One of the things that has been bothering me a lot lately is the perception that our job as a marketer is to “make things look good” or to “come up with a name for catchy name or slogan for something.” Not to say that we don’t and can’t do that, but I hate the fact that often times this is the perception people have of what we do. Counter to this, my view of marketing is as simple as the definition:
the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
Our job at its core is to sell things. It has a lot more to do with making money through driving profitable revenue than it does with making things look pretty (unless of course making it pretty is what makes it sell). To be good at what we do, you have to think and research what makes people buy something – considering the process, or decision journey, that our consumers use when considering our goods or services within the industry in which we operate. From here, a marketer works hard to come up with marketing tactics to help get our brands, products or services at the top of the consideration set for the buyer and ultimately get them to buy.
So why does the perception exist that we make things look pretty? Why isn’t it common understanding that our goal is to drive sales? We do it to ourselves. I believe that most times this perception exists because we don’t do a good job articulating the goals of our work and being accountable link the ideas we execute to revenue (or admit that they didn’t work if the link doesn’t exist). We as marketers get caught up in the craft, the pure idea, the way it looks, without staying focused on the business impact of these ideas we execute.
Don’t hear me say that the idea and the craft isn’t important. It is the most important thing that we do – produce ideas that drive sales. The best marketing I have seen has been built from a great idea. It has been executed in a way that is compelling visually and in words. It has been executed in a way that drives action from the consumer in a way that drives revenue for the business both in the short-term and the long-term. This intersection of the idea and the result is the craft.
We must commit as marketers to get better at linking what we do to driving sales for our companies. We must talk the language of business growth and link our decisions as much as possible to driving that growth. We must be transparent when things aren’t measurable – and there are many that aren’t. And where they are measurable, we must connect the dots for the teams around us. If we do this well, we will enable creativity within our marketing teams and allow ourselves the time, money and thinking space to come up with the next idea that will build our businesses. And, we will have a lot of fun doing so.
The difference in Sunday mornings is one the biggest changes in life since kids. Jon and I went out last night and made it home by 11:30p. Late in our world, not even close to what Saturday nights used to look like. Without fail, the nights we are out late our kids wake up early the next day. It is like they know that mom and dad need the sleep more than ever and they are determined to show us who is boss. So, Matthew decided 5:30a was a good time to try to get up this morning. I laid in bed, listening to him calling for me on the monitor wishing for a mute button.
So, we were up. Instead of our historical morning news shows that were our pattern before kids, “Elmo Pottytime” was the program of choice this morning. And, pancakes instead of omlettes. And, playing princess, queen and castle instead of reading Facebook posts. My mom is here so right now she is playing more with the kids while I take a late-morning (oh wait it is only 9:15a) moment to drink my coffee, listen to the Avett Brothers and write a quick post.
You wonder what we did with our time before kids. Although they make me tired (3 cups of coffee in by 9am), the pure joy they exude when playing is a reminder to live in the moment. So, time for the moment. I am headed
back to go play princesses. I am certain that since I have been away for a moment, I have been demoted to squire or cook in the castle hierarchy.
Enough said after making it through a long week at work and the first week back-to-school.
Yesterday, after a long day at work, as I was playing with my kids at the park, this quotation that I found a few months ago came to mind. I found it on a particularly rough day….one where I had been dealing with crazy political issues at work which caused me to stay late and miss most of the evening with my kids. It seemed like I was realizing in real-time that I just couldn’t do it all. That night, I felt ready to fold, ready to give in. I got them to bed and spent a bit of time reading and trying to get my head around what to do next to stop feeling this way. And, I happened upon this quote. One of my personal principles had always been to “reach for the stars”. I have always believed that in doing so, I stretch myself to make the best things happen no matter what hand of cards I have been dealt.
Reading this quote, this was the first time that I had thought about the impact my “reach for the stars” philosophy had on my kids. It helped me to realize that the act of me stretching myself was helping them learn that they could too. Often with our kids Jon and I use the saying “never give up, never give up” to cheer them on when they think that they can’t accomplish something. It is a line straight from “Dora the Explorer”, the most quality television programming we seem to watch these days. Ironic that we say this to our kids, but sometimes feel like we can’t live it ourselves.
This quotation was helpful to remind me during the dark night that I found it, and again yesterday, to keep trying, to keep reaching – to prove to myself and my kids that it is possible to be a good mom, a good leader, a good marketer and a good wife. It doesn’t mean that I am always perfect at any of them, but I promise to always keep “reaching.”
One of the ultimate moments the pieces of my life intersected was in December of 2009. And I mean literally intersected. I was about 7 days out from the due date of our first little one (Katharine) and after a night late at work, I came home and started feeling like it was time for a baby. Jon and I waited for a few hours and then headed nervously to the hospital with our bags packed. The hospital sent us through triage and let me know that although things were close, I wasn’t in labor. So, we headed home and tried to relax….anticipating what was to come. During the night, I awoke to what was more “labor-like” pains. As morning approached, things kept progressing but given the false alarm we had the evening before, I wasn’t convinced that it was for real. So, what else to do but keep working (from home at least). This was my pattern. I had been on a tear of working 65 hours a week for at least a year so I didn’t even think twice about it. I had so much to do before I had this baby! So, I worked all day…writing market research plans, deploying marketing initiatives, cleaning up email….all the while, in labor. As the day went on, my clock was ticking and I just kept working. Time kept moving, labor pains kept increasing….and I kept on working.
