Twenty years of living and breathing marketing has been more valuable than my years at UCLA. In college, I learned how to balance late night clubbing and coursework by scheduling classes in the afternoon. Sure college taught me relationship management along with differential equations, linear algebra and algorithms, but marketing has given me a well-rounded education on applied real-world metrics, data trends, marketing effectiveness, ROI reporting, marketing-sales alignment and how companies ignore all of this for employee self-preservation and ego.
While at UCLA my marketing career started in public relations with a small agency. Frank was the owner as well as a brilliant Ivy Leaguer, ex-army officer, former TV actor and awesome mentor who later became the mayor of Santa Barbara. Above all else Frank instilled in me a sense of doing the right thing and being responsible no matter what. Frank encouraged me to have visions and passionately pursue them. The development of a strong work ethic and vision were fantastic first steps of my marketing journey.
After UCLA I worked overseas then returned to become a 27 year-old VP of marketing and sales in healthcare. Once again, I landed with a small company but this time it was in debt. My task was to quickly guide the company from red to black. My boss was Rusty. Known for questionable business moves, he was the polar opposite of Frank. Regardless, Rusty was the third greatest sales person and risk taker I have ever known. At this company I learned to establish a marketing process to smartly grow marketing efforts to develop bottom of the funnel leads to increase conversions. In addition, I learned how to build million dollar medical practices to support the business model. In no time sales increased by over 300% annually. The developing a marketing process, creating baseline metrics, establishing KPIs and aligning with sales were great second steps in this journey.
Now let’s skip a few steps. In the past several years, I have been fortunate to lead US and global marketing efforts for major internet retailers, Market America and SHOP.COM (CEO J.R. Ridinger is by far the greatest sales person I have known and in the same class as Richard Branson), as well as digital marketing for the leading RV dealership in the world, Lazydays Holding Company, and cutting-edge direct marketing agencies like America Direct Mail and Pharm Direct Mail. These companies were distinctly different but together generate over $1.2 billion in annual sales revenue.
This stage was exciting and wild because I managed large domestic and global marketing operations, launched national and global campaigns, tracked metrics globally, and worked with thousands of products. With so much success I also experienced what it is like to work in environments where employees’ drive for self-preservation and ego hinder a business from reaching its true potential. Regardless, managing large resources, projecting my vision globally and leveraging metrics to tell the story were highlights of these incredible steps in my journey.
My ongoing journey has taken me through peaks and valleys. Now I understand smaller companies tend to be entrepreneurial, in nature, but constrained by controlling presidents and often limited by irrational fears driving bad marketing decisions. Larger companies tend to be conservative and often plagued by arrested development resulting from individuals’ drive for self-preservation over the interest of the business.
At some point, all marketers encounter the metric-adverse executive or manager who distrust marketing numbers, trending reports and real-time graphs. I keep my marketing sanity by studying successes and failures with the application of real-world metrics, data trending, marketing effectiveness by channel and ROI by channel to each situation even if no one is listening. Today’s marketing is based in science. Even in a world of employee self-preservation and numbers-challenged folks, metrics provide me with disciplined pathways to solve complicated problems hindering an expanding revenue curve. I will continue to be a smart marketer and, like Albert Einstein, I understand “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Please feel free to share your marketing journey so we can all learn from everyone’s experiences.
About:Hawke Media is full service outsourced CMO and digital advertising agency with clients in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Chicago and New York.