Generally speaking, someone with a title like Chief Marketing Officer has a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in all aspects of marketing. Because of this, a CMO is the perfect person to know what is more and less likely to work. So what are the top 5 tried and true marketing strategies that executives recommend to other business leaders? As part of this interview series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Joan Jenkins.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! To start, can you tell us what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always been a storyteller. From my early years of being on staff at school newspapers to winning awards in creative writing, words have been important to me. Equally important has been reasoning, logic and data—from a debate team to data classes. All of this made for a nice path toward marketing. I’ve found that magic happens when you combine creativity with data.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you're grateful for?
Teachers are the heroes in most stories. I had teachers who believed in my talent and said so. From my second grade teacher who told my mom she should nurture my talent in writing to my journalism teacher who made me a columnist.
I also had some exceptional leaders in my marketing career who influenced me. Early on, I worked with an executive who taught me how to lead by example. She showed me what it meant to be an exceptional leader but also was a role model in how to manage being a woman in a male dominated culture. She treated each person on her team with respect and listened to their ideas. She also clearly articulated the goals and how we played a role. When she encountered any sort of discrimination, she addressed it with fairness and directness and moved on. It was a strong example for me that I’ve considered throughout my career.
What do you think makes your company stand out?
I’ve worked for large companies in Silicon Valley, mid-sized and small companies. The two things that stand out to me (besides a strong product and leadership) are culture and customer experience. Culture has more to do with how you treat your employees as well as the vibe that runs throughout meetings and working together. Customer experience doesn’t stop at customer support, but it’s the actions you take in support of your customers. As they say, actions speak louder than words.
A key reason I chose to work at Blueshift is that it excels in both of these. From the CEO and executive team to each employee, I’ve found that the core values really do hold true: “make new mistakes, obsess over customer success, raise the bar, play as one team, and have fun, seriously”. In addition, with every meeting and planning that I’m part of the customer is the center of the discussion. How will this impact customer experience? Are we making it easier for our customers to market to their customers?
Are you working on any exciting projects now? Tell us about it!
AI marketing is an area that Blueshift has been focused on for a while and now it’s a super hot topic. I couldn’t be more excited about what we have to offer marketers and getting the word out. AI is a game changer. Blueshift empowers marketers with easily accessible AI to target the right audience with the best message at the appropriate time on the optimal channel.
With so many different types of marketing, has any one area had a bigger impact on business over the rest? Have any changed?
Marketing has gone through tremendous change since I started—from a brand focus to a digital focus. Now, we're in a new era of personalized focus. Digital marketing opened many doors in marketing. You could reach a huge audience with your message. The problem is that it was mostly the same message reaching the same audience again and again.
As consumers we are over saturated with messaging. The level of noise out there has reached a level where it’s become white noise. Today's marketers need to first understand the customer’s needs and then tailor the message to each unique person, shifting from broad messaging to personalized messaging.
How often do you try a new marketing strategy, and which ‘boxes’ does it need to tick before you’re willing to implement it?
A marketing strategy should be ROI focused. I always consider business strategy and goals first and foremost. Then I take into account the market. A marketing strategy should be a quarter or two out but with tactics and KPIs that deliver within the quarter and the next quarter. Short term and longer term goals are a must.
In your opinion, is it better to try out new marketing tactics or to stick with what you know works? How do you decide where to allocate your budget and resources?
With any marketing strategy, you need to have your tactics that are sure bets, possibilities and gambles. You always need a mixture of each. If you lean too much on sure bets then you are not innovating. If you gamble too much, you might not meet your goals. I put my budget and resources into each area.
Based on your experience and success, what are your top five most successful marketing strategies? What results did you see?
- Understand and talk to your audience. You can’t create a marketing strategy without first understanding your audience, and the best way to do this is through data. First party data that you’ve gained through a trusted relationship with your audience is the best kind. Understand their behaviors, buying signals, likelihood to purchase and more. Once you understand your audience, create content and offers that match their needs. This is where AI shines. For example, Blueshift uses AI to help marketers with predictive segmentation to better understand their customers, recommendations to automatically help the marketer choose the best content and product to offer in real-time, and engage time optimization to deliver relevant messages at critical moments of the customer journey.
- Create a team-bound approach for acquisition. It’s no longer inbound versus outbound when it comes to opportunities. It’s a complex world with multiple connection points with your prospect before you even see your them in the pipeline. Think through programs and initiatives that consider a buyer's journey and not just a marketer's touchpoints. At one of my past companies, we focused heavily on inbound versus outbound marketing. Did this webinar result in a meeting or was it the sales cadence? Of course, it was both. So then the conversation turns to first touch or last touch attribution. We’ve all been there. The problem is that you aren’t taking the perspective of the buyer and their journey. That should be your focus. It takes marketing and sales working together to get there.
- Build efficiencies with AI. I know we are all talking about it, but marketing has changed in the last 6 months with advances in AI. Take advantage of it or risk getting left behind. Of course, ChatGPT is top of mind. Everyone on my team has used it this week. When you think about the fact that no one heard of it a few months ago, that’s unreal. Our customers at Blueshift are using AI marketing to better understand who their customers are at the individual level and create customer-centric experiences. In a nutshell, AI answers who, what, when, and where. Our customers can build campaigns with an understanding of who to target, what to recommend, when to engage, and where to connect with a customer. This is critical.
- Focus on adoption and cross sell opportunities. Customer acquisition is important, but so is customer adoption and growth. Take a close look at your customer base and build programs around them. Adoption is something that many marketers don’t focus on but it’s a miss. Customers who are heavily using your product will most likely stick around and those who aren’t might churn. The flip side to this program is opportunities to cross sell a product. Identify the needs of the customer and what new product or feature might be a benefit to that customer. One of my favorite tools to have on hand in a customer marketing initiative is a maturity model that tells a customer where they are based on their use case. Who doesn’t love to see where they stack up compared to peers?
- Treasure customer advocates. Nothing tells your story better than your customers. Every role I’ve had reinforces this. This isn’t just a nice to have for brand sake. Prospects, board members, competitors and etc all listen to what your customers have to say. We recently held our user conference where our customers were excited to tell their stories, listen to their peers, and hear the latest from us. You want your customers to be excited about your product and ready to tell their peers. Your advocates play a central role in amplifying your story. Stay engaged with them and give them the opportunities to tell their stories—whether it’s through videos, case studies, peer based review sites, press, customer advisory boards and more.
Can you share a time when a strategy didn’t deliver the results you expected and what you learned from the experience?
Marketers need to continuously try new tactics. Early in my career I worked on a new product at HP. I worked in an incubator team taking ideas from HP Labs and creating the business and marketing plans before it went to a line of business to sell. I loved our new product which was a private video chat. This was way before this became the norm (2009).
I created the name, developed the marketing plan, launch plan, pricing etc. I just knew this would work. What I didn’t take into account was market readiness. Of course this is hard to predict, but just because it looks good on paper, you need to pay attention to market dynamics.
What expert tips can you share with those who are just starting to build out their marketing strategy?
Take the time to work across teams (product, sales, customer success, engineering) on your marketing strategy. Don’t fall into the trap of only working across your marketing team to build the strategy. Marketing is a team sport and you will fail if you don’t work with your colleagues across teams.
Lastly, if you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good to many people, what would it be?
Focus on diversity. This isn’t new but success means that you have diversity of thinking. This not only helps people, but it advances projects, companies and our world.
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