machine?
Words to live by: If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. From a professional perspective, if you want a project or you want to manage something, you’ve got to ask for it, be prepared to show up, and be ready to take it on.
Good read: State of Wonder [by Ann Patchett], about a chemist exploring the native Lakashi people and women who are able to give birth to healthy babies into their eighties. What does that have to do with my role in media and marketing? Absolutely nothing. But it gives me a moment to relax and let my imagination flow. It also affirms for me something about humankind. We have lots of quantitative and analytical data, but it all starts with the human spirit.
Good advice: As marketers, we first have to market ourselves as a brand. This business is about storytelling and every experience should fuel that. You need to present yourself in a creative way.
Since the release of the Woody Allen-voiced movie Antz in 1998, DreamWorks Animation has consistently released animated films on a yearly schedule. Many of these films, such as Shrek, Madagascar, and How to Train Your Dragon, develop into major franchises with characters that become household names. But make no mistake: It’s a constant scrap for a film to win the top box office spot, each released in a tight window against competing major studio pictures. CMO Anne Globe, along with her team and her distribution partners, has the heady task of making sure DreamWorks Animation movies get the awareness that translates into audience members. Her weapons include an array of digital assets, including YouTube’s TrueView video ads, traditional social media, mobile apps, and even augmented reality.
Marketing strategy: Creatively, we look at what we can do to connect well with each film. That’s our primary goal. [We want] to make sure we have an opportunity that has never been done before and that is consistent with the positioning of each film. We want to talk to families and kids, which is an important baseline. We also look at what we can do for teens and tweens. That’s constantly on our minds.*
Winning ways: This year 20th Century Fox replaced Paramount Pictures as our theatrical distribution partner, and we needed to transition our entire marketing business accordingly. We’re now approaching the release of our first film under the new agreement, The Croods, on March 22, and the team has integrated seamlessly through a process that has been intensive but rewarding for us.
Defining moment: I’ve always made it a top priority to seek out good work. In entertainment, this comes in the form of movies and television shows—created most recently at DreamWorks Animation. My work has flowed naturally from loving the projects that I’m continually supporting, therefore making the days more rewarding.
Trend watching: Both a trend and opportunity currently at the forefront is vertical integration. The goal is for all of our marketing efforts to leverage the interplay of old and new media globally. For example, in entertainment the in-theater trailer placement was traditionally the optimal path for reaching our audience. Today we look at the online launch, the global exposure, the mobile and augmented reality presence, all of which are vital to the success of any campaign along with the in-theater elements.
Words to live by: Challenge yourself everyday to bring new ideas to the party.
Good read: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.
Good advice: Market something that you really love and are passionate about and it will always be fun. You’ll always be in a natural environment because if you’re engaged, you’ll be naturally tuned in with what’s happening in the industry. I would say always follow your gut instinct.*
*Excerpt from, “DreamWorking a Marketing Mix,” 2012 Direct Marketing News “Spotlight” interview
IKEA is known for its trendy furniture design, walk-through displays, and catalogs. But despite the continued success of these traditional customer draws, CMO Leontyne Green Sykes knows her company’s marketing strategies must change with the times. Green Sykes has made certain that IKEA’s marketing is always relevant and cutting edge, whether it’s ensuring that her team is aware of the ways digital channels affect customer buying habits or integrating company departments—like finance and sales—to ensure everyone is headed toward the same goal.
Marketing strategy: Marketing is fundamentally about creating demand for your product, your idea, and your concept. I believe the best way to do that is [by] being clear on the objectives and being focused on your target; understanding what it is that they’re looking for and [what] they need; and then presenting your offering to [customers] in a way that creates energy and interest.
Winning ways: One of the things I’ve been really focused on is dismantling the siloed thinking within marketing. Instead of us working where PR does something, advertising does something, and the media team does something else, I wanted to integrate our approach.
