In this series of articles we go backstage with a marketing rock star. We sit at their feet while they share with us what made them a rock star, what excites them and what we might learn on our journey to marketing rock stardom. 

Darren Guarnaccia has worked in digital marketing for the last 20 years, developing customer engagement strategies and experiences that customers actually, well, want. We sat down with the Lytics chief marketing officer to discuss storytelling, how to give your customers real value, and why quality trumps quantity.

What would be top of your rider for your next marketing gig? 

A CEO that sees the vision of marketing beyond marketing. A leader that gets that marketing is about creating value in the marketplace, that extends back into product and through the buying and owning phases of a customer lifecycle.

What or who are your marketing influencers?

I love storytelling, and one of the books that really influenced my thinking was Building a Storybrand by Don Miller. I also fell In love with Simon Simek’s Start with Why book. Both tell a similar story, and helped ground me in the power of storytelling and how to best understand your customer. Seth Godin’s permission-based marketing is my bible for thinking about customers and shaping their experiences.

If I was Spotify, what would I play for you first thing Monday morning to get you going?

‘Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)’ from Kelly Clarkson. One of the things I love about marketing is being fearless to try new things and embrace the power of failing and learning.

The curtain pulls back, you step out on the stage of your new marketing gig – what do you open with?

The story. It makes everything better. A powerful story and point of view helps you recruit the right people to your mission, informs what data you need, and the kind of tools you’ll want to use. It creates alignment, and motivation like nothing else.

The audience is dancing in the aisles, it loves that track. What keeps the house jumping?

Run marketing In Agile. Be bold and fearless, two weeks at a time. Try the amazing, the crazy and the audacious. Measure it, and iterate. Build that team that’s willing to make bets, take risks, and do their best work.

You’re playing a huge stadium; how do you know the audience can hear your tune?

Revenue attributed to marketing-initiated opportunities. At the end of the day, everything else is just early signals. The real truth of marketing impact is the revenue we helped drive into the business.

If there was a billboard chart for marketing trends, what would be your Number 1?

Agile marketing. I love the transparency, urgency and fearlessness it unleashes in a marketing team. It fosters an amazing level of collaboration, and allows the entire organisation see what’s in-flight, and how marketing is operating.

What would you chuck into the Rockstar CMO swimming pool?

Single vendor marketing suites. When’s the last time you saw a Stackies award winner with a homogeneous stack? Never. Everyone has best of breed architectures, and uses the best tools for the job. There is no single vendor stack that will solve all of marketing.

What’s got you rocking today?

Knowing your customer to serve them. Rethinking customer journeys and experiences around helping them to achieve their purpose, their desired outcomes. That means an end to gated content, capturing marketing qualified leads too early in the lifecycle, and chasing numbers in marketing. Rather, rethinking a customer journey around buyer enablement, and helping customers understand how your products actually help them and deliver value to them.

If there was a marketing hall of fame, who would you induct?

Seth Godin. I love his writing, I love how he can write small, powerful books, and his no-bullshit, common sense advice.

Any final words before you drop the mic?

Quality over quantity. There’s way too many crappy pieces of head-candy marketing out there. The listicles and clickbait titles. Write longer and more meaningful pieces that really explain the why, what and how of your story. Teach people instead of just teasing, and deliver value to your customer in every encounter.

Find out more about Darren here, and follow him on Twitter.

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