I’d want to inspire people to spend less time “doom scrolling” and fewer hours on social media in general.
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 or career. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Herb Jones.
Herb Jones is the Chief Marketing Officer for Fracture, the popular Florida-based photo decor company that helps people focus on moments that matter by letting them easily have their digital images printed onto vibrant glass that’s ready to display. Prior to joining Fracture, this University of Florida alum co-founded an e-commerce computer hardware company that taught him about operational management, strategy, and planning. These days Herb stays busy with business development, marketing, and operations while at work and stays even busier raising four beautiful daughters at home.
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?
Oh yes. There are plenty of mistakes to choose from and that’s not a bad thing. If you are a marketer and you aren’t making mistakes then you might not be testing enough. One UX mistake comes to mind. I was about to publish a new site design for a smaller client and they had already signed off on the design. I was going through everything one last time and asked my wife to look over the site.
After a few seconds, she says “So, how do I call them to schedule service?” Both the client and I had been through the site several times, reviewed deliverables and at some point you’re just too close to the design/creative/copy — you need fresh eyes editing or reviewing your work. What we failed to see after multiple reviews, that we had completely omitted the company’s phone number, she picked up on right away.
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?
Most definitely and this is an extremely important paradigm shift that you should apply to yourself as much as to your teams: Process can always be improved.
For me personally, this meant that I needed to hone my personal time management skills. I could either work much longer hours or I could improve my own productivity. This started by analyzing my processes, the types of tasks I had to accomplish, where I was tackling them, and at what times of the day. I quickly adopted David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” logic and applied those principles to achieve incredible productivity and then used that same mindset to build a culture where teammates are always looking for ways to improve processes.
During our new team member onboarding process I tell all new hires that no process, template, or tool is sacrosanct. The types of work, the number of concurrent campaigns, and the complexity of those campaigns are always changing and we should always be looking for opportunities to improve processes, reporting documents, and everything in between. Paying attention to these details has helped tremendously.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
That’s an important question, especially now that many are working from home. Just remember this one key thought: if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. Not your family, not your team, especially not your business.
Find balance in your life. I struggle with this at times but I’m an early bird and I just focus on making mornings as impactful as possible. Most mornings I make time for working out first and foremost. I have to be healthy in order to perform long term. I also spend time researching and planning and don’t let my days start by diving into email, Slack, or other distracting activities. What causes burnout is constant task switching. I highly advise two books: “Deep Work” by Cal Newport and “Indistractable” by Nir Eyal along these lines. They were game-changers for me personally.
Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?
The future of marketing lies in brand awareness which is simply the degree to which consumers recognize your brand. The more important question you need to ask though is “Will my brand be top of mind when this customer is in a buying situation?”.
Until very recently, the ability to effectively measure branding and awareness campaigns was restricted to the rarified air of large corporations that could partner with measurement leaders like Nielsen or Kantar Millward Brown. While most businesses are content to stick to easily measured direct response metrics such as clicks, conversions, ROI, and revenue, many marketers are realizing that they aren’t getting a complete picture.
Luckily both Google and Facebook are attempting to help everyday marketers gain insights into how ads impact brand lift, a key metric for any brand awareness campaign. Both now offer easy-to-access brand lift campaigns. These campaigns utilize short surveys to measure brand awareness changes in users exposed to a brand’s advertising compared to a baseline of users that were not exposed to the ad campaign. The difference in survey responses between the two groups is then quantified into a “percentage of brand lift” metric.
Market effectiveness researchers Les Binet and Peter Field from the PIA illustrate in their 2017 research titled “Effectiveness in Context” that over time, branding campaigns do begin to outperform traditional direct response campaigns. Here at Fracture, we’ve centered our marketing strategy around brand awareness campaigns on traditional TV. At a time when most D2C brands are focused heavily on influencer marketing and social media campaigns, our focus on campaign measurement, even across linear TV, has allowed us to see the value of our brand awareness spends and allowed us to scale them for growth.
Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started?
- Question every assumption — be a skeptical marketer. Experience does help improve this “skepticism skill”. For example, when you are reviewing your reporting, you should be skeptical and familiar with your metrics, expected ranges, and seasonal changes that will help identify specific areas where alarm bells should be going off. 12X ROAS, up 120% over last period? I’m going to look into that and try to understand if the improvement is valid.
- Be humble — the best marketers I know are humble people. They don’t have all the answers but the common element that they all share is a thirst for knowledge, an unbridled curiosity. They want to find out what the real truth is, even if it means 85% of their hypotheses are wrong.
- Invest time in developing soft skills — Being a good marketer and being a good leader are two completely different things. Good teams need a leader that is high EQ, can communicate with candor and empathy (it’s often tough to combine those two) and inspire them to grow.
- Manage processes like an engineer — when you’re just getting started, a disciplined approach toward documentation, organization and project management might not be your top priority. You might even have success managing sloppy campaigns or processes. The challenge though is that they rarely scale well and as you grow you understand the importance of building effective processes.
- Inspiration rarely strikes sitting in front of a screen — creativity is critical for marketing success today and yet making space in your schedule for creative thinking is oftentimes at odds with performance management goals or tight deadlines. Some of my best thinking comes when I step away from the keyboard and head into nature for a hike. Find what inspires you and build in time for it. Closely guard that time.
What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
In addition to the two focus books that I mentioned earlier here is a shortlist of resources that I highly recommend:
- How Brands Grow: Part 2 by Byron Sharp and Jenni Romaniuk — I highly recommend this as the learnings presented summarize years of research across thousands of brands.
- The referral engine by John Jantsch — No matter what type of business you’re in, referrals are vital to success and John does an excellent job of mapping out a referral process.
- Masters of Scale podcast with Reid Hoffman — this is an incredibly inspiring podcast… I rarely get through an episode without having to pause and jot down notes/ideas/thoughts that the interview has inspired.
- Renegade Thinkers Unite with Drew Neisser — This is a B2B-focused podcast, which is probably perfect for most SMBs interested in lead generation.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
This might sound contrarian but I’d want to inspire people to spend less time “doom scrolling” and fewer hours on social media in general. I find that the happiest people I know are generally people that invest more time with friends and family, more time enjoying nature, and less time on things that they can’t influence.
Thank you for sharing these fantastic insights with us!