Go out and surf, don’t get wrapped up in corporate standards, don’t be limited by what others tell you what you have to do, always challenge yourself.
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 Michelle Anseeuw.
Michelle is Managing Director at the Valorem Group with over 20 years of experience in all tiers and markets for hotels and resorts, both branded and independent. Experienced, results-oriented Sales and Marketing professional with an established reputation in sales and marketing programs from strategic planning to execution. Solid leadership skills with a proven ability to build teams and excellent communication skills at all levels.
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?
Once, I put out 10M brochures for the hotel chain I was working for and mistakenly included amenities that were not standard for all locations. The General Managers and guests alike both complained and the hotels quickly brought the brand to the standard on the brochure.
What lesson did you learn from that?
Sometimes it would be better to publish and drive change instead of creating directives. Public relations move corporations faster sometimes. Now, we publish internal press releases with a “go-to-market date” because it opens conversations, innovation, and a higher standard which equals greater customer satisfaction. Doing so brings everyone to the table around the release instead of pushing a directive. There is much more innovation and we find a higher standard than our initial directive would have provided.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success?
Right after graduating from Hospitality school, I was convinced that I wanted to work in Operations! After finishing my Management Trainee program, I was assigned a Front Desk Manager position and it was my General Manager at the time who told me that he knew I would be good in Sales/Marketing. He asked me to join him for a Chamber of Commerce networker the next day, and although I was absolutely terrified, I was smitten! Although I thoroughly enjoy hotel operations, there is no question that once I was offered a Sales Manager position, I didn’t start reaping the rewards.
Did you start doing anything different?
Yes, absolutely. I started taking public speaking courses, practicing on my presentation skills, asking loads of questions, and volunteering for any/all projects available. I was determined to learn and obtain a Director title by the age of 26. Not sure why that was the age I chose, but that was my goal.
Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
Absolutely! Never eliminate different paths and/or career options from your consideration set! Sometimes, others see things in us that we are incapable of seeing ourselves. Trust that you can always be challenged to learn something new and succeed.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Positivity and Optimism allow one to thrive on the energy of change. Forget frustration because of old plans (and by old I mean from 3 months ago) as you pivot into a new dynamic. Change is the only thing certain, thrive on uncertainty, embrace it, and embrace the opportunity to improve your position. It’s all about perspective!
Instead of being positive overlooking the negative impacts of what is happening today, I suggest marketers become optimistic and look at things through a different lens, a lens of opportunity. You can’t continue the path you set for yourself in February, you have to reimagine the path based on what you know today.
If you could break down a very successful campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like?
I keep my blueprints simple. Steps are:
- Identifying a problem.
- Customer research (online and offline focus groups).
- Internal research.
- Analysis of solutions (tools, how will it affect, cost, deployment times).
- Test and re-test.
The shortened campaign cycles of today available dictate a simplistic approach to the blueprint.
Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?
Lifestyle has driven our industry over the last few years. It is very important to consumers to become part of a certain “lifestyle”, which means giving our guests a voice and standing with them wherever they stand. The future lies in having conversations with consumers versus pushing transactions. Talking about how the hotel industry positively impacts not only wellness, for example, but mental health, environmental concerns, workplace stress, and other important issues for consumers. The key is a conversation and connecting the dots between your services, say a poolside cabana and/or beach yoga, improve the customers’ wellbeing by reducing stress, workouts that release endorphins, and creating an environment that allows the ”escape” by creating an antidote to civilization.
What do you wish someone told you before you started?
Go out and surf, don’t get wrapped up in corporate standards, don’t be limited by what others tell you what you have to do, always challenge yourself. Don’t focus on politics and don’t praise “primadonnas”. I wish someone had told me that pushing task lists to people really meant having to get people to willingly follow me.
Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!