People buy people, and when you can build familiarity and eventually trust, relationships can be catalysts to advancing in your career.
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 Carryl Pierre-Drews.
Carryl Pierre-Drews leads strategic initiatives designed to elevate Fullscreen’s profile with brand marketers and the advertising community as Vice President of Marketing. In this role, Carryl leads brand marketing, public relations, creative, digital, social, and thought leadership activations including the 2018 BMA ACE-award winning Fullscreen Confidential. Prior to Fullscreen, Carryl was SVP, Strategic Marketing at USA Network where she led the integrated marketing, communications strategy, and client experiences teams.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?
I guess you can say this is funny now, but I certainly wasn’t laughing when it happened. Early on when I was managing experiential marketing for brands at MTVU, which was a cable network that was available on college campuses, we created a Road Trip Tour featuring a lineup of 2–3 of the hottest up-and-coming music artists who would play a concert at 10 different colleges. We sold the presenting sponsorship to Best Buy — including the idea that they could have their Hummer H2 featuring a decked out audio system parked on the college quad at every school during the concert. Little did we know that vehicles weren’t allowed on the quads.
I quickly had to come up with a new idea for Best Buy, which we called the “Advance Glance” tour. We brought the H2 out to highly trafficked campus locations two days prior to each tour date and promoted the Road Trip Tour with exclusive access giveaways, artist posters, and a sweepstakes that drove students back to the Best Buy activity area at the concert to find out if they won. In the end, Best Buy had the last laugh as they got an entirely new promotional mobile marketing tour of their own on top of sponsoring the MTVU Road Trip Tour! We all loved the marketing stunt so much that we repeated the promotion in following years.
I learned a few lessons from that experience:
- Sometimes when we make mistakes, we open ourselves up to more creative thinking to solve the problem.
- When you make a mistake and have to create a “make good,” it’s important to validate “why this works.” Giving college kids “access” — something they couldn’t get anywhere else — was a smart deliverable.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
This is one of those things that is easily said rather than done. Especially now during the pandemic, I think it’s a conversation that we all need to have with ourselves again.
I remember a few years ago watching The TEDx talk by Emilie Aries on “The Power of No” and finding myself totally relating to what she was talking about — lunch at my desk and a gym membership that I never used — all because I was trying to manage it all. A few years back, we hosted a talk with Emilie and some of our female clients and employees. One of the things I took away is to “embrace the blend” when it comes to work and life. I figure out the things that are most important to me to get done each day — personal and business — and schedule them into my calendars and treat them with equal respect.
I was definitely one who tried to compartmentalize my work and life and it really didn’t work. That’s even more true now when we’re working from home and the boundaries are bleeding into each other. I learned the practice of setting healthy boundaries and investing in personal sustainability for long-term achievement. And everybody knows that happy and healthy employees are better for business.
Another critical lesson is to advocate for yourself. It’s important to communicate our achievements while asking for those stretch opportunities that are tied to how we can further our company’s purpose.
More recently on a tactical note, I discovered a way to manage my email inbox, which has continued to be a challenge during this pandemic as the higher volume of emails is definitely counterproductive to thriving. Getting to inbox zero is such a stress reliever and creates room for me to thrive in my role!
Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?
It’s been said many times, but I do believe that the future of marketing is direct-to-consumer (DTC). This is why it’s so important to build our own audiences — it’s not enough to rent anymore. The companies who are disrupting the way products and services are marketed are really doing so as a result of having a consumer-first mindset.
As marketers, we have to first think like consumers and deliver an experience that appeals directly to them. I think all the best marketing starts with the question, “What would delight my target consumer?” If we have really tapped into the consumer persona and have a deep understanding of our consumer’s affinities and their path to purchase, then we should be able to cultivate a relationship with them at every step of the funnel.
During the lockdown, DTC brands are benefitting from their digital expertise and we see a lot of positive sentiment on social. Conversely, there’s negative sentiment being driven by bad customer experiences and return processes. With a DTC model, marketers are able to have direct ownership of consumer relationships which comes with access to first-party data and the ability to hyper-target our marketing efforts. Having this real-time consumer feedback on what’s working — or not — gives marketers the ability to test and optimize accordingly.
Emphasizing customer experience is crucial. Most importantly, this 1:1 relationship comes with great responsibility to ensure that we are passionately focused on communicating with them in ways that resonate while adding value. It’s also the reason why community engagement on social is paramount to nurturing that relationship and an integral part of brand building. Especially today with both the pandemic and the fight for social justice, consumers want to know where brands stand. So while it’s like walking a high-wire, it’s important to have a voice in the conversation.
Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started?
Five things I wish someone told me before I started:
- Your “brand” is the story people tell about you when you are not in the room. Be your own best storyteller, own your narrative, and share it often. If you’re not in the room, make sure you have advocates who will tell your story.
- There is no work-life balance, only work-life integration. As I mentioned before with “embracing the blend,” when you master this you will truly thrive.
- Building relationships is even more important or equally as important as getting the job done. People buy people, and when you can build familiarity and eventually trust, relationships can be catalysts to advancing in your career.
- It’s really OK to bring your whole self to work. When you embrace this idea, people get to know the playful, curious, and vulnerable parts that make you a more empathetic leader.
- There will always be politics. Even when you think there aren’t, there are. To navigate, practice the art of negotiation and compromise.
What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
I love this question. While it’s one of the hardest things to do, staying on top of the market is a full-time job in and of itself. Some of my favorite podcasts include Buffer’s “The Science of Social Media,” eMarketer’s “Behind the Numbers” and “The Reset” by Laura Mignott. In particular, I loved Laura’s interview with Rebecca Minkoff where Rebecca discussed her approach to dealing with failure. My must-reads are newsletters from Chief Marketer, Kellogg Insight, Callie Schweitzer’s “Marketer Must Read” on LinkedIn, and the Morning Brews’s “Marketing Brew” as well as periodicals Tubefilter, The Drum and CNET.
Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!