Success in marketing today requires a lot more than just understanding theory. It's about knowing the different channels and platforms, and being able to experiment with new technologies and approaches. In this episode of “Is This Thing On?,” host Winston Binch and guest Nadine Dietz, EVP, 24 Seven & GM, Marketers That Matter, explore what it takes to be successful in marketing nowadays.They discuss:
- How the next era of marketing will require experimentation
- Why CMOs need to be brave and empathetic
- What leadership styles contribute to success
- The growing trend of contractor and freelance roles
- The need for more diversity and inclusion in the marketing field
We’ve included the full transcript of the conversation below for easy reading, and please make sure to have a listen on Amazon, Apple Podcasts, Audible, iHeart, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, or wherever else you get your podcasts!
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Is This Thing On?
Speaker 2 (00:06):
Welcome to Is This Thing On, an audio series from GALE exploring marketing, life and random thoughts with business leaders from around the globe. On this episode, GALE Chief Brand and Experience Officer, Winston Binch, speaks with Executive Vice President at 24 Seven, and General Manager of Marketers That Matter, Nadine Dietz. Let's join the conversation.
Winston Binch (00:33):
I mean, one thing you've talked about before, which I think is great point, is marketing used to be so theoretical and almost academic. And about receiving that, getting that right MBA, but it's much more than that. What do you think it takes to be successful in this role?
Nadine Dietz (00:56):
Yeah, it's interesting because ... I mean you're right, and when we were talking just a couple weeks ago and even on a lot of the podcasts that I've been hosting through Visionaries, it's amazing, people still refer to what they learned in school as theory. And yet now, after all these years, they're saying the same words like omnichannel, personalization. We've only really yet to begin, because now we have the tools at our disposal to really do the kinds of things we thought we wanted to do and spent most of our time arm wrestling, duct taping together technology. And now we have some really sexy tools that allow us to be more nimble. So, the playground just opened up a lot more for lots of different kinds of tests and learn, and iteration, which is what we have to do today because no one's strategy, no one tactic, is right for all consumers or all employees.
The channel proliferation is madness. I mean, two years ago nobody was even talking about Discord. Now if you're not there, you're being left behind. The worlds have opened up. Two years ago there was cryptocurrency available and there was talk about the Metaverse, but never have we seen so much change and so many people experimenting in the Metaverse and even accepting cryptocurrency as payment. Then we have now, which just begs the question, if you're a marketer and you are not experimenting in all these different places, I don't think you're going to be able to grow and stay ahead of the curve, or keep up with the change as the rest of the market.
Winston Binch (02:34):
Yes, you need maybe that academic foundation, the principle's there but you also have to have explore mentality. That's what I've seen with even some of my favorite clients. They're brave, they're willing to push it, to invent, to try new things. And also, I think, have a good sense of how to measure experimentation. Because I always say don't go into experimentation without KPIs. Even when you're making bets or trying new things, you've got to be able to quantify them in some way. What about when you're talking about CMOs and marketers, how do you make the big and small decisions? How do you decide what to take on? When you've talked to some of the CMOs, what's their perspective on this?
Nadine Dietz (03:34):
I think one of my very favorite phrases I've ever heard came from Charlie Cole, and this was way back in the day. I think he was one of my first episodes of CFO Moves. But he was, at the time, the Chief Digital Officer [inaudible 00:03:49] and he's now the CEO at FTD. But he had this concept in his mind and I've never forgotten it and I use it all the time now. It's like, "Let's not just go for incremental wins, we need a leapfrog incrementality to get to the next level." And some people are quite okay with that notion and some people are not. And I think what all brands have learned, especially through the last couple of years, whether it be social unrest, the pandemic, the focus on purpose, the ability to communicate that and live it authentically, is when you misstep, it has sometimes major backlash and implications.
So it causes some folks to be a little bit frightened to try. So, I think the balance is how do you take little pieces and try them out in a way that allows you to gain insight, and then take those learnings and iterate. Google's famous for the iteration model, I use it with my team. It is the only way to progress, and accept that you're going to make mistakes. And when you do, say you're sorry, but move on, and then just keep learning and building. And I'm so glad you used the word brave, because I think that is absolutely the number one trait for marketers today. Brave, not stupidly brave, but brave to try new things.
