Join Rick Wootten for a conversation with marketing leaders to understand more about marketing and the people who are shaping this discipline. What advice do they have for up-and-coming brands? How do they navigate the challenges associated with an increasingly noisy world? What's their superpower?
Learn from the experts on how to build great and enduring brands, engender trust and advocacy, and drive adoption and use of new products and technologies.
All right. Well, welcome to Marketing Matters. This is the show where I get to interview and learn from some of the brightest minds in marketing.
On today's show, I'll be interviewing Jennifer Bell.
Jennifer has been a CMO and a VP at a few companies.
She's worked in technology, finance, telecommunications, and a number of other industries.
And we actually work together at an AI company here in Silicon Valley.
So I know her personally. So welcome to the show, Jen. Thank you very much, Rick.
It's great to have you here. This is kind of a cool thing. We decided to do this show a while ago.
There was a different host. And when he left the company, he's like, dude, you have to take this over.
You understand how to do this. You got your podcast and all that.
And I'm like, all right, sure, sure. I'll take it over.
I mean, it makes sense. I think it's cool. But the more I've done it, the more I really enjoyed it.
I've been able to interview all kinds of cool folks that either that I've known or people that other people have known.
And it's just been a lot of fun.
So it's great to have you here. And this is a casual show. We're just going to talk through some questions, and we'll take the conversation to where we go.
So one of the things that the previous guy did that I loved was he asked everybody what their origin story is.
And so I don't know if you're a big comic book nerd, but every superhero has their backstory, has their origin story, how they became who they are and why they continue to do it.
Give us your origin story.
How'd you end up being in marketing? It's OK. So my dad was an ad man.
When you think about ad man in the Draper sense. And so he used to take me on set.
He could bring me to the big city from the birds and take me on set and see commercials being made.
So first of all, I thought it was incredibly glamorous. But actually, my backstory is different because I actually didn't do the normal route and I didn't go to school for it.
I didn't study for it. In fact, I don't have formal training in it.
I literally responded to an ad because it was so glamorous to me and I wanted to be downtown Toronto.
And I responded to an ad at Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising.
It was in their creative department and they were looking for a receptionist.
And that's how I got my way in. That's awesome. Now, that was in the creative department.
Did you do creative for a while? Oh, yeah. And let me tell you, creative back then literally was Letraset.
We would set stuff by hand. The full ads were done by hand using Letraset and a stat camera.
And you would literally take a picture of it and then that would be sent off to the publication.
So deadlines were like, we would be sending taxi cabs at 10 o'clock at night to make the edition.
But yeah, I'm that old. Everything was done by hand. I think I shared this with you before, but I'm the kid of a civil engineer and a robotics programmer.
Mom was the robotics programmer, which back in the day was largely factories and stuff like that.
And I was like, I want to do design for a living.
And so I went off to school to be a graphic designer. And I did that for a little bit, but I quickly realized that I'm more technical.
I needed to be more involved in the technical side.
And so I ended up having a rare set of experience where I am an engineer at heart just because of who my parents were.
But then I also have a passion for design, which is an interesting intersection.
It's kind of fun.
Yeah. I found that really curious when we worked together. You know, getting down to that level of debating the color blue, even like just the aesthetics of the design and the UI of the design.
It was a cool mix. And it's amazing. I mean, you know this because I'm sure over the years you've done a million A-B tests and things like that, multivariate tests, but those little things actually do make a difference.
And it seems petty sometimes to be arguing over these little details, but it could mean the difference between a stellar campaign that performs and one that doesn't.
Sure. Absolutely. I mean, when you think about like 5% lift, like because you change the color of a button.
But I think what I learned recently too, from a color and aesthetic perspective is working in the digital accessibility side of things, that nuance can make the difference between someone actually being able to see the button or not.
Because of color blindness or another visual impairment and how much color actually affects the ability for people to navigate and consume your content and engage with your brand, which is what's mind blowing for me, you know, as well.
