Silver Bullets for Marketing Don't Exist

Episode #051: Mark Wanczak, Associate Director of Digital at PPG Architectural Coatings

Episode Information

How many times have you seen a post on LinkedIn about how a marketer has achieved incredible results for their latest campaign? And, how many times has you boss shared this type of post with us and asked why you haven't implemented a similar strategy yet. This is the constant battle that marketers face every single day. We live in a world where social media posts tend to dominate people's impressions and our need for instant gratification makes all of us want immediate results from any new effort. The problem with this approach is that marketing is hard and consumer behaviors are constantly changing. And spoiler alert....there isn't any silver bullet for marketing. In this week's episode of Mobile Matters, we talk to the Associate Director of Digital at PPG Architectural Coatings, Mark Wanczak, about how he became an accidental digital marketer, if most marketers are overspending in digital, and why a silver bullet for marketing doesn't exist no matter how hard we all might look to find one.

Stephanie's Strong Opinions

  1. Marketing isn't as glamorous as social media can often make it seem.
  2. Proactively share what your competitors are doing from a marketing perspective with the senior leaders at your company. This allows you to control the narrative about why your brand is or isn't using that specific channel or tactic.
  3. The value of your "yes" is determined by how many times you say "no."

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Stephanie Cox: I’m Stephanie Cox and this is Mobile Matters. Today I'm joined my Mark Wanczakz, Marketing Associate Director of Digital for PPG Architectural Coatings, and responsible for leveraging digital CRM marketing, e-commerce, and digital experiences to drive growth. His team supports dozens of B2B and B2C brands and channels across North America and Europe. In this episode of Mark and I talked a lot about how he became an accidental digital marketer. If most marketers are overspending in digital. And why a silver bullet for marketing doesn't exist. No matter how hard we all might look for one. And make sure you stick around till the end where I'll give my recap and top takeaways so that you can not only think about marketing differently, but implement it effectively. Welcome to the show Mark!

So tell me a little bit about how you got started in your career and how you got to the role that you're in today. Yeah. 

Mark Wanczak: Yeah so, you know, I was kind of struck last week when one of your previous episodes when you talked with Ryan, who knew he wanted to be a CMO at some ridiculously young age. I didn't even know CMO existed at 10. And so that's not me, right? When I was when I was young, I actually really, really focused on wanting to be a writer. And so that's what I pursued school. So from an academic standpoint, almost no marketing training at all in terms of college or university. And I really enjoyed writing, but as I got through by my academic career or college, I realized I also really liked not being poor. And so in the way that I was pursuing it was not a sustainable career from a financial standpoint. So I quickly found that my writing expertise, translated fairly well into marketing advertising. And after some internships and some jobs after school, I was the copywriting and advertising marketing. And that's how I got into this space. And at the same time, that's really when digital and social media, these things started to emerge. And just because I was the young guy at the agency, a lot of stuff fell to my plate and happened to have an interest in that as well. And as time progressed over the last 10, 15 years since I came out of school. So that's you know, it's kind of an accidental career into digital, but I've really enjoyed it so far.

Stephanie Cox: It's interesting that you say that because I feel like when I talk to people especially that are in their mid to late 30s, early 40s, they have very similar stories. And they say, you know, like I know for me, I went to college thinking I wanted to be a newspaper reporter. Thankfully, like, I realized the error of my ways my freshman year and stopped with that, because I don't even think.. Well one, I would have hated it. And so to your point, I would have been poor and I probably wouldn't have a job right now because I don’t even think my kids even know what a newspaper is. But, you know, I got into digital specifically because, you know, I got my first marketing job out of school... Social media was starting to take off. People were getting websites for the first time, which I know sounds crazy to think about. But that was happening 15 years ago. And I was the young person. And they're like, well, you understand technology. You go figure it out. And so a lot of us, I think, just came into it because we happened to be starting our careers when digital was like really starting for the first time. 

Mark Wanczak: Yeah. So, you know, we have to be opportunistic. Right. As I think we graduated college roughly the same time frame and there were challenges with the economy in the job market. So it wasn't exactly archways to go out there and pursue certain things. But you got to make the most of it.