Winston Binch (05:16):
Yeah, I'm a huge fan of data mean and consultancy that has a strong foundation in that and business strategy. But also, I grew up in creative agencies and a lot of the successes I've been part of were scary leaps. They made you nervous, and I was on the agency side. I can only imagine what it was like to be the CMO or the CEO that said, "Okay, we're going to do this." Back at the Taco Bell days when we launched breakfast, we're going to create a two horse race and go after McDonald's. Those were big swings, but without them, you can't just science your way to marketing success. So, you need both sides of it, for sure.
Nadine Dietz (06:16):
1000%. I mean you just underscored right there the analysis paralysis that happens to everyone. And then the other big mistake is if you're not asking the right questions of the data, you're not getting the right answers back.
Winston Binch (06:30):
Yeah. There's been a lot of talk, and we've seen this in the past, this conversation seems to come back every few years about the tenure of the CMO. Who is that on? I mean, we've seen it is a tough role, it's a hard job to maintain. Is that the organization? Is that the leader? Is it a mix? What do you think?
Nadine Dietz (06:56):
Ooh, that's a big question. Well, first of all, let's start with establishing what the tenure is. I think that there have been so many different pieces of documentation trying to get the number right. But one of the most credible sources I look at is the Spencer Stewart report that comes out every year. And I think the last time I looked at it was probably a year and a half ago. But tenure had gone from 48 months to 47 months, which surprises people because they always think it's two years or less. And that's what the media likes to focus on, is people who are jumping around. But it is still 47 months. It is still three years shy of the average for a CEO. And I think there's a number of things that happen. I'm not going to point out any individual, but I can tell you from what I've seen and what I've heard, sometimes it's the wrong culture fit.
Sometimes it's a founder led company that is in a mid series, high growth period, who is looking to build brand, but they're really focused on performance. And you get a classic brand marketer who knows how to build brand but not given the lead to do that. You've got big brands, which can be amazingly exciting places to work because you have access to a lot of resources, but everything just moves slower. So, people are just itching for the ability to be more nimble and competitive, which is where you have the birth of the challenger brands. I think it could be leadership styles. There are so many different types of leaders out there, but the ones who I have seen to be the most successful are those who are incredibly empathetic for all the stakeholders they serve.
Another one of my favorite sayings, and I don't think he would even say this first, is there was a book written about it. It was Chris [inaudible 00:09:03] for Microsoft. We talked a lot about proximity is the fastest path to empathy. And as leaders you got to be in it every day. So, that could be a style difference, where some leaders like to be more hands off and some like to be more hands on. And then also, I just think people get bored. Marketers, at the end of the day, are creative human beings and they need a good challenge to keep their juices flowing. It's the love of the game. And I've heard it said before, marketing is one of the funnest jobs on the planet. We got to have fun, and if we're not having fun, it's not marketing anymore. It just becomes systems and processes, and reporting, and that creativity really needs to be able to come through. So, I don't know if I've answered your question, or been too long winded, but the answers vary [inaudible 00:10:07], they go on and on in different shades.
Winston Binch (10:08):
No, I love that. Storytelling is at the core of this, and if we're not telling stories that we're passionate about, it's hard to stay engaged even if it's in the interest of moving a business. Another thing that you made me think is it's important to choose your boss wisely, and also to choose your culture that you're going to be a part of. What recommendations do you have for maybe people looking at companies, or interviewing for new roles to help root that out?
Nadine Dietz (10:47):
Another big question. I've spent so much time thinking about this and talking with folks about this, because it's a tough one. It used to be the same. You can't pick your boss. Well, today you can, and it's important to pick wisely. And I have fielded so many questions from say, mid-career marketers, just especially in light of the mentor program that we launched a while ago. And either the questions were, "Well, I'm not feeling like I'm included. I'm not feeling like I have a seat at the table. I'm not feeling like I can push back. I don't even think my boss respects me. What should I do?" My number one answer is, "Go find a different job. Go find a different boss. If you've tried everything as the owner of your own career to bring these scenarios to light and have those hard candid conversations to improve things and things aren't improving, don't waste your time. Move on."
Right now, especially for people who are looking for jobs, Holy Molly, is it candy land out there? Employers can't hold on to talent to save their lives, and everyone is jumping around. So, do I think it'll settle? Yeah, I think it'll settle, but not for the short term. And so you, as a marketer today, have your pick of amazing opportunities. Go find the right one and then ask the hard questions when you're interviewing. Understand what the culture is. Understand, is there truly a diverse team on the ground? Even if it's half from Zoom and half not. There has to be. If there isn't, you're going to do the same thing over and over and over again, and you want your meetings to be uncomfortable and challenged, or you're not going to drive growth, or have those breakthrough moments. So, having a diverse team, diversity from all aspects, is really important. And then ensuring that there's inclusivity, in that everybody's respected. I think that is our number one challenge in the marketing workplace today. The numbers are very sad, and they continue to be sad. And on diversity inclusion, it just shows that we have a lot of work to do still on inclusivity.
