We sit down with strategic marketing thinker, widely published author and a frequent conference keynote and VP of Marketing at TÜV SÜD Americas, Jasmine Martirossian and find out what marketing has to do with the laws of physics. Ian Truscott asks the questions.
What would be top of your rider for your next marketing gig?
People, people, people.
Make sure your rider applies to your current situation, rather than waiting for the imaginary future. I am blessed that in my current role as Vice President of Marketing at TÜV SÜD America, I report to John Tesoro, a visionary and daring CEO, who sees and believes in the power of Marketing, I get to work with amazing peers on the Leadership Team, and I get to work with the very gifted members of our Marketing Team.
See, it’s all about people, people, people, ensuring that there is the alignment of vision, strategy, and relentless execution.
What or who are your marketing influencers?
On the macro level, it’s important to be attuned to the world around us with all of its socio-political, economic, demographic, and technological changes. Only then can we stay current, relevant, and in tune with the ever-changing times.
In terms of individual marketing influencers, Rand Fishkin, Danny Sullivan, Guy Kawasaki, Beth Comstock, and many others demonstrate by example, look ahead of the curve and deliver demonstrable results while inspiring people.
Marketing is about storytelling, inspiring, making connections, and seeing patterns. Marketing is about having a worldview and standing out in a way that others take notice, see themselves as part of your story, and engage.
Successful marketers make connections in unexpected ways. Just think of the Absolut Vodka ad campaigns, which have now turned into coffee table books – they wove the subject into such unexpected contexts, stood out, and created evocative positive associations. And all of this for a previously unknown brand of vodka.
If I was Spotify, what would I play for you first thing Monday morning to get you going?
I am lucky to have a home where music is always on as my husband Erik is a music aficionado with a vast collection of music. This means that I wake up every morning to something very unexpected, and I have learned to revel in this, expand my horizons, and be open to new experiences, and be agile. This pushed me out of my comfort zone to grow to love jazz whereby I was intensely indifferent to it previously. So, any of the tracks from “Kind of Blue” should make your Spotify list.
Some of my personal go-to artists are Toto Cutugno, Charles Aznavour, Stevie Wonder, John Coltrane, and classical music, where I have to tip my hat to Bach, the Granddaddy of it all.
Ultimately, music is about creating a common cultural experience, which is what one of the successful outcomes of marketing should be as well.
The curtain pulls back, you step out on the stage of your new marketing gig – what do you open with?
Have a roadmap, and execute relentlessly, but, above all, prioritize. This calls for making choices and sticking to them. It’s better to do 5 things exceedingly well than 15 things in a mediocre way. In marketing today, we have such a smorgasbord of choices and panoply of offerings, yet limited resources no matter the size of your organization. So, it’s important to identify areas of focus and relentlessly execute o those to deliver results and attain excellence in them.
Otherwise, the tug and pull in the many directions of the flavor of the day ideas or new shiny toys is a recipe for disaster and lackluster results. Above all, the lack of focus and prioritization clips people’s wings, and they play catch-up without seeing results, so morale is affected too. This creates a reactive environment with attendant burnout. Instead, marketers need to be proactive agents of change.
So being disciplined in marketing to prioritize and attain excellence in the identified areas is key. Also, always think Kaizen do drive continuous improvements. It’s just as important to visit the priority lists periodically to refocus your efforts. And make sure to always share the “why” behind your decisions with your team and internal stakeholders.
Think of marketing as building a city, you can’t build all venues in one fell swoop, you have to create some landmarks, and then keep building around them. Then you connect the paths, so they are organically tied to each other. In digital marketing this also relates to the creation of content clusters. So, have a roadmap, prioritize, and execute.
The audience is dancing in the aisles, it loves that track. What keeps the house jumping?
Think long-term and take a holistic approach, don’t lose focus, build relationships, stay positive, and communicate both internally and externally. For sustained success, you must ensure that you are communicating just as much with your internal stakeholders so that they have a clear view and understanding of your marketing roadmap.
Think outside in, as old-fashioned “me, me, me” chest-thumping is not working. Rather, address your customer pain points and paint a clear picture of “what’s in it for them” and how partnering or collaborating with you is beneficial to them.
Speak to the benefits and clearly articulate the value proposition of everything you touch. If it’s clear to you it does not mean that it’s clear to others. Often, we have a very different interpretation of some common words and phrases in English. I will sometimes ask in a business meeting what someone means by a certain word or phrase, and it’s amazing to see how disparate and divergent our understandings can be,
Above all, humanize the experience, have fun, highlight the results, and make your team see that you value them. Love the work you do, and have a sense of ownership, and make sure every marketing team member has a sense of ownership, otherwise no results will come out of it.
