RENEGADE THINKING from the Founder/CEO of Renegade AND the author of "The CMO’s Periodic Table: A Renegade’s Guide to Marketing."

Lost Opportunities to Engage During #Blizzard2016

01/29/16

This past weekend, New York City had one of its biggest snowstorms ever, and, as usual, this presented an opportunity for brands to engage in the social conversation. Not surprisingly, New Yorkers expressed a lot of joy, surprise and down right frustration across social channels. What was surprising is that as the snow and chatter piled up across Gotham, most brands stayed pretty much out of sight. We believe this was a lost opportunity. [Note all of the research for this article was done by our social analyst Andres Monsalve]

NETFLIX: #Netflix&Chill.

Across the social chatter, it was pretty obvious that #Netflix&Chill was going to be present and dominate a huge part of the conversation.

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Did Netflix use this opportunity for their benefit? Not so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These were their tweets about #blizzard2016:

Could Netflix have taken advantage of this social happening in a more buzz-generating fashion? Most likely yes. For example, Netflix could have rolled out a group of special releases for the #Blizzard, encouraging their users to watch a few and of course, chill. Or bundle a bunch of bad weather related films into a binge-watching marathon.

ALCOHOL BRANDS

For many New Yorkers, spending two days in one’s tiny apartment can feel a bit like a jail term. Some people were worried about suffering cabin fever during this “extremely long” period of confinement. In order to bear with this suffering, many find a bit of alcohol a welcome companion. Note that NYC now has the 5th largest number of craft breweries in America. However, most alcohol brands did not engage in the conversation at all and ignored the opportunity to “come to the rescue.”

Brooklyn Brewery, at least, demonstrated how to use #blizzard2016, enlightening us with this innovative way to take advantage of the snow.

FOOD DELIVERIES

The real unsung heroes in this blizzard were the #FoodDelivery guys as thousands of New Yorkers stayed in and ordered out. As George Herbert Palmer said about the postal workers once, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” The men and women who deliver food ‘round the clock truly help make NYC the greatest city in the planet, and New Yorkers recognized this during #blizzard2016. More than 600 mentions were about tipping your delivery guy more than 20%. Unfortunately for their brands, neither @Seamless nor @Grubhub chose this as an opportunity to join this conversation and support the folks that make their service possible. Like empty seats on a plane, this was a lost opportunity.

THE WINNER

The big winner in joining the blizzard conversation was the @NationalZoo who shared a gleeful video of #TIANTIAN, the panda, rolling in the snow. #TIANTIAN garnered more than 13,000 mentions over the weekend and stole our hearts. What can we say? Guess we all have a soft spot for furry animals playing in the white stuff. Here is the video of #TianTian enjoying #Blizzard2016.

Responding to social conversations like the #2016Blizzard in real-time is tricky business, requiring a great deal of preparation and then, lightning fast wit. Clearly most brands rode out this particularly storm but perhaps others will plan ahead for the next big opportunity. We hope so.

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Forget Mentors, Get Sponsors says CMO Sydney Seiger

12/14/15

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Admittedly, I’m a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions and an even bigger fan of following through on them.  Writing a book had been on my list for several years and finally, 2015 was the year I checked that one off.  Yeah for me!  As for you, especially those of you who are not at the latter stages of your careers, here’s a big item to add to your 2016 list and perhaps one to scratch off it — win over a sponsor and forget about finding a mentor.

What? Forget about finding a mentor?  You thought mentors were the ticket to success, right?  Well, I have news for you or more accurately put, Sydney Seiger, the CMO of TXU Energy, has a big idea for you — get a sponsor at your current job who can and will support your career development.  As Seiger notes in our interview below, “Sponsors are advocates and the relationship feels like more of a two-way street.”  And just in case it isn’t obvious, sponsors are earned not wished for.  Sponsors are generally the result of working for an incredibly demanding boss, seeking criticism, responding to it and then exceeding his or her expectations.

