Marketing industry leaders share advice and perspective so we could learn what motivates them, how they encourage creative thinking, what advice they’d give to a new leader, and where they think the marketing field is headed.
Twelve marketers from seven countries participated in this post. As always, we could write more, but we’d much rather read what these revered experts have to say.
Jay Baer, President, Convince & Convert. Bloomington, Indiana, USA. Company is virtual, all across the country.
Jayne Burch, CEO and Founder of Marketing Monsoon, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Dave Davies, CEO, Beanstalk Internet Marketing, Inc., Victoria, BC, Canada
Vicky Fraser, Entrepreneur. Copywriter. Author. Business For Superheroes. Leamington Spa, UK
Sarah Friedlander Garcia, Marketing Manager at W-Systems Corp., New York, NY, USA
Eyal Katz, Head of Marketing, AdNgin. Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Israel
Steven Macdonald, Digital Marketing Manager, SuperOffice. Tallinn, Estonia
Adam O’Leary, President, Encite International. Denver, CO USA
Chris J Reed, Global CEO and Founder, Black Marketing – enabling LinkedIn for you, Singapore
Ruth Ann Rose, Owner, Rose Marketing Solutions. Dallas, Texas, USA
Robert K. Williams, President, Capitol Ideas, Inc., Washington, DC, USA
What motivates you?
Jay Baer: Learning, and then teaching.
Jayne Burch: Solving problems, helping people, creativity, collaboration.
Dave Davies: While it may sound cliché, I’m probably most motivated by my clients. As an SEO and marketer, I know that when I fail, it costs my clients dearly, and if they lose then I’m going to lose. As ensuring that my clients make money ensures that we do too – it’s a win-win.
Vicky Fraser: Small business is the future. I do what I do because I want to help small business owners achieve their dreams and do great things in a world where it’s bloody difficult to succeed.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners are truly the future and will, eventually, be the ones who solve the world’s problems. They can achieve things that big business simply can’t (or won’t).
They create jobs, opportunities, and wealth. They innovate. They invent. They have the courage and the means to step outside the bounds of what’s possible. They’re exciting!
I want to show small business owners that you don’t need megabucks and a massive team of marketers to grow their businesses and make it a success. I want to show them that it takes hard work, relentless determination, and focus — but they also need to zig when everyone else is zagging.
Most business owners simply don’t understand marketing, so they never do as well as they could — and I help them change that. I love seeing business owners make progress, start achieving great things, and get a little closer to their dreams.
Plus, of course, I’m building my own business to create the lifestyle I want for myself and that will allow me to put my own wealth to good use.
Sarah Friedlander Garcia: I love having the opportunity to collaborate with our partners, including SugarCRM and Act-On. Whether we are working on in-person events, online collateral, or webinars, I feel motivated to be able to collaborate with and learn from other experts in my field.
Barry Hand: I love the immediacy of my work, especially with online companies. Being able to see the impact of marketing activity never gets boring. On a personal level, working with genuinely inspiring people motivates me to continually up my game.
Eyal Katz: I’d like to provide an inspiring personal story here, but to be honest what motivates me more than anything else are graphs. I am a performance-based marketer working for a startup that optimizes ad revenue. So you can imagine that I love seeing a 45-degree angle rising from left to right on my reports.
Measurable results are the best pat on the back I can ask for and they’re what gets me going.
Steven Macdonald: Getting things done and being productive.
Adam O’Leary: I am motivated by putting together integrated marketing programs that truly bring value for our clients. Creativity and branding are important aspects to a marketing program, but if they do not accomplish our clients’ goals, they are useless.
We like to work collaboratively with clients and my team always becomes emotionally invested in whether a project is a success. We feel if the client is successful so are we.
Chris J Reed: Change, transformation, being able to make a positive difference to people’s lives, success for our clients, winning deals, beating the competition, building a company, building a brand that makes a difference.
Ruth Ann Rose: I enjoy helping others reach their goals.
Robert K. Williams: I am passionate about providing young and aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools that they need to build successful businesses. In my opinion, there is nothing more rewarding than helping a person to realize a dream and, in the process, to help his or her community through that business.
How do you encourage creative thinking from your team and company?
Jay Baer: I’m never satisfied and have a pathological distaste for repetition and resting on laurels.
Jayne Burch: I find that my team is more creative when I give more autonomy over how they accomplish the result. I can be very detail oriented, so I am careful not to impose my ideas. We are the most creative as a team when we collaborate and are open to the ideas of others and our clients.
Dave Davies: We read a lot and discuss strategy often. I work to foster an environment where there are no bad questions and nothing that isn’t worth chatting about. At the end of the day I have to make the final decisions on what’s to be done, but I’ve found that if I set a task and leave my staff to do it well, they often come up with techniques and strategies that I never would have, which gives me an opportunity to learn as well.
Vicky Fraser: I don’t have colleagues and employees within my business, but I do run a mastermind group of small business owners called the Small Business Superheroes, and I guess they’re my team.