I remember when I was with Palm years ago, we were developing the website, probably doing a redesign or something.
And Jim, our designers, like, you know, we should think about people who are colorblind.
It's like, that's not even on my radar.
What are you talking about? And so we happened to have a friend who was colorblind.
And so I'm all like, hey, what do you think of this?
And he's like, well, what do you want me to do? I was like, I want you to do this.
He's like, I can't see the button you're talking about. And, you know, it just so happened the two colors that we chose were, you know, the same color.
Like, you know, text on a red button, some people can't see or, you know, green text on a red button.
And it was, I think it was green text on a red button because it was for Christmas.
And that was eye opening for me. And it changed my perception and, you know, accessibility over the years.
And then I talked to somebody who, you know, had vision challenges.
They weren't blind, but they were legally blind where they couldn't see well enough to, you know, drive or what have you.
And, you know, watching how they interacted with the website and, you know, blowing it up really big and turning the brightness all the way up.
And it's like, wow, you know, we really do need to focus on that.
Yeah. Like a tolerance of 400% is kind of what people will.
Yeah. It's bizarre. I think COVID, I don't know if we're going to touch on that, but that one really wasn't another, it's an eye opener for me as well, but because everyone's brands had to go online and all of their employees had to go online.
And so making those types of accommodations for employees too, is really interesting as well.
Yeah. You were saying earlier that you've been working with some companies on websites and, you know, talk to me a little bit about some of those challenges that you've seen as we've gone through COVID.
Cause I mean, you know, eight months ago, we all had marketing plans and then it blew up.
I mean, it was funny cause my birthday is in March. We had my birthday on a Friday and that following Monday is when we closed down the state.
And so, you know, I mean, nothing has been the same since then.
Everything blew up. It just went crazy.
When's your birthday? Cause mine, they closed everything down on my birthday.
Mine's the 17th of March. And mine's the 13th, Friday the 13th this year, last year.
Okay. Well, there we go. Yeah. So in Toronto, same thing. They shut everything down.
I don't know. I think I've gone from a digital everything, digital first, but, you know, companies, some that were born in the cloud.
The most recent gig I had was, they were really all about executive events and conferences.
I would say like 90% being conferences and events and thought leadership and enterprise selling company.
Sorry. Their target was enterprise sales. Enterprise. Yeah.
Enterprise. And you know, that hit and you had to pivot and go a hundred percent digital.
So you can obviously imagine.
And, you know, everyone says they want digital disruption, but when you bring in a disruptor, people get seasick.
So I think that was a lot of it. And I think having done a lot of sort of digital transformations and over the years, say the last 10 years people don't take into account the change management.
It's more around how it affects the people internally and how it affects the way that people do their roles and the way that they think about them and process.
You know, it's, it's funny, but I always say like Jocko Wellnick, but discipline equals freedom.
And if you can be a digital marketer that has discipline and that as a practice then you can have freedom to do really great things and testing and like you said, and different approaches.
But I think that's what I learned the most in trying to go really fast for people was to ensure that, that you stick to the foundations and everyone.
And then it was the magic of the pipeline and then everyone was everything's in Salesforce.
I mean, I remember your don't go chasing waterfalls, perfect dashboard spreadsheet, the holy grail of all time of all marketing, inbound marketing dashboards where you got attribution for everything.
You know, so that's what we're all aspiring towards, but it's having the business have patience for that process to build that is tough right now.
I think with COVID, I think that patience and I think the stresses, employee stresses is more than, than I've had to deal with before.
I think the human side of the organization, the soft skills are being virtualized and living a zoom life 10 hours a day is stressful for the employees.
It really is. How have you navigated that?
I mean, on my side, you know, I, I've got teams here and, and, you know, Europe and, and Asia, and, you know, we've, we've tried to do a bunch of things to keep the connection, but what are your best practices there?
What's worked for you?
