“To avoid burnout, don’t confuse being busy with being stressed” With Jakki Geiger of Reltio

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jakki Geiger. Jakki Geiger is responsible for leading marketing at Reltio, a company trusted by innovative Global 2000 companies who know that connected customer data is at the heart of customer experience. Prior to Reltio, Jakki was the Vice President of Global Enablement at Informatica, where she played a […]

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Jakki Geiger. Jakki Geiger is responsible for leading marketing at Reltio, a company trusted by innovative Global 2000 companies who know that connected customer data is at the heart of customer experience. Prior to Reltio, Jakki was the Vice President of Global Enablement at Informatica, where she played a key role in the company’s transformation and new go-to-market strategy, resulting in double-digit growth. Previously, Jakki led marketing at several venture-funded B2B software companies that were successfully acquired by companies like Oracle and Thomson Corporation.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, or readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

While I was in graduate school for a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications, I did a summer internship at a marketing and PR firm for high-tech clients. I really enjoyed two aspects of my role.

First, I was working with some really smart, passionate and engaged technology entrepreneurs who inspired me with their vision for improving business outcomes. I worked with them to boost their thought leadership in the market.

Second, I had the opportunity to work closely with the customer contacts of my clients, to understand their goals and challenges and how they were using technology to achieve them. I really enjoyed building and sharing these success stories, pitching them to the business and IT media and helping boost their thought leadership profile in the market.

During this time, I learned the importance of understanding your audience, understanding their goals and challenges, speaking their language, and using thought leadership and the voice of the customer to attract, engage and convert them.

Since then, I’ve spent my career working in business-to-business technology marketing in the analytics and data management markets. My passion is helping business and IT leaders drive better business outcomes with the better use of data. Most of my experience has been leading marketing at venture-funded startups in various phases of growth, but I also spent several years at publicly traded and privately-held companies.

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?

I will share a mistake I made early in my career. Although I wouldn’t characterize it as funny, it did teach me an incredibly valuable lesson. I was running global campaigns for the first time and assumed that our manager of business development reps (BDRs) and enablement team would “handle” enabling our BDRs around the globe so they would be ready to follow up on my first campaign. I quickly found out that they were not ready.

That was an eye-opening experience. I quickly contacted the business development rep managers around the globe, apologized profusely, and offered to create a “BDR enablement in a box” template that included the goals of the campaign, the target audience, the industries, the key messages, including questions about pain points and solution talking points, customer case studies, email copy and follow up assets to ensure the BDRs were armed for success.

I also did a day of site visits with them to model the way, coach them, build relationships, and demonstrate that we were one team. It was a good lesson for me to learn early. Tight alignment between marketing, BDRs, sales, SCs and the enablement team is critical to the success of any marketing program.

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?

My tipping point happened when I was leading marketing at ProfitLogic, a venture-funded B2B startup software company, which was acquired by Oracle for 5X the revenue. I was incredibly fortunate to work with executives like Scott FriendTom EblingJohn HuettelDave Boyce,Steve LevenBruce Pagliuca and Rama Ramakrishnan and an amazingly talented enterprise software sales and presales team. Everyone who worked at the company behaved like company owners and we loved our customers. It was during this time I realized that for me the winning formula for happiness and success at work was a combination of 5 key things. I now share this advice with others who are starting their careers in tech:

1) Find a market that you’re passionate about helping

2) Find a team that you love to work with and who makes you feel valued

3) Treat marketing, sales, product, customer service and professional services as one team

4) Market and sell business value rather than features and functions

5) Focus on customer success so you can lead with the voice of the customer

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Reltio stands out because of our ability to deliver the connected customer data that companies need to win in the experience economy.

Data innovation is at a tipping point. For the first time, CEOs in Global 2000 companies are the executive sponsors of data initiatives because data is the foundation for driving digital business transformation. They have made the connection between using customer data strategically and driving business value. We’re seeing a tighter interlock between business leaders across functions like marketing, sales, service, experience, and digital and their data, analytics, architect, and IT counterparts to power their transformations.

Reltio offers connected customer 360 profiles to help Global 2000 companies better understand, engage and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers. The three mission-critical initiatives that we support are:

1) driving hyper-personalization at scale across digital and human touchpoints

2) accelerating digital business transformation and real-time operations at scale for thousands of users

3) simplifying compliance with GDPR, CPPA and emerging privacy laws, and respecting consent and communication preferences at scale

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

There is one innovation project in particular that I’m excited about. We’re helping companies bridge the gap between data science and analytics teams and the data management teams. Data scientists and analytics teams are coming up with some really valuable insights about customers, but they struggle to connect those insights at the individual customer level so business teams can take action on them.

