If you could just summarise who you are and what sort of experience the audience is about to learn from, that’d be great.
Having interviewed a host of B2B marketeers over the years, what advice would you give them to perform at their best or better, in an interview scenario?
What advice can you give to undergrads starting or trying to find the right path in marketing?
How do you figure out what you want to do marketing career wise, out of university?
How do you get from marketing exec to manager level without experience?
How to move into a role through potential versus experience, so I suppose this is when people are looking to stretch themselves or, they want more responsibility, how do you go about getting that?
What are the most important skills that you want to see in people that you’re looking to hire?
What’s the most valuable marketing skill you can have?
With social technological changes set to continue at pace, what do you think an aspiring marketeer should be learning now to be in the best position possible to add value to business, in five or ten years time?
How do you manage your marketing career in a company that’s very, very short term focused?
I’ve been a marketing manager without a team for years, and I’m looking for a new challenge, but unsure what to do next. What are my options without taking on a team? Retrain, or specialise?
How do you convince someone your marketing plan is the right thing to do?
How do you get involved in the broad strategic decisions?
When is it safe to move towards strategy and leave the tactical straight hands on tools behind, without jeopardising your value as a marketeer to the organisation?
How important is it to have a marketing mentor and why?
What advice have you received from your mentor that made the most impact?
How to find a marketing mentor when you’re already the most senior marketing position in the business?
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in marketing and how did it come about?
How do big corporates justify spend on difficult to measure campaigns around brand or thought leadership?
How do you deal with all the noise and hype in the market, balanced against the reality of day to day execution which often isn’t given due care? i.e. how do we keep up and get better?
How do you manager the work/life balance and how important is it in today’s society?
What is the book you recommend the most to B2B marketeers today?
So what parting words of wisdom or advice would you share with our audience?
Fiona Jensen: Welcome to Market Mentors. A podcast for the marketing leaders of today and tomorrow. I’m Fiona Jensen, a director and co-owner of Market Recruitment. For over a decade, I’ve been helping B2B marketeers find the best jobs with great companies. Together, we’ll discover how marketing experts reach the top and learn from their experience. Ask career related questions you can’t get answers to elsewhere. Be tough, be challenged, be mentored.
Mark Green packs a punch with honest insight into working for a company that has had to pivot, but found greater success through fanatical customer service and value. He talks of the changes, both recent and historic in the marketing industry and shares his own marketing career journey. Answering some tough but important questions with radical candor and talking about what he feels the future looks like for B2B marketers.
So, here is Mark Green, the Vice President in Marketing EMEA Rackspace, Thank you so much for joining us.
Mark Green: Pleasure.
Fiona Jensen: Much appreciated. If you could just summarise who you are and what sort of experience the audience is about to learn from, that’d be great.
Mark Green: Yes. So, as you say, I look after our marketing for Rackspace and EMEA. I’ve been doing this job for a couple of years now, been at Rackspace for just over five, before that at Insight, a computer reseller over in Europe, and then before that Quark and Macromedia, before it was acquired by Adobe. So from university, into a marketing role, and I’ve been in marketing for 20 odd years now, so it’s always been marketing. From selling from catalogs to kind of AI and chat boxes we have today, so a huge progression, and a pretty steady migration through the types of role, the leadership that’s come with that and perhaps the size of the team as well.
Mark Green: So, yeah here I sit today, it about 60, 65 of us, that is to say European remit, reporting into a European function here. As marketing is important to this business, as sales and support, and HR and finance, they are also part of the leadership team in the U.S. under the CMO who obviously runs it globally so yeah, that’s a bit about me.
Fiona Jensen: Fantastic, that’s lovely, well there’s going to be a wealth of … well, lots and lots of nuggets of information there for people to learn from, but I can hear about 300 different questions coming from that straight away as to how did you do that, how did you get to there, what’s that like. The whole EMEA relationship, U.S. relationship, where the strategy comes from, all that sort of stuff so, thank you so much.
Mark Green: Pleasure.
Fiona Jensen: So, as this is a podcast which tends to get picked up by people who are just thinking about their career, or potentially looking at new job roles, or who are potentially looking to move career, let’s give them a little bit of advice around interviewing, specifically if they’re in an interview situation, or they’re preparing for it, or they’re just on the route to going to one. So having interviewed a host of B2B marketeers over the years, what advice would you give them to perform at their best or better, in an interview scenario?
Mark Green: Probably the best way to answer that is to think of what I would expect, if I’ve just finished an interview, what am I hoping I’ve seen? Regardless and I think this transcends marketing, a lot of marketing depends on honesty, I think, whether you are directly talking to a customer, or even a prospect, I think that needs to flow through everything that you do and it’s important at Rackspace as you’d expect. So I don’t mind failure, I like to see that people understand failure and move on from it, we have a phrase here, “If you’re going to fail, fail fast.”, so the first characteristic I think is, turn up and be honest, if things haven’t worked talk about them, if you’re nervous about things or you sense that there’s part of role that worries you, talk about it, be open and honest.
Mark Green: I would rather have someone acknowledge part of a role that they saw as a challenge than perhaps give me an answer that suggested that they were more competent than they could be. I think data and an understanding of performance is always crucial, and that’s not expecting you to come into an interview and know the answers at a metric level to every question, but be prepared to know how you would answer everything. If, given the example of a successful campaign, don’t tell me that it was lovely colours and everyone liked it in the office, tell me that it drove X amount of audience, and X amount of leads and opportunities and help me generate this because, fundamentally my team will frown if I say this to them, we are a sales support function, marketing is here to drive revenue, so the role of that has to be central I think, in B2B marketing.
