Welcome to Makers of Modern Marketing, a blog series highlighting the people behind the marketing at Oracle. With this series, we’re giving readers a look at how marketers at Oracle are driving innovation and building the future of digital marketing.
Marketers in every industry are currently operating in a rapidly evolving and challenging landscape. As businesses are trying to figure out new ways to reach their audiences, the importance of marketing has increased. We asked Nate Skinner, our Senior Vice President of Advertising and CX, to share his perspective on the current situation and the role martech can play in helping businesses not just survive but also grow during this time.
Skinner runs a lean global marketing team (not unlike many of our customers) that operates on modest program dollars and spend. When asked about his strategy for growth, Skinner said, “We are prioritizing key initiatives, and we are using Oracle technology to become the best example of what is possible.”
Before becoming a marketer, Skinner worked for years in various roles selling software. “I thought what made me a good salesman was that I knew how to say no,” he said. “Too many salespeople try to fit a round peg into a square hole, but if a solution wasn’t a good fit for a customer, I was able to say so. If it doesn’t solve their problem, it’s not something they should be looking at to help. I wasn’t just selling to sell. I wanted to help solve their problems.”
In 2009, Skinner began his career in marketing as a product marketer. When asked what made him want to get into marketing, he explained. “I wanted to solve problems for customers. That was the goal. First, I did it for sales, and then I was doing it for marketing.”
For Skinner, the fun of working in martech marketing comes from the opportunity to market these products to other marketers. “If you’re marketing technology designed to be used by marketers, your product and the way you market it must be considered the best in the industry. The audience is always paying attention to who is doing it best and how they’re doing it. In this industry, you have to be creative and innovative to stand out and succeed.”
However, there are many challenges for these best-in-class marketers to overcome. “Reaching new audiences has taken on a new importance,” he said, “especially with customer meetings and in-person marketing meetings not happening right now.”
“In a world where everyone is online and not traveling and commuting,” he went on, “we have to get good at communicating online, optimizing our messaging, and presenting solutions that our customers need. We have to use direct and straightforward language rather than jargon since that’s not how people search for solutions.
“Communication remains at the forefront of everything marketers do,” he explained. “Marketers are all human beings trying to connect with other human beings. Once you forget that, you start wasting marketing dollars.”
Still, with martech comes the ability to prove the value of marketing. Once, Skinner recalled, people thought that marketers were simply people who couldn’t sell, but now technology can directly show how marketing impacts revenue.
“Martech makes it possible to connect marketing to revenue,” Skinner added. “Anything you can do to attribute marketing exercise to revenue is exciting. What we do in marketing results in a purchase, and the ultimate goal is to turn marketing dollars into revenue, and now we can demonstrate how.”
A good piece of marketing should be concise and easy to digest, according to Skinner. Someone should be able to understand what it is in 16 seconds or less. It should resonate quickly with the right audience, but it has to follow a simple path from there. Those who opt in should understand how your product solves their problem and know how to buy it.
“The best marketers simplify, use clear language, and focus on outcomes,” Skinner said. “The clearer and simpler it is, the better. The technology won’t help a customer if you don’t speak clearly to someone about what it is and what it can do.”
It is vital, he noted, that marketers realize the technology is only part of the solution. The old saying used to go that it was people, process, and technology. However, the people have to be smart and capable. They have to understand how the technology works for them and to build processes around that.
While omnichannel has changed the game for marketers, email, he pointed out, remains the workhorse of marketing. It will continue to remain a useful and valuable tool as long as people are using their email addresses as identifiers.
Though batch and blast might only fill up inboxes with emails people don’t want, he sees great potential in dynamic email, hyper-personalization, send-time optimization, and hyper-contextual ads that drive you toward an outcome.
He feels that the COVID-19 crisis has helped accelerate innovation due to martech leveling the playing field. Now even old-school, formerly non-innovative industries can execute and innovate if they gain a stronger understanding of martech.
“Marketing technology in a COVID-19 environment can keep a business going and even help it grow,” he added.
Anyone who knows Skinner knows how important diversity, inclusion, and empathy are to him. Growing up in a multicultural family taught him how to be empathetic and listen. “I think we can all learn from each other if we stop putting up barriers,” Skinner said.
Marketing, he noted, depends upon understanding your customers and learning from them as well as your colleagues and competitors. When you fail to do so, you create barriers to communication and success.
Skinner counts himself fortunate to have had multiple female bosses and supervisors throughout his career. He credits these women for guiding him on his path, and he is passionate about women’s professional development in the workplace. To this end, he is a strong supporter of Women in Revenue (WIR), a non-profit that empowers women in marketing and sales with best practices and a peer-to-peer community.
Skinner joined Oracle because he believes it’s at a tipping point. “Oracle is a 44-year-old company,” he explained. “It’s one of the most long-lasting and reputable technology companies and was around before tech giants like Facebook and Twitter. I see the chance to help reimagine Oracle for the future, recast who we are and our customer wins, and help set up what the next 44 years of what Oracle will look like.”
“Aspiring marketers should learn skills around messaging, positioning, and storytelling as soon as they can,” Skinner said. “Realize that it’s a marketer’s job to drive customer success and revenue. Get good at process and telling people what your solution will do and what it won’t do. It’s alright to say no and realize you can’t help with everything. Still, developing empathy is important, especially when it comes to understanding the world that we’re currently operating in.”