Well, I think having been the Canadian, I'll like the only Canadian at the table or the, you know, the only Canadian on the zoom, it's just something I've always done.
And interestingly, I'd say my long distance relationships are more healthy.
Cause I just naturally know that I have to double down on the effort. Yeah.
But I think that, but I think what we did, one thing, one thing I did was fun with one team was they did a bingo, online bingo.
And I mean, I kicked ass, which was hilarious because I never, I never do well at bingo, but I won both cards.
So I got Amazon $75 and Amazon gift cards, which was awesome, but keeping it light, keeping it fun.
I think they did a virtual poker night once a month that people really liked.
So just kind of keeping that social connectedness and getting to know one another outside of that zoom framework, because when you're in, when you're in, obviously when you're in an office, you bump it, you wait for the boardroom, you know, so you're all standing about and you check in and you chat, or you bump into the water cooler, like all of those non -structured, you know, encounters you have with humans, you don't have, they don't have virtual waiting rooms.
If zoom could be a virtual waiting room, that would be really cool.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It is interesting.
So I was trying to reflect on what I've seen working. So my, my DG leader in APAC, you know, regularly has like dress up events as part of his zoom thing.
It's like, all right, well, for our staff call, you know, we're all gonna, you know, dress up for Halloween, or, you know, we're gonna come in our favorite sports jersey, or we're gonna, you know, whatever.
And, and that's kind of fun. And the other one that he implemented, which I thought was great, is, you know, to keep the meetings from getting too monotonous, give me a highlight, a low light, and then something personal.
And so it could be, you know, hey, this project's going well, and no, this delivery didn't make it.
And then, you know, hey, I got out for a bike ride today.
And so it's, it's been nice to see how they've adapted, and then, you know, leverage that across all the different teams.
And we just started doing that now on all my team calls is, you know, let's do a highlight, low light, and, you know, and personal just so that we keep connected.
Because to your point, I actually think, much to their chagrin, that I'm closer now with my regional teams than I was pre-COVID, simply because I've made more of an effort to reach out to both the domestic team and the international teams.
And so like, I think, I think I'm up in everybody's business at this point.
I think I'm probably driving them nuts.
Everyone's business. Uninvited to a meeting the other day, which was awesome.
It's like, you know, you really don't need to attend the team meetings anymore.
Oh my god, that's awesome. Uninvited. Yeah, I think, I think also, like, really good meeting etiquette.
You know, there's just, there's that one person who has those meetings that you're like, oh, I just don't want to go because they're always late, or they don't, you know, they talk over people.
I think I learned it actually at Intuit, we had really good boardroom etiquette that then extended into really good, back then it was video conference, you know, etiquette.
But I think, you know, I automatically have my email set for anytime I do send out a calendar, it's, you know, 50 minutes, or 25 minutes, it's never the full hour or half hour, just to give people the chance to get something to eat, have a bio break, and like, you know, take notes, do yoga for a sec, whatever it is, but yell at a kid if you're me, but you're sucking up all the bandwidth in the house.
I literally had to go to Fiverr.
Thanks, and thank you COVID. But I think having really strong meeting etiquette is and old school stuff, like having someone take minutes and, you know, is really, really helpful.
Now, a couple months ago, you mentioned, you know, being in Canada.
And I was I was thinking about this before the show today.
And I think one of the things that, you know, I'm going to be self deprecating, us Americans are not always, you know, really good about is understanding some of the differences between whether you're marketing or doing business in Canada versus the US, I think we, we generally think of, you know, just kind of an extension.
But it is different. And you've experienced that, right? You've worked in multinational companies, where you're working with, you know, folks in the US, and then folks in Canada.
You know, give us some thoughts on that. Like, how do you make that work?
What's the what's the differences between the two? Well, I think, um, I think one thing that was interesting was, you know, I was always I was in field marketing, you know, so Silicon, people in the valley, they're used to the field marketing role, whereas in Canada, no one knew what that was.