Mark Green: Then thirdly it’s important here, it’s important everywhere I’ve been, half of a persons’ role is capability, half is character. So be yourself, be who you are, if you have things you’re proud of, if you have family, if you have strong connections, if you like traveling, if you like food, talk about it, because the personality in an individual comes out in the way they market. I could have 50 people working for me who’re tired and grumpy and frustrated in their lives, they’re not going to perform as well as people of passion, and leaving the office at five o’clock to go and spend time with friends, I’m going to get the best out of them. So, that’d be the three things I think, be honest, be truthful when you talk about performance, relate that back to what really matters in the business, and be yourself, just let people see who you are, that would probably be the three things I’d like to see.
Fiona Jensen: Very good, thank you. Now, back on the advice train, what advice can you give to undergrads starting or trying to find the right path in marketing?
Mark Green: Yeah this is a great question, it’s difficult. It’s much more difficult for me, I think you know go back 20 years to 1998 when I graduated, marketing was … I mean it was easy to understand what marketeers did, I think now I have at least 15 disciplines of specialism in that team, out through the doors there. I don’t expect a graduate to sit in front of me and say, “I’m a social expert, or a data expert, or a campaign expert, or a content expert.”, I think what you need to do is approach the idea of that first step into marketing as, “Why marketing?”, and that will be the best asset, again going back to the interview, why is marketing the area for you? And I think then you start drawing on the need to make a difference, and then that translates into, “Is that difference material in I want to drive something, I want to go and take a product and take it to market, is my interest in marketing or actually talking to customers? Is my interest in marketing the creation of things?”, as arguable, there are still a lot of creative people in marketing.
Mark Green: I think the challenge for a graduate is, you’re not expected to, so don’t. Just talk about it again, as I said before, the things that you’re passionate about, the areas of interest you have, and try and answer that questions as a field that’s different to HR, and sales, and finance. Why marketing? And I think that would lead you correctly, you’re not expected, at a graduate level, unless you’ve got a degree in data science, or a degree in graphic design. But it’s a question I think more marketing managers, they don’t expect you to answer, you just need to understand why you’re at that table.
Fiona Jensen: How do you figure out what you want to do marketing career wise, out of university?
Mark Green: My big driver was, I did perhaps a little bite fell into it, not on accident, I did a degree in marketing but, anyone listening to this coming out of university now with the debt that you amass is staggering, again probably knowing some of the interns and graduates we employ, I was up to my ears in debt when I left but it was much smaller amounts. So there was a drive for me to get into work and start earning, and there was also a drive to use my career, so I started in catalog marketing, building catalog pages of computer equipment, and the desire and the drive to do it was very financially drive. I started right before my graduation, I finished my last exams and left, I didn’t graduate, there was no ball for me.
Mark Green: So the drive was very personal, but it’s always been that, I’ve always been driven, I’ve never found ever a time to switch off and stop. So yeah, my motivation was very, “I’ve got to clear this debt and crack on.”, but yeah, very financial driven, for me in the early stages, that’s the complete honest answer. Then once I started to see the career evolve, and there were more of the right decisions, but now I don’t see anyone, potentially listening to this under the age of 25 who’s not got financial security and value and progression as one of their main drivers, and that’s fine. Again go back to my, when we were talking about interviews, talk about it, because I would rather have someone that was motivated by money, I think if that motivation becomes too much of a driver, you’re probably a salesman at heart, but that financial motivation, it’s progression, that’s what helps keep you fast and honest.
Fiona Jensen: Perfect, how do you get from exec to manager level without experience?
Mark Green: Wow, I think a very difficult one, I think manager … well I guess, there’s two ways to look at that question, there is, I have managers who are individual contributors, so they’re a step in just understanding and progression, so for example in our social media there are social media marketeers, and there are social media managers. The managers don’t manage people, they just have bigger responsibility, that comes with tenure and experience, how you do that without experience, I don’t know, not for me. The other end of that is the management of people, there is of course, a step whether it’s managing one or managing 50, you have to do that for the first time, and I think we’re quite lucky here, we have intern programs, so I can spot the future managers because they’re the ones that, it almost magnetises to.
Mark Green: There are people out there in case their listening we’re going without names, I can see becoming leaders when they don’t even know it, because the interns will respond to them, they’ll gather people up, they’ll work on projects, they’ll pull people together. I liken it a little bit, first steps into management, a bit like the captain of the sports team, you feel that you’re not necessarily the best player, but everyone listens to you, and I think those are some of the first things to think about, but good management happens when you’re doing everything else right.
Fiona Jensen: There you go. How to move into a role through potential versus experience, so I suppose this is when people are looking to stretch themselves or, they want more responsibility, how do you go about getting that?
Mark Green: The foundation of performance is crucial, use an example of again let’s go back to the social media team, someone says to me, “I’d like to do more.”, and we talk about it and we agree, and then everything you were doing starts breaking up and failing, it becomes very difficult. So I think any progression or any requirement to do more, must be based on a foundation of performance, once that’s in place, that’s the magic things a leader wants to hear. People asking you, “Can I do more? Knowing that everything I’m doing now is secure.”, and it’s a two very fundamentally different things, it’s comfort and understanding in the value that you bring to the org, and then the desire to do more, it’s a dream.