Stephanie Cox: So one of the reasons why you kind of decided to come on the podcast is I posted something on LinkedIn. Talking about one of my personal pet peeves, which is this idea that as marketers we have so much great information to share about what works for us, what doesn't work for us. But I find so many people are afraid to share their secrets or their silver bullets. Or really like being honest about like, hey, I tried this and I failed miserably. Like you shouldn't do it either. So you kind of spoke up and realized that could be an entire podcast episode. And I was like, well, awesome, let's have you on the podcast and talk about it. So in that light, why do you think marketers are so afraid of sharing what they're doing and whether it's working, whether it's not like why are we afraid to talk about it honestly?

Mark Wanczak: Yeah. It's so interesting to me and I think it's consistent with the general cultural fear of failure or admitting fault or trying something and not working. Right. So I think we're kind of cognitive because it's our area and marketing and probably more so than other areas. We glamorize these case studies and use cases where there's seemingly a ton of success around something so simple and that might be a silver bullet or whatever it might be. And I think that kind of creates pressure on us to feel like we need to do the same success. And I think so often when you dig into a lot of those use cases of success stories, there's not a ton of substance there. And so we kind of create this culture of fear of not living up to those standards. Also, I think there's just not really silver bullets out there. Right. I mean, as much as we've grown up in digital and there's this new world of all these different tools and platforms, advertising units and whatever it may be. The basic fundamentals of marketing haven't changed. And I think we've kind of forgotten that a bit. And so I think we just don't know how to kind of reconcile everything that's happening in the digital space with what's happening in traditional space. And it's causing kind of an anxiety of how do I know or celebrate what's being done or how do I be forthcoming? Because all my peers seem to be doing these really great digital campaigns and we're doing digital campaigns, too. I'm not quite sure if they're good or they're getting the results that I am supposed to be getting here and everybody just stays a bit numb about it. So yeah, I do. I wish it was a bit more open and I think probably more than successes, is the sharing of failures. Because I mean, we're all trying one hundred different things, probably to our own detriment. But with those hundred different things, you know, if ninety percent of them don't work out or don't meet our expectations, that's OK. But how can we give a head's up to somebody else who might be going down the same path? 

Stephanie Cox: I think that's one of things that to me is the most frustrating is there's so many things that we all try that we all fail on. And if we were to share that, it could have saved someone else from trying it and failing on it. Or they could have said like, Oh, it didn't work for you like this. What if we tried it like X or I tried it and put this spin on it, and it was successful to me. I just wonder how many times we've all spent especially money on new technologies where everyone else was failing on it. But for some reason it has a ton of buzz, especially on like... This is my number one pet peeve around social media is that sometimes you see companies especially a lot in the SaaS world talking about how wonderful their product is and all these great success stories. And then when you people start using it based on that and realize, well, it doesn't actually do what I need it to do for me, but their marketing was fantastic because they got me to buy it.

Mark Wanczak: Yeah, if anybody were to see through that it’s us right? We are marketers and should know the behind the scenes a bit. Yeah. I totally agree. And you know, I think like anyone when you want to onboard a new technology or even try a new campaign or media, whatever it might be. All I want to do is talk to somebody who's using it. Right. And that's really hard to find sometimes. Right. So you'll get the best recommendations for this SaaS company, right. I just want to tap into the user group, like, can I go to your forums or go to use your conference and talk to the people struggling with this? You know, the technology itself might be great. Know again what has to sit on top of it? What has to integrate with it? How does it work with the rest of my systems, the technology? And these are the questions that make or break so much of that stuff. So it's that kind of one to one connection again. To be willing to share with other marketers why you got this really cool technology and it works for you. Or more importantly, why it doesn't.

Stephanie Cox: And your point around, you know, the technology what it needs to connect to and all those things, the other part of that is like what kind of resources do I need? Like what people do I need on my team to even implement it? That's one thing that I find a lot of people don't share. They're like, oh, this new channel worked great for me. They don't say is that they need five people to implement it. It took seven months, took like X number of dollars. Now, that's two people's full time job to do. Well, if you don't have those types of resources, you buying the technology is not it's not going to solve your problem. It's going to create new problems for you. 