But I, you know, my field marketing counterparts would have like the south or the southeast, the southwest, west, you know, they would split it up, and I would have Canada.
So I would be flying from one end of the country to the other end. And I was dealing with all the different time zones and different languages.
And yeah, so people don't think of that.
First of all, they think I don't think people realize that, you know, Canada is just as broad as as America just from, you know, from east to west, it's still a six and a half hour flight.
Exactly. Yeah. And then I mean, um, we have some pretty tight where we had tougher.
I mean, California, I think is beating us now.
But we had a lot of tough, especially as digital marketers.
You know, I hear people coming into this market, and they're kind of terrified of, of castle and all these different, and then privacy.
And, you know, what what that means from not just GDPR, but, you know, all of that.
And then also, now we have accessibility, which I touched on.
But again, you have that in California, but for a long time, we were really, I'd say tough to sell in, you know, to do business with.
Also, the taxation is entirely different. So people entering into the market, it was really annoying having that Canadian field marketer, because the laws were so different.
But I think language is still for me, even something that I struggle with, even though I've always done it.
And that is something as simple as, you know, when you do the translation, it's like kind of double the space, the French language takes up double the space of English, and a lot of people don't understand that.
So there's a lot of and then there's just, it's not a simple translation, it's a nuance.
And just like from, you know, like you have from state to state, that's very different terminology, very different things.
Some things are pretty funny over here. And we're actually really insulting over here.
So I think the nuance was was a big deal. But when I have to say when I started, especially when we first started launching websites, I launched the first Canadian website for Rico back in it was 2001.
And the Canadians were very, very annoyed by American English, right?
Whereas now, it's weird to not have the bulk of it done in American English.
People aren't offended. Canadians aren't offended by it.
It's just, you know, we don't I think you're touching on an interesting point there is, you know, there are these rules of thumb, but they change over time.
I remember, you know, back in 2001, it was it wasn't uncommon for a web page to take 789 seconds to load.
Nowadays, if it takes more than two seconds, they abandon, right.
And so, you know, even even, you know, small details, like how long a page loads, or, you know, language support, or what have you, or the comfort level of, you know, buying, you know, in different languages, I will tell you, I when I when I buy from like eBay, or what have you, I'm much more comfortable selecting North America, meaning, you know, Canada, US, etc.
Then I am buying from Europe or Asia or anything else. So, you know, whenever I do my searches, I always narrow it down.
So, you know, like, there's a lot of trust that goes goes between the two.
But I don't think that was the case. If you go back, you know, several years.
Yeah, it really wasn't. It wasn't the case. And I think, yeah, I think we have, you know, a really great teams just used to working together marketing teams used to working together and it being that North American approach.
Yeah, yeah, whereas it was definitely a struggle before. Yeah. So so today, I mean, is it still a really big deal in Canada to make sure that French is covered?
I think I think it's a lot, isn't it? It's a lot. And it's companies of a certain size, as well, that have to be bilingual.
I mean, there's, there's a lot around it, we could go into a whole whole segment on just that alone.
But I think it is it used to be good.
It's just it's timing. It's like people want things done like this.
Now, you know, and there's so many solutions out there, SaaS solutions out there right now, like replace your whole internal marketing team with this app.
And, you know, everyone's a marketer because everyone thinks they can do everything now.
And they don't appreciate necessarily how long things take. But language takes time.
And doing versions takes time. So I would say a lot of and, you know, a lot of the people that I've worked with in the US haven't had to deal with language.
Whereas people in Canada, but really definitely people in the EU and in Europe, they're they've they're used to having like 15 languages, you know, websites.
So it just you have to build it. It's just like anything you have to build in it into your approvals.
And you have to build it into how long it takes to get stuff done.
Yeah. Yeah, you know, it's it's funny, because I you're right. You're absolutely right that a lot of people haven't done that.