Mark Green: So, I would say, anyone thinking about asking that question or looking at that next promotion or that next step, just turn around and look at what it is you’re doing today, and be honest with yourself because … and maybe even ask someone, ask a peer, ask a colleague, “How do you judge my performance?”, because stepping away from that could be the worst thing you ever do, but without asking and stepping on, you’re never going to progress. So, don’t take that decision lightly, but yeah spend as much time looking at what you’re doing and how successful that is, as you do looking forward at what you want to be.
Fiona Jensen: Mm, very good advice. What are the most important skills that you want to see in people that you’re looking to hire?
Mark Green: That’s a good question, I think, the varying roles, if I was looking to hire a director of a particular function then I can be very specific, examples, track record, tenure, why things are broken that you’ve fixed, why things that have gone well under your leadership, your style of leader, what would people that work for you say about you, those are the things I like to ask.
Mark Green: If you move down that stack of experience and tenure, I go back to the things I talked about, I want to see personability, I want to character, I want to see honesty, I find good people … I love interviewing people with passion, but then I like to challenging them by what makes them angry, what makes them frustrated? Get them into a place where I don’t need to see passion, I need to see what fuels you and what do you do when the situation goes bad, personally and professionally. So, yeah I think it would vary enormously on the type of role, but bearing in mind, this is about maybe that earlier steps in the career, I would line the two very much together, that being yourself, being very open and honest, personality shines through over I think experience at a younger age, and talk about what’s worked and what hasn’t, be open and honest yeah 100 percent.
Fiona Jensen: Lovely, and what’s the most valuable marketing skill you can have?
Mark Green: The most valuable marketing skill you can have? Measurement.
Fiona Jensen: I was wondering when that was going to come up, and that’s on your LinkedIn profile as well.
Mark Green: Yeah, I think it’s-
Fiona Jensen: I like that.
Mark Green: Yeah, I would say this, of course there’s huge different variance of that, teams that run campaign marketing might measure on the opportunities they create in the path line associated with that. People that run our PR team are measured on reach, people that run our brand team are measured on share of voice, measurement gives you the authority to change something and the credibility to carry on doing it, and I don’t know anyone in marketing, well I wouldn’t spend a lot of time with someone that couldn’t tell me measurement around something they’re doing. Yeah that ones easy, that’s actually now I think about, it’s the easiest answer you’ll probably ask me today.
Fiona Jensen: Well there you go we only asked for one and that’s the be all and end all of marketing.
Mark Green: 100 percent.
Fiona Jensen: Perfect. With social technological changes set to continue at pace, what do you think an aspiring marketeer should be learning now to be in the best position possible to add value to business, in five or ten years time?
Mark Green: Yeah, fabulous, wow I mean you could probably say one or two years right? The amount of change that’s out there.
Fiona Jensen: Got to understand still haven’t you, in tech?
Mark Green: Yeah, the biggest change I’ve seen here in 18 months, and where I had to get on the bus very quickly, and now it [inaudible] our business movement enormously, is social media. We have teams of people now who will monitor, maintain and develop marketing relationships through LinkedIn, through tools around it, things like sales navigator and elevate. Which are tools to help you engage with customers and prospect differently, two years ago that didn’t exist, I mean there was LinkedIn, it was arguably the business version of Facebook when it came to life. It was a communication tool, it then speared and became a bit of a recruitment service tool, and now it’s found its feet again, and it really is a networking tool, and the ability for me to contact prospect A because I know what prospect A likes, what prospect A thinks, how they connect, the types of things that they respond to. It allows me to present my case so to speak, much better and in the right time.
Mark Green: So the pace of change there is staggering, so sitting down today, if someone could talk to me about their understanding and appreciation of social media as a marketing tool, they’ve got my ears. But it’s interesting measurement, I would always go back to data, if you can measure what you’re doing, it will work itself out. So, an understanding of the importance of modern marketing is now measurement more than crowns and champagne, and the appreciation that technology is pulling this industry left, right, and center. If I look at social media, how that’s exploded, I didn’t have a social media team two years ago, now it’s one of my biggest teams, that’s testament to how much it will change.
Mark Green: So, I don’t plan for five years anymore, plan for 18 months, two, knowing that probably half way through that, we’re going to be planning again, because the change is enormous.
Fiona Jensen: Yeah, and then also I think with all the information out there, customers which obviously are at the heart of your organisation, what you do and why you guys exist and are the top within your industry, but an awful lot of customers now are kind of reaching their own conclusions and decisions before they’ve even engaged with or talked to a sales person. So I think marketing’s function in that whole journey has increased tenfold in the last two to five years, thanks to social media. It’s one of the first things that people nowadays, just naturally they Google stuff and then they go find the right people on LinkedIn, and then they look and see what articles, what comments they’ve made.
Fiona Jensen: So it’s really important in anyone’s decision making buying process, no matter what it is.
Mark Green: Yeah, 100 percent. I think, there was almost that relationship marketing has always had, when you start that investigation, Mr. Customer, I need to be at that point of engagement. I think if you imagine this visualised, we’re the same distance again, further back now, Rackspace, what we fundamentally sell is a relationship with someone who’s going on a journey to transform their business. So, success for me is, let’s sit down and talk, let’s shake hands and work out, we can help you with your problem, and I’ve got to know everything about that person to get to them two, three months before they hit Google so to speak.
Mark Green: So yeah, an incredibly powerful place and, yeah we invest a lot in doing it, but doing it right.
Fiona Jensen: Perfect, how do you manage your marketing career in a company that’s very, very short term focused? Piece of advice I think there for a rather frustrated marketer.