Mark Wanczak: Yeah. And so what I fear there is and we're not good at this either... is how did you cultivate the value of that platform for your business? And we can talk about what it cost and we understand that. But really, especially when you talk about the SaaS world. The challenge is not a platform cost or technology cost. It's that support. Right. So is it my team? Do I have to pay for support costs? How does the scale over two to three years kind of drop this technology in my lap and then I have to figure out this completely on my own? Those things add up and it's not something we really talk about. And that's where those costs add up as you kind of sign up for that costs and then go back to your leaders to say this was or wasn't viable for us. You have to factor those things in. And sometimes it's really hard to figure those things out because the companies may not be forthcoming or you don't have access to other users to help you kind of triangulate what you think might work for your business. 

Stephanie Cox: One of the things you just mentioned was going back to leadership. One of the things that I know I've struggled with in my career and it seems like almost every marketer I've talked to has struggled with this as well, is this idea that when we have the problem that everyone thinks that they can do marketing. So that's one problem. The second problem I think we face a lot from leadership is this idea that. You know, and I find it most with CEOs that they have this idea that there's just there really is a silver bullet out there, that there is the solution that solves all your problems. Creates all of your leads, helps you hit all of your sales targets. And why aren’t you just going out and finding it? And then they look at, especially your competitors set. And oftentimes we'll see. Well, it looks like they're being super successful with this channel. It looks like they're being super successful doing this. Why aren't we doing this? And what's funny about it is that doesn't mean they're being successful. They could be doing that and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on like a search engine, like SEM, search engine marketing, and not seeing any results whatsoever. So how do you handle that situation where you get so much outside pressure from other people that are trying to say, you know, why are we doing X, Y or Z? If we did this, it would help us, you know, meet the results that we need.

Mark Wanczak: Yeah. And then, like you said, I think that's something everybody everybody's kind of faced with. If anybody does have a silver bullet for handling it, I'd love to hear it. I think a few things. Right. I mean, everybody has an opinion on marketing or advertising because we're all consumers of it. And so we get a thousand messages a day. So why shouldn’t we have an informed opinion of what that should actually look like for our brand and company? Right. And that makes sense. And so I think there's a degree of how we manage that in terms of listening in a meaningful way, but also kind of educated to say, here's why or why not we think this is good, a good fit for us. From the competitive standpoint. Yeah, that's something we see a lot of and we're highly aware of what our competitors are doing or even others in our industry are doing. And then how we react to that if we react to it. So I think a few things we try to do there is stay up to date and ahead of the competitive set. Right. So if you're reacting to messaging coming from your leadership about what your competitors are doing, you’re already on your heels. So as we see, especially in the digital space, usually when our competitor does something, we kind of know about it. Let's say a day or two or a week ahead of maybe leadership will see it. We try to be proactive and reach out ahead of time to say, hey, we see one of our competitors doing this effort and start to fray the north, the narrative proactively as opposed to trying to kind of feel the message and triage it and react to it. So keeping tabs on those kind of hot button topics that, you know, we're going to come your way when they make a public... out there can kind of get you the first step in the door and help kind of control the story a bit more. And then also, if you have data force to talk about why or why not, you're doing certain things or why you may have evaluated that channel or that activity or the platform and ruled it out. Or maybe you have done a test against it to to expose that back, to say, hey, here's why we're not we don't have a TikTok strategy or something like that. Right. So I think just getting ahead of the questions is the most successful way, because I think a lot of the questions you get from leadership that are structured that way come from a place of maybe mistrust. Right. Why aren’t my people doing this? I don't maybe trust that they know what's best for the brand or the business and are out there doing those things. And if that's the case that you really got to get ahead of that message and demonstrate that you have thought of these things, you're working with your teams or your agencies to kind of get ahead of it. And it's something you've thought through as part of your strategy or plan for the year. And there is an educated choice behind why you are or are not participating in that.

