I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Young. Mark Young has more than 20 years of experience as a brand builder, marketing executive and general manager. Mark is the current CEO of Young Consulting, focused on bringing data science to marketing, sales and product management. Prior to Young Consulting, mark served as the Chief Marketing Officer at Sysomos, where he built PR, advertising, SEO/SEM retargeting and full product management divisions. Mark also spent 15 years at Microsoft , executing global marketing initiatives in Microsoft’s $3 billion ad business. Mark received his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Business.
You work closely with math and big data and marketing. Where do you see trends in marketing?
If you look at just business in general, I see a time in the very near future where Alexa-like devices could be built into your phone, your laptop and your ipad. I don’t think we will have separate devices like we do now.
I think there will be a lot of things that will be automatically recorded — meetings between managers, meetings with executives. The Alexa-like devices will be tied into all of the enterprise’s data, both internal or external. It could be in the sales data, HR data, social data — take your pick. And we will have machine learning on the backend really improving the decision making that we make as marketers and business leaders.
Currently, we make too many decisions with too many assumptions, and I think that will be gone. Marketing attribution will be much improved. It’ll never be perfect, but the attribution will be much improved and you’ll be able to game theory. For example, if I drop my price by this, or if I had a new product, I’ll be able to better predict what will happen. How will my competitors respond? How will this factor into the game theory of pricing and supply?
The biggest application is the ability to have access to data that we do not have today.
What skill sets do you think an emerging marketer should learn?
Inside marketing right now, there is a ton of great social media analytical tools. I’m currently working with a new one called Talk Walker. There’s also great media tools like Meltwater and Cision.
The key skills is being able to look at unstructured data like social media, and be able to utilize the insights at every point in your process such as what product categories we get into. Gravity Blanket was created in just this way. They looked at the data, found a product niche, found the product area, and created gravity blanket. No one came out and stated that they really wanted gravity blankets, but the company was able to find that insight, and they were able to create a new product. So being able to understand how these tools work is key. I’m not saying everyone has to become an expert, but just understanding how the tools work is important, because we are only going to get more and more data.
What would you recommend for someone interested in a CMO position?
I think things have changed. I was taught to start out as a generalist. Those in my age group were taught to learn everything. The people I see being successful now are more specialists. I think you have to understand the entirety of the business, but mostly, if you are young and emerging, you better be great at something. That could be mobile marketing, or digital, or creative, or the mathematical side of marketing, but it’s better to find what you can be great at and really be the best at it. Learn the rest of the industry, surround yourself with people who excel at those.
And that’s what I’m seeing right now. The teams that perform really well, have people who are just great at what they do, that specialize in a specific areas, and have team members that specialize in the other areas. I’m not sure how long this trend will stay. It will probably swing back and forth, but above anything, you better be great at something.
What is your mantra?
I get asked this a lot, and I tell everyone the same thing. It’s true, cheesy, but true. You know, I get up everyday, and I don’t meditate or do anything like that. I wish I did. But I do spend some time asking myself ‘How can I be better today?’. And that’s better in every aspect of my life. How can I be a better dad? A better partner? Better at work as a manger and employee? How can I be healthier, smarter? My dad taught me a long time ago that you can’t be better every day, but you can try.
What do you stand for?
I learned this really early in my career, which is treat everyone equally because great ideas come from strange places. It’s amazing how many great ideas come from the strangest places.
Recently, I heard a CMO talk, and he said “ If you’re going to be a CMO, fire yourself every year.” You literally go through this process of firing yourself, and hopefully rehiring yourself, if you still think you are good for the job. Force yourself to re-look at things. In today’s environment, you may have to fire yourself every six months, because things move so fast that it’s rare you can do a 12 month marketing plan and still execute on the back half.
Is there anything you want to share?
The one thing I keep asking my clients is “So what are you going to do about it?” There is so much data and insights, and I see people spending so much money collecting data, analyzing the data, and then doing nothing about it.
What are you going to do with the insights you learned? How are you going to change what you do day to day?