I encourage them to look at what their competitors are doing, then do something else. To look beyond their own business and industry, and see what others are doing. To look at charities, theater, films, books, fantasy. To write down everything that interests them or catches their eye, then think, “How can I use that idea in my business?”
Sarah Friedlander Garcia: I am lucky to work with many incredibly smart, independent colleagues. I particularly enjoy working with them to uncover what they are most passionate about, so it can be tied into their work.
Barry Hand: As a consultant, I’m lucky to work with a wide range of companies and teams. I’m a firm believer that all parts of marketing benefit from creative thinking, so empowering teams with the right data to make better decisions is the most important factor in great marketing.
Eyal Katz: Obviously, it’s critical to have a team that is creative and forward thinking to begin with. That being said, it’s my job to bring their capabilities to their fullest potential. I’ve found that the best way to do that is to allocate some “creative time,” remove distractions as much as possible, and get your team to bounce ideas off each other.
Steven Macdonald: We inspire our team by putting out our best work, which creatives friendly competition and creativity. When a team member produces content that is well received by our readers, it makes the rest of the team want to create something better!
Adam O’Leary: I encourage creative thinking from my team and company by leading creative thinking sessions. We gather our entire creative team in our “War Room” where we dream, share and modify ideas for new client campaigns.
There are no wrong answers and there are no pulling punches. It is an honest, forthright and sometimes hard session, but it delivers concepts that are noticeable, memorable and on brand.
Chris J Reed: Many ways from letting people work from where they want when they want….we have night owls and early risers. Everyone is creative at different times, you can’t impose creativity you have to empower and inspire it.
Ruth Ann Rose: I enjoy collaborative brainstorming meetings in which everyone can throw out ideas, consider different viewpoints and then give the responsible party ownership of the task.
Robert K. Williams: As an initial matter, it always helps to work with naturally creative people, like I do, who are willing to passionately defend their ideas.
Even in the best of cases, however, a good team leader has to ensure that he or she has created an environment that is conducive to creative thinking and collaboration. In my opinion, this can only happen when the team knows that risk-taking and creativity are encouraged and that there is no such thing as a “bad idea.”
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Jay Baer: Delegate, focus your time on the things you are uniquely qualified to do, and never be afraid to admit you’re wrong.
Jayne Burch: Surround yourself with people who are more talented and smarter than you are. Your job is to have the vision and make sure your team has what they need to be successful.
Set goals for your company and team. Make sure that everyone understands their part in meeting those goals. Many first time leaders make the mistake of thinking their job is to know everything and tell people what to do.
Dave Davies: I’ve made many mistakes over the years, but probably the biggest is trying to be the “good boss“.
I’m fortunate in that my current staff all work hard and can be just set at a task but that’s not always the case, and if you’re just entering a leadership role it’s important to always ask yourself of each person on your staff, “Do they add to my bottom line and would someone else do it better?”
If the answer is “no” to either then you need to rethink that you’re doing and their role in the company.
The only other advice I’d give is to stay true to what you want. I started a company because I love SEO. We grew substantially for a while and I found myself rarely touching sites and focused on management.
I obviously wasn’t happy, and so we shrunk down to a size that allowed me to get back to working directly with clients and directly in the industry I love.
Vicky Fraser: Listen. Listen to everyone, all the time. You’ve got two ears and one mouth, and that’s a pretty good ratio. Learn from people ahead of you and behind you, and use what you’ve learned to give those who are following you a hand up. And read. Read everything you can get your hands on, fact and fiction, on every topic under the sun.
Sarah Friedlander Garcia: I think it’s important for someone going into a leadership position for the first time to stay humble. Remember what it was like to be a direct report, and what made you respect and admire your leaders.
Also, make an effort to acknowledge your coworkers’ achievements – a simple email saying thanks goes a long way.
Barry Hand: The best advice I received was to articulate your marketing vision early to give everyone an idea of what you want to achieve, what you consider great and what direction you want to go. Work closely with those who will help bring this vision to life. This has been massively beneficial to me, and it’s what I would pass on to first team leaders too.
Eyal Katz: The best advice I can offer is prioritize everything. As a leader, your input and support will be required for various cross-organization projects. It is very easy to get sucked into a specific project and neglect others.
It is your responsibility to manage your time and budget most efficiently between the various projects you are involved in.
Steven Macdonald: I would say live and die for your team. When things go well, celebrate together and share the success. When things don’t go well, take the blame and defend your team. If you give your team 100%, they in turn will do the same for you.
Adam O’Leary: My advice for someone going into a leadership position for the first time would be: You don’t know everything. A great leader recognizes that, but they know what his/her strengths and weaknesses are.
Once you know that, it is imperative you surround yourself with people that are better than you are.
With smarter people around you, you can/will create things that are satisfying, gratifying and fun. After you do that, work isn’t a drag anymore. It is something you look forward to and can’t wait to get back to.
Chris J Reed: Empathize, it’s often the biggest part missing from a great manager. Have empathy with your team and you will be a better leader. Then you can inspire by leading by example, never be frightened to do everything that you’re expecting others to do
Ruth Ann Rose: Listen, listen and then listen some more! Seek to understand people’s motivations before jumping to conclusions about their decisions.
