When I met Pearl Servat three years ago, Visible was brand new in the world of wireless carriers, and Servat was generating content about it. Now she is fairly new in an elevated role as Head of Brand Marketing and Demand Gen for the disrupter division of VerizonWireless, and gives good content herself in our conversation about driving customer connections.
Servat honed her PR chops in the entertainment and brand world under the mentorship of marketing heavy hitters like Pat Kingsley (PMK-BNC), but made the switch, as they say in the world of carriers, to helm “brand and demand” marketing. In Epi 39, she discusses both her own evolution, and that of Visible. Hear how she leverages partnerships with like-minded brand ambassadors and ensures the first all-digital wireless carrier in the US doesn’t forget its mission of kindness and transparency:
“I essentially sit at the intersection of where I’ve always loved to be. Between brand building and conversion and acquisition, driving and growth.”
Mission First, Marketing Next.
Servat explains that Visible’s mission drove her to lead efforts to connect people during some of the scariest days of the pandemic.
Hear how a simple email campaign that Visible sent asking how customers were holding up during the pandemic had unexpected impact.
Staying true to its DNA, the brand launched the #VisibleActsofKindness campaign and garnered over 2 million organic interactions.
Hear her perspective on the importance of both brand and demand marketing, as her title implies, AND experiential marketing — such as when they turned Los Angeles bus stops into mock living rooms, and even ski lifts settings giving customers a tactical connection with the all digital brand in lieu of physical retail locations.
“It’s beyond just retaining the consumer for us…We truly try to be as intentional as we can at every touch point with the brand. So, it doesn’t just start and stop with marketing.”
Partnerships that Matter
Partnerships and brand ambassadorships help extend the reach of the brand.
Servat emphasizes the importance of partnering with people who live by the same mission as the company.
Potential partners have seen the work Visible is doing and reached out to the company, interested in collaboration—the mission drives these kinds of partnerships.
Staying on trend? Servat credits her team, modestly saying she’s not “nearly as hip and cool as they are.”
And on working with marquee names like Kevin Bacon and Dan Levy? Well…
“When it comes to talent partnerships, we do a significant amount of research…And we only work with talent who walk the walk when it comes to social impact, what they stand for on an ongoing basis, [and] how they connect with their own communities.”
Not many people – or brands — love change as much as Joe Jackman. The CEO of Jackman Reinvents has been a valued advisor to major retailers like Staples and brands like Flow Water, to B2B companies and to private equity partners. In this episode hear how he uses insights about trends and human behavior to drive change – or reinvention – and why that’s essential for a brand today.
Jackman believes that moving from town to town as a kid with his retail exec dad emboldened him and taught him relationship skills. To the envy of any who have experienced “imposter complex,” Jackman has confidently embraced change professionally, moving from creative to CMO to CEO, admittedly making it up as he went along at many of the stops along the way. Learn what’s needed for companies to thrive, and the consequences for those that choose to emulate ostriches.
This 40-minute conversation is filled with insights – or, as Jackman calls them when working with clients, “nuggets you can actually hang a strategy off.”
I encourage a full listen, but here are some unmissable elements and Jackman Takeaways:
Change has been coming fast and furious for many years, but the pandemic has compressed the need for speed to do things differently now; not just in people’s lives, but in the dynamics of the marketplace
Jackman Takeaway: “If you’re not changing and evolving, you’re stuck. That would probably be the best scenario. But the more common scenario is you’re moving backwards or, in business terms, you’re waning or dying.”
Joe Jackman explained his personal path and how an appreciation of change took him from creative director to business owner after stints helping launch brands like Joe Fresh (no relation!).
Jackman Takeaway: “I said, why can’t I be a brand strategist? What do I need to know? Who do I need to learn from? And then, eventually, I just thought, ‘Why can’t I shape strategy at the very highest level?”
That attitude led to becoming a “reinventionist” – and the definition thereof:
Jackman Takeaway: “It’s a word I made up, but basically the definition is to just be really good at making change happen and to great benefit. The world needs more people with the skills and in the mindset of making change.”