Winston Binch (13:05):
100%. I spend really pa large portion of my job talking to talent and it's probably one of my favorite parts of the job. And the thing that comes to the surface most is the idea of voice, and everyone wanting and needing a voice. And my recommendation is, when you're in that interview process, really ask about the values of the company. One of the things that inspired me about GALE [inaudible 00:13:37] founder likes to say, which is true, is that they had their values before they had a website. And the values are actually not just words on a page or buried in a deck somewhere, but they're actually used to measure people and the entire organization.
And I think you want to see that. You want to see the values actually woven into the DNA of not just the company, but the employee experience. But yeah, for sure we've got a long way to go. But that's just one of the things I've found that's really important. To your point, is really trying to get an understanding of what's this place about, for sure. So, let's move on a little bit. I'd love to talk about marketing. I think we all do. It changes every second. Where is it today in your mind, and where do you think we're headed? Web3, NFTs, all this stuff. I mean we talked about mobile for years until it was really something. How do you react to that question?
Nadine Dietz (14:46):
Well wow, I hope I answer this somewhat right, and if I do then it's a good little crystal ball. But I don't think I actually have a crystal ball. I'm just going to use the collection of all the things that I've heard as maybe pointers, if you will. I think you're going to see a lot more experimentation, a lot more. Because we had just had a summit in Silicon Valley, and Susan [inaudible 00:15:12] from Deloitte was there and she had a great phrase. She said, "Not everybody has to be a first mover, but it's in your best interest to be a first experimenter." And I couldn't agree with her more. And you see it everywhere. American Eagle launched their retail storefront a few months ago in Roblox. You've got [inaudible 00:15:33] doing something similar. You've got every single person experimenting and sampling with NFTs, virtual workspaces, even Meta is meeting in the Metaverse as avatars for work meetings.
So it's just around the corner, if not already here. So, I think what I love is seeing the experimentation. What I also see is that there's been enough time now, we were in a really big muddy shade of gray there for about 12 to 18 months where people have had time to digest, think, try, reflect, and optimize a few things. And now you're seeing a lot of momentum, not just in the Metaverse, not just with NFTs, but with even common channels like mobile. What you can do with your phone today is unbelievable. It is the first form of augmented reality, and augmented reality just continues to grow.
What you can do with content today is no longer just content. It has become media. Every single touchpoint is a media platform at this point, and how people leverage that and work through it. You're seeing new ways of doing that on your layer upon layer, upon layer. The second screen, the third screen, the fourth screen, we now probably have 10 screens that consumers are on all day every day. But they're there for different reasons. And so I think finding out how to show up, where to show up, when to show up, why you're showing up, and who's there, is going to lead to thousands of iterations of your messaging for you to really optimize. And no one's close to that yet. No one.
Winston Binch (17:26):
Yeah, one thing you talked about in a previous conversation I thought was really interesting, you called it like people-centric shifts related to the CMO. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Nadine Dietz (17:42):
Yeah, I can actually. That was an article I wrote a few years ago when, again, I get really frustrated when you have a lot of people who start having a conversation about marketing and challenges in marketing, and the trouble with CMOs, and things like that, because it's a really hard job, and those who critique it are the ones who know probably the least about it, because it's really complicated. But I think what I've loved and I've seen evolve, is this respect and acceptance, and acknowledgement, that those CMOs who are exceptionally people-centric, coming back to empathetic leadership are the ones who are going to be poised for the greatest success. And that means a lot of things, but there's three parts of that. One is understanding your audience. Today, the audience doesn't want to be told anything. They want the opportunity to participate, to co-create, to help shape the narrative.
And why not let them do that? Your best bet at optimizing all of your messaging across all these different platforms is let your brand ambassadors do the work for you. So, it's this army of people who are working on your behalf. So, equip them, enable them, embrace them, love them, reward them, and let them tell a story authentically, because it's coming from their mouths. I think the second part of this, is being very mindful that your brand has a place in the world. And depending on the size of your brand and all the different categories you may be in, it could have a great impact on the world, both positive and negative. Everyone is responsible for our sustainability goals, and it isn't just something that you write on a webpage and say that you're contributing somewhere. It has to be infiltrated across the core of your business and that you're thinking about it from every aspect possible.