Stephanie Cox: There's a couple of things I love that you said.. first was TikTok, because as you were talking about new technologies, all I was thinking was... Like TikTok, Should I be doing TikTok? I have no idea. Some people are saying yea. So I am like, But why would I use TikTok as a marketer for my brand? So we should talk about that later. But then also, I love what you said about getting ahead of what your competitors are doing and sharing that with leadership. I find so many people are almost like afraid for to say like, oh, you know, my competitors doing X, Y and Z and making people aware of that, which is so hilarious because we all know we're gonna get that late night text or email that says, I just saw this billboard, I just saw this big video strategy. Why aren’t we doing this? What's our plan around that? And being proactive and having... to your point... data or at least some sort of strategic reason why you are or aren’t doing that. I think really helps to your point frame that narrative.

Mark Wanczak: Yeah. Yeah. You've gotta get ahead of it. And you know, let's talk about TikTok for a second. Right. So in a TikTok, I use as a representation of any shiny new object that comes across our desks. You know, a hundred times a year, whether it's a social network or whether it's SaaS tool or whether it's a startup, whether DTC space is causing risk in your business because people are asking, why aren't we doing that type of thing? You know, it's so much about. Not... It depends on your industry, right? But we're not an industry. We start a company where we need to be like these rapid first adopters to this type of technology. We are in a position where we have to be a little bit more choicefull with our dollars. Not the biggest spender in our category. And so we're totally fine. Waiting to see how these things play out. So if a year from now, TikTok is a major player in the social media scene. They are a core platform for our key customer segments or audiences. And there's a valid reason why we should be there. Then we'll evaluate it. Right. But it’s saying no in the first six months as these things emerge and then letting them play out to kind of trust what's going to happen in the marketplace and then react accordingly? I think the reaction to things like that are also in pursuit of a silver bullet. So as we see things like this come across our desk, we go, maybe this is the thing that's going to be the silver bullet and that's the false promise. Those things don't exist. It hasn't existed for the history of marketing. TikTok is not going to save your business by itself. So I think it's just having that trust in yourselves and your marketing teams, too, to say we know what's best for us. If it's TikTok, that's great. But we can also be a little bit choiceful, too, for how we pursue things like that.

Stephanie Cox: So in that vein, what do you think most marketers are like really struggling to figure out today? Or what's your biggest challenge that you're kind of constantly wrestling with at a strategic level? 

Mark Wanczak: It's a really good question. I think a lot of it is it's.. I’ll speak more categorically about an industry than because you know I'm more on the digital side and less on the brand side. But I think what I'm seeing more of is how do we balance all the noise and change perceived change in digital space with traditional marketing or brand strategy or all of the kind of academic frameworks and structures we know about? What about marketing in general? And I think what you see emerging and what I see emerging for some of the key voices that I trust in the industry is there seems to be a struggle in marketers behalf to understand and interpret the role of digital within the marketing mix. And that is probably speaking more from a digital or from a media perspective then maybe other areas. I think Adidas just came out this week and said we we admit to overinvesting in digital over the last few years. We swung the pendulum too far and I think we've done the same thing. And I see that as digital value as the biggest kind of stake in the game. I think a lot of companies have. I think we've chased a lot of digital shiny objects without a ton of good data and measurement. And unless you're kind of an e-commerce company or digital only company, that's a tough place to be. I think we are seeing the value of traditional marketing channels. That hasn't really changed. I think we've seen behaviors mature but marketing channels, not really change as much as people said they would. And so I think we need to kind of get back to basics a little bit. And. Don't be afraid. To kind of under investor, or pull investment out of digital to go back and do things that we know what traditionally worked and also use kind of the traditional measurement frameworks to do that as well. I don't think we get caught up in a lot of digital metrics. Keep your eyes and go that direction because we feel it's more measurable. But as you step back and try to look at the whole medium mix, I don't think digital necessarily gives you more. Unless you have that direct conversion online. So I think it's kind of understanding how to reconcile those two major places that you can spend and put effort. And then, of course, there are blending together. So as digital and traditional kind of come together. It's not an either or strategy, but I think that's still how a lot of us still approach it.

