Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Christine Viera, a B2B Marketing expert, former CMO of Kapost and current VP of Strategic Marketing and Customer Experience at Level 3. Her experience also includes companies like Oracle, Avid, and Avaya. I admire Christine for her customer centricity and her focus on content, which you will se in the interview.
1. What company is an example of good marketing today? Who do you admire?
I admire how Jon Miller at Engagio has changed the conversation in B2B marketing. He and his team have been central to elevating account-based marketing from a tactic to a movement. It’s exciting to see key areas of marketing become the focus on entrepreneurship.
2. Did you have a mentor or a person you learnt the most from? What was a key lesson?
For many years, I had the pleasure of working for Mike Betzer, who’s currently the CEO at Humanity. He taught me the value of being humble. By listening to others, I learn new ideas, understand the challenges others face, and gain an appreciation for other perspectives.
I also learn constantly from my friend Peg Miller. Peg has an unbelievable background in the content industry, and uses that knowledge to help other marketers. It’s a contagious passion of hers to enable marketers to try new parts of the craft with support and counsel. She’s a model of service to others.
3. What story of a successful marketing strategy could you share?
I find that it all starts with bringing a key customer-focused idea to life.
In my best example, I found some hot buttons that my buyers were struggling with through persona marketing research. That became the root of a content pillar complete with ebooks, blogs, visual frameworks, human stories of how others were struggling with the same topic, and very short webinar. The results? It became the top 3 highest performing marketing theme that my organization had seen in years.
The lesson? It’s not one thing in marketing that works by itself. It’s rooting marketing to what helps your prospects and customers. Next, provide a range of easy to consume ways for your audience to learn about your unique insights. Only at the right time, introduce your solution or product. That should come when your prospects are ready to hear it, and not when your sales team gets desperate for calls to make in a hunt for pipeline.
4. What is your marketing superpower, the most important skill that makes you a great marketer?
I love learning new things. It’s a true passion. I’m always looking to understand people, trends, and new tools. I try to keep a beginners mind as I approach new markets and opportunities. Being curious helps in a profession where things change all of the time.
5. What interesting book have you read recently?
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It offers profound advice on just being human. Marketing is really just about reaching and serving others. I highly recommend this as a book that helps you ground yourself, and find the humanity in what we do.
6. What new, modern tactic, tool, or aspect of marketing should marketers pay more attention to?
Creating a brand is very much about thought leadership.
Thanks to the digital age, it’s never been easier to connect with groups of like-minded people at digital “watering holes”. People buy from people. So, I encourage B2B brands to truly explore and understand how to showcase their people in their thought leadership marketing. Your leaders, experts, and frontline employees engage in serving customers every day.
So the way they think about and approach that work…it matters. As many look at ways to engage employees and do so using social channels – find a path that works for your company. It’s worth the effort at telling your story. And it gives employees pride in their work.
7. What good aspect of basic marketing have marketers neglected in recent years?
A marketing 101 tenet is to focus on what customers want, and seek to solve their challenges.
Yet so many of the pitches that hit my inbox are completely off the mark. Worse, most focus on you, not me. Conducting research into what buyers needs really is a must. Even on a shoestring budget, marketers can conduct persona interviews and surveys of customers. Better yet, design and create a true voice of the customer program that gathers systematic input — from their discovery of your solutions through the ownership experience.
8. What skills will marketers will need in the future? How do you stay sharp?
My #1 tip for other marketers is to actively talk to other marketers, and especially in different industries.
Marketing is an exciting craft. I’m inspired by so much that I see other marketers doing. It’s just too easy to compare yourself to your own industry and what’s always been done. It’s easy to specialize in key areas of marketing. So, keep it fresh by seeking out new ideas, new areas of marketing, and new friends across the craft.
9. What was the turning point in your career?
I’ve been really fortunate in my career. So, it’s hard to say that there was one turning point. I learn constantly, and have had great mentors. I’m more of the mindset to constantly learn and grow. Marketing is a journey. I’m excited to be on a path where I can grow and work with some pretty amazing people.
10. How do you increase marketing’s relevance and influence in the organization?
Marketers have a major role to play in how well their companies build and grow markets. By embracing data sciences, we can target, track, and optimize marketing better than at any point in history. By partnering with finance and IT, we can bring this discipline to life. In doing that, my advice is to keep the pace achievable and use data to drive innovation and creativity. Make it fun to benchmark and baseline impact. Data should help inform and incent, not spook your talent.
11. What blog would you recommend other marketers should follow?
This is a hard one. There are a lot of great blogs out there. I find a lot of great ideas captured for B2B Marketing at Marketing Insiders blog.
12. How would you summarize your digital marketing strategy philosophy?
Digital is a new pathway for us to connect with others on ideas, challenges, inspirations, and advice. Good digital marketing starts with sharing and putting your ideas out there, so you can connect with others.
13. What experience in your past has best prepared you to be a marketing expert?
I’d say that my family really taught me the best lessons.
My parents always encouraged me to learn, ask questions, and really follow my passions…to study up on how things really work. Marketing is very much about connecting with people and using a combination of creativity and methodology. So, I apply that same curiosity and interest in learning new things in the craft. I also enjoy sharing that with others.
14. How marketing leaders can be better mentors and true leaders of their teams?
I believe that marketing is about constant trial and error. So, marketing leaders need to be role models in trying new things. We need to make it ok if we try a new approach and it doesn’t work. There’s always something to be gained from having the courage to explore.
15. Any final thoughts or anything else you would like to share?
Just my gratitude to you Gerardo. You asked some really interesting questions. It’s inspired to think about how I can be of service to my team and others.
I want to thank Christine for taking the time to participate in this series.
You can follow Christine at @christineviera