Jackman’s concept of reinvention is tied to “invention,” and a brand’s transformation is intrinsically tied to its DNA.
We need to collectively “reposition the entire idea of change in our minds as a positive force, and essential. It should be seen as creating the next best, most powerful and relevant version of you or your company.” (He literally wrote the book on this: “Reinventionist Mindset”with a set of five principles for change.)
The status quo – especially when paired with success — is a killer. Business model life cycles, executives’ tenures, the length of brands’ relevance, are all compressing. So, since “the future arrives daily,” brands need to figure out step-by-step how to evolve and “get pro athlete good at it or you have it done to you.”
Learn how Jackman helped Staples create trial stores that were hybrid workspace meets product sampling; and transformed Rexall, including being the first drugstore in Canada to start offering flu shots.
Jackman Takeaway on Retail: “In a world of choice, which is what the internet did to retail, retail was relatively slow to adapt…. There are exceptions, but retail generally sat and was lacking innovation… A lot of disruption was enabled by that sense of ‘oh, maybe one day we’ll evolve, but stores are the thing now…’. If retail leadership was prescient in reading what’s happening, Amazon wouldn’t exist. Casper wouldn’t exist. Netflix wouldn’t exist and there’d be a streaming service called Blockbuster.”
Big Jackman Takeaway: “There’s probably only one rule in all of this work in transformation: That you must deeply understand who your customers are and what they care about most. …beyond function, into the world of emotion. Most marketers focus on the means. Understand what the end is.”
Jackman gives his definition of a brand and why adopting that helps drive trust.
Jackman Takeaway:“A brand equals purpose elevated to experience, delivered consistently. Most companies haven’t got that very well defined, and, and yet, if you look at the evidence, purpose led companies tend to outperform their peers.”
Cohesive messaging and linkage between ideas and all advertising is essential to continue the brand message.
It takes balance and a strong foundation to leverage both brand awareness and demand marketing (and he explains how it relates to dating!)
Jackman Takeaway: “Performance marketing today is important — because it’s data centric and it’s measurable and we can adjust it — …as long as it ladders up to a higher order of purpose. If there’s no red thread that links to that, that’s not good. You can’t build trust. …And today’s measure of success is if I truly have a relationship with the brand.”
Trust, and being in a Values Economy is greatly affecting brands right now.
Sustainability and similar values are amplified more now in our pandemic context and impact how consumers make purchase decisions…There’s a lot of de-selection going on today.”
Jackman also explains the only two consumer choice tiebreakers
Jackman Takeaway: “I’ve helped well north of 50 companies, and along the way I noticed we’re wired as humans to behave in certain ways. One of the things we don’t love is change. … But I observed ways of thinking and doing that enabled success to come faster… I got them down to five. … For example, the first one is ‘seek insight everywhere’.”
Learn to understand cultural currency and even reinvent the old marketing maxim of: ‘I need to pay attention to the customers that I do the most business with.’ (Hint: that’s fine, but you also “don’t want to be a brand or a business that’s like a great aunt: you know, fondly thought of, but never visited.” [That hit a little close to home for this host! Just sayin’.] So, learn to have relevant conversations with the up and coming set of customers [and with, note to self, the nieces and nephews.]
Understand how DEI dovetails with cultural relevance and brand values… and what Jackman would change most about our world. (Note: Hat tip: Maryam Banikarim)
Finally, what brand would Jackman reinvent next?
“What do I want to reinvent? The next company that interests me or has lost its way. And there’s so much of that. How wonderful to spend a career on just figuring out the next act of whatever! And, since climate change is real, and we have to start to make a real difference, those are the kinds of opportunities I’m gravitating towards now. And I’m super excited to be at least part of the solution as best I can.”
In 2020, Danielle Wiley was included in the revered “Top 50” list by Talking Influence. And the agency she founded, Sway Group was selected by Chief Marketer as one of just three influencer agencies of the “2020 Chief Marketer 200”. So it’s a safe bet that she has something to say about #influencermarketing. And that’s what she did, in Epi 32 of Insider Interviews.
