Our Top 3 Takeaways from Greg
- First, prioritize and sequence strategies and tactics to maximize impact.
- Don’t be afraid to share your best learnings with customers.
- Foster a “Best Place to Achieve,” not a “Best Place to Work.”
1.) Tell us about your path to your current position, and what best prepared you.
My career has always been about brand and communication. For me, your brand, brand strategy, narrative, and promise are the foundation for your company, your product and/or service, and most importantly your customer experience. I’ve always seen communications as the channels with which you bring your brand to life and inspire people to action.
Hootsuite was a natural next step in my career after DocuSign where I spent the previous six plus years. There are tremendous similarities between Hootsuite and DocuSign, starting with the basics as highly regarded high tech, Software-as-a-Service, cloud computing businesses. But there’s a deeper, more significant similarity when you talk to people about the two. For the few who don’t know the technology, they’ll say: “Oh yeah, of course, that makes perfect sense. I wish I had thought of that.” For those who have used either, they often say, “Oh my god, I love Hootsuite!” or “DocuSign? I love DocuSign!” There’s a natural affinity that customers have for both brands as technologies that make life and work so much easier.
With DocuSign, it was first about establishing clear market leadership in electronic signature and showing people a better way to manage the entire eSignature process to eliminate the hassles, costs, and lack of security in printing, faxing, scanning, and overnighting paper to transact business. And over time, as we talked with customers and saw how they were using our platform, we uncovered a natural extension to create and lead a broader category of Digital Transaction Management, ultimately providing greater value to our entire ecosystem of customers, partners, and investors. I can’t take credit for that as it was the ‘elder statesmen’ genius and pattern recognition of DocuSign chairman and then CEO Keith Krach (@KeithJKrach), founder Tom Gonser (@TGonser), and then CMO Brad Brooks (@BradLBrooks)
Hootsuite is similar with a massive market opportunity and technology that appeals to organizations of every size, industry, and geography — from individuals to small businesses all the way up to the largest of global enterprises. We help them manage their social media presence to be able to build their brand, their business, and their customer relationships with social. There’s tremendous value in having a single view of your customer journey within one platform where you can quickly and easily manage, schedule, publish, and boost content, engage with followers, and inspire your most loyal fans to action in support of your brand.
2.) Marketing has seen nothing but change, change, change. What are you focused on, and how are you meeting evolving demands?
I believe that the biggest challenge for anyone today regardless of organization or industry — and this spans outside of marketing — is that of limited resources and the resulting need to prioritize and sequence to optimize impact and results. I don’t know of any organizations, with the possible exception of a couple of companies in Seattle and the Valley, that have what would be considered ‘unlimited resources’. Most of us are operating within a finite set of people, time, and money constraints. As a result, you definitely need to be thinking about prioritization and sequencing of your strategies and tactics to drive the right impact and results. From there, I believe the biggest opportunity is creating a genuine, lasting human connection between your brand and your customer to drive loyalty and affinity. I intentionally use ’customer’ and not ‘customers’ as that connection increasingly needs to be a targeted, 1:1 personalize experience to be meaningful to the customer.
At Hootsuite , the way we engage with you and the solutions we present to you are different for an individual professional, a small business owner, and a global enterprise leader as the objectives and needs of each are different (not to mention those differences when you consider industry and role). As an example, the CMO and Chief Digital Officer are likely thinking more broadly about creating a consistent, world-class customer experience across a multitude of touch points — from marketing and social selling to customer support and advocacy — all with an eye towards driving revenue and social ROI as part of their broader Marketing and business objectives. How we personalize our interactions with customers given their different objectives and needs as a result is critical.
3.) You’re a social company at its very roots; what does that mean for how you market the brand?
Our purpose as a company is ‘to champion the power of human connection’. We leverage social media and our own platform to understand our customers and their needs, create a unified view into their journey and experience with us, and then engage with them to create 1:1 human connections with our brand. Through our own work and the tremendous data available to us as the world’s most widely used social media management platform, we’re able to uncover best practices and customer insights that not only help to improve our own results, but when shared through our blog, across social, our Hootsuite Academy training in quarterly business reviews and the like, help our customers continually enhance their own efforts.
At the foundation of the Hootsuite brand — and a unique differentiator according to our customers — are our people. Our customers see us as more than just a social media management platform; they see Hootsuite and rely upon our ‘Owls’ as an organization of smart, passionate, and talented people who are deeply committed to their success; who help them grow and succeed with social — whether that’s social marketing, selling, support, advocacy, or all of the above. So we very much market to our strengths as the pioneer, clear industry leader, and innovator with a platform that grows with your business to help you succeed with social and achieve competitive advantage.
4.) What types of content are most productive?
Hootsuite is well known for bringing best practices and insights in content strategy and, in particular content purpose-built for social that is very effective, efficient, and drives ROI. From the data available within our own platform, we’re seeing that the most effective content is increasingly visual, with video and animation performing best in social followed by photography and imagery. For our own awareness building and lead conversion, we rely on a mix of both short and long form content to engage our audiences. What’s critical is ensuring that the content is important, interesting, and timely so that it’s relevant for the audience — all while being authentic and genuine to the brand.
