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“To thrive, learn and experiment” with Bonnie Crater of Full Circle Insights

Thank you for joining us Bonnie! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path? When I was a student at Princeton, I liked to start businesses. More importantly, I was a poor typist and inserting the correcting cartridge in my IBM Selectric took me longer than it should […]

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Thank you for joining us Bonnie! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was a student at Princeton, I liked to start businesses. More importantly, I was a poor typist and inserting the correcting cartridge in my IBM Selectric took me longer than it should have. A friend of mine studying engineering introduced me to an IBM 3081 mainframe application called Script which was an amazing experience. I loved the backspace key versus the cartridge swapping on the typewriter — it was much faster! My papers looked great coming off an awesome laser printer. I heard that IBM had introduced a personal computer in 1981 and I knew it was going to be huge; everyone was going to want that backspace key and the ability to play games!

When my husband Chris and I moved to California, I got the opportunity to work at Oracle during its very high growth period. Larry Ellison taught us all how to be marketers and I got the chance over the years to serve as CMO and VP of Marketing for many Silicon Valley software companies. I loved the creativity, but what I really wanted to do as CMO was to have a systematic way of measuring a sales and marketing funnel as well as impact of marketing on sales. In 2010, I got that chance when I started Full Circle Insights with three friends who were also passionate about marketing analytics. Today, we’ve helped hundreds of companies do what I wanted to do — optimize marketing with helpful attribution and funnel metrics.

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?

It’s always a little funny when you think you have a great concept and you receive negative feedback on your creative idea. I was really into a cutout style invitation for a webinar series I was running at Oracle. It was super bold and unique — I loved it! Unfortunately, my Senior Vice President did not love it and even had some harsh criticism. He sent me and my boss packing and we had to settle for a boring invitation instead. I think if I had to do it over again, I would have tried to think of something clever to get the approval rather than cutting my losses so quickly.

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?

At Oracle in the ’90s, I talked my way into running the Compaq Products Division. At the time, Compaq Computer was the most important PC server manufacturer supporting Windows NT and Oracle wanted to have competitive products in the fast growing PC server market to compete effectively against Microsoft’s SQL Server offering. I was given the title of Senior Director for the position and I accepted that since I was new at the job, it might be awhile before I became the VP of this position. I had a number of successes in the role, but I was still a Senior Director. I remember thinking that was a bit unfair so I had a discussion with my boss comparing my performance with other men that that were running similar operations — they were VPs and I was not. I guess I made a convincing argument and a few months later I was given the VP title. What I learned from that situation was to ask for the order.

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

I’ve worked for many software companies where calculating ROI is rather difficult, but when we started Full Circle Insights, I knew that having a good tool to measure marketing could make allthe difference for a CMO or VP Marketing. Our first customer, Jobvite, after a couple of tries, fully adopted our platform. They did everything right — agreed on a naming convention, analyzed their lead management process, dropped or modified programs that weren’t performing and invested in marketing what was driving sales. When I met with them in preparation for a SiriusDecisions Summit event, they showed me their numbers. I was floored. Using the Full Circle Method, they had doubled the efficiency of their marketing spend — meaning that a dollar this year was getting twice the number of leads and twice the number of deals than the previous year. That was exciting! It was fueling growth for Jobvite and the two guys we were working with go promoted.

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

Yes! We are working on an entirely new set of digital marketing dashboards to extend our Full Circle Method. The dashboards are designed to help marketers understand the following:

  • How well prospects are “engaging” with our digital marketing efforts?
  • How much is our digital marketing costing us?
  • How effective is our digital marketing in driving pipeline and revenue?

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

Learn and experiment. There is no shortage of new marketing tools to learn. I advise learning from colleagues and friends or perhaps at a conference or in a webinar. Some may significantly change how you can contribute to your company’s top line! The other piece of this is to get permission to run some new experiments — try new ideas around messaging, lead generation, or even your lead management process.

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?

Brian Owen was my first VP at Oracle who I worked for. He was the first (and maybe the only) manager I had who actually asked me what my career aspirations were. When I said I wanted to be a Director of Marketing, he explained the skills I needed to learn in order to get there. From that experience, I learned what it takes to be a good leader and I also learned the paths that would help me progress very early in my career.

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?

This is an oldy, but a goodie. I loved the Apple Lemmings campaign that aired in 1985. It was irreverent to the status quo on how businesses were purchasing technology at the time. I think it was an inspiration for many young people to get into the technology business.

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.

The blueprint always starts with who the target is and what are you trying to accomplish. It’s essential to then build the message and the delivery vehicle for execution. It’s important to set concrete goals — how many leads you want to generate, how many will convert to sales, and what the average deal size you expect. Lastly, write all this down in a brief or plan. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it’s important to have a strong concept that you can execute on.

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?

Consumers of any sort still love clever and fun marketing. While the internet has made it easier to research products and allow you to run your own sales cycle, engaging consumers on the internet is big business and it works. Marketing continues to become more important as customers self-serve on the internet until they have made a decision or want to talk to a sales representative to help make the decision.

Can you please tell us the 2 things you wish someone told you before you started? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Be intentional about company culture. When I was at Oracle, the culture valued the individual over the group. The result of that was a culture of highly competitive people who competed not only with the external competition, but also with each other internally — I loved it. When we started Full Circle Insights, we decided that one of our set of values was a team first mentality. We wanted everyone to come to work wanting to help each other succeed and win as a team.
  2. Choose your co-founders wisely. I started a couple of software companies that didn’t work out before Full Circle Insights. One of them was with two guys who came to me and asked me to be CEO. I thought they were going to be the software developers, but it turned out that they didn’t write code. They managed people who wrote code which is difficult when you are starting because there’s no money to hire developers — it didn’t work out. When I started Full Circle Insights with my co-founders, we all had complementary skills to build a company and even after many years, we still appreciate each other.

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?

I’ve had several B2B customers tell me that at a fast-growing startup company, marketers need three tools: Salesforce (CRM), Marketo (marketing automation) and Full Circle Insights (analytics). Salesforce is the popular customer relationship management system that sales, marketing and customer service people use to store their information and automate repetitive processes. Marketo is the marketing automation system for managing all campaigns, outbound and inbound. And Full Circle Insights is used to measure results, optimize marketing performance and collaborate better with the sales team.

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

Right now, I’m spending a lot of time learning much more Digital Advertising. I’m doing on the job training with my colleagues at Full Circle Insights and with our digital marketing agency. When I have a question, I look it up on the Internet.

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

My hero is Serena Williams. I like playing tennis and the story of a young girl growing up in a tough part of Los Angeles to be the greatest tennis player of our generation, playing in a place where there was broken glass on the courts and gangs in the neighborhood is truly inspiring. Serena is so talented athletically and I’m ready to see her win another grand slam!

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?

Equality. If we could get everyone to agree that no matter what the color of your skin is, the god you choose to worship, your choice of who to love or which gender you identify with, you should have equal protection and opportunity. The universal value of equality would help talented people of all types rise up and make a big difference for our country and the world.

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