Defining moment: As IKEA’s marketing manager, I worked on an initiative called “Embrace Change” in the D.C. area…. It was a localized idea and fell into the 2008 [presidential] election. It got international recognition because it was a huge guerrilla initiative leveraging something specific in the U.S. And that happened around the time my predecessor resigned and our new president was looking for his next CMO.
Trend watching: Companies want to be more consumer-focused and understand what’s going on. Market research and insights have been around forever, but I see a new passion for it. You can only grow a business so much doing what you’ve always done…. From a technical standpoint, what’s happening in the digital space is the trend of consumers becoming the product experts and trusting each other more than retailers or manufacturers.
Words to live by: You’re going to laugh at me, but that’s okay. It’s [comic book creator] Stan Lee, from the Spider-Man comics: “With great power comes great responsibility.” When you’re in marketing, when you establish trust with the customer, that’s a very powerful thing.
Good read: The one [book] that I believe has helped me the most is Daniel Goleman’s Working with Emotional Intelligence. Travis Bradberry [and Jean Greaves’] Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is another one.
Good advice: Finding your passion and being true to yourself. That’s applicable to all fields.
To the casual window shopper, Saks Fifth Avenue may seem unchanging. Since the first location opened in 1924, the specialty retail store has been consistently known for supplying its well-heeled clientele with high-quality fashion and exceptional service. Yet company CMO Denise Incandela knows that Saks has to be flexible, especially with the advent of digital communication channels and shifts in the way customers browse, interact, and shop. For Incandela, this means architecting a marketing department that uses data to determine what Saks’ loyal customers want and how best to communicate with them.
Marketing strategy: I’m focused on building a marketing organization and culture that embraces transformation, has the intellectual curiosity to problem solve, is analytical and fact-based, as well as creative, is collaborative, has a sense of humor, and drives results. In 2013 our key priorities will focus on building our personalization, top-customer/loyalty programs, digital marketing, and our analytical capabilities. We’re working to transform our capabilities and innovate within each of these areas.
Winning ways: My proudest achievement is building our talented Saks Direct team and business. I’ve always felt strongly about surrounding myself with the best and the brightest, and over the years we’ve built a team of amazing people who have built an impressive business. We’re now doing the same thing with our marketing organization. It’s gratifying when you work with people who have the intellectual appetite to problem solve. Our team makes it invigorating for me to come to work every day.
Defining moment: My career has been filled with many, many challenges, as well as opportunities. There’s no one instance that stands out as career changing, but I can say that seeking feedback from others has helped my career immensely. Others’ perspectives give me perspective.
Trend watching: Personalization and leveraging Big Data are two important opportunities that we’re very focused on right now. These are where we feel the top players are beginning to distinguish themselves.
Words to live by: Surround yourself with amazing people, only the best.
Good read: There is no one book that has impacted my success; however, I will say that I am constantly reading and seeking to understand successful people’s points of views on leadership.
Good advice: Be passionate about what you do; be customer obsessed; own the success of your business, not just your area; over deliver relative to expectations; build stakeholder relationships; be self-critical and seek personal feedback; and find mentors.
Mariann McDonagh has escalated her career by always transitioning to “the next big thing” quickly. Through her years of “relentless iteration,” McDonagh has been able to succeed as SVP of corporate marketing of Xtralis and Verint Systems, and now as CMO of inContact.
Marketing strategy: The first major pillar to my approach is: Be prepared to iterate. The second is relentless measure. If you can’t demonstrate its value, it probably doesn’t have much. The third and final pillar is a simple one: Be a great storyteller. Often I think, especially in software marketing, the best story wins.
Winning ways: We recently won a Markie Award from Eloqua…. We won it in a category called One View of the Truth for work that we did in creating a single collaborative reporting structure for the lifecycle of a lead—from creation through the close of business. It might not sound so exciting, but revenue performance marketing, I believe, is one of the most important trends in marketing today.
Defining moments: Years ago I worked for a very successful company called Cheyenne Software, and I was a product marketing manager responsible for the new release of the company’s market-leading $80 million software on the heels of a product that had had a lot of bugs…. It was my first really big product launch that combined print and direct marketing, channel readiness, PR, AR, IR, global and local, product positioning packaging—the whole nine yards. It was with this experience at Cheyenne that I learned how to launch a product with a great collaborative process and, probably even more important, how to harness the power of marketing to make you look bigger than you are.