Mark Green: I mean, the first goal of marketing is to sit next to that, whatever that strategy is, and if whoever this individual is, is sending that that is a short term focus, then I would argue that they’re sitting in a very tactical marketing function, and probably by the sounds of things, a small one if there’s frustration. There is always a place in marketing, whatever the direction and strategy is, but if it’s … I think what the challenge there is perhaps, that you have someone just by the wording of that question, that wants to perhaps think a bit more strategically and wants to maybe stop being in the day to day weeds to marketing something that sounds quite bespoke, to something that’s quite defined.
Mark Green: My favourite thing is hiring people, my favourite thing is when people leave because most people, if they do leave me, it’s because it’s the right decision for them and it’s time to move on and a lot of it’s because of that, “I’ve found somewhere I can do this better, I’ve found the next challenge for me.”, I live by five year plans, personal ones and the only time those plans have ever changed is if there’s an opportunity to change my career. As you get older and more tenured, the reasons to stay and become committed to a place change, but my answer to that question would be, challenge that strategy, if your definition as you’ve just described it, short term focus is that, that you’ve got the marketing wrong?
Mark Green: In which case, think more strategically, or if that’s the business objectives that requires a short term thinking marketing team, maybe it’s not for you. The best decisions are often the hardest ones.
Fiona Jensen: So if it’s not right and you’ve tried all you can, might be time to leave.
Mark Green: Or, the great marketeers go back to the leader of that business and say, “you’re thinking too short termed, let me talk to you, how I can change this if you let me think a bit more strategic.”, and it might just be as simple as that, has this individual taken that problem to the owner, her boss, his boss, the leader of that business and said, “We are thinking too short term, I have some ideas to change that.”, who knows, that might be the answer.
Fiona Jensen: There you go, be brave first, try that if you haven’t already, and then leave if they won’t listen.
Mark Green: Oh yes, there we go.
Fiona Jensen: “I’ve been a marketing manager without a team for years, and I’m looking for a new challenge, but unsure what to do next. What are my options without a taking on a team, retrain, or specialise?”
Mark Green: I would, if someone say down in front of me and asked that, I would go straight, I’d focus right in on the root of the problem, not for the answer. So what is it that’s causing this? I think they’ve answered it themselves, if the desire isn’t to become a manager, and I think that’s not an overnight one, so the management of people as we’ve talked about, I think is something that … it didn’t sound like it was in their answer, the person magnetised very quickly on retrain or refocus, refocus, that would suggest that you’ve become unfocused so is it the same job somewhere else? Is it that maybe the role that you’re in isn’t for you, but the organisation is? And then retrain, yes as we’ve already said marketing is a world of specialism.
Mark Green: Do I think I’m going to get, not to name names, my social media manager come into me and say, “I want to be a content specialist.”, no, am I going to get them coming in and say, “I think we focused our social media in the wrong direction.”, I hope so. So, refocus is your gift, you should be able to do that on the spin of a hat. Repurposing a career, if you could look at yourself in the mirror and say, “It’s time to do that.”, then do It, whatever age you are. No one owes the living that you’re doing, so I would tend to hammer in on that.
Mark Green: The way I would tackle that, I’d put those two things on a board in front of me, refocus, repurpose, or retrain I think it was, refocus and retrain I think the two words weren’t they?
Fiona Jensen: Retrain or specialise.
Mark Green: Or specialise.
Fiona Jensen: Yeah.
Mark Green: Yeah and I would look at those independently, is this about em, as in specialising or is this about retraining myself and perhaps I’m not in the right role, yeah. Tough one though because it’s difficult because for every day that you’re looking to make that change, there are specialists in those areas you’re looking to move, coming up faster and faster, I would not … five years ago, I might sit down one of my campaign marketeers saying, “Would you like to help me out in the social media team?”, wouldn’t do that today.
Mark Green: I’d go hire social media experts, so it’s a tough question, and it’s one I think you need to take to the root of that problem and answer yourself, because it could be take the role I’ve got and change it myself, you’ve got the gift to do that. Look at something else, in which case seek that help, or bit like the last question, is it time for me to think about doing this somewhere else?
Fiona Jensen: Adding value elsewhere.
Mark Green: Yeah.
Fiona Jensen: Coming from a performance [inaudible] activation background, what would be the best route for me to pick up branding communications field?
Mark Green: I think a marketeer now … sorry, that’s the best question so far, if you have a performance background, you know what success looks like, whatever it is you’re measuring, brand is a component of that. If this question is, “How do I focus more on creativity?”, I’m guessing this question is more about, “How would I move away from perhaps full marketing, and something more creative.”, you have the best asset of all, you understand measurement, and I think the softer sides, inverted commas, of marketing are the hardest places to have that measurement of value so, if you could sit in front of a brand leader, and help them understand your value, and that values measurement and performance then, you’ve got a seat at that table.
Mark Green: I think it’s easier than ever now, with the plethora of agencies and creative minds out there, to create good and exciting and different and sexy and all the wonderful things we need in brand marketing, but the hardest thing to do is measure it and grow it, and keep it effective in a saturated market in B2B, wherever you’re marketing. So, yeah, interpret that brand step through the eyes of your measurement blends of performance, and go be credible. I would love a brand team full of people that put performance and measurement first.
Fiona Jensen: Perfect, how do you convince someone your marketing plan is the right thing to do?