You’re playing a huge stadium; how do you know the audience can hear your tune?
You better know your KPIs, and make sure they are actionable. Measuring something that is not actionable is wasting everyone’s time.
Fundamentally, cutting-edge marketers today are looking at “revenue marketing,” as your efforts must lead to revenue generation. The role of Marketing today is very strategic, it’s not just about tactics of filling the top of the funnel, it’s about ensuring that the right customer experience is delivered through and through, because that is what makes up a brand.
A brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room. A strong brand is when people will automatically want to do business with you because of previous experiences or perceptions they have of your organization. A strong brand is when people are willing to pay more for quality as they see you as delivering value rather than being viewed as cost.
If there was a billboard chart for marketing trends, what would be your Number 1?
It’s the melding of digital and content. Telling genuine and engaging stories, and optimizing them for digital placement so that they rise to the top of search results, rather than stay a best-kept secret. In the end, there are only 10 slots for first-page organic results of Google, and 90% of people won’t go past the first page of Google results.
And optimization matters now even more as we have to account for the growing importance of voice search. Another key factor is that Google is increasingly changing the first page of its search results. With the ascendance of knowledge graphs and snippets, Google is becoming the omni-channel portal, whereby it’s conceivable that in a few years the first page of Google search may not even have links to the websites as we know it today.
It’s also important to listen to your audience and speak the language that they speak, and communicate in a manner that is relatable. Navel-gazing and just using internal-speak will not get you there.
What would you throw from your hotel window into the Rockstar CMO pool?
Banner ads. They do not produce any leads, and even their value for driving brand awareness is highly questionable because users have become so sophisticated that their either block banner ads or scan past them. Yet billions of dollars are spent on banner ads every year.
What’s got you rocking today?
There are so many exciting developments underway. In terms of technology, while there is a lot of hype about Artificial Intelligence (which has been around for quite a while, by the way), the organizations that will win in this arena are those that will use the human intelligence and expertise to guide the artificial intelligence in a way that best facilitates their understanding of data, analysis, and outcomes. Many of the applications we use today already heavily rely on AI, so we are all immersed in those, though many may not realize how extensive it’s already around us. So, it’s key to make sure that we maximize our use of the technology we have at our disposal today.
On a personal level, I am thrilled to be at a global organization like TÜV SÜD, where we help our clients on so many levels – from enabling their global market entry to facilitating their speed to market, to ensuring that the products hitting the market meet safety standards, to ensuring that they meet business assurance standards, to improving their risk management practices – and all of this is happening across so many industries. And to be in a role empowered to drive digital transformation, learn from the best leaders, work with gifted team members, and inspire people is truly priceless.
If there was a marketing hall of fame, who would you induct?
Oh, there are so many. I will mention just a few.
Definitely Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Estee Lauder, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Herb Kelleher – the reason why we know these people is because they had a strong sense for brand-building. Fundamentally, their legacy of innovation is tied to the strong brands – individual and corporate – they all created.
And let’s not forget Albrecht Dürer, who created the first-ever modern-day logo-mark with his signature.
Any final words before you drop the mic?
Let’s turn to the laws of physics here – a body in motion stays in motion. In marketing, you can never rest on your laurels, you have to constantly innovate, be agile, be alert to new trends, and stay ahead of the curve. You can never have a sense that you have “arrived,” and it’s that sense of innovation that keeps marketing so exciting.
Thank you Jasmine!
Jasmine Martirossian, PhD, is the Vice President of Marketing at TÜV SÜD Americas, where she is responsible for all areas and aspects of marketing from strategy to implementation for the region, with focus on the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil. Prior to this, Jasmine Martirossian was the Vice President of Marketing at TTA (The Training Associates).
Jasmine has led digital transformation for many multinational corporations, such as PTC, Intertek, Skillsoft, CSA Group, as well as at Lesley University. If you ask Jasmine, all marketing is digital today, all marketing is about storytelling, and all marketing is about engaging people.
Her PhD dissertation focused on group dynamics and governance, decision-making, and leadership issues, and this expertise has led to her working with many Boards of Directors leading strategic planning sessions. Jasmine’s leadership experience also includes serving on boards. She served as a Trustee of Community Associations Institute 2000-2006 in Alexandria, VA, and as a Director of the Foundation for Community Association Research in Alexandria, VA in 2000-2006. She has also served as an ex-officio Director of the Canadian Condominium Institute-Toronto, 2001-2008.
Jasmine Martirossian is a widely published author and a frequent keynote or featured speaker at conferences. Her work has been covered in publications, such as The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and The Toronto Star. Jasmine earned both her Ph.D. in Law, Policy, and Society, and her MA in International Relations from Northeastern University. She attended Wellesley College and Yerevan State University earning a BA in Linguistics.
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