Trend watching: I think that there’s a huge opportunity in enterprise software marketing around deconstructing the buyer journey and creating targeted content marketing that accelerates that buyer lifecycle.
Words to live by: I have two, both of which are from Colin Powell. The first is really a mode of operating and it is: “Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves seriously.” The second has been my motto when hiring: “Look for intelligence and judgment and the capacity to see around corners.”
Good read: Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore. It’s an oldie, but a goody. Creating a differentiated strategy that helps you cross the chasm and appeal to the mainstream has shaped a great deal of what I’ve done over the past few years.
Good advice: Always stay close to the revenue stream.
The 2013 launch of the “new eBay,” consisting of a new logo and personalized feeds, has certainly kept CMO Richelle Parham busy. However, she continues to help eBay flourish by keeping the customer at the center of the decision-making process and focusing on prioritization.
Marketing strategy: I start by putting the customer at the center of the conversation. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in; when you put the customer at the center of the decision-making process, both your intentions and your actions will all be coming from the right place.
Winning ways: The thing that I’m most proud of is that I do a lot of work that’s focused on empowering the next generation of women leaders. It’s really all about assuring that I’m able to help women along the way through programs like eBay North America’s Women’s Initiative Network…. It gives me the opportunity to help inspire women all over the world by sharing the stories and journeys of other women in a public forum.
Defining moment: I’ve formed what I call my personal board of directors; I established it because I needed people to just bounce things off of and to give me feedback and guidance, and they really help me along the way. What’s interesting is most of them are former bosses. They know the stuff I’m really good at, and they know the stuff where I can improve.
Trend watching: Frankly, it’s all about data. Today the data is deeper and richer, and marketers are smarter. It’s a trend that’s been around for a long time, but it’s ever more important now.
Words to live by: It’s all about ruthless prioritization. The lesson for me has been about focus and focusing on those things that are most important and those things that will move the needle.
Good read: I love the book Pride and Prejudice, and I read it every year because I think it’s all about understanding the landscape…. She [Elizabeth Bennet] had to learn very late in the book that you can’t pass judgment [and] that what you see is not always what it is.
Good advice: Don’t be afraid to try new things. Having diverse experiences actually pays off. I started in direct marketing and then I went on to focus on digital and then loyalty and relationship marketing. I’ve been on the agency side. I’ve been on the brand side. The fact that I was able to do a lot of different things has really helped me in my career.
When Martine Reardon kicked off her career in public relations and special events for a small downtown Brooklyn company, she used to dream of heading the Macy’s marketing team. Now that her dream has become a reality, she says it’s important to be where the customer is and to be brave enough to try new things.
Marketing strategy: Putting the customer at the center of every single decision that we make…. It really is trying to think through every possible channel and every possible way that she likes to engage with us that we have a lever of communication [for].
Winning ways: It’s an internal thing, but [the marketing department] just won an award in 2012 for creating Magic Selling [a sales approach designed to help sales associates make more natural connections with customers] for the brand.
Defining moment: I have always taken on challenges that were probably a little bit bigger than what I was ready for, which I think makes you focus so much more and makes you want it so much more because it’s not something that would come so naturally. Four years ago, when we consolidated the company to become one Macy’s, I took over the reins for the entire country. That was quite an opportunity and a challenge and probably the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Trend watching: It’s fine to ride a trend. I think that’s great, but we like to create some trends. We were one of the first retail marketers to come out with QR codes and really use them in all of our marketing.
Words to live by: There are two quotes from Einstein that I absolutely love. One is the definition of insanity, which is, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” The other one that I love is, “A person who never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
Good read: Playing to Win by A. G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin. It’s [about] how strategy really works.
