Monday, June 20, 2022

A Tale of Marketing, Storytelling, and Community


To quote Matthew Kobach (@mkobach), "Twitter is a key that unlocks thousands of doors, some of which you never even knew existed." As a member of the Twitterverse for almost 13 years, I always enjoy meeting new people and learning from them. I recently connected with Christine Johnson and invited her to appear here on my Blog in a Q&A format. Highlights of our conversation follow a brief introduction.

Based in Vancouver, Canada, Christine is a strategist who helps young marketers get comfortable promoting themselves by creating marketing portfolios that supercharge their careers. As a marketing leader, she's rebranded companies, launched new SaaS products, written sales copy, and developed long-term strategies. She loves sharing insights that help people open new doors and showcase who they are.  

QUESTION: In your pinned Tweet on Twitter, you provide a great thread of nine things to include in a marketing portfolio. Can you provide a quick recap?

(Check out the full thread on Twitter:

CHRISTINE JOHNSON: In 2015, I met someone during a layover at an airport and was offered a job at a marketing agency because I had a marketing portfolio published/ready to go. Early in my career, building my portfolio was really difficult because I didn't know how to position myself or my accomplishments. There were no guides to help me navigate. Flash forward a few years/career moves, and I'm now confident on what I need to showcase for clients to want to hire me.

In early 2021 (with an audience of 500-ish), I shared a Twitter thread with tips on what to include in a marketing portfolio and realized that other people are struggling with the same problems I struggled with (this thread has been viewed 250k+ times). I want to be able to offer them support/guidance on how to create a great portfolio to make it easier to land an interview and find new clients because this is an industry-wide problem that both hiring managers and celebrities struggle with.
We're all taught to keep a win folder, but no one is really taught WHY they need to continue to build their portfolio. I see this as an industry gap and want to help change things so that it's easier for people to find their next opportunity.

QUESTION: What exactly is a WIN FOLDER?
CHRISTINE JOHNSON: A win folder is where you keep emails or snippets of work that showcase success from your projects. This could be a nice accolade from a client or someone in a different department. Or, it could be a screenshot of analytics data that shows what kind of results you generated (page views from Google analytics, click-through data from Twitter analytics, etc.). It's nice if you have something visual, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a piece of creative such as a graphic, video, poster, etc.

You want to keep this current and continue to look for things to add to it over time (you're trying to showcase your own growth.) Having this info on hand can help leverage new positions or brighten a bad day.
To create a folder for your wins, start by going through your inbox and message history (anywhere you can find notes/feedback on your work), and take screenshots. Write down any compliments you remember. Go back and look through projects you are proud of. It can feel a bit intimidating to get start,ed but once you get going, it's a fun project that pushes you to reflect and think more about where you'd like to go.

QUESTION: What's your favorite aspect of marketing?
CHRISTINE JOHNSON: My favorite aspect of marketing is storytelling. I love finding new ways to capture people's interests and showcase their passions.

QUESTION: What three marketing books should every marketer read, and why?
CHRISTINE JOHNSON: Here are three:

(1) Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger: There's something about the storytelling that really draws me to this book over and over again. I loved reading about the restaurant in New York called 'Please Don't Tell.' I can't bring myself to find out just how much their secret location was rumor or real for customers, because I like the whimsy of the whole thing.

(2) Marketing Outrageously by Jon Spoelstra: This book was recently recommended to me by Brett Rudy (@BKRUDY on Twitter). The lessons are both memorable and simple. I'm not a sports marketing guy, but I can't stop thinking about how the author gave out jock straps as part of a guerilla marketing campaign and the way he shaped sports marketing in general. The lessons are great for any and all types of marketers. Even the packaging of the book stands out. I mean, how can you forget the cover when you see a sumo wrestler slam dunking a basketball mid jump?!

(3) Junior: Writing Your Way Ahead In Advertising by Thomas Kemeny: This is a copywriting book that is one part story, one part lesson, and (if you're brave enough), one part writing exercise. It pushed me to rethink how I approach writing.

QUESTION: What's your fave marketing buzzword or term, and why?
CHRISTINE JOHNSON: Community. It feels like we're moving in the right direction by focusing on community and how to bring people together around a common problem/goal. The olden days of marketing, where everything was exaggerated or gimmicky, seem to be falling behind us (thankfully). I still like guerilla marketing campaigns that capture your attention, but can see that focusing on the audience and how to build a community is what will have more impact long term. The Internet is evolving (some are calling it WEB3) and that means our expectations are getting higher for when and how information is delivered to us as consumers.

TWEET THIS: Focusing on the audience and how to build a community is what will have more impact long term. ~@CJ_250marketing #MarketingTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: What's THE marketing buzzword or term that annoys you the most, and why?
CHRISTINE JOHNSON: Growth hack. There are no shortcuts. You have to do the work.

QUESTION: Who do you admire in the marketing arena, and why?
CHRISTINE JOHNSON: Seth Godin is a great writer and I admire that he's consistently putting out daily blog posts; and Christina Garnett revived a hashtag on Twitter, and over the past year, has helped me learn about the value of community (and how that can shape your entire marketing strategy).

My thanks to Christine for sharing her marketing insights and for appearing here on my Blog.

Image Credits: Debbie Laskey and Twitter.

Check out Christine's links:
Article referenced in first question:

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