Let’s start with today, and then head back in time
Currently, I am leading the strategy and implementation of a new marketing operations and content model for a global publisher of educational content. The goal is simple, increase the number and quality of leads across 38 different higher ed organizations. The media, data, technology and content studio have been designed as a shared resource to support the current 38 educational institutions and can scale to as many as needed.
Prior to my freelance life, I was a Principal at Trade, a start-up agency focused on brand-building and storytelling. Trade believed brands that actively help people find, express and shape their own personal narratives are ultimately more relevant and valuable. I went to Trade because I saw an opportunity to grow the agency’s capabilities, and to help a new client — GE Capital Bank — reach customers in new ways through a narrative-based content marketing strategy.
GE Capital Bank hired Trade to develop a strategy for diversifying their marketing efforts, which were based on a $15mm digital spend on paid search and display — both of which had had extremely high costs per acquisition (CPA). To lower CPA, we embraced the idea that creating more shareable stories would increase organic search rankings and referral traffic from social media, and drive editorial concepts for native advertising. We developed a content marketing strategy that did just that.
Life as a global digital marketing communications leader
Before I joined Trade, I did a long stint at Ogilvy & Mather — one of the largest integrated global agencies. I wore many hats there, my favorite of which may have been my role as the Global Content & Social Lead at Ford Motor Company.
As the lead for the Ford Content Factory — an in-house agency of 26 specialists focused on everything from public relations and marketing to product launches and daily storytelling using social media, broadcast and digital channels — I pushed the organization into uncharted waters. Under my leadership, the Content Factory embarked on a multi-year transformation into a global news and content marketing hub for Ford — re-defining the way the behemoth engages with consumers and key influencers. We revolutionized their approach to editorial, data and production, re-aligning these capabilities with Ford’s brand portfolio and business strategy.
We set out to increase intent to purchase and positively influence Ford’s reputation by operationalizing storytelling across multiple platforms, screens and regions. This allowed Ford’s stories to be stronger than ever while resonating with the consumption habits of an ever-evolving audience. I led everything from defining the global vision and hiring talent to reviewing creative and partnering with the executive team to foster success.
The Ford Content Factory helped the company maintain the top share of favorable voice against the competitive set across social platforms, launch an industry-leading media hub, and develop new data tools to inform storytelling.
Building a team from scratch
Before I was recruited to Ford, I created a team of social media strategists, creatives and analysts on the West Coast — at a time when social media was the hot thing, and client demands far surpassed the available talent.
Thanks to a career full of varied digital marketing roles, I had a hunch that social media would mature like all the other new platforms we’ve seen in the last 15 years. It was this insight that helped shape my desire to find people who understood two things: 1. how digital platforms extend marketing and 2. how social media works.
This approach to hiring led to a strong core team, which in turn helped us sell more integrated solutions — increasing my staff’s yearly revenue from $650K to $4.5mm. It also allowed us to grow our team from 3 to 15 in just two years — all while strengthening the mix of clients to include consumer, high-tech and automotive.
Growing again, from product marketing to solution marketing
Because I’m a lover and consumer of marketing and technology, I joined Vignette (now OpenText) — and it was a perfect match. A global provider of content management and personalization products for large scale digital properties, Vignette was in a transition mode. They’d grown like everyone in the dotcom days, but when the bubble burst they needed to mature their platforms and change the way they went to market.
I was brought on to shift the perspective of the product marketing organization from selling their own products singularly to bundling them into solutions that addressed industry pain points. I developed and implemented an overarching strategic framework called the Web Experience Management Platform, which allowed brands to create and deliver targeted interactions across multiple touch points.
The strategy I implemented was to create an overarching framework called the web experience management platform that allows brands to set up and deliver targeted interactions across multiple touch points.
But creating solution marketing wasn’t enough — we needed to enable our sales force to also pivot from a product sell to a solution sell. As part of this change, I developed a new sales methodology designed to grow the lifetime value of existing customers, add new revenue streams and increase the capabilities of the sales force in the field. My work at Vignette set the stage for every step I made after that.