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 rockstars, what excites them and what we might learn on our journey to marketing rockstardom. 

Ian Truscott sits down with Jenni Young, the CMO of tappit – a cashless payment platform for event organizers – to discuss the importance of company values, building solid relationships, and why creating a culture of risk can lead to marketing success. Oh, and Creme Eggs.

What would be in your rider?

I’m a fairly simple soul. Five things please:

  1. I’m not fussy about the brand, other than there needs to be a big challenge and a big win for the organization if you can get the marketing right. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.
  2. Values. The right business values are incredibly important. An old boss of mine said “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and I’ve lived by that ever since. If you don’t get the internal values right, no matter how big your marketing budget, you’ll not succeed.
  3. A passionate and engaged team – both in the marketing department and across the business. Implementing content strategies and delivering impact means the whole organization needs to be engaged and support what the marketing team is delivering. Silo working is just not an option.
  4. Creme Eggs – not the mini ones, they’re a deal breaker.
  5. A dog-friendly policy would be awesome, I’ve got a pup arriving very soon.

Who or what are your marketing influencers?

Avinash Kaushuk. The guiding light in the world of digital marketing. Incredible knowledge and thinking – and when digital can become cluttered and confusing, he cuts straight through the noise and delivers great insight and common sense leadership.

Also, Sophie Devonshire. Sophie is someone that I’ve had the privilege of working with this last year. Passionate, quick thinking, incredibly supportive and an uber-creative brand expert. I love her brains, optimism and never-ending energy.

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

I’m sucker for dance, R’n’B and Northern Soul. Currently Chaka Khan’s ‘Like Sugar’ is heavy on repeat, a proper summer track.

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

It’s all about the people. Listen, listen and listen. Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions and understand different perspectives. Be curious and meet as many people as possible. Building solid relationships at an early stage of starting a new job will get you further than any multi-million-pound budget, fancy agency or shiny new tool. Another final tip – don’t look at the website and digital presence in detail until you’ve done your listening. You will only get one chance to see your digital presence as your customer would. It’s incredible how fast your eye and brain can miss the glaringly obvious after a few visits to your digital presence.

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

  1. Empower your team and the organization. Great ideas and insight come from anywhere – make sure everyone has the confidence and security to contribute.  Customer insights, pain points, great ideas…
  2. Give everyone some headspace. Downtime is so important. Proper holidays, planning days, away days and fun – they are vital. Ensure you can all make for the headspace to enable creativity, innovation and learning.
  3. Reviewing. It’s too easy to just get stuck in the doing. Make sure you learn from everything you do. Which leads us nicely on to…
  4. Take risks. It’s essential to create a culture where risk-taking (within reason) enables businesses to keep winning and keep teams growing. Failure is not the enemy, fear of failure is.

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

There are so many measurements I use – I’m a bit of a geek. If I had to pick two – they would be a) social engagement and sentiment, and b) sales. If you combine these (regardless of sector or audience) you’ve got some clear benchmarks of profile, buy-in to the brand, effective communications and ultimate ROI.

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

The power of social media for all businesses – both internally and externally – never ceases to fascinate me. There are some really great tools for measuring and tracking social (which naturally hugely appeals to my inner geek). Some people also forget that getting teams across the organization to buy in and understand what marketing is here to do – and ensuring that the communication flow is there – is a powerful tool for all marketing teams.

What would you throw from your hotel window into the Rockstar CMO pool?

The question “can we get some PR on this?” When you hear this, if you can take a minute to actually understand the need behind the ask, and what success actually looks like – with the multitude of marketing channels available – PR is probably not the only way to get the result that’s needed and the other tactics may be a lot more measurable as well.

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

Cindy Gallop – from advertising guru, to someone on a mission to change the world. Her drive for gender equality is incredible and her social media presence is great – frank, funny and very, very powerful. Anyone who has the LinkedIn intro “I like to blow shit up. I am the Michael Bay of business” deserves that spot in the hall of fame.

What’s got you rocking today?

I’m incredibly lucky to have two jobs at the moment and they combine all my passions. One working in innovation, start-ups and tech – the other working in a global, fast-paced scale-up in the events sector. I work with amazing people, with great ideas, boundless energy and they make me laugh. What more could I ask for (oh yes, the Creme Eggs).

Any final words before you drop the mic?

My two favorite phrases that have kept me sane when everything is going crazy: “Done is better than perfect” and “What does success look like?” They’ll keep you on track.

Jenni is MD @HelloUpstream. CMO @_tappit loves #startups, digital, innovation, culture & common sense. Author:’Amazing Girls & Incredible Women’. Cofounder @Kandu_HQ

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