Mark Green: Love these questions. If I focus in on the word convince, I would suggest I’m not ready. I’m not going in to convince anyone of my marketing plan, I’m going in to deliver it. I’ve done all the conviction with measuring against last year, knowing what I need to do, getting all the stake holders on board, putting the budget against it, having a strong ROI, having my gates of performance lines out. I’ve never gone into a room to convince anyone of a marketing plan, I’m delivering it, marketing isn’t about justifying what you do, it’s at the point of presenting it, you’ve done all that already so, if you find yourself walking into a room to convince someone of your marketing plan, don’t go in there yet, go out and look at it again, and come in and deliver it, and I would question that anyone sat in front of that plan would see the difference in you, someone that’s delivering a plan or someone’s that’s in there to convince you, very different things.
Mark Green: It’s not dragons den, it’s the real world so yeah, present is as plan that you’re there to deliver, you’re not in there to convince.
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Fiona Jensen: How do you get involved in the broad strategic decisions?
Mark Green: I think the days of … I mean, I mentioned earlier, that it at times feels like we’re a sales support function, and I don’t mind that, a lot of that born of relationship and tenure. I think the strategic decisions now of our business here, and arguably any B2B business, marketing’s table stakes all the time. The way we show up, how we show up, who we show up with, what we say when we get there, what we leave behind, how we engage the second time, how we present, how we turn up on their pace, how we bring them to us. Marketing arguably in most good business decision’s comes first, so maybe it’s a bit of that conviction and delivery again, I don’t see myself as anything other than the voice of Rackspace, and I have the gift to decide what we say, who we say it to, and when I say it.
Mark Green: If I can wrap that around with, “And this is how many people listened.”, then I am the loudest voice at that table. So, yeah it’s the transition of marketing, and how much data is has behind it now, I have the richest source of data in this business and if we use it properly then, I’m table stakes everyday around those big decisions.
Fiona Jensen: When is it safe to move towards strategy and leave the tactical straight hands on tools behind, without jeopardising your value as a marketeer to the organisation?
Mark Green: What a great question, but I’ll pick again, I don’t think you can be tactical without strategy, I don’t think if you are doing something and there hasn’t been a reason to do it, then I would worry. I get the chicken and egg piece, I guess there has to be something first, but anything you do tactical is born of a plan, anything that you’re planning has to be under some kind of strategy, I don’t think you’re stepping away, I think the two have to be underlined in bold, coexist, and strategy gives you the gift to go out and do the tactics. If you see yourself in a role where you’re doing one not the other, I think you’re half effective as you need to be. I don’t have a strategic team and a tactical team, I expect the tactics to come from strategy and yeah, they’re hand in hand and yeah maybe I’m going back to the first question, “What do I want to see in an interview? What advice could I offer a graduate?”, play with those two words and bring them close together because I understand there used to be field marketing and tactical marketing, it’s not anymore.
Mark Green: You are in a position now where strategy eats tactics for breakfast, horrible Americanism, they need each other, so it’s a question that needs more thinking about at the point of asking it I think, they’re not independent of each other, not for me.
Fiona Jensen: There you go. I think it’s so true as well and often, it kind of maybe it the level people get to because often you know, the senior leadership team really value people challenging and questioning tactics, so your thought process is right if you’re arriving at that sort of question, but you have to be a little bit harder with yourself first and really evaluate what you’re doing, do you really understand why you’re doing it.
Mark Green: Exactly.
Fiona Jensen: Yeah.
Mark Green: That’s well put, yeah.
Fiona Jensen: Okay, so how important is it to have a marketing mentor and why?
Mark Green: Oh I think a mentor, I’ve had various mentors over my time, some for different reasons, but it’s always been the wood for the tree’s thing, it’s always because you’re doing it every day, sometimes it helps to just be away from it and challenge the way you approach things and progress things, arguably my best mentor for the last 18 years has been my wife because, she’s not in the industry so, she can often put the simplest of answers to the questions that you can challenge, and all the way home in the car, I’m like “Oh I didn’t think of it like that.”
Mark Green: I think what a mentor gives you is the ability to … the correct relationship with a mentor should be to talk about the things you think you’ve done wrong, don’t want to sit down and get praised by someone. I want to sit down and say, “I think I handled this wrong, how should I have done this differently?”, I think if you get to a point in your career where the answer is, “I could do with some help, a mentor.”, I wouldn’t focus too much on this idea of that if I’m in marketing I need a marketing mentor, but that you need one.
Mark Green: I think if you ever walked into a room and someone, “Oh this is John, he’s going to be your mentor.”, you don’t know what you need John for, I think it’s an answer to a journey that you’re going on. I decided after my first job, it would make sense to almost give myself challenges of progression in five years. So I started breaking my life down into five year chunks of where I think I should be and where I’d like to be, and that’s when it made sense to … right, I’m three years through this, and I thought I’d be a senior manager by now, and I could talk that through with a mentor, and I won’t name names, but it was a contract that worked alongside me for a few years, this was back in the Macro Media days, and he was more of a sales leader but he then helped me reset some of those things that I thought I would be doing by now, and actually what happened wasn’t that I was failing, I just set unrealistic goals.
Mark Green: And we worked together for about five or six years, and it was often just, “Do you think this is right? Do you think I’ve approached this incorrectly?”, so incredibly valuable, but I knew that I needed him if that makes sense.
Fiona Jensen: Yeah, yeah. Okay, what advice have you received from your mentor that made the most impact?
Mark Green: Hire better people than you, that’s probably the best one. As I started to progress in my management career, I always had this belief and I think until it was challenged, I didn’t really I’ve it much thought but, I’m in charge now, so therefore people work for me and you almost present you have this pyramid of I’m at the top of this team-
Fiona Jensen: But then you also put pressure on yourself to have all the answers, do you?