Good advice: Just go for [your] dreams…. Really try to focus on what you want to do, and then start to draw the roadmap in your mind of how you’re going to get there. But make sure, whatever it is, that you are so incredibly passionate [about it] because you will have to work hard, and you will have to spend a lot of time doing it. But if you have such passion for it and if you really love it, it won’t feel like work.
Marriott might be one of the most well-known hotel brands in North America. But internationally? That can be a different story. And that’s what makes Susan Thronson’s job particularly heady. As SVP of global marketing at Marriott International, Thronson must contend with numerous regional and local differences that affect the hotel’s marketing strategies and ability to communicate with customers.
Marketing strategy: Today it’s [to be] customer-centric and agile. Over the past five to 10 years agility has been a competency and a requirement, just as it is now when we market in a digital way.
Winning ways: Last week I was given a “2013 Advertising Working Mothers of the Year” award from Working Mother magazine. Working for a company such as Marriott has made [raising a family and working] easier, having a supportive spouse has made it easier, but there weren’t a lot of role models doing global marketing [when I started in this role].
Defining moment: I took an international assignment really early. In 1989 I helped open our first hotel in Asia and I’ve been working the China market ever since, and have worked on all of the continents. It can’t help but change your worldview. Everything on the surface is different: language and culture and the overall environment. But as you dig down and think about consumer needs, you’ll find there are universal truths to a brand. What changes are the buying paths and the distribution channels that are available, and those become more market-specific.
Trend watching: It’s using customer data to personalize a guest experience. Marriott has always had a lot of information about how customers use our hotels. Now, it’s about enhancing their experiences before, during, and after their trip—and it’s customized to the individual.
Words to live by: It’s about the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated yourself. I believe in the ethic of reciprocity.
Good read: I’ve really been shaped by James Collins’ Good to Great series. I’ve read them all. What works with me is how to win in the long run. We build brands that want to be around for decades.
Good advice: Only with curiosity and passion can you be successful. That’s on your personal side and work. Do what you love. When I think about marketing, there’s so many aspects to the discipline, you can find an angle [you love] and pursue it.
Trish Wheaton is living proof that marketers need to be nimble and fearless. Her tenacity, flexibility, and forethought have served her well as she strengthened the Wunderman empire across the globe. Before accepting her CMO title in 2008, Wheaton steered the merger of network agencies to form a digital, direct, and database giant in the U.K. She has also served as president of Wunderman Canada.
Marketing strategy: Bipolar: Right brain, left brain. Avoiding the usual recitations about the newest technology or trend, my approach is that it takes great ideas, brilliant creative coupled with mastery of data, the insights the data provides, and rigorous measurement.
Winning ways: I am most proud of the current path my career is taking, and that is focusing on sustainability and building a practice on that at Wunderman. It’s engaging me on every level: operations, thought leadership, marketing expertise, and just plain leadership. I feel as though I’m heading a startup with the full support of a company of thousands behind me, but it’s a startup nevertheless.
Defining moment: When I took over the Canadian office for Wunderman, it was a very successful, but very traditional, direct marketing agency. Then the world changed on a dime: dot.com, data—old models didn’t apply. We weren’t afraid to change, although we had some stumbles, but as a result became a direct, digital, and data powerhouse. Two years after taking over we were twice the size with a much-expanded client roster. If we hadn’t changed, we would have been a fraction of the size, if not out of business altogether. That experience taught me that nothing is as seductive as historical success and nothing can be as destructive as resting on that success.
Trend watching: Personally, I don’t think we can underestimate the role sustainability is playing and will increasingly play in marketing. It’s currently not much more than niche, but that is changing and we need to be in front of it.
Words to live by: Wayne Gretzky’s “I skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is.”
Good read: Built to Last by James Collins and Jerry I. Porras; The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo, Talking from 9 to 5 by Deborah Tannen, How to Become a CEO by Jeffrey J. Fox, and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Good advice: The one bedrock skill set that is increasing in demand everywhere is accountability. Learn how to identify desired outcomes, measure ROI, and know what to change to make it better. You will succeed in this or any field, guaranteed!