Whether it's packaging your channels that you use, and there's a lot of debate around NFTs and carbon emissions, and you could argue also that financial institutions, just running the institution in a physical world, has a huge footprint too. So, let's compare apples to apples, and there is so many actions and activities underway but we can't think of them as check the box. Same thing with diversity inclusion, which happens to be a huge component and success factor for sustainability. We have to actually take the time to really understand how there are so many interdependencies, and at the core of it is our people. And then the third is how you lead your teams. Every CMO I've ever spoken to on the planet has always attributed their success in their role, and also for their companies, to their team. So, if you're not taking 1000% care of your teams and really understanding what they need, and to be inspired to come to work, to be part of a team, to use their voice, you're holding back your own success.
Winston Binch (21:23):
A couple things that in there that I'm passionate about. One is some of these shifts, is this idea of going from creation to curation, and the importance of that as a leader. And particularly from my side being in the creative agency environment for so long where we always felt like we needed to have the idea, we needed to control that message. That was our art, that was our contribution. But now it really is about who are those creators that we can work with. I've long said this, but the public is more creative than the creative department. That's just a fact now. Whenever I open a TikTok, it's just mesmerizing what you see, and all types of different creativity. So, I love that. And I think for all leaders we have to have that curation approach, and just getting the right people in the room connecting, networking, is so valuable.
And in another thing is, I love that we have to be more in touch with our own humanity now as leaders, for our cultures, but also for how we communicate on behalf of brands. I think business and personal used to be separate, but it can't be really anymore. I think that, in my time, has evolved the role of the job, I think it's made it more interesting. It's moved us to more causal and purposeful work. Brands and companies asking bigger questions about the role they have on climate, the environment, and their own employees. So, I think those things are exciting, and as much as we get obsessed with the latest, greatest new technology, a lot of what we're doing is still about people, people, people. And if anything, we're being more honest and real about it, which is cool.
Nadine Dietz (23:30):
For sure. Oh gosh, Winston, I could talk to you all day because I have so many examples in my head, every time you mention anything, I think of 18,000 things. But you triggered a thought on this too. One of the things that I think is most exciting about marketing and the role of the CMO today, is their ability to leverage their skills to change the world. And what I mean by that, is even if you don't have a lot you can do on a product or a suite of services that pertain to any of the SDGs, you could think about it differently, and you could think about your role as part of a community, and what your part is in that community. Proctor & Gamble have thousands of products, but they introduced cold water Tide because when you wash your clothes with cold water, you are reducing your carbon footprint dramatically.
But to be able to convince the public to use cold, they had to come up with the craftiest campaign to reach those consumers in a way that consumers would embrace. Because you can't just tell consumers to stop doing something they've been doing for decades. But they used their creative power to do this. Really funny, I don't remember if you remember it, but it was Alexis from [inaudible 00:24:58] Creek, and she was talking about not wanting to support the environment, and it's just such a brilliant spot. But then they said, "Oh, you'll save $150 on your bill every month." She's like, "Okay, sign me up. I love the environment." But it's funny, because that's the thing marketers can do. You can tap into what a consumer cares about most to inspire a change in behavior that is going to help us hit our goals. Because, I'll be honest, and I don't want to be ... I think everybody knows this, but we are nowhere near where we need to be to stop this train from coming. Nowhere near. And it's shocking.
Winston Binch (25:40):
That's correct. I mean I do a lot of work with Protector Winners, it's a climate change nonprofit. And we've had our leadership summit and Jeremy Jones, the founder, got up in front of everyone, he said, "Look, climate's a marketing problem."
Nadine Dietz (25:53):
Winston Binch (25:55):
That's the truth. But it's also really exciting for everyone that's in this community. I mean if you look at most social issues, there are marketing problems. And there are a lot of stories to tell. There's more value we can create in the world, and I love that. The CMO just comes back to, where we started is, this is if not one of the most critical roles, but the most critical role for many of these orgs.
Getting the message out there, driving change comes back to the story you tell. And of course the inputs, the data, the insight, all of those things, you don't get to great creative without a better strategy. But I think they're really important. I want to shift now to talking about talent. We covered talent a little bit, but you're at 24 Seven now, Talent Recruitment Agency, you have hundreds of thousands candidates in your database, I imagine. What are you learning in terms of who succeeds, who fails? Talk to me about the talent world now, some of the insights and what you've learned since you've been there.