Stephanie Cox: I completely agree. One of things when I think about digital and I've spent most my career in that space as well, is that we all swung the pendulum. And then what we did is we just created, we create more noise and we're all doing it collectively, the same channels now to the same extent. And some of you know, look, I would say like the older school channels I've been around for a long time have been neglected. And so when people start doing them again, it's kind of like it's new. So I think about B2B marketing, right. We've really went away from doing any sort of direct mail. And now, you know, there's this big pendulum swinging back to direct mail that started to happen. And part of the reason is because it always has worked. Now, is it more expensive than sending email? One hundred percent. But it also works better. And I think what's funny about it now is ever it's like, oh, direct mail is back. And I'm like, direct mail never died. We just we just chased another shiny object at the moment because there was a new channel that looked like it would drive results faster, probably did when we got started. Because there's low hanging fruit and so we invested all of our time into it and stuff. Taking a step back, saying, okay. Yes, there's low hanging fruit, but are we going to continue to see the same results after three months, after six months, after a year, or do we plateau that? But we're still throwing the same amount of money in it. 

Mark Wanczak: Yeah, no, I totally agree. And, you know, direct mail versus email, TV ads versus over-the-top TV right. There's parallels all throughout the different media channels that rely on digital and traditional perspectives. So, I completely agree. I think it just goes back to measuring the value of what you're doing, right. So if you step back and say, how do I measure my marketing as if digital didn’t exist right? And I didn’t  spend any money on digital, then I think you should extend those same methodologies, structure, framework and scrutiny into the digital realm. I think so often we measure digital differently for some reason. It's easier because the data is different. There's an overwhelming amount of data. We're relying on benchmarks that, as you said, as there's more noise in the industry and a lot more competitive ness, those benchmarks are shifting monthly in terms of CPM or cost per clicks and things like that. So I think if we kind of try to step up a level or two and not get so caught up in campaign level or ad level metrics and start to look at the value metrics. So are we trying to break some consideration? Are we driving sales? Are we moving the needle on how our brands being perceived in the marketplace? That's where you got to kind of have to go to kind of understand how you swing the pendulum back in the other direction. 

Stephanie Cox: But that's also the hardest part, right, to figure out. It requires a lot of data, a lot of analysis, a lot of times looking across multiple different data sets and points, sometimes you don't always own all the data for it. So for me, that's one of the things that I think most marketers struggle with. And I think the challenge that they have with it is it's real easy for me to tell you how successful a campaign was. I can go to Google Analytics, tell you how many Website visits I drove. I can tell you, I mean, app downloads I drove. But what I can’t tell you a lot of times is how did that affect the bottom line, unless i’m an e-commerce company. And that's really how we should be measured is based on how are we contributing to our market share? How are we contributing to the bottom line of sales? And a lot of marketers, I find, are scared to be held accountable to that because they don't even understand how they could figure it out, let alone set the right goals for themselves around it.

Mark Wanczak: Yeah, and I think that's a huge share of marketers' challenges. It's probably under representative trade publication, blog posts and podcasts. I mean, it's hard, it's complex. It's also really expensive. Right. If you want to go graph stuff and measure it annually around the impact of your brand on sales, there's a huge swath of marketers out there. They can't afford that or don't have the resources to pursue those types of insights for brands. So it's a huge pain point that kind of goes unaddressed. And so for that part of the market. And skill set that's out there that doesn't have those resources. I think that's why it's so important to be able to see through the digital noise, because if you follow the trends and you follow the media within our marketing industry, you're going to be led astray. There's an overrepresentation of shiny objects and what they can do for your brand versus I think the staples that we should rely on a little bit more. So you've got a ton of gut feel. And, you know, it's tough to say no to the trends because you may be perceived as somebody who's not in touch or not following the industry. And that's one of the hardest things we do, I think, as marketers or as digital marketers is to say, no, I don't believe there's value in this or we got to wait to see if there's value in this. But we've got to you got to kind of stick it out and trust your gut. And I think that's where the network kind of comes into place. We talked a lot about how do we get away from talking about these glamorous case studies and being able to share successes and failures in markets. I mean, those groups of marketers don't have access to the resources or dollars to maybe put forward some of the harder metrics around measurement. We have to rely on each other. Right. I mean, this massive amount of noise in the digital space and frankly, a lot of the bullshit that's out there, what can work for you can't work for you. So I think we can all do a better job of helping each other out there. 

