Find an opportunity to add value, no matter what. Make each interaction count, whether it’s with a prospect, customer, employee, or advisor.
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 Rachel Krug.
As Vice President of Growth Operations for business.com, Rachel leads the day-to-day operations of the Sales & Commercial Marketing team and works to connect buyers to sellers of over 170 products and services. She has her MBA from New York University and earned her B.A. from Cornell University.
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?
When running my first win-back campaign, I used the subject line “Since You’ve Been Gone,” inspired by Kelly Clarkson. It ended up getting a statistically lower than average open rate, so it was a learning moment to not reference pop culture in my campaigns!
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
When I was working towards my MBA (part-time at night), I had the unique and valuable opportunity to work with people in all different industries. For example, in one of my peer study groups, there was a woman who worked in construction, another who worked on the floor of the New York stock exchange, several bankers, and a product manager at Home Depot. Each student held a different role and brought a new perspective to the table. It was the first time in my educational journey where I felt everyone was a valuable contributor. I felt this shift from typically being an individual contributor to being part of a peer group that I could count on. Working together, we were much more successful. I learned so much from the experience including how to be an effective manager of a diverse team, and how to consider all ideas but produce an excellent work-product. By understanding varied perspectives and approaches, I was better able to lead my team and drive a strategy that would maximize each person’s strengths for the betterment of our organization.
I highly recommend networking with people in industries other than your own to gain new perspectives and expand your way of thinking. While networking groups are valuable, I also find it important to get involved in a project with a cross-functional team to learn more about the varied functions across your organization.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are?
A former executive at business.com actively recruited me for three years. It was a long courting process but I was grateful I built a relationship because you just never know when the right opportunity will present itself. Once I interviewed at business.com, I knew that while they were determining if I was a good fit for the organization, it was also an opportunity for me to determine if my boss was a good fit for me. Right off the bat, I felt an affinity for my manager Wayne Silverman. He was well organized for our interview, thoughtful in his questions, and had music playing in the background which set me at ease knowing he clearly worked hard but also liked to have fun. Since then, Wayne has become a valued sounding board and champion of my career. He is transparent in his goals for me and how to best achieve them and we work together to make them happen. I am so grateful that while my path to business.com took a few years, I waited because, with Wayne as my manager, I have grown exponentially in this role and within the organization.
Wonderful. What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Choose your workplace carefully. An organization where the executive team takes vacation time, for example, will afford you the opportunity to take a vacation without guilt or fear. When executives set a good example of work-life balance you can assume the company culture is flexible and reasonable in expectations of your time. It’s also important to work with a team of people that will cover for you when you are out. Cross-train your team so that everyone feels confident executing tasks on your behalf which will also help alleviate stress about being out of the office. In sharing responsibilities and keenly understanding your colleagues’ individual functions so that you can help when needed, you are poised for success.
Great advice. Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?
Delivering hyper-relevant, personalized content is the future. As consumers gain more control over their “inboxes” marketers will see a decline in the seamless ability to cast a wide net. It is going to become harder and harder to reach those target buyers. By offering hyper-personalized content and guided experiences, marketers will be much more effective. Marketing that feels generic, irrelevant, or misdirected has the power to damage a company brand beyond repair. There are so many choices today marketers can’t afford to be rudimentary.
Additionally, continuing to tie marketing directly to business outcomes will be a priority for marketers. Outcome marketing is a different way of thinking about a campaign. Rather than always running a campaign and analyzing the results, this is a shift to building campaigns around your big-picture goal. It is working backward from the profitable behavior you want, back to the steps to get there. Outcome marketing is a step beyond “performance-based marketing” — it is not just about finding a qualified customer, but a customer who is actually going to use your product and enjoy it.
What 5 things do you wish someone told you before you started?
1 — Focus on leads that close. When I first became a Director of Marketing, the organization I was working for was running a lot of webinar programs. While this produced ample leads, the leads had a very low conversion rate compared to other sources. I scaled back these webinar programs to focus on high-quality leads that turn into customers.
2 — If it doesn’t drive revenue, or a business outcome, don’t do it. I recently mentored my team to make sure we were focused on activities that drive revenue, tracking, and reporting on our efforts to show our impact.
3 — Have an internal communication plan to communicate up, down, and across on what you are doing, why, and the impact. One of my good friends and I routinely check in on this topic. It’s fun to communicate internally but it’s also something you always have to keep top of mind.
4 — Demand help when you need it. If someone is inaccessible make sure you let them know you need help in a smart and diplomatic way.
5 — Fake it till you make it. Sometimes you don’t know the answer to something and that is ok, just say you will look into it and get back to the person who asked. Make sure to follow up and follow-through.
What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
My favorite podcasts include Sales Enablement Society — Stories from the Trenches and Gain Grow Retain. Some of the best books I’ve read include The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Give and Take, and The 4 Disciplines of Execution.
One last question: If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Find an opportunity to add value, no matter what. Make each interaction count, whether it’s with a prospect, customer, employee, or advisor. Be thoughtful and empathetic in your conversations and look for ways to contribute!
Thank you so much for sharing these fantastic insights!