The future of marketing is remembering that there is an actual person who opens, reads, and processes your emails, texts, push notifications and the like is not just the right thing to do — it also impacts the bottom line.
As a part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with my fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Tasha Reasor.
Tasha Reasor is the VP of Demand Generation & Customer Marketing at Iterable, a growth marketing company.
Before we dig in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?
Yes! If you’ve ever read Benioff’s book, “Behind the Cloud”, he talks about the effectiveness of road shows in showcasing and selling products and software. The strategy behind these roadshows is that you plant a few existing customers in the room with perspectives to push the needle on sales. It’s really quite effective. Back at OpenDNS, I worked with our founder, David Ulevitch, to develop the OpenDNS Roadshow series based on Benioff’s model; design a series of road show events, steak dinners, and happy hours to recruit new customers. They’re essentially like throwing small scale, orchestrated parties.
In an interview with SaaStr, David talks about how the RoadShow was a huge success. The ROI was 100% on these events for a few reasons: we showcased great products, wine and dined everyone, and it gave attendees (planted and prospective) a platform to talk shop and flex their thought leadership muscles, so everyone ends up happy — leadership, new customers, current customers, etc. I truly believe that these road shows should be a part of every B2B marketer’s playbook. But with every overwhelming success, there is always a complete flop (right?!).
For me, this mistake happened in Atlanta, Georgia. Before we held our Road Show in Atlanta, we had never before studied or entered into that sales territory. That should have been our first red flag: unfamiliarity. The second red flag was that the regional sales representative didn’t lift a finger to help with contacts, invites, or attendance. Rather than approach this Road Show with caution, we organized the event like any other. We rented a room and invited 30 people. And kicked off the event. And waited. And waited.
Only 2 prospects showed up to that road show. It was humiliating! Almost on the caliber of sending a personal message and pressing “reply all”! But we got past it and analyzed what went wrong so we would never have to encounter an empty room and two awkward prospects again. Here’s what we learned:
- Understand new territories before hosting an event (don’t host in Atlanta before you know Atlanta).
- Understand the future state of sales territory lines (aka forecast before you broadcast).
- Talk to your representative on a personal level (we had no idea that the rep’s territory was changing! Had we realized his shifted focus, we would have reworked our strategy).
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
During my tenure at OpenDNS, I was involved with many special marketing campaigns and go-to-market projects. I worked on many different accounts and my role was in demand gen and program management. It was a lot of fun! What stands out for me, and what I distinctly remember, was the moment that I started working with a woman named Dana Wolf, who was Head of Product at the time. Working with Dana was my “tipping point”, because it was the first time I really started putting into practice everything I had learned in my career. I started to actually lead for once, because she (as my manager) gave me the autonomy to take my ideas to the next level. She activated my insights and gave me a platform to voice them in the organization. Dana was truly an inspiration to me then, and I try very hard to implement the same openness and supportive organizational structure that she created at OpenDNS.
Even today, I go back to her with questions. I seek her advice and I respect her counsel. While we were at OpenDNS, we went through the Cisco acquisition together. If you’ve ever been through an acquisition, you’ll know that it is not always a smooth process. It’s difficult to navigate large-scale change, and we developed a deep connection when we navigated this complexity together. During the whole process, Dana maintained her composure. It was an incredible sight to see. I fed off of her strength, and it made me strong. I hope to bring that kind of leadership (and comfort in moments of uncertainty) to my teams today.
Dana has always been a force to be reckoned with; a strong female who broke down a lot of barriers in her career. She was very influential in helping me craft a persona — of strength, optimism, and solidarity — that I stick by today. Which is why I’ll never forget the moment we kicked off our relationship.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
My first bit of advice: Find meaning. It sounds corny, but it’s true. I’ve struggled my whole career with burnout, because I’m very passionate about my work, and this passion has resulted in my neglect of my other, personal priorities. It was harder to find balance early in my career, because my priorities weren’t fully baked. Now, I can step back and recognize that the three most important things in my life are: work, family, and friends (in no particular order). Once these are identified, they become your north stars, and you can more easily transition between them.
My second bit of advice: Become self-aware as soon as you can! Recognize how you react to certain situations and practice your physical and emotional responses. Open yourself up to feedback from your coworkers, supervisors, families, and friends early on. Recognize that feedback will only help you grow. The more open you will be to finding a balance in your work-life where you thrive. And you will get even more excited to go work on the projects that you are passionate about, because you will sign off at the end of the day with the knowledge that you made an impact.
My third bit of advice: Find what makes you happy and hold onto it.
Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?
We’re in the people business. Our ability to channel the needs, wants, and values of our customers through content is a key driver of relationship-building. And while yes, we’re all responsible for promoting our own brands, it’s pretty clear that the new consumer can see through the sales-y BS. So we can’t forget that humans with real feelings and emotions are on the receiving end of every marketing message. The future of marketing is remembering that there is an actual person who opens, reads, and processes your emails, texts, push notifications and the like is not just the right thing to do — it also impacts the bottom line. Brands that deliver humanized experiences are twice as likely to outperform the revenue growth of their competitors.
Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone had told you before you started?
1. Prioritize intimacy — especially with counterparts in sales and customer success. Especially my counterparts in sales and customer success. And if you want to be really successful, get close to customers. Know how people work, what makes them tick, and what makes them ticked! It’s invaluable information.
2. You have to respect the sanctity and power of data in order to use it. Data is a gold mine, right? But you have to respect the fact that there are people behind the number that you see when building your campaign. Respect its authority, and recognize that you will be using it to improve customer experiences, not pollute their inbox.
3. You’re going to have more than one job, and that’s totally okay. Back in college, I operated under an archaic assumption that your first job would be your whole career. I was around people that spent three to four decades at a company. Companies would repay this loyalty with pension and a hefty retirement package. But that’s not how my industry operates. More than one job can make up your career. 10 jobs can make up your career! Because at each interval you are learning. What had initially scared me — the idea of leaving a legacy organization — now excites me! You’re not doing something wrong by looking for another job. You’re only growing.
4. You will always be judged for your background. Your resume will always follow you. Your alma mater (or lack thereof) will always be judged in the hiring process. But if you own your background, and stride into each interview with confidence, you will make it. I can’t tell you how many times I have been judged for not going to Harvard or Stanford. But now, I own my background with confidence. Because it’s my brand.
5. That I would be managing a completely remote team during a global pandemic. I have to say, I wish someone would have told me to prepare for this back in the day!
What books or podcasts do you use to sharpen your skills?
When I’m left to search on my own, I typically seek out books and podcasts on leadership! But it’s rare that I’m left to my own devices, so I find most of my reading recommendations via Slack, which has always been one of my primary workflow tools. Its utility, as a platform for quick commentary and connections, has definitely increased since we started to exclusively work from home at the beginning of COVID-19. I look to certain marketing #Slack communities — like #demand-gen, #CMO-Office-hours, #Emailgeeks, #TrafficThinkTank and #Buffer — for daily content recommendations. Otherwise, I turn towards my coworkers, who are also a great resource for podcast recommendations like The Skimm. They come from so many different backgrounds, that I have a constant inflow of diverse recommendations. Currently, I can’t wait for Michelle Obama’s new podcast!
Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!