I’d had the chance to experience Wiley’s thoughts last year when she contributed to The Continuum, a publication about brand + demand marketing, which I’m privileged to edit. In that article she explained how to look at the KPIs of influencer marketing a little bit differently, and the varied ways to determine impact and engagement. We touched on that in this conversation, but a 30-minute conversation gives you a chance to understand much more — not just about this food writer turned marketer, but things like how cause-marketing is another essential ingredient in influencing consumers. And these days, Sway has evolved to embrace that (and she shared case study examples) as well as digital advertising, both programmatic and paid social, and built what was a natural extension: a content studio.
One of my favorite discoveries about Wiley (aside from learning about our common roots working at Food Network in the early days!) was that she was a baker and a cheesemonger at one point. I believe that takes the cake for eclectic pasts among my podcast guests. Her culinary chops have served her well, though, as she can name several brands in or around the category as clients, including Igloo, Coleman, and Domino’s.
If that didn’t get you hungry to hear more, here’s what else we discussed:
Wiley’s evolution from a baker and blogger to early stage expert in social media to our common ground in marketing chefs like Emeril as “c-hunks”!
Her observation of the power of engagement with popular bloggers — and the infusion of trust vs. the singular appeal of celebrity
In its infancy influencers were treated more like journalists. Brands were just sending them product and expecting that they would get reviews out of it. That worked …for a short period of time. …Then they realized ‘if we’re just sending them a box of Mac & Cheese, we can’t have control over messaging…’. And we started paying them.
How the transition from providing product to bloggers to hiring them necessitated greater trust and authenticity in the influencer, and the path to creative content was laid
How Sway itself evolved away from the “Hollywood agent” business model to be able to scale and replicate requests — whether for moms of bedwetters or people who picnic with pizza
How brands solve for the demand for content tonnage across multiple channels — which sparked the birth of a content studio
Why the most important step in the strategic brief is a deep dive into the brand’s KPIs — impressions? engagement?
The big thing to remember is that as you increase in following the engagement rate goes down dramatically.
What’s a micro or a nano influencer and why does it matter — and the various forms of sponsorship. (Hint: Feel free to sponsor THIS podcast just by buying me a coffee!)
The shift from wanting to steer clear of influencers with a point of view, to actively seeking that out — and how the GenZ demand for brand purpose has influenced how brands use influencers!
Wiley explained the two initiatives Sway worked on for Stonyfield Farms, for example – tapping eco-conscious influencers and creating a cause-related corporate initiative
We took a deeper dive into pro-social initiatives and examples, and the confluence of content channels. (Of course I mentioned the conference I’m producing about the intersection of television and podcasting for example!) And that led to a chat about why Wiley’s family gets a little annoyed about her heavy podcast consumption habit!
KoAnn Skrzyniarz has been making a strong case for building Sustainable Brands in global conversations with some of the world’s biggest advertisers. It’s all about the business value of environmental and social purpose. And the data is on her side.
In time for Earth Month, or any time, in Epi 28 KoAnn (frequently known by just her first name) shares not just the “whys”, but some recent “hows”: how sustainability has moved the needle for leading brands and how to be resilient in a “VUCA” world. A what?
Listen; she’ll explain, and we also discuss:
The impetus for creating Sustainable Brands – and if its mission has changed more than 15 years later?
What kind of changes has she seen in the brand and media marketplace in terms of embracing brand purpose
“Twenty years ago it was not recognized that companies that understood how to innovate for environmental and social benefit were going to be the companies that survived and thrived in the 21st century.”
Is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) a good description? (Hint: KoAnn explains why it’s more a “business opportunity” and why the ANA [Association of National Advertisers] uses he notion of ‘good growth’. )
How companies should integrate their brand marketers and strategists, the product and service positioning teams AND the sustainability/procurement/diversity teams
Is our current focus on brand purpose just another trend? How does it compare to the green rush of the 2007 timeframe or rallying around Hurricane Katrina? Have companies evolved in their mission-driven work?
The data supportive of sales driven by environmental and social value propositions; What kinds of brand transformation are happening — and at which companies?
How have companies like Clorox and P&G navigated the road to sustainability? And what is a Brand Transformation Roadmap?