Stephanie Cox: We've talked about the shiny objects a little bit already. But how do you know when something's a shiny object versus something that actually should be considered? You know, my first thought is TikTok, right? Is that a shiny object or is that a real channel that we should think about? I've heard marketers tell me that, like, you need to get on TikTok immediately. It's going to like dominate video. And I'm. Super confused because when I get on it, I'm like, it looks like it's for 13 year olds, so maybe I'm wrong. But how do you figure out, like, what's a shiny object and what's a really good channel or a good technology that you should seriously consider or even invest in testing for? 

Mark Wanczak: From the digital and social side, two things. One is, are your customers there? Right. So, yeah, TikTok. Largely a teenage demographic, right. So my customers aren't there, so I'm ignoring it for the most part. If it gets to a point like Snap kind of started the same way. It's sort of the much younger demographic and now it’s grown to be a millennial audience. Maybe there's a case now for Snap to be made for our business. But if our customer is not there, then it's a hard no. We stop that kind of logic flowchart to worry about it, and we can check in six months from now and see if there's an evolution. I think the other big thing, especially in the social media platforms, is the maturity of the ad business. So you've seen if you advertise on Facebook five years ago and you advertise on Facebook today, you know, it's a it's a world difference in terms of what the ad experience looks like from a client perspective and how you place, run and get metrics back on on your advertising. So as you see things like Snap and Tic Tok and Pinterest, even for a while in the maturity of their ad business, their ad platform, and your ability as a client to self serve your agency to selfserve was really quite challenging. And so don't undervalue the idea of yes, it may be an emerging social network and there may be people flocking to it, but if you can't effectively run an ad unit and measure it, it's still no, it's still not very good to you as a business. So you got to kind of kind of pare those two things together and say, are my customers there? If so, can I effectively reach them? Do they have a targeting, the demographics, the user data for me to do that. Do they have the ad units that fit my category or my business and kind of work backwards that.

Stephanie Cox: And it's so important to what you said earlier. Channels are changing so much, you really have to understand how the channel works now and what works better to your point on Facebook has changed a lot in the last five years. I feel like it's changed a lot even in the last two years, especially since some of the stuff they've done after the election around ads. So what's fascinating to me is that, you know, you could, especially as a digital marketer, as you grow in your career, you typically get your hands less dirty. And some of those channels and when you move into a new role, you might have your hands dirty again and be responsible for some of the stuff or be responsible for teaching others how to do it. And so it's so important to either stay up to date on what's happening in those channels or find partners that can help share and help you figure out what your strategy should be, because what worked even a year ago may not work today. 

Mark Wanczak: Yeah. Yeah. You hit it. It's a full time job just to keep up with ad unit changes on the social platforms. Right. Like there's a there's a new one every week. And to understand how the carousel format changes and what it means for us and how the shoppable ads on Instagram, what I like. That's that's a full time job. Right. And so if you're highly involved in the social space from a media spend perspective, you have to stay up to date on those things or how your agency, your trusted partner, to be able to educate you on what those things can mean to you. And then again, should you be an early adopter of those things? Should you kind of let some benchmarks come out for a couple of months and see how the markets reacting to those things? Or do you want to go run a test with a small percentage of your budget to see if there's value there? Those are the things that you kind of have to look at and evaluate. But also, again, you don't need to chase it on a daily level. And I think we have this FOMO on these things and feel like we need to be up to date and that if somebody asks us about a new ad unit and we don't know what it is, that we look like a failure or we’re uninformed on something in our industry. And it’s such a granular piece of what we do that I don't think we should be so scared of saying, yeah. I haven't heard about that. But we'll look into that and see if that's a good fit for our campaigns or for our business. But it's a challenge just to stay up to date with all those things. 

Stephanie Cox: So for new marketers, that are kind of coming into their field, just starting their career. Where do you think they should spend their time? Like, what should they start learning?

Mark Wanczak: I mean, learn from the people around you first and foremost. I mean, if you're starting your career and you join a business and most of the marketers around you, unless you're kind of a one man show are going to have some experience that you should learn from. It should help orient you in the industry and learn the things that are going to benefit your career in the short term as well to help you kind of learn and grow in your in your immediate future. 

