Work ethic, consumer experience, analytics knowledge, and connection to community.
Those were the key attributes four area high-level marketing leaders said they were looking for in new hires. The marketing leaders were the guest panelists at the Triangle AMA’s March luncheon.
Noreen Allen, CMO of Bandwidth/Republic Wireless, said that with the launch of the company’s new wireless phones and packages, the company was looking for people who knew consumer marketing and could use those skills to execute the company’s marketing strategy. She also emphasized that her company valued people who were “analytically wired.” Dana McMahan, CMO of TOPO brands, on the other hand, wanted people who know how to “connect with community.” She said that because her company and their brands relied so strongly on word-of-mouth and social media marketing, it was important for prospective hires to understand the value of connecting with people and building brand loyalty. McMahan also said that since her company was small and entrepreneurial, any new hire would need to have that same mentality.
John Ross, Senior VP and Chief Sales, Marketing & Communications Officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, said he and his company were also constantly looking for people with consumer experience, especially now that the Affordable Care Act has opened up new markets and opportunities. He said BC/BS was especially keen on people with knowledge of youth markets, which is were they see some of their biggest opportunities and where the advent of social media is strongest. Ross also said his company is always looking for people with a great attitude. Doug Warf, VP of Marketing for the Carolina Hurricanes, said the one thing his company looks for in potential new hires is work ethic. The hours are long with any sports team, Warf said, so it’s critical that they people who work for the Canes be willing to put in the necessary time to succeed.
The panel responded to other questions about marketing in their session, including what they saw as the most recent trends. Allen said she is noticing a lot more science (in the form of analytics) being applied to marketing projects, while other panelists suggested that more word-of-mouth and non-traditional forms of marketing were replacing the more common forms of marketing, such as television advertising. Another trend Doug Warf said he was seeing was the education of consumers. He said his customers were much more informed than they’ve ever been and that has changed how the hockey team markets to them. John Ross also suggested that an ongoing trend is the move towards a more integrated marketing approach.
Panelist responses to career mistakes generated some of the most interesting responses from the group. Allen, for example, elaborated about how even the most well-designed marketing strategy can be a total failure and waste of time if it’s not properly executed. She said as a result she and her marketing team are much more nimble and agile now and are willing to “fail fast” in order to get results. McMahan, on the other hand, cautioned about “window dressing” — of paying too much attention to things that in the long run don’t really matter or affect the bottom line. And Ross said he learned the hard way that it’s important to test a campaign before launch, sharing one experience at the company where a campaign fell flat on its face because it hadn’t been vetted in front of prospective viewers.
Finally, the group talked briefly about logo changes. Allen suggested the audience learn more about the logo changes associated with Olive Garden to see how things can go bad quickly. And Warf suggested that any logos or logo changes have to belong to the “people” or it will fail. Several of the panelists felt companies no longer “own” their brands, but rather share them with their customers and they must adjust their marketing and branding accordingly. They all agreed that authenticity is the key to successful branding.
The discussion was moderated by Karl Sakas, President of Agency Firebox.