Today we begin a new series of interviews with digital marketing professionals from the front lines of marketing to executives in the C-Suite. Our goal? To shine a light on the secrets to digital marketing success through strategy and tactics, challenges and wins, technology, operations, best practices and a little social media fun.
Starting off the series is Tami Cannizzaro (@tamicann) Senior Director of Marketing at eBay where she is responsible for global demand generation and driving lead targets across four major business units.
In this interview, Tami talks about what she’s learned from her years at IBM in her new role at eBay, tips on choosing marketing technology, outsourcing vs. insourcing, the convergence of earned, owned and paid media and insightful career advice for rising digital marketers. Plus we learn what she really thinks about the top social networks.
You recently joined eBay as Senior Director, Global Demand Generation (congrats!) after many years at IBM. What prompted the change and what’s your focus now?
During my time at IBM, I integrated new acquisitions and built our leadership in product categories – SOA, Social Business, Smarter Commerce, Smarter Marketing and finally, Cloud computing. I had done almost every job and was ready for the challenge of working for a smaller, high-growth company.
At a larger B2B brand, the sales force can rely more heavily on the brand name to drive new business. At a mid-sized company, every dollar spent in driving demand needs to drive leads and impact the bottom line. In my new role, I run the demand generation program for eBay’s Enterprise unit. Our company helps companies to grow and scale their ecommerce and in store business. I’m on the hook to drive new leads in support of sales growth.
What lessons have you learned from your experience as a technology marketer that translate to your responsibilities at eBay?
I have worked with many different marketing organizations in the past 10 years and I find that the most successful ones operate with a single focus – driving top line revenue growth. This mission aligns the entire organization to become results driven.
To rise above the noise, you need to increase your touchpoints by 10x if not more to reach a prospect.
In B2B, there’s a shift from product to category marketing. I have found the most success when aligning the entire organization to go after a new market. That means PR, AR, DG, partner marketing, social media, all coming together and aligning to drive a leadership message. Gone are the days when a single message or one way advertising campaign can break through. Tech has become incredibly saturated with new entrants given the low cost of entry caused by the onslaught of applications and rapid pace of innovation. To rise above the noise, you need to increase your touchpoints by 10x if not more to reach a prospect.
One of the biggest observations I’ve made in the last year or so is that the customer, the technology and the techniques to prospect are changing at a rapid pace. I work to embrace new techniques and pilot new programs all the time. I consider myself a student of marketing and I am learning something new every day. The reality is that If you aren’t evolving as a marketer in this landscape, you’re falling behind.
When you enter into a new marketing leadership role, what is your approach to getting things up to speed? How do you balance hiring more staff vs. using outside vendors and agencies?
I am not married to any particular agency or staffing model. Designing a team and hiring agencies all depends on your budget, the skills at hand and the agencies you have at your disposal. I love working with smaller agencies who can partner with you on driving business results.
There’s huge upside with the right investment in digital – most B2B companies are just scratching the surface.
For digital demand generation, it’s critical to have resources on your team dedicated to lead development. I learned about digital conversion from two companies I had the opportunity to work with very closely – Coremetrics and Softlayer. They both had models which depended almost entirely on digital for lead flow. Most B2B companies still use digital as a supporting function to their business versus an engine to drive the business. I personally think most B2B companies are underinvested in terms of skills, budget and digital programs. There’s huge upside with the right investment in digital. Most B2B companies are just scratching the surface.
Companies are maturing in their use of content, especially with the flurry of content hubs that are meant to support demand generation objectives. What do you think is the most important criteria for an established brand to be a “brand publisher”?
Producing sufficient content is the topic that keeps me up at night. Today, the first brand impressions are less likely to be advertising and more likely to be an article or a blog or piece of content. Take Salesforce for example. They do a great job of creating content to help a B2B marketer with CRM strategy. They have become the go-to brand for CRM by building their authority and giving prospects the confidence they are the right platform choice.
For my money, I suggest turning traditional ad dollars into a content engine.
You can hire agencies to help deliver content at scale – like NewsCred – hire external contractors, or turn your traditional product marketing team into a team of journalists. Many agencies these days will white label your content. It really depends on your business model.