And that always surprises me because just luck of the draw.
I like, you know, way back when I was working on the FedEx website, you know, almost 200 countries and 30 plus languages.
And then, you know, and we sold, you know, a lot in Europe and the US.
So we always had, you know, a half a dozen or a dozen languages running. And then, you know, throughout the years, the different companies I've worked at, even big or small, they've always been multinational.
And so it is so bizarre, but it totally makes sense that a lot of people haven't experienced that.
But yeah, I think when you haven't, you don't think about it.
It was the same thing of the point I was making earlier about, I'm not colorblind.
And you know, I can read small fonts.
So I wasn't as empathetic as I needed to be of the people who do struggle with that until I literally saw it in practice.
And it's like, okay, I need to focus on this.
This is like, this is important. And so the language too, and you know, I, I'm real close with the, the translation folks, the localization folks here.
And, you know, it is interesting to, you know, talking with ace or talking with whomever, and, you know, talking through like, what is the process it goes through to be localized?
And it's because I think a lot of times people think like, oh, I can just translate it, translate it to one thing.
But when you localize it, it's a whole different thing where you make it relevant, you make it make sense.
And like we, I remember maybe, I don't know, I guess I've been here 18 months.
So it was about right when I joined, I was sitting down with someone and interviewing them for a role.
And they looked at our website, actually, this is somebody for Germany.
And she looked at our website. And she said, you know, the word that you're using for security isn't network security.
It's physical security, like bodyguard.
No, I had no idea. And but so that stuff is important, right? You want to make a, you know, make somebody feel comfortable, they're making the right decision.
Well, I thought that you said I localized for the localization team. And I think that's exactly it.
Yeah. Whereas before we used to just think of it as the translation team.
And it's, there's a big nuance, like, that people miss.
And you won't catch it. It's not just the language, but it's even colors.
You know, some cultures just don't don't dig.
You know, I know, like when I was selling in the real estate market, I was doing real estate advertising at one point, and wow, depending on which area you were selling, you know, you were what kind of communities you're going into, and what type of developers they were, there were just things that you couldn't do, because certain cultures just couldn't wouldn't tolerate that type of advertising or colors or language.
Yeah, I really like that localized. That's good. Well, I remember I remember was what the this agency and we're doing work with FedEx, we had designed a template for the global homepages for all the websites in each country homepage.
And we had come up with a set of images we were going to use, and just kind of tailor from country to country, but it was basically the same set.
And I remember it was a Monday morning came in, and there was like five emails and two phone calls and a voicemail.
And it's like, you cannot use that that image on the homepage of Saudi Arabia.
And what did I do wrong? And it was there was a woman in shorts.
And it's not okay. That is like so bad. It's like, okay, I just learned something really important just now.
Like I hadn't even thought about that.
And so I think we've come a long way since then. I mean, that was circa 1999, by the way.
But I think we've come a long way since then. But I think, you know, to your point, a different example.
So I was a seagate. I think we had used, I'm not going to get this right.
But we had done an ad. And in the ad, we'd use the color red, but red represents something very different there.
And so like, because we had chosen this, this one color, the the China team was like, we're not going to use this.
I was like, what are you talking about? It looks gorgeous.
Like this is a great ad. No, it has, you know, cultural significance here. We can't do that.
And so again, learn something and then, you know, adapted that.
So, so, you know, one thing I think is kind of interesting is, you know, this COVID thing has really stretched everybody in marketing.
Like I said, all of our marketing plans blew up last March.
And everybody's kind of adapted to that. And some of the changes will be permanent.
Like, you know, we've seen a huge shift of people going online, like a lot of companies that weren't online before online, like mom and pop shops, you know, whatever.
And competition and digital got ridiculous for the first few months.
It's still not great. But you know, it was it was terrible.
Everybody was online. But But when I look out, you know, I do see people trying to go back to having physical events and that human interaction and, you know, some of the traditional stuff.