For more startling insights from the winner of Rising Star Award by The CMO Club read on:

Drew: Can you talk about one of your marketing initiatives in 2015 that you are proudest of?  

I’m most proud of the new perspective I’ve brought to my new role and to the entire TXU Energy enterprise – not just the marketing department.  Specifically, this year, I’ve championed the importance of the customer experience in everything we do – from the way we create products and offers, to the way we communicate with and service our customers and prospects.  By creating and introducing ‘The X Factor’  to the organization, I’ve repositioned the X in our brand name (quite literally the center of our brand) to represent the customer eXperience that everyone – from the front office to the back office  – plays a critical role in shaping.  By organizing our efforts and communications around persona segments, implementing shared customer-based outcome metrics with our internal and agency partners, and starting and ending with the customer experience, we have fundamentally changed the way we approach our business and our customers and our prospects.  The results?  We are having a record breaking year – the strongest company and marketing performance in nearly a decade.

Drew: You’ve achieved quite a bit in a short period of time.  To what do you attribute your success thus far?

Hard work, a background in advanced analytics, an inquisitive approach, an ability to find actionable insights in data, and building a strong network of internal and professional relationships.

Drew: If you were addressing a bevy of marketers at the beginning of their careers, what advice would you give them to help them reach the CMO position? 

Be positive – and active – about learning, growth, and change.  Read more.  Ask for complex job assignments.  Go beyond your original area of expertise.  Understand business drivers and implications.  Look outside of your industry for ideas and inspiration.

Drew: Do you have a mentor or is there a person in your career that has been particularly helpful? How important is having a mentor?  

I have had several ‘informal’ mentors – several that didn’t realize they were at the time!  I’ve also been fortunate to have had sponsors in my career; I’ve found that sponsors are more impactful than mentors. Formal ‘mentors’ feel a little forced and one-sided to me. Sponsors are advocates and the relationship feels like more of a two-way street. A former boss and (now retired) CMO, Dan Valentine, comes to mind as a sponsor.  Dan was almost impossible to please, offered me stretch assignments that took me out of my comfort zone, and provided me with his broad perspective and critical feedback.  I worked my hardest to make him look good, and in turn, he championed my career.  Julie Cary, another former boss and CMO at La Quinta, is another sponsor that comes to mind.  She is whip smart, articulate, insightful, full of energy, and most importantly, she always made me feel that she cared about me personally and professionally.  While I worked for her only a short time, I frequently find myself asking: “What would Julie do?” I strive to make my team feel the way she made me feel whenever I had an interaction with her.

Drew: Looking ahead to 2016, what is the single biggest challenge that you’d like to overcome? 

Continuing to stay ahead of the competition and relevant to the customer in a category that is incredibly competitive (60+ active competitors with over 300 offers in the market at any given time).

 

CMO Benjamin Karsch on Revlon’s Lovely “Love is On” Campaign

12/9/15

Benjamin KarschAdmittedly, I’m a biased blogger.  I love big ideas.  And I am more than happy to celebrate big ideas even if my agency had no hand in creating them. Think of it as a form of largesse.  Or jealousy.  Either way, Revlon’s “Love is On” campaign meets all of my criteria for a big idea:

      1) It’s emotional.  What’s more emotional than love?

2) It’s relevant.  One can certainly find an inherent connection between being attractive and the pursuit of love.

3) It works on multiple channels. This is perhaps the strongest argument for the beauty of this campaign. Lots of campaign ideas work well in advertising. But few translate equally well into social media. (If you run into me at a cocktail party, be sure to ask me about two national ad campaigns that were disasters on social media!) And fewer still can naturally integrate a charitable component.

So, yes, I love the “Love is On” campaign and it was my great pleasure to catch up with Benjamin Karsch as a result of his winning the Content Marketing Award from The CMO Club and find out the lovely story behind the campaign.

Drew: I’m a big fan of your “Love is On” campaign.  Can you talk about the overall strategic thinking behind this initiative?