Mark Green: And I would put myself under massive pressure to be more capable, more organized, better, and it was early in my days of taking on teams of specialists when I went to InSight, it became groups of specialists, so I would then by very nature, be sat in front of people who were better than me at something, and they don’t need me to be better, they just need leadership. And that was a solid piece of advice from an old boss at the time, was just always hire people that are better than you but know what that means, it’s not changing the role that you do it’s if everyone around you is better, then they’re individual functions are performing.
Mark Green: And that’s stuck with me and I’ve passed that down a lot actually, to people, “Don’t be scared that the team around you are more capable or better, because all that does is reflect on the business that you’re running and if you’re comfortable to do that, you’ll get the best out of them because it will never be seen as that proverbial pyramid of, well if I’m better than you then I should be doing your job.”, that took me a long time to articulate and go around my head but once I did, it’s probably my go to now, “Are you better than me? Yes, well welcome aboard.”, you know?
Fiona Jensen: Good, join us.
Mark Green: Yeah exactly.
Fiona Jensen: How to find a marketing mentor when you’re already the most senior marketing position in the business?
Mark Green: Yeah maybe this was kind of half the last question about mentors, go outside of marketing. Go speak to someone in HR, go speak to somebody in finance. In fact, do that, if this is a specific question, go speak to someone in finance who understand the complexity of performance better than anybody, and talk to them about the challenges that you think you need a mentor for, the best advice are from the people that you least expect it from, and I would argue that if you’re looking now for someone to say, “Here is my advice on the next steps in your marketing career.”, go to someone not in marketing.
Mark Green: We do challenge of course, the hardest job in marketing is that everyone has an opinion and marketing is opinion. But yes, that would be my challenge, don’t look at yourself now as, “I’m the top marketeer I therefore can’t get mentored.”, go left and right, go across the business, find someone that you’re aspire to for other reasons, someone that you admire because they present well, or admire because they manage the sea of finances that power this business that we’re, whatever it is, go and find someone else and you’ll be surprised how much commonality there is, and how much you could get from it.
Fiona Jensen: And learn from, and I say you know, marketing really it is sitting at the table an awful lot more often than any business, I mean we get start up telling us we need to hire a senior marketeer who can tell us who we are, and how to communicate with our customers, and you know we know what we do, we’ve grown organically, we’re very successful, but now we want to put that final flourish and touch to it, and also have someone tell us how to grow out business, how to take it to that next level, it’s commercial, it’s philosophical, it’s the visionary, and yet you know these are the guys who started the business. But if you’ve got anyone around you within marketing, all of that information helps a marketeer become even more valuable, and a better functionality, I think, of the business.
Fiona Jensen: So, if you can learn about the finance, if you can learn about customer service, if you can learn about pain points and the problems and what it’s like to be ana actual sales person in that sales persons shoes and what sort of questions they get asked, when do the sweaty palms start and what can you do to help that situation, is really exciting I think. Because you’re constantly adding value to all these different parts of the moving machine, but if you do that well, and oil every piece, it just becomes a Ferrari.
Mark Green: And maybe, and there’s your point, in all that experience, in all those conversations that you potentially have, there’s mentors in there. There’s advice, there’s help, there’s challenging you, there’s exactly that, so I think it’s there for everybody.
Fiona Jensen: Perfect, what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in marketing [inaudible] business, and how did it come about?
Mark Green: I would go to presenting, it’s something I do a lot of, it’s something I enjoy and it was something I got confident at, but never too confident, and it helped me I think as I developed, because whether you’re standing in front of four people or four thousand people, that need to get people behind your message, and sell it, I’ve always found it an important part of my career, and in the early days-
Fiona Jensen: When did you sort of realise that that’s something that you enjoy, how did you figure that out?
Mark Green: Well this is actually probably where the answers going, in the early days of my career at Macro Media, it was fundamental, it was selling products, it was products for web and graphic design and animation, and we each I’m a small team in the U.K., we each took a product that we would learn enough to present and demo, and you would stand in front of hundreds, thousands at times, people and present this product. And it became very apparent, as we did this more and more, that the first question you would ask, “How many people are using the software today?”, hundreds of hands would go up, and in most cases you had prepared a demo, and I guess the one thing I learned very quickly was, the confidence to be the most educated person in that room.
Mark Green: I knew that most people knew everything I did, and more. But if you present with conviction and confidence, then it never bothered me, I never found myself thinking, “Oh my god this is going to be a disaster.”, and it’s stayed with me ever since, whether I had to deliver tough messages, challenging messages, confident messages, negative messages, just be confident, and I think to an extent I think it’s grown more with empathy and as I’ve become more transparent I think in the way I communicate but, I go back to that as, remember getting up on that stage and asking, “How many people have used Dreamweaver before?”, and 90 percent of the audience know exactly what I’m about to demonstrate, but do it with conviction, and you’ll get fabulous feedback in where you go.
Mark Green: So, I could answer that question a hundred times but that’s the one that sprung to mind, because I think presentation skills, however much technology progresses, whether you’re on video, whether you’re on a blog, whether you’re on a podcast, you have to present with conviction and that’s half the battle.
Fiona Jensen: This is quite a specific question and I love the fact that you pulled this one out, how do big corporates justify spend on difficult to measure campaigns around brand or [inaudible] leadership.