What do you what do you think is going to change back?
And what do you think is not going to change back? I mean, I'm like, obviously, you don't know, like none of us know.
I'm just asking you to guess.
I don't Yeah, I fortune teller here crystal ball. I'd say the one thing that I really struggled with having gone after the C suite for so many years, was the rapid decline of in person events.
And or even like, I don't remember the tech day, we would get like so many people out for the tech day.
It was unbelievable. And, you know, I think but more importantly, I think that C suite that really that executive, we couldn't get them like we would start when Uber started coming out, we would send out or limo to pick them up and bring them complimentary so that we could literally like kidnap them to breakfast.
But I did do some really cool virtual masterclass series, executive masterclass roundtables.
And I think that's gonna stick.
We, you know, we were getting like 80 to 100 people attending. That's crazy, like C level or executive VP of very, very large brands, actually attending and participating.
So I think because they don't have to travel, you know, it's not as much of a commitment.
It's not a time suck to get across town to get through traffic to do all those things.
They can jump on and off. So I think I think that we'll see that trend, maybe more so in that space.
I think we're, I think there's a big opportunity for somebody to figure out though, is ABM.
You know, in social selling, because you can't drop that 3d mailer anymore, right?
You can't drop the cool chachka or the book or tickets or anything like you can't do that cyber fencing and figuring out what it is they like, or that they've had this big life event where they change jobs and like send cupcakes for the office.
Like you can't do that sort of approach.
So I'm really curious to see what happens there with ABM.
Yeah, you know, it is going to be interesting. I, we've had the team I have here in America has come up with some clever ways around that, you know, basically doing an offer and then saying, hey, what's a good address to send it to.
And so we know that we're getting their home address and store it separately.
Because, you know, people, people surprisingly are willing to give us that in order to get whatever chachki t -shirt, whatever we're trying to give out.
So that one's been kind of interesting.
But you know, the one that surprised me in a good way is actually Michelle, our COO, sent me an email one day and said, I was just invited to a virtual cooking class.
And I thought it was really cool. Can we look into that?
And so we tried one. We did shoot, I forget what the restaurant is in San Francisco.
It's one of those Michelin star rated ones. And it went well, it worked really well.
It's way too expensive. So then we found a couple other companies that we worked with over time and done these.
And we can draw 10, 15, 20 CEOs, whatever into room because they love it.
They absolutely love it. So I think some some the willingness of people to do virtual is different than it was pre COVID.
And so I think things like, you know, virtual events, or, you know, these executive engagements and things like that, I think we have an opportunity to get really creative with some of the digital stuff now that we wouldn't have had a year ago.
Yeah, I think on both sides, I think teams are being, you know, applauded for that type of creativity and budgets being, you know, allocated to that, whereas before that would have been wackadoodle, you know, thinking, and then the participants.
Yeah, I'm really looking forward to seeing that. Yeah. All right. We're down to the last minute or so.
So I have a list of fun questions I'd like to go through at the end.
So let's let's shift gears. This is this is a this or that kind of thing.
So Coke or Pepsi, which do you prefer? Coke. Coke. All right, good.
Good for you. Same here. Ford or Chevy? Ford. Yeah, you know, it was funny as more than half the time I answer ask this one, they won't give me either one.
Like, even though it's in American companies, they won't give me which is kind of fun.
All right, but let's let's get the geek cred on. Is it Marvel or DC for you?
Marvel. I, you know, I do that podcast with Rick and Rick is a huge DC fan.
I'm a huge Marvel fan. So it's kind of fun to kind of go head to head sometimes on the show.
Apple or Microsoft? Oh, Apple. Yeah, I think I think a lot of people in our industry, that's that's kind of a given.
Uh, all right. Xbox, PlayStation or PC or the Nintendo Switch?
Oh, PlayStation. Nice. Yeah. So thank you. That was fun.
Well, thank you. It was lovely.