I think the other big thing is find a mentor. Whether that's an actual in-person mentor, they can find your company within your peer group, but also kind of the informal mentors in that category. The industries that are talking about marketing in general that are trusted or liable or aren’t chasing the trends themselves. So again, there's so much noise out there and digital. And if you watch every Gary V LinkedIn video, I think you're going to have your head spinning in 30 days about what you should be doing as a marketer. And most of that's wrong. So, I think seek out some stability in your life in terms of reinforcing the fundamentals of what you should be doing as a marketer. And I think you've learned that probably best from those around you. Again, there's a huge part of what we do every day that is not sexy. That doesn't make it into ad age. And I think that's where you need to start, unfortunately, and learn those basics and understand how the sausage gets made. You can start to be informed enough to have opinions. It's more strategic level decisions and how to manage. 

Stephanie Cox: I love how you just talked about how the sausage gets made. Because I think that's like truth telling time, right? Marketing is not as glamorous as people think it is. A lot of what we do every single day, especially in digital, is very operational. It's trying to figure out how we get our digital data to be better. How do we get this old legacy platform that is our homegrown CRM to integrate with literally any things that we can use the data. How do you think about managing the nitty gritty of reality, especially as you work at an enterprise organization? It's something that no one talks about, but it's the reality for almost all of us. 

Mark Wanczak: Yeah. I take pride in it. Right. And nobody talks about it. It's the the least sexy part of our jobs as most people think about it. But I think it's probably the most valuable piece right? And probably under recognized from, let's say, a leadership perspective, not necessarily here in our company, but I think just more broadly. Right. Because there's so much nitty gritty and so many details and it's this hybrid skill set of I.T. and technical work and knowing enough about data and systems integrations and technical architecture to be dangerous. But also needing to know the business side and the marketing side to know where you want to go strategically and how we align everything that sits below the surface in our company to enable those goals. So I think we probably spent as a team, sixty, seventy percent of our time on this kind of work. This is translating business requirements into I.T. so that we can understand how we actually against it and translating the reasons why our legacy systems and infrastructure don't work back to the business to help them set expectations. And understand what our limitations are. And so I tell our team over time, one of our primary roles in the organization is we’re a digital team. We sit between marketing, sit between I.T. We're translators and there's value in that. It sounds unsexy, it sounds basic. But where I see a lot of our other projects falling down or maybe struggling is because there's a lack of translators between there and kind of this weird hybrid role between a business analyst and a digital marketer that helps bridge the gap from two legacy functions that typically have worked directly together but as you kind of jump into the digital world, depending on the skill set and those functions that may not work, maybe a big, big gap between those two languages. And so I don't know, I really enjoyed that part. I think it's I think it's really valuable. I think we accelerate a lot of initiatives and projects that might otherwise go back and forth a hundred times before it can actually get talking to the same language. And I think that's probably very common in enterprises or large companies and again, not represented anywhere because it's really hard to talk about. It’s really hard to articulate. It's also difficult to kind of determine the value and really need some good leadership above you to advocate for that kind of work and understand that it's so necessary. It's the day to day operations of what gets done. It's one of the best things we do as a team, and I think it probably is one of the more valuable. Contributions we make to our company.

Stephanie Cox: No, I completely agree. But it's also the hardest one to explain to everyone else why you have to do it or why you can't do these other things, because you have to do really the groundwork and build the foundation your house in order before you can set out on some of these new technologies, new channels or, you know, implement a new strategy. 

Mark Wanczak: Yeah, that's such a good point. We talked about the shiny new objects and some of them will work for us, right? But they don't go anywhere for you if you don't have a solid foundation there with them. These are all technologies, right. And if you set them on top of that data, that integrations, half built ERP or CRM, it's just all down with it. And so trying to enable our operational effectiveness a bit better is crucial. And as we enter now 20, 30 years of industrial era, you're dealing with legacy decisions and technologies that you have to deal with before you can start moving ahead and innovating and disrupting. And again, not sexy stuff, but I think companies who can manage their legacy technology well, are better positioned to advance quicker because they're not stuck in the past.