Nadine Dietz (27:10):
Yeah, well it's interesting. I was shocked to learn. We actually have 800,000 candidates in our database. It's like a country, and we place about 2000 marketers and creatives a week. It's pretty insane. But a lot of the talent that we place, I would say there's a big need now and a shift to more contractor type roles, freelance roles, not just because companies want to do this, but employees want that. They want to have more flexibility. In fact, we just did a talent retention report, and I think it was 75% of all employees really just want to have a hybrid work environment, or fully remote. Very few actually want to set foot back in an office every day. And most people were looking at expanding what they do. Side hustles are really popular, starting new businesses, having flexibility. So, equally important is both ends.
So, what employers need is access to amazing talent. Today's rules have changed for how to get to that talent. But I think the other way applies too. If you really want to navigate your career and build yourself into an executive leader, you're going to have to take the time to be on the inside of a company for a little while so you can learn and see, because leadership is incredibly complex, and you'll have a lot more opportunities to shape and develop your leadership capabilities with the support of a company who's going to invest in you and let you learn how to lead those teams. I really feel strongly that we need to come back to central because it is a little bit wild Wild West right now, so that people have those opportunities and foundations to grow. But it is in the employer's best interest to create an environment where that's true. And that's where we're not really lining up well right now. So, anyway, I don't know if that answers your question, that's a personal opinion.
Winston Binch (29:31):
Yeah. I mean what I get excited about it, about this new state we're in, it is the Wild West, but there are a lot of innovation opportunities around the office, I think, that we haven't even scratched the surface on. And training and teaching, and mentorship has always been a side part of the work experience. But I think there's room for that to take a greater role. If you want people to come back to the office, what are you offering them besides food? It does need to go beyond that. And then I think that's really cool. I think we all have an opportunity, as leaders, to really help spark a new type of working, both remote and physical.
Nadine Dietz (30:23):
Yeah. Can we hold on that for just a second? Because I think that's incredibly important. I think you're 1000% right to say that. In fact, there's two things that come to mind. I remember when [inaudible 00:30:37] was at Visa, she's now the GM and CMO into it. She told me this story about human Swiss army knives, and being able to operate in a shade of gray, and resilience and scrappiness, and resourcefulness, and this is still at a massively large company. But to encourage that almost entrepreneurial startup mentality and to reduce the complexity and layers in the organization, and she literally ripped out layers of the organization and said, "Everyone is an equal on this innovation corner moment." I think it was like every Friday, or something, where people could come to the table with things they saw on the outside that had applicability or could spar a new thing on the inside.
I saw Barbara [inaudible 00:31:26] when she was at [inaudible 00:31:27], started this Shark Tank idea. And she actually put on people's performance objectives that 70% of their day was on their quote day job. But 30% was required for innovation. There are ways companies can help build and create amazing platforms for growth. And then I think the third thing I just wanted to mention, is I once had, well, I still know her very well, but a mentee, and she came to me and she asked me how to get to the next level in her career. And I said, "Go ask what's needed in the company, and then volunteer to lead a cross-functional team to try to come up with solutions. This will establish you as a leader and it will give you those stretch opportunities to also let you meet the rest of the organization." Six months later she was promoted.
Winston Binch (32:24):
And to me, mentorship is an easy thing to set up and it's a really valuable experience. You talk to people that do it. They love doing it. I mean, I'm a mentor myself and it's a great experience. You learn, the mentee learns, and I don't think it's a super difficult thing to implement at companies. I mean, where do you think some of the brands, and I guess some of your clients, where should they start as they think about improving and innovating the experience? Things like mentorship, what else?
Nadine Dietz (33:00):
Yeah, I think sponsorship as well. Sponsorship is very different than mentorship in my opinion. And I think I share that opinion with a number of folks. Mentorship can come from anywhere, and it's somebody who's really meant to know you very well to help you think about things differently. Sponsorship is somebody on the inside that is going to make a case for you, in all instances, to help you drive your visibility forward in the organization. So, whether you're both a sponsor or a mentor to somebody, that's totally fine. But know that the sponsor is responsible for helping create opportunities and lanes for this person on the inside. And I think that's something every company should be doing a lot more of.
Speaker 2 (33:53):
This has been Is This Thing On, the GALE Audio Series. For more information about this or any other episode in the series, visit gale.agency/ideas. And to learn about GALE and how we can help you with your marketing efforts, visit www.galepartners.com. On behalf of the entire team at GALE, thanks for listening.