Don’t expect technology to market for you. Martech can be such a powerful tool to take what you’re doing and make it bigger, better, faster, cheaper. However, too many companies think that buying a solution and implementing it will solve their marketing challenges. The only way that Martech solutions will really improve your marketing execution is if you put appropriate time into the strategy and change management surrounding the addition of each tool.
Jen Jones is Chief Marketing Officer at Dataminr, where she is responsible for bringing to market the company’s vision of using public data and artificial intelligence for a greater good. Prior to joining Dataminr, Jones led the global marketing team at Cision. She holds a B.A. in Neuroscience from Smith College.
Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was a science major in college and absolutely loved working in a lab, but I felt like that career path wasn’t quite in line with my full personality. This was back in the early days of the late 90’s tech boom, and my background in math and science helped me get a job in software marketing. I simply fell in love with the combination of “art and science” which ultimately makes great marketing.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In the very early days of marketing automation, I sent out an email campaign that pulled data from a custom field in our sales database which was supposed to be a “preferred first name” field that the sales team could fill in freeform. I cringe repeating this story, but one email in that campaign went out to “Dear This person is a total jerk, don’t waste your time calling him,” Yikes. I learned two lessons that day: First, don’t ever ever, ever use freeform text fields in any automation campaign — you’re really leaving far too much to chance. The second lesson was that even in cases like that, the world goes on. Apologize, learn from the error, and correct it. — The world didn’t end. Keep it all in perspective and don’t let mistakes like that get you down.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Dataminr is like no other company I’ve ever worked for, and that is all a result of the unique combination of cutting-edge technology and our mission to improve the world using publicly available data. This element of our culture is pervasive in all that we do and really makes it easy for us to put our customers at the heart of our work.
For example, real-time alerts that Dataminr delivered to emergency responders during Hurricane Harvey (a Category 4 storm that hit Houston, TX, in 2017) helped personnel identify homes and people in distress. People posted their status on social media because they could not reach the emergency staff through 911 channels. Also, our enterprise clients were able to mobilize quickly to keep their employees and customers safe, while mitigating damages to physical assets.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Always! Right now, I’ve been working with the rest of our team here on bringing our Dataminr story out to a wider audience. I’m pretty excited to help shape this narrative and tell it broadly. Our platform has an opportunity to do so much good for our customers who manage risk and mitigate real-world threats — and that’s an exciting story to bring to market.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?
I don’t think there has ever been a “tipping point” in my career. Rather, it’s been a series of steady moves forward with some plateaus in between as I balanced work and home and everything else in life. Overall I can look back and see steady progress and success, although there have certainly been moments in time where it was hard to see the overall trend.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
You have to define what “balance” means to you, and then protect that balance at all costs. I love my work and I put a lot of time, energy, and passion into all that I do. But I also keep it in perspective as one piece of my life, and I strive for a balance between work and family and all the things that make my life what it is. For me, that’s about always being all aspects of myself — I’m always working but I’m also always a mom, a wife, a friend, etc. I never start or stop being one aspect of myself just because of the time or place I happen to be in. That’s my version of balance — it’s not the same for everyone.
How do you define “Marketing”? Can you explain what you mean?
That’s a good one! For me, marketing at its very core is about gaining a deep understanding of your buyers and using that to create unique experiences that serve their needs.
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? Can you share a story about that?
Oh, that’s an easy one. I am incredibly grateful to my husband, James. He is my constant champion and supporter in literally everything I do in life. My one piece of advice is to find that one person — friend, partner, relative — who is your champion. Then practice seeing yourself the way that they see you. Viewing yourself through that kind of positive lens is incredibly empowering.
Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners?
There is so much marketing tech out there, it’s overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. I think it’s important to first understand exactly what problem you’re trying to solve, and then figure out from there the right tool to help you solve it. Technology itself is never a solution, it’s all about how you use it. Building a tech stack is such a specific and unique thing based on the audience you’re trying to reach and the problem you’re trying to solve, that I would not recommend specific tools, but rather think about it from a holistic view of your marketing plan and then look at which points you can apply technology to make your plan better/faster/efficient/etc.
What are your “5 Non-Intuitive Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Start with your audience first. Maybe that seems obvious, but I think it’s actually non-intuitive from a human-nature point of view because people are usually skewed by their own personal experience. You have to work to purposefully view your company, your product, your message from another person’s view. I always remind my marketing teams that “we are not our customers, and we are certainly not every customer”.
- Have an earned media strategy. Sometimes smaller companies don’t think about PR outreach and ignore earned media thinking they are “too small” to get noticed. Getting a story placed in a relevant publication can do so much to elevate your brand. This is doable for even the smallest companies who can focus on reaching local papers or local websites.
- Don’t expect technology to market for you. Martech can be such a powerful tool to take what you’re doing and make it bigger, better, faster, cheaper. However, too many companies think that buying a solution and implementing it will solve their marketing challenges. The only way that Martech solutions will really improve your marketing execution is if you put appropriate time into the strategy and change management surrounding the addition of each tool.
- Get out from behind your desk. I always tell my team that sitting behind your desk all day is the death of a great marketing message or program. You have to get out and talk to your buyers first hand. Stand at a tradeshow booth, go on customer visits, sit in the SDR seat for an hour and make a few cold calls — that is the only way to really test if your theories hold up in the real world.
- Measure the right things. I see so many marketers who are still so focused on measuring anything they can that they don’t pay enough attention to what they should measure. Start with the question, and then back into which metrics would give you the right information to answer that question. It’s still too common to see marketers work in reverse and start with finding what they are able to easily measure and then try to draw conclusions from whatever data they have available. That will give you very skewed answers to the wrong questions.
- You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I think education in this country (and in many cases across the entire world) is overdue for a massive overhaul. We’re still educating kids based on a system that was developed to train them for jobs that no longer exist. I think a huge overhaul of how we think about education, what we’re trying to achieve and how we prepare kids for the future state of the world, would have a massive impact on society as a whole. Education could be a great equalizer for people, but the way it stands today only exacerbates inequality.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I’ve always loved the old adage, “When you hit a wall too high to climb, toss your cap over the wall. Then go get your cap.” I’ve used that whenever I’ve faced a challenge — both professionally and personally — that seemed overwhelming. It’s really about committing yourself and just digging in and making it happen — leaving yourself no other option but the right (but difficult) choice.
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