Mark Green: Yeah it is a good question, I think we talked a little bit about measurement earlier, and the different types of measurement. If you’re down in the weeds of a campaign or an event, you can associate with it, that’s easier. The significance of share of voice these days, which is fundamentally I think, the way you measure brand, is as important. Yeah you mentioned at the start, we work alongside with, to some extent at times we compete with, the likes of Google, the likes of Amazon, the likes of Microsoft, powerhouses who have spent millions and millions over the years creating strong brands.
Mark Green: Often the challenge with brand measurement is, it’s often easier to associate the opportunity costs, what would it be like if we didn’t invest in it and spend money on it? So we measure through share of voice, we measure through PR we measure through reach, but it’s okay for me to go to an event because if we’re not here, if we don’t turn up at the big VM world event in Barcelona, there will be more negative connotations and assumptions made than there would be, and sometimes it’s okay to be at an awareness level, but I understand the question and I think if you have something, and we do, we have a share of voice metric, we have a brand perception metric, if you have something that you can consistently measure, and it starts to grow then you know that the effects that you’ve had have been positive, do more of them.
Mark Green: And as I’ve mentioned a few times, measurement is central to my world.
Fiona Jensen: So, we have another question here which I think’s really exciting, how do you deal with all the noise and hype in the market, balanced against the reality of day to day execution, which often isn’t given due care, I.e. how do we keep up and get better?
Fiona Jensen: I reckon what they’re talking about there, is also around stuff like, there’s so much going on in marketing, there’s ABM now, which is like Buzzfeed, then there’s AI, machine learning, there’s always so much new stuff coming into the marketeers’ handbook or sort of tools, how do you know where to invest time and what to do next?
Mark Green: Yeah good question, I think we do a good job here of putting the customer in the middle, and I think if you apply a kind of customer centric approach to marketing, and that could be a vertical or a segment or a new upcoming industry, whatever it is you’re focusing on, I think then very quickly you associate the right way to talk to them, present to them, get in front of them, and then it’s almost the noise becomes the proverbial menu of things to deal with.
Mark Green: Yeah, ABM is born of a need to get closer to big customers that you’ve engaged with, if I think of our event strategy, two, three years ago we were at trade shows, squeezing balls and pens and taking badge scans, and the noise of that was hundreds and hundreds of leads in an Excel sheet that you come home and deal with, if I think of that today, it’s all intimate dinners, one to one’s, workshops, briefings, because we’ve listened to the customer. I don’t mind the sea of opportunity, what you mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t automate exchanges around our enterprise customers, but then I wouldn’t employ ABM into our small business teams.
Mark Green: So, I challenge that it’s a good thing, but if you sit who you’re trying to target in the middle, excuse me, I think the answers will present themselves, and I think there is a sea of noise and it’s, I mean my point about social media, two years ago I didn’t have a team and now it’s my second biggest. It’s understanding that noise, listening to it correctly but, that was born out of a need to engage with customers quicker than we were before, how do we do that? It came because of a need from a customer, for us to interact better, so stick the customer in the middle, I think you’d answer that, much, much easier.
Fiona Jensen: Yeah, perfect. With pressures of general life, how do you manager the work/life balance and how important is it in today’s society?
Mark Green: Oh what a topic, very difficult, very difficult. I am personally not very good at it.
Fiona Jensen: Why is that, is that just because you just enjoy what you do so much that you’re just, it doesn’t feel like you’re working?
Mark Green: Yeah, I’m a lucky one, I do enjoy my job, I have a wonderful team, I’ve a wonderful boss. I’m lucky in that sense, and yeah maybe once you start enjoying it, it doesn’t feel like work as much. I mean you’re naturally, I think, drawn to hours, most people the work/life balance is in, “Am I sat at home working?”, not as much as I should with my kids, I’ve got three children, in the bounds of that probably, “Yeah you do a lot at home Daddy.”, but interestingly it’s one of the things I demand the most of the team, get the balance right, challenge yourself if it’s not working. I am blessed with a real nice mix of male and female on the team and as in the female group, a lot of mums, and I would have them at home with the kids, in the home and happy and settled more than anything we do here.
Mark Green: A bit like the analogy if you go to a cop and his house and he doesn’t have the door shut properly, I don’t think I do a particularly good job of it myself, but then it’s I don’t know, it’s a good question, it’s something I probably need to think about better but, it’s the most important thing. I would hate to think that someone working for me, or working around me, or that I know professionally struggles with it, but it’s hard, I understand it’s hard. There is a desire to every, look at the questions of advice I talked about do more, work harder, be better, go in don’t convince, deliver, that deliver might be what I do all tonight and-
Fiona Jensen: Pull and all nighter, yeah absolutely.
Mark Green: I often use the time, a piece of advice I had recently, was use the that … it takes me about an hour and a half to get home, use that time just to unwind, but now I find it’s full of the calls of the American’s that I need to do it at the end of the day, start of their day, so I can often walk out the car, open the front door and I’m ten seconds off a really stressful meeting. So the balance is a tough thing, I think the generation, the 20s, I think will get better at it, I hire an awful lot of people now with an expectation of, “I’ll work from home, I’ll less in the office, we have zoom we have Skype, we have slack, we have teams.”, it’s not suggesting, you know when I was young, if you’re working from home you weren’t working, there was no such thing, you sat at your desk and worked at your computer.
Fiona Jensen: And then it was like, “How long are you in, are you in before the manager, are you in the office-“
Mark Green: I clocked in and out with a card, I remember [inaudible] time, if you built up enough extra hours, you could take a day off. I think the worlds changing, and responding to it better. But then challenge of course is, the good thing is you’ve got a laptop at home, the bad thing is you’ve got a laptop at home.
Fiona Jensen: So true.