Of course, we recognize we can’t just do what we’ve always done and continue to be successful; Like every organizations, we must innovate. We are constantly A-B testing different content to see what is most effective; and we don’t just keep these learnings internal. We’ve built a reputation for industry thought leadership by sharing insights and best practices with our customers. Good examples are our annual Social Media Trends Report and the 2018 Global Overview report that shares the latest on internet, social, and mobile adoption in partnership with Simon Kemp (@eskimon) at We are Social.
5.) Tell us what you’re doing to better find and engage with your customer?
If you look at your customer’s journey from a marketing strategy perspective, customers are increasingly conducting research, seeking recommendations and asking for opinions, engaging with brands, and requesting issue resolution all through social, predominantly on their mobile devices. More and more you see people going onto Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. engaging with brands — stuff they would have traditionally done by picking up the phone, visiting a retail store, or stopping by a trade show a booth. You look at the buyer’s journey today and it’s changed dramatically from even five years ago.
Given this, if you look at your customer’s journey from a marketing strategy perspective, customers are increasingly conducting research, seeking recommendations and asking for opinions, engaging with brands, and requesting issue resolution all through social, predominantly on their mobile devices. More and more you see people going onto Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. engaging with brands — stuff they would have traditionally done by picking up the phone, visiting a retail store, or stopping by a trade show a booth. You look at the buyer’s journey today and it’s changed dramatically from even five years ago.
This changes the dynamics of how we think about marketing, our strategy and tactics, and our go-to-market in terms of where our prospects are, how we reach them, how we engage with them, how we inspire them through the funnel, and ultimately how we delight into becoming loyal customers.
6.) Where does PR sit in your organization? What role does it have in the marketing mix?
PR fits squarely within the corporate marketing, brand, and communications team at Hootsuite. I go back to the idea that you create the foundation with your brand strategy, narrative and promise, and then you leverage communications to bring that brand to life to inspire various audiences to action. PR helps create air cover for an organization’s Sales team, expanding awareness so when the Sales team knocks on the door, that door is swung wide open by the customer or prospect because they already know your brand because they’ve read about you in Fortune, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, Tech Crunch, AdWeek and the like; they’ve heard your executives speak at conferences; and they’ve seen how customers just like them are succeeding with your product or service.
When I look at communications broadly and PR specifically, I have a few guiding principles. First, focusing on your audience, your communications/PR efforts need to be important, interesting, and timely to your audience so that they think, wow, this is some really interesting stuff. It’s really relevant to me and what I’m doing in my role and what’s happening in the market today. It’s really important to me as it will help me be a more effective marketer. And, it needs to be authentic and genuine to your brand so that it is believable. These things combined — audience-focused, important, interesting, timely, and authentic — are the foundation for effective communications and PR.
7.) What media channels are giving you the most bang for the buck — Earned/Shared/Paid/Owned — and why?
Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media are all critically important for us, and go hand-in-hand as part of our integrated marketing strategy. Our guiding principles of our content being audience-focused, important, interesting, timely, and authentic transcends across the PESO model where every piece of content is important and plays a role. This includes, as examples, the paid advertising we place in social channels and the organic content we boost with paid social; the earned coverage we secure through media relationships and story pitching; the shared content we leverage across our social channels; and the owned content and thought leadership we put out through our blog, training, and webinars.
8.) Are there any events you’re particularly excited about? What kinds of events have the most impact for your company?
We’re excited for our presence at the upcoming Adobe Summit (https://summit.adobe.com/na/) in Las Vegas March 25–29, 2018, which builds on our strategic partnership and integration with Adobe. Recently we announced a deeper integration between Hootsuite and Adobe Creative Cloud where we will be working closely to bring new solutions to market that will enable our joint customers to leverage social across their organizations by providing valuable insights across the customer journey. Partnerships and events like this are critical to expanding our ecosystem and bringing the value and power of Hootsuite to more customers around the world.
9.) How do you defend, validate and sell in the marketing function to senior leadership?
At the end of the day, we have three metrics that really matter — all other metrics ladder up to these. The first is around customer happiness, the second is around employee happiness and the third is around shareholder happiness. Depending on your organization’s priorities, customer happiness is likely measured by NPS (Net Promoter Score) or customer retention. Employee happiness is most typically measured by employee engagement or satisfaction. And shareholder happiness is most often measured by revenue or other financial performance metrics. Specifically within the corporate marketing, brand and communication team, I’m interested in brand awareness and perception, share of voice, content conversion/ROI, and the number and quality of strategic articles that we place in tier 1 media outlets. While there are a lot of metrics we look at, all point towards whether or not we’re achieving our goals for customer, employee, and shareholder happiness across the team.
10.) Pushing beyond: Is there something new you plan to do or try this year?
A lot of my focus this year will be building on Hootsuite’s and the Hootsuite brand’s tremendous success to-date, working collaboratively with the team on where we go from here and how we continue to bring our brand to life. To make that happen, my biggest priority will be coaching, developing, and inspiring my team. You hear a lot of awards given out about “best place to work” and I feel that’s a bit of a misnomer. I think it’s so much better to think about creating a “best place to achieve” and thinking about achievement much more broadly than just from the more traditional perspective of the business itself. Certainly you want to hit the customer, the employee, and the shareholder metrics, but to me if you truly create the best place to achieve, then you’re thinking of your employees’ best interests as well, helping them achieve their personal and professional aspirations in addition to the day-to-day goals of their role. I see my role as being the person who brings the team together, who creates a shared vision, and inspires the team towards that shared vision to accomplish big things together — all while celebrating individual and team success along the way.