How has Sustainable Brands itself pivoted during the pandemic to salvage — and even grow — their world-class conferences in a VUCA world! (There it is again!)
Arra Yerganian thinks healthcare has always been a little upside down, controlled by physicians instead of the the patients. Ya think? But I misspeak – at least while speaking with Yerganian: he actually banned the word “patients” when he was CMO at both Sutter Health and One Medical. He explained that the word comes from Latin for “‘a place of suffering’ and that should be a temporary state at best.” Instead, he said, “We used the person’s name, so it wasn’t a dehumanizing experience to come into the doctor’s office.”
I liked this guy immediately. But there’s more to marketing healthcare than nomenclature. Yerganian is on a mission to raise awareness of the biggest issues impacting health for all of us: our Social Determinants of Health — or SDOH. Basically, if my zip code is wealthier than yours the overall population is likely healthier. I likely am more informed about and have better access to healthier foods or fitness facilities, I might have access to more parks for fresh air, and of course the income to afford anything from childcare to catch up on sleep and even infant mortality rates and so on. So how can we democratize health? For Yerganian, it’s awareness, it’s education, it’s communication. He also notes that, apropos our recent civic dis-ease and disease, “beyond the pandemic, the great challenge that we’ll have is the behavioral health crisis that’s affecting our country.”
He shares the details of best practices and how to get on a healthier collective path overall in this Episode 22 of Insider Interviews.(Hint: stand up more for healthy behavior in every sense of the meaning.)
NOTE: I’m proud to be Editor in Chief of The Continuum, about awareness and performance marketing. In Issue 2 posting in late January you can also read this interview along with the POVs and suggestions from other notables in the health and wellness marketing space. But, dear listeners, you get the advance insights here when you catch the full conversation with Arra Yerganian.
He and I discuss:
What are the social determinants of health, and how do they fit this into the world of marketing?
How can we track and thus help modify the exposure to environmental ills
What are some new approaches in brand marketing and health and wellness, such as driving uptake of tele-health?
How can promoting value-based programs reward healthcare providers with incentive payments?
How can products or brands, like a sleep aid or gym facility or a yoga mat or bicycle manufacturer, leverage some healthcare data and apply that to their marketing
How do you market against patients deferring to Google for diagnosing themselves?
And how do you conduct business meetings standing up?!
Here’s to a happier, HEALTHIER New Year to you all, with my sincere appreciation for listening, sharing and subscribing wherever you like to listen to Podcasts.
How do you circulate a message that even the Pope shares — and ultimately get 2 billion impressions across hundreds of countries around the world? Ask Lawrence M. Kimmel. His Rung-UP team created the #WeRemember campaign for World Jewish Congress. What marketing advice would this former Chairman of the Direct Marketing Association give politicians to help them appeal more to the public? And, what does Larry think are standout marketing tactics these days?
I asked Larry all of that – and he answered specifically and thoughtfully in Epi 13 of Insider Interviews. He also shares what led him to create Rung-UP, a strategic marketing consultancy…and why he calls it the first “C2C” agency.
You’ll immediately value Larry’s creative vision, branding and marketing expertise when you hear him discuss these elements as well:
How the current pandemic is affecting global consumer behavior
His personal experiences that impacted his evolution into a mission-driven clientele — and lessons from his father, Howard Kimmel, who put his lifeblood into building affordable housing
Rung-UP’s work with the World Jewish Congress and how he came about the campaign #WeRemember
Why a C2C approach is so important for those in the “C-Suite”
His tips on branding and marketing a politician
How advertising has changed and become more complicated throughout the years
Why both traditional and digital channels are important in advertising
Instagram stories or TikTok? And will he still embrace Facebook? Is there a place for traditional direct mail?
His predictions for consumer behavior in the future
The ripple effect of brands’ response to consumer buying habits
His recommendations for companies who need to do better in bringing more of a multicultural team — and what young entrants to a career in media should focus on.
Be informed and inspired by Larry Kimmel, who is living and working this reality:“If we can do well for the world and make a living at the same time, it’s even better.”