Mark Green: It will rear its ugly head in a more significant way, the whole idea of mental health and the challenges that has, we put a lot of that into peoples personal development and what that brings here, and yeah I think it’s a fabulous question, and it’s something personally, I would hold my hands up and say I don’t do well enough but, it’s an enormous struggle I think, work/life balance, for lots of people. It doesn’t fit, if you want to progress, you want to drive, you want to drive hard, you want to make a difference, it’s a struggle not to eat into that time that you would normally, and anyone listening to this, anyone that you know people listening to this, you point to someone that does nine to five, they don’t exist anymore.
Mark Green: The world doesn’t let you, so yeah it’s a really good question-
Fiona Jensen: Especially with social media, because you get notifications, you know you’ve got your work phone, and ping goes an email at ten o’clock, you’re going to check it, you’re going to read it. Unless you’re really, really good.
Mark Green: And then even then you can’t be good because it’s problems that I’ve got to deal with now, I can remember, it might have been at Macro Media, it was, I was on the M25, just come off from the M4, and we’d just been given Blackberries, and it was in the car, not very good back then, it was lying on the chair next to me and it beeped, and I realised in a split second, that I’m now going to get emails on the move for the rest of my life, and I thought, “It’s fabulous.”, and in the same breath realised, this was the end of my life as I knew it, because now I could get emails on the move. And if was a real, I can remember it like it was yesterday, this acknowledgement, this big, clunky old Blackberry version one-
Fiona Jensen: Was it with that big keyboard on the front?
Mark Green: The keyboard on the front.
Fiona Jensen: I loved that.
Mark Green: With the scroll button on the side, that you press and it always gets stuck.
Mark Green: But yeah, that recognition to your point, that’s it now, I am never not at work, and you know it’s tough, work/life balance, yeah good luck with that one.
Fiona Jensen: Yeah, long may we continue to find the balance. What is the book you recommend the most to B2B marketeers today?
Mark Green: I thought hard about this type of question, I would love to say, to every B2B marketeer listening to this, go read the best bit of fiction, I want to say Lord of The Rings, just because I think time with a book is the perfect question after work/life balance, go read something that you escape into, so half of me [inaudible] it, the best book I’ve ever read, and that was the only book I’ve ever read that, after about finished it for about a week, I felt something missing, and I realised what it was I was just missing the Lord of The Rings book.
Mark Green: But on business level, there’s a book called Making the Boat Go Faster by Ben Hunt Davis, it’s more a state of mind I find myself in than a … it’s not one of these, “How to be a great leader or how to be anything.”, and it was this idea in the Sydney Olympics, he was brought in almost as a mental coach for the team of the 8 row team and for the British Olympic team, and we went the Olympics with twos and fours and eights in the boat, and the twos and fours were destined to win, there was no expectation on the crew of eight to go and win, and he had this ethos about two or three years before that, “If I get them focused for the next two years on everything they do, every decision you make, every step you take, is it going to make that boat go faster? If it is, do it, if it isn’t challenge it.”, and the won the gold, it was an incredible story.
Mark Green: And he came and did some talking at one of our kick offs, and I read the book and read it again, and read it again, and it translates beautifully, and when we go into planning, and it was only two days ago, we’re sat working with our agency on something, “Is this going to change that lead number?”, “No, I don’t know.”, “Then ask a different question, let’s think about this differently, is that going to change the way we perform?”, “No.”, “Okay why are we doing it?”, “Great question.”, and just the conviction to ask yourself that, “Will it make our boat go faster?”, every day, and every decision I make, I use it all the time. And as I say, it’s a story of him and how he turned his team around, it ends with the video of them winning gold, and [inaudible] getting out the boat, and the lack of celebration is quite … it’s then you realise why, “Oh my god they knew they won it, before they got in the boat, they were so winners before they even hit it.”, which is fabulous, but it’s so transferrable, the idea of that’s fabulous to me.
Mark Green: Is this going to change the performance, no? Well then don’t do it, fundamentally, will change what we’re doing.
Fiona Jensen: I’m going to get on Amazon and in reception and buy that before I leave.
Mark Green: Great book, great book.
Fiona Jensen: Yeah, I haven’t heard of that one, but I love the sky, the incremental gains, all that side of things so, that’s going straight on the list.
Fiona Jensen: So what parting words of wisdom or advice would you share with our audience?
Mark Green: I would say, it’s a bit, I don’t want to get too deep, but it’s, we’re on this planet for a short period of time, so genuinely, if any of these questions or any of the things we’ve discussed, see people thinking, “Yeah I’m not happy with that, that’s something I’ve got to change.”, change it, if you’re not happy with it, don’t do it. If you think you could control that happiness, where you are, go back that change or, just think about where you are in that journey. I live by those three five years plans that helped me always keep focus on doing the right thing, and yeah just be bold and be brave and as a marketeer, yeah challenge what you’re doing and then, swap conviction with delivery, I’m pleased we had that conversation, just be absolutely confident through measurement, and through experience, and through performance and a bit of gut, that this is the right thing to do and yeah, you’ll progress, and just challenge it every day.
Mark Green: Make sure, if it’s making the boat go faster do more of it, if it’s not, change it and you’ll be successful.
Fiona Jensen: That’s fantastic, really inspiring, thank you so much for your time, really appreciate it.
Mark Green: Thank you, loved it.
Fiona Jensen: So there you have it, career advice from a real marketing expert and leader in the field, thanks for listening, if you’re enjoying this podcast then please leave us a review in iTunes, we’d love to hear your feedback.