Stephanie Cox: All right. So one of the last things I want to do is do something called Quick Hits. I'm going to ask you four questions and you just got to give me a hand of what comes to your mind first. So, What's one thing you wish every marketer would do?

Mark Wanczak: Say no more. So I think everybody knows when they should say no. And in most cases they feel like they want to say no, but they may not feel empowered or supported to say no. And again, we work in a field where everybody's consumer marketing and has an opinion on it. So being able to say no in a meaningful way while listening to the actual need it's coming across I think is really important because otherwise we get caught up when we say yes too much and chasing all these different threads and boxes down. 

Stephanie Cox: What's one thing you wish marketers would stop doing? 

Mark Wanczak: I think we hit on it. I think stop with the B.S., right? Yeah. One thing we can do is kind of share our honest opinions, but we can also on the inverse side, stop spouting B.S. about things. So let's admit we're not really sure about something. Let's maybe not drum up a bunch of false success on something that doesn't really drive value for the business and be a little bit more honest with each other.

Stephanie Cox: What's the one thing you think every marketer should now?

Mark Wanczak: I think we're probably overspending in digital. And again, saying that as somebody who's been my entire career in the space and nobody stands more benefits from more spending in digital. I think we we I think we need to take a hard look at where those dollars are going. And if they could be working harder for us somewhere else and laughs. 

Stephanie Cox: What's the most frustrating thing about marketing? 

Mark Wanczak: I think the perception of change. I think every single deck pitch you see start is changing faster than it ever has. And in some ways, that's true. That's true. But I think in most ways it's not. I think if you went back 20 years, you would hear the same thing. So I think it's kind of creating a barrier against that change and a buffer against that change to say things. The fundamentals of what we do everyday aren't really that different than twenty five years ago and we can kind of embrace stability to find more solid ground underneath our feet. 

Stephanie Cox: I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Mark because he's definitely a marketing and truth-teller which to me is a breath of fresh air these days when so much of the content you see on social media is about how marketers are doing. So great. Give me a break marketing is hard. There is no Silver Bullet and Mark and I both agree that everyone would just be much better off if we start being honest about what's working and most importantly what's not. Now let's drive into my top three takeaways from our conversation. 

First marketing isn't as glamorous as some people might think it is. I think that perception is likely because what you see on social media primarily shows how great everything went in the incredible results that were driven. I'm talking about all those LinkedIn posts that marketers love to make but you and I both know it's not the truth. The truth is marketing is hard and things don’t always go smoothly. Yes, your big event may have turned out to be a huge success once it was over but how many people share their keynote speaker cancel days before the conference or how they were 20% behind in ticket sales or how they worked 80 plus hours a week for two months leading up to it. Very few people actually tell this truth. Instead they share the happy photos and stories which causes other marketers too often times feel inferior because everything isn't going smoothly for them as it seems to be for everyone else. When the reality is we’re all likely facing the exact same challenges. That's why I believe we all need to be more transparent about what marketing is like on a daily basis and supporting each other through it all.

Next one of the most frustrating, comments you can hear from a senior leader is “why aren't we doing (insert favorite competitor) is doing on (insert random Channel) trust me. I've heard the statement so many times in my career and it drives me crazy. I’ve found ways to handle these discussions but I... I’ve been effective but I think what Mark shared takes it one step further. He's proactively reaching out to senior leaders as soon as he knows what competitors are doing for a marketing perspective and sharing his point of view of why his company is or isn't doing something similar for their brand. This is allowing him to control the narrative immediately in preventing the very question we all dread. Personally, I think it's a brilliant concept and something we should all start doing. 

Finally, we all need to start saying “no more”. I know this is something like I personally struggle with because I want to do it all but it's not possible for my a work or personal stand point but more importantly what many of us don't realize is that the value of our yes is based on how many times we say no. So think about that for a minute, when's the last time you said no? I'm Stephanie Cox and you've been listening to mobile matters. If you haven't yet be sure to subscribe, rate, and review this podcast until then be sure to visit and subscribe to get more access to thought leaders’ best practices and all things mobile.

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