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  • October 26, 2012

It's the Marketer's Job to Create Tension: An Interview with Jeffrey Hayzlett

Jeffrey Hayzlett knows his marketing. The best-selling author, former CMO and keynote speaker at the upcoming Eloqua Experience conference. Hayzlett knows marketers face challenges, but his edgy argument: What's new about that? He took some time to answer my questions about the key challenges, opportunities and mandates modern marketers face.

You're not just a speaker and author, but someone who is led marketing and a team. In your opinion, what have been the most disruptive forces to impact marketing? What are the biggest changes?
The most recent disruption has been the move to digital and the way in which it’s changed the game for everyone. For the future, I think it’s clear that mobile is the next frontier.

The mobile device is the most personal device there is – a tool that gives us access to an existing or potential customer. You know where your phone is more than you know where your children are. That means we’re going to have to guard this relationship and channel better than we have with other mediums. We’ve screwed up email to where it’s not a trusted source for messages, given some rude and despicable practitioners. In fact, we’ve even seen this transferred to some social media channels with DM spam. It’s critical for marketers to police this, to set standards, and follow best practices for mobile.

But if you really want to look at what’s going to be the most disruptive force for marketers, it’s still how we’ve moved from broadcast to narrowcast to segments, and more specifically, to segments of one. It’s going to be the use, the access, the governance, and the nurturing of that data that will define the biggest disruptive change for the way marketers interact.

You're a big proponent of bringing creativity into marketing, that it's key to the marketer's the job. But marketing is increasingly driven by data. How do you see creativity fitting into this new data-driven world?
Anyone can create bits and bites, but if it doesn’t look good, or isn’t appealing, who’s going to look at it or react to it? 90% of consumers are visual in the way they absorb information – color, customization, versioning. All those things work. It’s how you serve it up. The creative will determine the best way it’s consumed. It’s like eating a meal with your eyes; when it’s presented in such as way that makes your mouth water, you already know you’re going to enjoy it, which enhances your overall dining experience.

One of the more provocative concepts you argue for is introducing tension within your organization. How can you do this productively, not just at the C-level but as a director, manager, etc.?
It’s a marketer’s job to create tension, to stretch the boundaries, to move people off center to make them react. Cause a reaction to produce an action. Leaders, specifically marketers, should be proposing this throughout their entire teams, vendors, partners, etc. It should be a mood and operating philosophy at the forefront of everything you do. Not just in the C-Suite, but throughout the entire team.

What do you think it takes to be innovative in marketing today? Are there indispensable tools and strategies?
The biggest is to be a great listener, which is why I created the first Chief Listening Officer role to utilize listening tools to hear what your customers are saying. It allows you to impact your sales, customer service, product innovation and marketing. If you’re listening, you get great ideas and input. If you’re not, you’re second guessing what people may or may not want.

The rise of the Web and social media has made it easier for customers to control the situation. What can marketers do to not only sell products and services, but build a long lasting relationship?
I find it interesting that people say customers control the situation like it’s something new. Haven’t they always done that? Social media has just made it easier for the customer to have the megaphone, or direct red line phone to the business. For years we’ve forced them through hours of 9-5, telephone trees, emails, 1-800 numbers. Now, they can reach us – and everyone else – whenever they like.

But it also allows us to be true to our brand – our promise delivered – and focus on how we deliver it each day to the customer. And for marketing, a large portion of our time has been sent broadcasting to eyeballs and ears. We’re getting back to the core of building communities, to hearts and minds. Social media is going to allow us to have more direct contact and direct response, resulting in deeper, longer lasting relationships.

You advocate breaking down silos. What are the most common silos marketers encounter and how can marketers tear each of these down?
I think the one we’re seeing as the most critical is the relationship with IT. We have moved into the digital world we're more dependent on systems, and there are inherent conflicts as well as natural partnerships in this particular area. In fact, it’s predicted Marketing will outspend on IT on new spending this next year for digital resources. So it’s critical that the CMO and the CIO come together to find out how they can mutually benefit the business by combining vital and sometimes scant resources to create the best impact.

Marketers should reach out to their IT brethren to outline the strategic partnership to propel the business forward, rather than put up more walls that will eventually have to be torn down.

Want to see Jeffrey Hayzlett in person? You've got just one more day to register for Eloqua Experience. Do it now.

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