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Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

Passion is Personal

Monday, July 28th, 2014

What a year it’s been.

Last June I started doing some soul searching into what was next for me, redefining who I was professionally and personally. I was fortunate to have worked through the digital turbulence of 2009- 2012 when agencies and brands focused on defining and honing their “digital” acumen and capability.

I call it the GDP (Great Digital Pivot).

be the change


I defined the last agency role I held based on a market demand—Digital Strategy & Innovation. I am grateful that my old agency offered me that opportunity. It was a great experience in true innovation. Building something out of nothing. Peaks and valleys, trial & error, triumphs & tribulations you name it, I had front row seats to it all.  Some people jumped in head first, others floated behind expecting you to take the lead…completely expected when you’re establishing a new capability within an organization and industry that didn’t have it before.

It felt great to be in demand, be needed, be seen and highlighted as the “expert” in all things digital and technology focused. I mumbled paid, owned, earned, user experience, cloud, native, API, wireframes, UI, media, social, mobile in my sleep- what?!

  • Did I define a product MVPs, prototype and build technology platforms? Yes.
  • Did I evaluate the strength and utility of emerging technology platforms? Yes.
  • Did I establish the strategy & marketing for a startup and launch a product on Indiegogo and manage media relations? Yes.
  • Did I wireframe mobile and social experiences? Yes.
  • Did I write POVs on top level domain names structures? Yes.
  • Did i pitch every digital RFP that landed on my desk? Yes.
  • Did I develop a social engagement & content strategies for brands? Yes.
  • Did I identify digital trends and opportunities for clients? Yes.

It was sometimes difficult to explain my role with brevity- which I tried to do here and failed miserably. It was different everyday.

In one sentence:  If traditional account planners had a void of digital insights, digital strategists used a behavioral and technographic lens and applied a very thick layer to activate the brand strategy. I get it now, it was the GDP!


But I never lost sight of the core strategic process. Insights that defined why we should do something.

That was always my focus and MAIN INTEREST (even during my years in client services- ask my friend Claire about the messaging strategy I led for a brand in 2009). Establishing a strategic positioning, branding and marketing comm plans for a brand? Yes? LOVE it- it’s the most motivating, stimulating and satisfying.

I thank my friend and colleague Julie for sharing her brilliance, framework and thought process. She taught me how to apply rigor, methodology and clarity to the entire range of strategic planning: problem definition to analysis, recommendation and the development of implementation and creative execution plans. How to use the right research to identify common themes, not to boil the ocean. I LOVE working through those exercises.

After 4 years in a digital strategy & innovation role, I worked with my professional coach to set goals to figure out how I could focus in on 1-2 things and be great at them (vs. being accountable and responsible to be everything to everyone, a side effect of the last role I held). If you’ve ever seen a raci model- every box was checked for me on every project—sometimes a lose-lose situation. GDP! But I learned A LOT.

keep it real

12 months later; post-personal SWOTs & sunrise sweat sessions

Having my own consultancy  for the last 12 months has been one of the best learning opportunities I’ve ever had. I learned how to run a business. I’ve had exposure to new and diverse companies, people and experiences. I’ve run multiple research initiatives that resulted in meaningful & actionable brand, corporate and product development strategies and I enjoyed the work immensely. BUT, having your own consultancy is worlds away from agency life or a normal “corporate” environment.

Top 8 lessons I learned this past year:

  1. I do not like working alone.
  2. I perform best on 8hrs of sleep a night, & work smarter to allow myself rest!
  3. The *right* research will uncover insights to help define a strategy. That is what I enjoy the most.
  4. Startups are exciting, exhausting, frustrating and the best learning environment. An experience that everyone should take part in (even if it’s an intrapreneurial opportunity).
  5. There are myriad tips and efficiencies any company can learn from the lean business model and start-up approach
  6. Flexibility is nice, but discipline is 10x harder without structure & stability.
  7. Nothing tops collaborating with GREAT, genuine people.
  8. Passion is personal.

During SXSW this past year, my friend Larry gave me good advice “focus on 1 thing, 1 industry and be great at it.” I took that to heart.

So I’m focusing on strategy b/c I’m great at it and I enjoy that the most. I like so many industries it’s hard to pick one and I don’t think I need to. Strategy is strategy- you’re trying to solve a problem- period. The approach doesn’t change, just the context. It’s always been important to me to keep it fresh and interesting to work across multiple industries, which is what I’ve done over the least 3 years (technology, hardware, CPG, beauty, design services, corporate, healthtech and healthcare).

chapter 7

Chapter 7

Today I start my next professional chapter and role as Chief Strategy Officer with MWW and I’m beyond excited. I’ll have oversite of the strategic planning function, research, insights and analytics and oversee marketing communication strategies and programs across all practices and locations within MWW.  I’ll also partner with creative leadership to turn insights and strategy into meaningful marketing experiences and execution.

They are a forward thinking organization, with strong leadership, fantabulous people/talent, impressive accolades and a diverse client base. Their tagline is “Matter More”. They believe in relevance over everything else. Could that be more strategic in nature?

I will never lose my curiosity and acumen for all things techxy and digilicious- but they’re now in a supporting role. (Small caveat: I still believe in side projects and 100% sanction this POV from Spotify’s head of design on that topic.)

That’s my (professional) passion. And it’s personal.

Whatever you are passionate about, professionally or personally- I encourage you to follow it. Take a ride; sometimes the detours have the best view.

bike ride



Marketing Technologies- Who’s on First?

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Foursquare moves search & discovery to the forefront and creates Swarm for friend location stalking.