For example, which customers buy at full price and which ones only buy when they receive a 20% off coupon? Companies could save a lot of marketing promotional spend if they could take their insights about price sensitivity, add those to each customer profile, segment on that list and only spend marketing promo dollars on the customers who have a high likelihood of making a purchase when they receive a discount.

There’s huge demand to better understand customers and hyper-personalize offers. We’re helping enrich customer profiles not only with transaction, interaction, relationship and 3rd party data, but with actionable analytical insights. That’s incredibly powerful because this helps companies drive better customer experiences and better business outcomes.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

People would describe me as an energetic person, but I have experienced burnout on a few occasions. One important lesson I learned is not to confuse being busy with being stressed. Also, I find prioritization helps. What’s important and urgent? What’s important but can wait? Priorities change. What you think is important and urgent might not really be that important or urgent to your manager. It’s helpful to stay in sync and aligned with your manager’s priorities. As a leader, I view this as one of my key responsibilities. Everyone should be aligned on priorities.

To avoid burnout, I spend time outdoors, host dinner parties to connect with friends, and plan weekends away and week-long vacations where I can have new experiences. I always try to have a fun trip to look forward to.

Here are some tips that might help others:

  1. Protect your time: If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t happen. I like to take a look at the week ahead on Friday. I make sure I have 1:1s scheduled with my team each week. I have regular meetings with key stakeholders. I schedule meetings for priority projects to ensure alignment and to make decisions. Then, I make sure to carve out the time I need for priority projects. I literally block time chunks for specific deliverables so that other people’s priorities don’t dominate my calendar. Here are some questions that can help you decide whether or not to accept a meeting invitation:

Who is leading the meeting?

What’s the goal of the meeting?

What is the agenda?

Why are you needed? Do you need to share information? If so, can you just email it?

Is it just informational for you? If so, can someone send you a summary of the highlights?

2) Make friends at work:At Reltio, most of our team members are remote. For those that are at HQ, we see each other about 2–3 times per week in the office. But I find it’s more productive to actually get things done in my home office. I like to bring my team together in-person at least 3 times per year for 2–3 day planning meetings. We start every day of our in-person meeting with icebreakers to get to know each other better. We plan dinners and fun activities together. Some of my favorites are escape rooms, bocce ball and cooking classes.

3) Meditation:I didn’t meditate early in my career, but now I find it really helpful. It’s rare to get time for yourself and to reflect. I love the Headspace app and often use it before I go to bed so I sleep better.

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?

This is a difficult question for me to answer, because I have been fortunate enough to work with some incredible people in my career, which has spanned two coasts.

I’ll focus on the most recent person who helped get me where I am today — my first CMO role. Manish Sood, the founder and CEO of Reltio, and I met 10 years ago. At the time, he was leading product management at Siperian before it was acquired by Informatica. After the acquisition, I stayed at Informatica to help them grow the master data management (MDM) business.

Manish had a bigger vision. He foresaw the business value that the Global 2000 could gain by applying modern technology like cloud, graph, and big data architectures to data management to drive better customer experiences and better business outcomes. He took a risk by leaving a steady job with a regular paycheck and founded Reltio. Manish and I have known each other for years, but just last year, the CMO position at Reltio opened up. Manish had dozens of experienced CMOs to choose from to fill this critical role, but he took another risk. He took a risk on me. And for that, I’m truly grateful.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There are hundreds of memorable marketing campaigns that have become part of the lexicon of our culture. What is your favorite marketing or branding campaign from history? Can you explain why you like that so much?

As a B2B marketing leader, I have fierce respect for those who can create a new market category and truly set themselves apart from the competition.

Salesforce did an amazing job with their “NO SOFTWARE” campaign, It helped them break through the clutter of competing messages and differentiated them in the market. Ultimately, they succeeded in creating the cloud software market. This is a great article from Marc Benioff, the Chair, CEO and Founder of Salesforce, about that campaign, which I wholeheartedly agree with.

If you could break down a very successful campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like? Please share some stories or examples of your ideas.

Here is a brief outline of my blueprint for multi-touch campaigns:

  • Business outcome: How many qualified opportunities do you need to generate? Based on conversion metrics, how many marketing qualified leads (MQLs) do we need to generate to achieve that goal? What’s the duration between MQL and qualified opp? This information will help you to plan better and you will have the processes in place to better manage the funnel and pipeline. Do the BDRs and AEs agree that the goals are achievable in the timeframe you’re anticipating? This will help ensure you have tight interlock between BDRs, sales, SCs and enablement.
  • Target audience: Think about the following: company size, geography, industry, persona, use case. Do we understand their pain points?
  • Channel: Which channels should we use to engage them? How can we ensure we have a consistent message across channels (Web, PPC, Email, Live or Virtual Events, Social, PR, AR, Influencers) and which content will be best for each channel?
  • Key messages: What are the key messages for this campaign? Do we have assets built or do we need to create new content? What key questions will the content answer for our prospects?
  • Communication & enablement plan: Who needs to know about this campaign? How should we communicate about it? Do we already have enablement content, or do we need to build it?
  • Results readout & debrief plan: Is the campaign working? If not, what can we do differently?