Robert K. Williams: Over the years, the most important lesson that I have learned while managing large teams of professionals is that you have to ensure that everyone who is working for you knows that he or she is respected, and that he or she matters.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to start by learning everyone on your team’s name, even before your first meeting. Also, a good team leader should avoid keeping his or her distance from the team.
I have found that people produce far better work, and tend to be much happier in the process when they feel as though their team leader is working hand in hand with them to achieve their collective goals.
Where do you see the marketing field heading in the future?
Jay Baer: Marketing and customer experience are converging, which gives marketers a larger remit and a lot of new challenges
Jayne Burch: I see marketing becoming even more personalized. It’s headed that way because of how much information is available about an individual’s internet use and buying habits.
More than ever, we will need to build relationships and engage our market in a personal way. We need to deal with the shorter attention spans.
Dave Davies: That’s a HUGE question, and I feel for folks just entering the field now as opposed to learning along the way. Internet marketing is now a far more specialized activity with experts across a range of areas from email to SEO to design to conversion optimization to PPC to social and so on.
If I had to give a global answer I’d say personalization, and I’m not simply referring to an individual getting a unique experience in search but across platforms and persona.
From my gaming console to my laptop, PC and phone right down to my home itself as illustrated in the purchase of Nest by Google, we can see that the traditional idea of simply searching for what we want and finding it is not the focus
The focus is for companies like Google and Facebook to predict what we’re interested in based on our activities and interests and feed us that advertising and data.
This is the future of marketing, not just thinking about what people might be looking for but who they are, what else they are interested in, and where else they might be combined with the best points to reach them at.
We’re not quite there yet but it’s going to be the next big leap forward and it’s coming.
Vicky Fraser: I think it’s going to get dafter if I’m honest. Every time a shiny new object crops up, the marketing world jumps on it and goes crazy, as if it’s the next magic button.
They forget that marketing is, simply, finding out what people want and need — and giving it to them.
Where I’d LIKE marketing to go, though, is old-school. Use the new media and new technology, to be sure; I’m not saying ignore it. But start at the beginning and go back to basics: Who are you selling to? Why? What do they want and need? Who are they, deep down?
Then build a relationship and sell slowly, over time — rather than hitting people randomly with the hard-sell.
We’ll see what happens, I guess… but people are always going to want a quick fix. The ones who don’t buy that are the ones who’ll succeed.
Sarah Friedlander Garcia: I see the marketing field focusing more in the future on delivering a unified customer experience.
Right now, we are in a stage of growth where marketing and sales departments are learning to work together, which as a result will bring more personalized, targeted and relevant content for each individual.
Barry Hand: The two biggest areas I think are Mobile & Transparency, Companies who excel in those areas will undoubtedly be successful.
Mobile is a continually evolving space and opens up the ability for brands to create real meaningful relationships with customers. Additionally, genuine brands who build that relationship through transparency will be rewarded.
Eyal Katz: Data is becoming the driving force of modern marketing. A professional marketing team needs to be able to efficiently gather data, analyze that data, and provide actionable insights from it.
Leaders in the field will need to be proficient in the strategy and tactics necessary to achieve their data-driven goals.
Steven Macdonald: I see the future of marketing to the customer and through customer experience and the complete customer journey. It’s cheaper to sell to existing customers, and the more customers you deliver a great product and service to, the more your customers will do the marketing for you.
Adam O’Leary: The future of the marketing field is definitely heading to continue to be more in the digital space. Although, I still believe that good old fashioned integrated marketing strategies will still be a significant part of how people promote their products and services.
Big data will also play a huge part in how we reach customers and clients with focused, targeted messaging being a key to how companies will succeed or fail.
Chris J Reed: content, social and digital will transform brands and brands will become more and more what other people say about them, and not what marketers think that people want to hear….consumers are totally empowered now, their power is only going to increase….
Ruth Ann Rose: More personalized and interactive digital options. At some point, I fully expect our digital devices will know when our inventory of personal products is running low and will set up automatically offer to set up re-orders for us!
Robert K. Williams: Since 2010, it seems as though an increasing number of marketing professionals have developed an interest in the “growth hacking” trend, which focuses on using analytical thinking and social metrics to help technology startups sell products and gain an audience.
Although growth hacking might not be a permanent fixture in the marketing profession, I expect that it will likely continue to generate interest in the near-term.
No matter the role, there is always the opportunity to show signs of leadership in a role. Self-improvement of skills, awareness of trends, and staying tuned into your team builds up a path for success, whether working your way up the ladder or looking down from one of the upper rungs.
This post is part of our focus on Marketing for the month of September. If you are in sales or marketing, you may enjoy also reading our interview with Jay Baer of Convince & Convert, our interview with Jayne Burch of Marketing Monsoon and Dave Davies of Beanstalk Internet Marketing, Inc., and our interview with Maricka Burke-Keogh of Online Marketing in Galway.
Next month, our Industry of the Month spotlight shines on the Customer Service.