Revlon’s CEO Lorenzo Delpani believes that we must have an emotional connection with our consumers and that truly is the DNA of LOVE IS ON:  it grows right out of the name Revlon.

Literally, L-O-V-E – those letters can be found at the heart of the word REVLON.  And O-N, those letters are at the end of the word REVLON.  LOVE IS ON is a mission of inspiring LOVE, the most powerful, positive human emotion and most powerful motivator. From the moment she puts on her makeup, we want our customer to enter the world of LOVE, where emotion, positivity and affection fill her heart.

Drew note: Another admission. I made a music video in the 80’s (very under the radar with friends as actors) to Robert Palmer’s song Addicted to Love which required me to listen to the song over 100 times. The result is Pavlovian now –whenever I hear the song, even if performed by another signer, I remember one of the most fun, truly lovely summers of my life that included meeting my future wife. 

Drew: The “Love is On” microsite is filled with lots of “lovely” content.  Can you talk about some of the elements (horoscopes, dating advice, video series, sweepstakes) and how these are working for the brand?

We have a number of unique and innovative initiatives supporting LOVE IS ON, speaking to women no matter at what stage of love they are – looking for love, falling in love or staying in love. We partnered with Refinery 29 to create Love Horoscopes, leveraging the insight that this type of content is some of the most engaging on their site.   And to speak to women who are looking for love, we created a digital series in partnership with Cosmopolitan and Kristin Cavallari , where dating and beauty advice were provided and engaging stories were shared.   We also created a “Dream Wedding” with Brides magazine, asking consumers to help us plan a special wedding for a very deserving couple.  Most recently, we launched the viral video “Love Test,” which empowers women to leverage a simple daily beauty ritual to choose love and improve their love lives.

Drew: “Love is On” also includes a charitable component the Million Dollar Challenge.  Can you talk about the thinking behind having a charitable component and how that is working thus far?

We were looking for a different, more innovative and modern way of fundraising and felt the new philanthropic platform of an online fundraising challenge to be attractive for two reasons: it allows us to give more directly to charities, and thereby contributing more funds, and it also allows us to expand our charitable reach beyond people located in just NY or LA.  And we did just that: charities from all over the country got involved—in a major way—and it was really exciting watching them embrace the spirit of competition, right down to the last few minutes!  The women’s health charities raised $2.75 million, with Revlon donating an additional $1.425 million over the course of the challenge for a total distribution of $4.18 million.

Drew: And of course, “Love is On” has a social component featuring Instagram pictures of lovers. Can you talk about the role social media plays in your overall strategy and how it is working so far?  Any surprises?

Social media – across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – has played an integral role in engaging our consumers with the LOVE IS ON messaging. We asked consumers to “Show us how you love #loveison” and the surprise has been the overwhelming response. Consumers have engaged with us in droves – we have received over 5MM submissions using the hashtag from consumers around the world. We have been able to push that content back out on our social platforms, as well as onto our billboard in Times Square.

Drew: “Love is On” is also the name of new fragrance. Was that always the plan to have a fragrance with the same name as your marketing campaign?Also I understand that you are targeting travel retail with this product — did that necessitate a new approach to either your marketing or your content?

Yes, naming our first fragrance in over 10 years after our brand mission, LOVE IS ON, was always the plan. You see, LOVE IS ON is not just a marketing campaign – it’s a mission, a movement and it’s in everything we do.  Therefore, it only made sense for us the name to continue the message in our latest fragrance.  Formulated to inspire love and intimacy, LOVE IS ON is the fragrance that is loved by women, and irresistible to men.  And we are excited to offer LOVE IS ON eau de toilette in not only travel retail but across all of our usual channels.

Wilson Scores with Content Marketing

11/22/15

Content marketing is one of those things that is easy to talk about yet extremely hard to get right.  It’s not enough to have a clear strategy although that is essential. It’s not enough to tell compelling stories across a wide range of platforms.  Even with paid media driving views and influencers adding their audiences, there is no guarantee that your content program will take off right from the start.