Needless to say, the work had to stop at some point, and ultimately so did the labor. About 36 hours after our first hospital trip, at about 10pm after a long-day working from home we headed to the hospital again. Under seven hours later, little Katharine Elizabeth Snavely entered the world on 12/30/2009 at 4:56am.
This moment of becoming a mother was something like I had never experienced before. A moment of true love with tears of joy and a purity in the moment that rarely, if ever, existed in my life before. Since her birth, I have experienced my life more purely than I had ever been able to before. It is amazing the perspective a little person can give you. Katharine helped me to realize that life is about choices. That the choices that I had made before, such as working through labor the last day of my pre-kid life, had often been determined by my historical patterns. That instead of truly making an active choice, I had often times been letting my past experiences dictate my current reality. In a sense, becoming a mother opened my life up to me again by enabling me to choose to enjoy it versus just live it.
There is so much more to becoming a mother than this story. I hope to share stories of motherhood here, and how it has helped me to enjoy my life, to learn, and to love in a way I never imagined. Our second, Matthew Thomas Snavely was born 2+ years later in Park City, Utah – the place we had moved to to when Katharine was just 3 weeks old. He was born to a mom that was much more balanced than the woman who wrote market research surveys through active labor with her first child. He was born to a woman who had let the pieces of her life intersect while not allowing any one of them dominate the other.
In way of professional introduction, I am the head of marketing and corporate sales for a Healthcare Staffing company specializing in helping physicians and other healthcare professionals find jobs. My company, CHG Healthcare, is the leading physician staffing company in the country, and one of Fortune magazine’s top places to work in the United States (3 years running in the top 20 in the country). I feel luck to work there, and be a part of an organization that helps make a difference in healthcare while also building a great organization for our people. I am hopeful to retire at CHG, whenever and whatever that looks like…..too far away to think about. I am sure you will hear a lot more about this on here later.
The path to here took many turns, many of which I will talk about at a later time here, but one of the more interesting turns is my move into marketing. I went to school originally thinking I was going to be a chemical engineer. My aunt, and role-model, was a chemical engineer by training and went to work at Procter & Gamble where she ended up as a General Manager leading a division. As a young-person, I looked up to her so much. So, I started school with that career path in mind. As I started school, I realized that I actual loved where she landed and not necessarily her journey and that there were many ways to get to that landing. Pretty quickly, I switched to a business major in Finance and Accounting. My logic was exactly that of an 18 year old. I liked math, and finance was the closest thing to engineering in the business school.
One of my first classes in undergraduate business school was a marketing class, and ironically I hated it. I found the professor, an adjunct who was up teaching at Miami of Ohio on a sabbatical from Procter & Gamble, pretty worthless. It seemed like it was her way or the highway, and I didn’t agree with much of what she said. As students asked her questions, it appeared like she was always making things up on the fly (at the time I was convinced this is what all marketers did) versus grounding her teaching based on facts and experiences. She had no credibility to me.
As I reflect on that now, 19 years later, it was a pivotal moment for me. First, I decided that there was no way I would ever be in marketing (ha ha!). Second, I decided that I always wanted to work hard to be humble versus trying to be right or authoritative. Finally, I decided that my business existence would always be grounded in facts and hard work and not smoke in mirrors.
Quite ironic that this rough introduction to marketing became one of the moments I believe helped me find my way professionally. It has helped me to establish my philosophy as a marketer. It helped to create in me an underdog mentality; always out to prove that marketing isn’t smoke in mirrors and that creativity and logic can come together into a set of ideas that when implemented with excellence can help to grow a business.
Today at work, I had a hard meeting. While the objective of the meeting was good, and while the person I was meeting with is one of the nicest people that I know and very well intentioned, it was one of the harder encounters that I have had in a long time. This evening, after I got my kids to bed and I am here alone watching stupid television shows on my iPad while typing this blog post….I have been spending some time digesting why I felt like I did.
I think it comes down to one primary thing. The person I met with didn’t ask questions. He led the meeting with an agenda of things to communicate to me based on the perceptions and thoughts that he had about the effectiveness of my team. While helpful in the long run, because he has a lot of great ideas and advice, it made me feel a lot like my opinion didn’t matter. There was a rare moment in what was a long conversation where he asked me what I thought, how I was feeling and what I think we should do, or any question for that matter. It was primarily a one-way conversation.
As I think of how I want to be both as a marketing leader and as a mom, wife, friend, person, this stands out to me as a great learning experience. I want to know how my team, how my kids are thinking about things so that they can share their perspective – and not just broadcast things and communicate things one direction. Easier said than done, but I am hoping that living through today helps me commit to that in my life no matter what the setting.
Sometimes I wonder if there is anyone out there who has been a part of all of the pieces of my life….from my Ohio upbringing as a girl trying to find a comfort in her own skin, to my journey to independence in college and beyond, to the girl who found her best friend in Jon, to the professional, to the mom of two living in a mountain town…it has been a good life. I feel lucky to have had the experiences that I have had as they have shaped who I am today.
I am hoping that this blog can help to bring together two key pieces of my life: my life as a marketer and my life as a mom. Each day that goes by, I realize how these seemingly two different pieces of my life intersect so much more frequently than I had every imagined.
So, expect stories and information here from these two pieces of my life. My hope is that something here is helpful to you, or at a minimum that writing it becomes a way for me to bring the pieces together for myself.