For my money, I suggest turning those traditional ad dollars into a content engine. It’s more effective and works harder for you. You can hire an agency to do this, which is easier, or hire internally, which is more efficient.
There are more marketing technology options available now than ever. I think Scott Brinker’s diagram is up to 1,800 different platforms and SaaS offerings. How do you make marketing technology choices? Do business units have autonomy or is it led by corporate marketing?
In my group, the technology choices are led by the demand generation team together with our operations and CIOs office. I agree it can be an overwhelming process. Integration of systems is key or you lose your view of the funnel. Simplicity and robustness are two trade-offs that also need to be made. Some tools are simple and easy to use but don’t have the functionality. I’ve often seen technology go unused or misused because it’s too complicated.
Corporate marketing has chosen the Marketo and Salesforce platforms for our business. At a unit level, we’re free to augment with analytics, custom dashboards, social media, re-targeting solutions etc. I’m leading that process now for our group. We’re actively shopping several technology ad-ons to augment the basic functions of marketing automation.
Marketing and communications roles are converging within many organizations as owned, earned, paid and social media intertwine. For example, PR is increasingly running ads as sponsored content, marketing is using social networks to connect with influencers and advertisers are creating content hubs. What does the modern marketing and PR entity look like? Are they converged, independent or something new?
I started working with a new head of communications recently who is very evolved in his thinking. A legacy PR person will try to land grab and own all communications, including social. They can feel threatened by an organization broadly engaged in social media.
An evolved PR person will understand marketing and PR need to support and amplify one another. Successful social takes engagement from across the organization.
There needs to be seamless collaboration (between marketing and PR) or it doesn’t work.
On balance, I would say it needs to converge and move from a command and control traditional PR model to shared ownership. For instance, a Brand Channel on Forbes is a marketing buy. I will make the buy and work with my PR team on the right story/placement. My team may apply paid against that channel to amplify something the PR team has done. There needs to be seamless collaboration or it doesn’t work.
What career advice would you give to rising digital marketing executives on skills and advancing their career?
My advice is to get in the mindset that you always need to be in learning mode and evolving as a marketer. The biggest mistake I see executives make is that they haven’t changed their game up in the last 5 years. Consumer behavior is changing rapidly. Every day new social platforms are being introduced. Every day traditional marketing programs are becoming less effective and so you need to be ready to try new things.
You always need to be in learning mode and evolving as a marketer.
I would also advise to embrace the next generation. I’ve worked with execs who find millennial colleagues very threatening in terms of their ability to question the traditional way of doing things. My advice is to learn from them and be humble enough to learn form the intern on your team who will likely bring the freshest perspective!
Finally, I would suggest building your public persona. Headhunters and brands are looking for someone who can bring credibility to their brand. Having industry credibility can only help to position you as a standout candidate and forward thinking marketer.
How do you deal with information overload in the marketing world and what marketing and technology information resources do you rely on to stay current?
I read my twitter feed every day – #Marketing #CMO #Digital. I follow a number of people regularly who I respect in the industry. I have a must read list for certain thought leaders like yourself including:
- Jay Baer
- Ted Rubin
- Brian Solis
- Bryan Kramer
- Margaret Malloy
- Scott Galloway
- Ann Handley
- Glen Gilmore
- Michael Brenner
These industry experts keep me current and I often learn about trends from their news feeds.
I also read several marketing and digital magazines on Flipboard. I search topsy.com which combs for the most shared social content to find new trends or topics.
Let’s play social media word association. I’ll list social networks and media sites and you reply with what comes to mind first:
Facebook – Personal Network
Vine – Video Shorts
LinkedIn – Professional Network
Twitter – Industry Network
Meerkat or Periscope – Real Time Video
Google+ – Search engine ranking
Snapchat – Teen platform
YouTube – Video platform
Instagram – High impact visuals
Flickr – Photo sharing
Pinterest – Mommy site
My Space – Is it still around?
Be sure to read the next Digital Marketing Spotlight interview with Jeff Marcoux, CMO Lead, Worldwide Enterprise Marketing at Microsoft.
Top photo: Shutterstock