Companies like Google and Facebook have totally disrupted how companies market over the past 15 years. At the same time, consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. In your industry, where do you see the future of marketing going?

I think the scope of the marketing organization will continue to expand. Marketing teams are responsible for the buyer’s journey which requires tight interlock with sales. But now, marketing leaders are being asked to play a stronger role in the entire customer lifecycle and customer experience. This will require tighter alignment between marketing and other functions like customer service, customer support, services, loyalty, and other human customer interaction touchpoints.

One of my goals is to take the friction out of the prospect and customer experience. I believe more marketers will become responsible for customer experience as companies compete to win in the experience economy.

Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started? Can you please share a story or example for each.

  • Relationships matter: How you get things done is as equally important as what you get done. Treat everyone you work with like you’d want to be treated. How do you want people to feel when they see you are calling? If you sense it, say it. It’s better to communicate openly about things, including how you’re feeling and testing your assumptions.
  • Appreciate others: It’s important to make people feel appreciated and that their work is valued. Celebrate the milestones along the way.
  • Make the best use of your time: Make sure you’re clear on your priorities every week. Before setting up or walking into a meeting, think about your goals. Write down your key messages and questions. Focus on getting the decisions or information you need before the meeting ends.
  • Don’t assume everyone is aligned. Ensure you understand the vision, mission and go to market strategy of your company. Validate it with your stakeholders. Make sure your goals are aligned to the company goals and know how your work impacts the company’s KPIs. Also, you can’t over-communicate when you’re driving change.
  • Don’t rush your journey to the top. The lessons you learn along the way are invaluable. Also, own your career development path. Don’t assume others know where you want to go or the experiences you want to gain. Think about the top 3 things you want to add to your resume every 6 months and work with your manager to make it happen. Ask for feedback, be open to feedback and ask others if they are willing to openly discuss feedback to help them be even more effective in their roles. Also, mentoring others is a great career development experience.

Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners to become more effective marketers?

Because there are so many marketing tools available some business owners may think the first thing they need is technology. However, the most effective marketing starts with understanding your target audience, where to reach them, and how your value proposition either helps them solve problems or achieve their goals.

Then, create a marketing plan. Focus on making your customers happy and make it easy for them to write reviews and recommend friends to you so that you have strong social proof in the market. Build a website designed to attract, engage and convert prospects with a focus on search engine optimization. Use social media sites to promote your business and use scheduling software to post regularly. Start a blog that your customers and prospects would find valuable and would want to subscribe. Collect email addresses through opt-in forms and use email marketing tools. Use video marketing tools. Consider highly targeted online advertising to attract your audience to your website.

What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?

I love to read books about marketing, sales, customers, human behavior and leadership. I also subscribe to a number of newsletters and listen to webinars. I subscribe to SiriusDecisions for B2B marketing best practices and try to attend a few industry events per year. Also, the MarTech landscape has more than 8,000 vendors, so I like to meet with tech vendors from time to time to learn about innovation in the market and how other marketing leaders are getting value from them.

Who is your hero? Can you explain or share a story about why that person resonates with you?

My mom. She’s 83 years old now and instilled in me a strong sense of independence, a love of learning, an appreciation for good food, wine, the arts and the natural beauty in the world around us. Most importantly, the confidence that I can do anything I set my mind to.

She left her home, family and beloved job in publishing where she was leading a team of hundreds of people in Prague, Czechoslovakia to escape the oppressive communist system. She immigrated to Canada, learned English in her thirties, and got a job as the first female at a publishing firm. In fact, they had to build a women’s restroom after she joined because they didn’t have one.

She married my father, brought me into the world, and made the difficult decision to stop working so she could focus on raising me and running our family life full-time. I feel very fortunate to have had such a close relationship with my mother.

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. 🙂

Appreciating others every day. It’s as simple as saying thank you to someone for something that had a positive impact on you. The more specific the better. It doesn’t take a lot of time and it doesn’t need to cost you anything. But it makes a big impact on the person who gets appreciated and the person who shares their appreciation.

How can our readers follow you online?

I like to blog about customer data, customer experience, digital business transformation, and I like to showcase our customers’ success. If you’re interested, you can follow me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jakkiglivickygeiger/ or twitter at @jakkigeiger

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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