April 13, 2010

The Importance of Trust in Building Marketing Productivity


By Trip Foster, Chief Marketing Officer, MediaTrust

I've spent my career building, exploring and utilizing many different aspects of technology, media and advertising. I've worked in-house, at agencies, at software firms and even built my own consulting firm. All of them have something in common: regardless of what type of organization the marketer works in, managing marketing complexity and productivity is constantly changing with each passing year. The one thing that's constant is that it's all about trust.


As online marketing continues to evolve, budgets are re-allocated to new media, more money is spent, and accountability spikes. However, as this occurs, marketing complexity is increasing because marketers to need spend more time sorting through and organizing the myriad of solutions and techniques available to them -- and less time organizing, planning and thinking of the bigger strategic picture.

Working for an interactive media, advertising and technology company, I regularly speak with media and advertising executives at small companies and at Fortune 500 companies alike. No matter the company size, most of these marketing specialists remark continuously of new demands on their time as the landscape of effective marketing solutions changes. Our attention is continually sliced between existing practices and a growing number of new technologies and services with each passing day.


As I am sure most of you know by now, recent studies show that the average tenure of a chief marketing officer is less than two years. No surprise there... marketing folks are tasked with supporting each and every part of an organization - from market and competitive research to business development and budget management. Don't forget multiple product lines, tactical planning, human resource management, etc, etc - and we still need to find time to think strategically about the future.

Further, expectations of the marketing department range from the specific to the broad so we often pick up off-scope projects that don't fit well in other LOB's... add to that the fact that we are charged with learning about, managing, and tracking new technologies and measuring returns with the new tools brought to us by the folks in Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley. You can see where this is going...more work, more to manage and more responsibility. We need to learn to be more productive with the time we have to properly manage the increasing complexity within our marketing departments.


To add fuel to the fire, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers' recently released annual study, Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2007-2011 forecast, all advertising will increase at an average rate of 5.4 percent per year for the next five years--rising to $531 billion in 2011, from $407 billion in 2006. In five years, the Internet will comprise 14 percent of the worldwide advertising market, at some $73 billion.

One could conclude that growing dollars and measurability indicate that marketing has finally arrived at a point where it is transparent enough that management truly embraces its effectiveness. I wonder what Mr. Wannamaker would say today about the efficiency of his advertising budgets?


I Breathe. I can have a job... and also a life. Yes, for more than two years at a time. Here's an abbreviated synopsis of what I've learned tp keep both my sanity and my career in good shape: my three step plan:

1. Set Expectations:

I think it's important that the executive team have a clear definition of what is expected from marketing and what I expect from them. This starts with my job description and moves through all of planning and strategy meetings. I do this everywhere I can. Under promise and over-deliver. I've even learned to say "no" when I can't accept new work which will take away from more important projects. I know this is sometimes difficult though a frank discussion with my team partners often has helped re-direct a project who can give it the attention it needs.

Otherwise I've found it dangerous in the long run. I've learned this the hard way. I always try to stay focused on what I've said I will deliver. Anything off-topic is discussed among my peers and allocated as a group.


2. Get Organized:

I have managed, albeit slowly, to evolve a system to track our disparate projects, tools, and resources using some of today's advanced Web-based collaboration tools that allow me a macro-view on all my projects. It's enabled me to track my team and individual day-to-day deliverables. Today, I use a combination of Salesforce.com, Google Calendar, 37 Signals Basecamp, and iGTD (an application modeled after David Allen's brilliant Getting Things Done methodology).

Check them out. I use all these tools to create centralized and easily accessible projects, calendars, and task lists that can be tracked by my own team and the executive team. Trust me, they work. They provide me and my team with the visibility and access we need to get things done.


3. Hire the Right Agencies and Suppliers

This critical. There are agencies out there that specialize in consolidated and centralized coordination across all marketing disciplines. Like any good product (think Apple's iPod), the ones that make life simpler are the ones that are the most popular. These new agency-like ecosystems house marketing technologies, account management and specialists under one roof. Specialists that have worked in-house, at marketing agencies and at technology companies. Specialists that understand all the challenges that today's marketing officers face. This smart combination simplified the time it takes me to manage marketing responsibilities that are increasing exponentially with the corresponding budgets. Hiring the right agency will go a long way. Once I've learned to trust them, I've felt comfortable lean on them when necessary for more and more insights which can help me focus on my key work.

However, the first and most important factor to making this work is to establish a mutually trust-based relationship on the tasks and deliverables we each need to supply the other in order to see first-hand the result we both expect. It's really about making sure the agency has the technology, understanding and ability to execute.

As online marketing continues to change, for all the excitement and adrenaline we have for what lies ahead, it is fundamental to keep expectations realistic.

You can't do it alone. Once you understand how to empower people to take responsibility for the things you need from them, you'll find that you're well on your way to building a system that allows you to operate with the greatest amount of control and productivity possible.

Oh yeah, one other thing. Trust yourself!


Trip Foster is chief marketing officer at Media Trust, an ecosystem of integrated online media and advertising solutions which includes several complementary properties and services:
- Advaliant: a performance affiliate network
- Advario: a proprietary real-time contextual ad targeting platform
- MediaTrust Integrated Solutions Group: a custom solutions group that uses all the tools in the ecosystem, including:
1. Affiliate marketing via a proprietary CPA affiliate network
2. Search engine marketing and search engine optimization services
3. Social media marketing and optimization services
4. Lead-generation solutions
5. Data management solutions
6. E-mail marketing and list management services
7. Mobile marketing services
8. Web publishing and RSS marketing

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Trip joined MediaTrust with more than a decade of experience in both media and technology. Most recently, Mr. Foster served as vice president, marketing and client services at Intellibank, an online customer relationship management software provider. Mr. Foster has also served as vice president of marketing at Net Exchange, a pioneer of marketplace optimization software used by Schneider Logistics, Sears Logistics, State Street Bank, and the Department of Defense. Additionally, Mr. Foster was one of the original entrepreneurs at CheMatch, an online chemicals marketplace. Mr. Foster has also previously worked for agencies such as McCann-Erickson and The Ad Store, serving clients including Sony, Visa, Coca-Cola, Salomon North America, and Vail Resorts. If you have any questions or comments for Trip, please email him at Trip Foster.

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