Snapchat introduces a video calling feature (that REALLY puts friends in your face).

Vine moves to a web-based YouTube model (b/c all video should be channel agnostic and quite frankly- who has the attention span of more that 6 seconds on a video network anyway?)

Facebook proclaimed “more privacy for users and building trust” during the f8 conference across multiple new platform refinements— but they also launched a new mobile ad network called FAN—which uses the most robust data available (all the data we as users, provide to FB) for mobile ad targeting. Not contradictory at all? ;)


This all happened within 24 hours.


who's on firstWe learn one thing and before you know it, technology iterates more rapidly that we can keep up with. This has implications for marketers who drive engagement and content using certain technology platforms. Yet, a large majority of marketers still think of the above examples things as “social media” vs. marketing technologies. Some marketers remain in conflict with their “set” marketing plan vs. a flexible one that accommodates tech evolution per the above examples. These social examples only scratch the surface on “marketing technologies” as a larger theme inclusive of marketing automation, CRM and analytic platforms— there are 1000’s out there.

Who’s responsible for marketing technology?

Is that still the responsibility of the brand marketer? Do they have the required tech acumen? The digital strategist? (Do digital strategists still exist?) The CMO? Are they too high level for this granularity? Possibly- depending on the company. Do we need to create a new discipline within marketing that *just* handles assessing and implementing marketing technologies? Marketing technologist?

Personally I feel this is a hybrid combo of part marketing strategist, creative director, technologist.

Maybe we can coin #TechFlex a new aspirational skill for marketers? Can we add that to Linked in? Can I endorse someone for this?

ie: “My marketing acumen allows for adaptability to new technologies that engender customer engagement and ultimately drive revenue for my core business objectives. I understand technologies change at a rapid pace and am capable of developing a plan that remains open for assessment, iteration and testing and refinement”.

Polarizing, yet aspirational thinking about new marketing & organizational models as they relate to technology advancements and innovation. This is happening right now across multiple verticals. Something I’m going to spend a little more time researching. If anyone has existing research on this topic- please feel free to share- tweet me at @jaeselle.

UPDATE: July 18, 2014
Harvard Business Review just penned a great deep dive into “The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist”.  Also validates my curiosity & thought process a LOT– I had mixed reviews from my first post above ie: “you’re just trying to create new roles, people in existing marketing roles need to learn new skills (however, sometimes that isn’t the most efficient or effective path forward.)

HBR’s post is a long and worthy read, full of rationale for what’s driving the need (customer behavior & tech innovation) how this role differs from, and integrates with the CMO, CIO and CEO to fill a need.



The Day We Dropped the Word “Digital” From Marketing

Monday, October 14th, 2013

This will happen.

5 years ago no one knew how to harness it all. Traditional companies that have been in existence forever needed chief expert guru ninjas to help them make sense of emerging opportunities and migrate beyond broadcast and mass reach…. to create a vision, pave a road to scale their strategic approach, executional capabilities, build new departments and hire the right people.

The day we all just all go back to being marketers is coming very soon. Smart marketers are finally demonstrating that the future of our industry is not about digital or social marketing. It’s about marketing in a digital world– we’re in it, we live it, we know it.

It’s not optional anymore. It’s not a speciality. It’s just marketing…6 best practices found below. (more…)

Redefining yourself: always in beta

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

A few years ago I wrote about how the role of ad agencies have changed and how my experience led me to be a more strategic marketer.

I also waxed poetic on what it is that a digital strategist does because no one could articulate it.

Fast forward 2 years this all continues to morph b/c the marketing industry remains in a perpetual state of beta —as do those whom work in the field.

We Will ALWAYS Be In A Perpetual State of Beta

What the hell does that mean?

The entire industry continues to recalibrate their mindset so product marketing and advertising co-exist with environmental shifts as they arise, whether they be cultural or technological; we need to make sure we build, learn, iterate. Lather rinse repeat.

Times have changed as to how we approach building strategies and how we go about executing against them….which also applies to the roles we play in doing so.


Responsive Design: Myth Busting

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Over the last 2 years I’ve spent a lot of time explaining to people that “mobile optimized” didn’t mean “your desktop website showed up on your iPhone”.

This year I’ve been asked more recently about responsive design. It’s not new- it’s just the hot buzz word. Everyone seems to think responsive design is the magic bullet to design, timing, and cost efficiencies. It’s not.

I’m busting through 2 myths about responsive design because I’m kinda over talking about it.

It seems like a short cut:

It’s NOT. It’s only a design/layout technique and doesn’t account for content. That approach won’t work for every brand/site presence.

It replaces tedious mobile context design:

It does not and SHOULD not. Fixed vs. fluid design needs to be thought through based on the content strategy for your site: how are you users consuming content on mobile devices? What objectives do you have for the end mobile user experience? You can’t assume they will consume the same content in the same way they do desktop. Ie: Mobile= short form—a user insight that doesn’t often change.

Sometimes responsive design can be a combination of both fixed & fluid when you use priority guides that are put in place during the wireframing/prototyping phase. If your UX designer/strategist are not doing the due diligence in this approach you’re probably doing your user a disservice.

Suggestion: make sure you do end user persona research- that should inform your approach to mobile design/content architecture and the appropriate & expected end user experience.

Great video from Brian Fling at PinchZoom talks about responsive design—Brian is a trusted authority on the topic of mobile/design/user experience.

A visual explanation of responsive design is and how it works is found here. They basically sell Joomla as the CMS platform of choice- not advocating for Joomla- just showing for the demo (and definitely not for the music editing choices.)

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