Don’t be afraid to engage in professional disagreements — when both parties care enough to argue their position, the end result is likely to be an even stronger, more effective outcome.
As part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with 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 Stephanie Shreve.
Stephanie Shreve is vice president, partner engagement at PowerChord. She is a software and digital marketing executive with 20+ years experience leading high-performing teams to support global brands and strategic partners. With a track record of performance, Stephanie strives to build strong relationships with customers to create solutions that drive business results. She embraces the opportunities presented by emerging technologies to reach new markets and grow business.
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?
I once shipped a box of DVDs (I know, I’m aging myself) to a client. I proudly marked that to-do item off my checklist and didn’t think of it again. I later was asked by the client about that box and realized that it had not made it to the client. My supervisor advised me that if I planned to grow in my career, I would have to learn how to follow through on tasks and button up the details. I took early mistakes very personally, questioning if I was cut-out for the fast-paced world of marketing.
I eventually learned that my goal should not be to strive for perfection in my work, it’s just not attainable. However, I should always aim to be conscientious of the details of the work I do. This revelation changed my outlook on my own mistakes and those of others and has reminded me many times to take the extra time to work conscientiously to present my best possible work.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I have been very fortunate throughout my career to have worked with outstanding leaders and partners. From my college professor and counselor Dr. Susan Gonders who saw potential and guided my early path, to agency leaders, Jim Riley and Bruce Robert, who taught me how exceptional customer service will lead to business success, to inspiring clients like Ken Waldron, Sabine MacDonald and Melanie Tydrich who demonstrated strategic leadership in their industries, I have learned so much from each of them along the way.
It is through the collective experience and generosity of so many colleagues and partners that I am where I am today. Whenever possible I try to pay it forward by sharing their advice with my teams so that they can also benefit from the insights and unwavering work ethic of these great marketing leaders.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Constant deadlines, last-minute campaign changes, and client demands can wear down even veteran marketers. Additional stress can occur when expectations are misaligned or someone feels their needs have not been heard or understood. It is important to build strong personal relationships with the team, as well as set a positive precedent — transparent communication will ensure that both you and your clients are successful. Of course, exceptions arise that can’t be avoided, but the mantra “honesty is the best policy” around capabilities, turnaround times, budgets, and project scope will increase the likelihood of long-term satisfaction and help avoid burnout.
Trust and honesty between marketers, clients, and vendors create partnerships where each member of the team strives to do their best work for the group, and this sense of pride and partnership will create an environment for everyone to thrive.
Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?
Consumer expectations for a seamless shopping experience are higher than ever. After a dramatic year of rapid shopping changes, consumers expect that shopping from online to offline is truly fluid. No longer are brands able to explain away inconsistencies in their journey — omnichannel is the norm. At the same time, creating relationships with consumers will change with ongoing data disruption as privacy regulations increase and third-party cookies are no longer available.
The future of marketing is in the hands of those who collect and optimize first-party data to personalize the shopping experience. First-party data is actionable — it will be used to segment audiences for targeting, to personalize the content a consumer receives, and to empower loyalty among return shoppers. And first-party data is local — it provides geography to resonate with the local shopper experience. Brands should be working now, if they have not already, to future-proof their business with a robust data collection strategy.
What 5 things do you wish someone told you before you started?
- Teamwork is essential — successful marketing takes buy-in from many members of an organization. Be willing to have open conversations so that your team will feel comfortable reaching out to you when issues arise. You will have earlier insight into opportunities and challenges, and see opportunities for advancement. Don’t be afraid to engage in professional disagreements — when both parties care enough to argue their position, the end result is likely to be an even stronger, more effective outcome.
- Continuous learning — new technology is introduced daily, and you must continue learning to keep your business and your customers ahead of the competition. Even as an expert in your field, look for opportunities to expand your knowledge to educate your team and clients.
- Leverage relationships — your business partners and colleagues have a wealth of information that you can leverage to grow your company. Include vendors and partners in customer discussions when they can provide additional insight and information. Your customers will appreciate that you are willing to apply creative methods to solve their problems.
- Be of service — as a leader, an attitude of service will spread quickly among your team. When I find myself overwhelmed by tasks, I remember it’s my job to be of service for both my team and my clients. It allows me to step back and look at my tasks not as simply projects to be done, but as a way to help another person accomplish their work. Projects become more meaningful and productive — this mindset also prioritizes tasks toward those with the highest value.
- Take time for yourself — it can be very easy to allow work to overtake personal time, especially now with more of us working from home. Sometimes urgent deadlines require extra time but make it a point for long hours to be the exception, not the rule. I have spent many nights working into the late hours, but when I made a conscious decision to stop, I actually received a client compliment that I sounded more “chipper.” Working late into the night, which I thought was done to serve our customers better, actually became a detriment.
What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
I subscribe to a ridiculous number of email marketing newsletters, and spend part of each morning browsing through them for valuable nuggets of information. I have also found a number of webinars and whitepapers to provide further insights into topics that are of particular interest to me, which right now includes the power of first-party data.
When you work in a dynamic environment like marketing, it is important to understand the latest trends to translate those messages for your clients. I find AdWeek, AdAge, and Digiday to be particularly useful for marketing news, and the Hustle, Morning Brew, and the Skimm to be insightful on business and current events.
One more before we go: If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
As a proud mom of two daughters and a son, it is important to me to teach them kindness, generosity, and empathy. As they get older and have more access to social media and technology, those lessons become even more important.
We have an obligation as parents and adults to educate our young people that their choice of words matter — both in person and online. As a parent, I regularly monitor my children’s online activity to ensure that they are making not only safe choices but also kind choices.
In the age of social media, too many young people measure their self-worth through posts, likes, and streaks — we need to help young people see their value and not rely on social media interactions to drive their self-confidence.
Thank you for sharing your valuable insights with us today!