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 13 years, I always enjoy meeting new people and learning from them. I recently connected with Stacey Danheiser from Florida, and invited her to appear here on my Blog in a Q&A discussion about marketing and branding. Highlights of our conversation follow a brief introduction.
Stacey Danheiser is a CMO, Founder, Author, and former Fortune 500 marketing leader. At Shake Marketing Group, she helps B2B organizations become more customer-focused. She runs a mentorship and training program called B2B Marketing Blueprint at Soar Marketing Society to help aspiring B2B marketing leaders elevate their confidence and impact.
QUESTION: You introduce yourself on Twitter as follows: "I talk about marketing strategy, value propositions and how to earn credibility with the C-Suite." Can you please elaborate?
STACEY DANHEISER: Marketing is often one of the most misunderstood functions in business. I spent 14 years working in large corporations in both B2C and B2B marketing and have run a consultancy for almost 8 years now. One thing I’ve become really passionate about is helping the C-Suite (usually a group of non-marketers) understand why marketing is important and what "good" looks like in marketing. That’s why I now run an online (free) community for B2B Marketers called Soar Marketing Society and a training/mentoring program aimed at helping marketers earn and keep a seat at the leadership table.
QUESTION: In one of your amazing Tweets, you wrote: "Marketing's job is to help your company scale. And that's not going to happen in one quarter. Sales = short term. Marketing = long term." Can you please elaborate for those who might not understand the difference?
STACEY DANHEISER: Many people are confused about the difference between sales and marketing. Ideally marketing and sales are trying to achieve the same thing: CUSTOMERS. They are just looking at it a bit differently.
Marketing tries to understand the customer as a generic group/segment or persona in order to create generic value propositions and 'mass' awareness (however you define that beyond 1:1).
Marketing is long-term focused and should set the big picture strategy including: market opportunity, company positioning and branding, segmentation and targeting, and how to generate awareness/demand at scale. By contrast, Sales seeks to build 1:1 relationships and sees the customer as a specific person, for example "Jim, in Accounting" so that they can tailor their value propositions to each individual.
Sales is short-term focused, as they are often incentivized and measured by their ability to close business this month. Of course, they want to build long-term relationships, but they also want to close the next deal, and may be inclined to take on clients that aren't "ideal" for your business. Sales can influence how to make your product or service better/easier/more valuable for your customers, but they don't own making it happen. That’s why companies need both marketing and sales. It’s not "either/or."
QUESTION: One of my favorite things that you recently Tweeted was "There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing." How can marketers explain this succinctly to their leadership teams?
STACEY DANHEISER: I like to ask the leadership team to think about the last big purchase they made and the steps they went through to make a decision. When they share their decision-making process with the broader group, it becomes obvious that the process isn’t the same for everyone. Some people like to read, others like to watch videos. Some people read reviews, others ask their friends or colleagues. Some people spend months making a decision, others decide quickly.
That’s why there is no standard marketing playbook, and every company needs to do their own customer research to figure out how and why their customers buy.
I also have a framework (B2B Marketing Blueprint, shown below) that shows the steps/process to create an integrated marketing strategy. Most companies want to skip to the 'Execution' step, but this results in copycat marketing and wastes valuable time and money. When the executive team sees that there’s a process, they have more confidence and patience with the marketing team.
I’m also a big fan of experimentation and implementing pilot projects. The next time someone has a "great marketing idea," treat it like an experiment, and don’t go overboard investing time and resources into it until you’ve tested it first and know it will be successful.
TWEET THIS: There is no standard marketing playbook. ~@Shakemktg #MarketingTip #BrandTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog #BrandExperience
QUESTION: How has the Covid pandemic impacted marketing?
STACEY DANHEISER: The pandemic forced companies to take a hard look at how in tune they are with their customers. Many B2B organizations don’t budget for customer research and tend to make decisions based on internal opinions, not real customer input. Suddenly, sales teams were unable to visit customers, and marketing had to take on a very active role in creating more relevant customer communications, updating messaging on websites and hosting virtual events.
Our research in the early days of the pandemic showed that companies were more likely to refresh their value propositions, conduct customer research, and make changes to how their products were packaged and sold to remain relevant.
Companies are starting to realize that marketing isn’t a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘must have’ department, as marketing jobs posted on LinkedIn grew by 374% this past year. Marketers should continue to upskill and invest in their own learning in order to stay ahead of trends, chart their own course, and prove their value and relevance to their organization.
(Read the post referenced by the statistics in this response:
"New Data on Employer Brand, Marketing Talent, and The Great Reshuffle"
QUESTION: What brands have stood out from the crowd based on their marketing during the pandemic?
STACEY DANHEISER: One B2B brand that stood out was Palo Alto Networks. They are a prominent player in the cybersecurity space. I was impressed with the speed in which they set up a resource center to help IT professionals protect their companies while everyone moved to work from home, and how to navigate uncertainty and get executive buy-in. Their executives hosted webinars and conference calls to share what they were doing as a company during the pandemic. This really provided a personalized and human element to their company, and it came from a place of being helpful and useful versus trying to sell something.
QUESTION: What are your three fave brands, and why?
STACEY DANHEISER: Here are my three:
(1) Patagonia: I used to live in Colorado and cherished my Patagonia jacket. It’s very difficult to find a flattering but warm winter coat! Beyond the great quality of their products, I love what Patagonia stands for. They 'walk the talk' when it comes to combining business plus doing what’s right for the community and planet. They don’t just jump on the bandwagon of the latest social movement. They take real action to drive social change and have created a thriving tribe of influencers and customers.
(2) Veuve Cliquot: I always loved the yellow-label champagne, but when I toured the Veuve vineyard in Reims, France, I fell in love with the story. “Veuve” means widow and was run by the first global business woman. Madame Cliquot not only invented an innovative way to produce champagne (riddling racks), but she was a marketer at heart – choosing a yellow label as a way to stand out against other champagne producers and inventing the rosé champagne by mixing red and white wines together.
(3) Mind Valley: How can you not love a brand whose motto is “a better you, everyday”?! They produce amazing training and meditation content all about self-improvement and transformation. They have attracted some of the world’s best teachers and operate with a truly global approach. I have been a member since 2020 and recommend this platform to anyone looking to learn more about themselves, play bigger and better in life, and learn concepts that are never taught in school.
My thanks to Stacey for sharing her marketing insights and for appearing here on my Blog.
Image Credits: Twitter and Stacey Danheiser.
Connect with Stacey at these links:
Soar Marketing Society: https://www.shakemktg.com/soar
B2B Marketing Blueprint: https://www.shakemktg.com/confident-marketer-playbook