These realities were front and center at Incite’s Content Marketing Summit in Chicago a couple of weeks ago.  While there, I had the pleasure of kicking the first day off with some historical perspective on the use of content as a marketing tool (i.e. 1900: Michelin Guide; 1955 Guinness Book of World Records) and moderating three panels, including the opening keynote with Charlie Breit (SurePayroll), Steven Handmaker (Assurance), Jeff Pundyk (The Economist) and Amy Weisenbach (Wilson).  I’ve already posted my interview with Charlie and the others are forthcoming, including my refreshingly honest conversation with Amy that follows.

Amy_Wilson_headshotAs VP of Marketing at Wilson Sporting Goods, Amy is the force behind Wilson’s first ever cross-brand campaign that includes lots of branded and user generated content.  And though the campaign has exceeded expectations, generating strong engagement rates and significant brand lift, Amy is the first to admit that they are on a steep learning curve. For example, it turned out that it was much harder to get consumers to submit videos than photos. They also learned that when working with influential video creators, it’s probably better to let them go off and create their own content rather than offering them a particular story line. All I know as a tennis fan is that it sure doesn’t hurt when you can get the likes of Serena Williams and Roger Federer to help tell your brand’s story.  Read on.

Drew: How important is content marketing in your overall marketing mix? 

Content is critical to how we build passion for the Wilson brand among our core consumers: avid youth athletes.  Young people are consuming an extraordinary amount of digital content each day, and if we want to be relevant and top of mind with them we have to be in the mix of what they’re consuming.  We have a ton of great stories to tell and interesting assets we can leverage — from our pro athletes and league affiliations to intriguing product development stories from our  Wilson Labs, the innovation hub at Wilson.  We’re luckily in a category that’s important to our consumers’ identities and are among the kind of content they want to consume.  In terms of our marketing mix, most of it is what I’d call “content” – some is more heavily branded and from the Wilson brand voice, but we’re increasingly developing content that feels more organic and soliciting content from our athletes and consumers themselves.

Drew: What role or roles does it play and are there types of content that you are you finding particularly effective?

We’re continually learning the best ways to package our stories and engage our audience.  We’re experimenting with everything from Wilson Advisory Staff Member takeovers on Snapchat to documentary storytelling to blog-like content to soliciting UGC.  We’re definitely in test and learn mode, but early findings suggest the obvious which is that more visual stories get higher engagement.

Drew: Tell me about #MyWilson.  What was the strategy behind this program?

We created the My Wilson campaign to create a conversation amongst youth athletes – across a wide range of sports — about the role their equipment plays in their lives and in the pursuit of their personal ambitions in the sport they love to play.   It’s a 360-degree marketing effort, with a heavy emphasis on social and digital media. At the heart of the campaign is a video, called Nothing Without It, that features amateur athletes alongside some of the world’s best professional athletes recounting the ups and downs of their journeys.  The video features pros like Serena Williams and Dustin Pedroia as well as amateur youth athletes side-by-side.  We also invited youth athletes to add themselves to the video by sharing a clip tagged #MyWilson. To incentivize participation, we pledged to donate sports equipment for every clip shared up to $250,000.

Drew: How did you bring this program to life?  How did people find out about it?

We launched the My Wilson campaign amidst one of the biggest weeks of the year across all of our sports: during the US Open, the kickoff of the NFL season, the AVP Championshipsweekend and the MLB pennant were just underway.  We kicked it off by engaging all 10,000 members of our Wilson Advisory Staff made up of pro athletes and coaches from around the world.  They posted personal stories about what their Wilson equipment means to them and encouraged youth athletes to add their own stories to the conversation.  We also supported the campaign with paid media, including TV and digital video as well as some home page takeovers on key youth sports sites like MaxPreps.com and Stack.com.

Drew: How has it worked out?

The campaign has performed really well to date.  We’re seeing very high video completion rates and many of our social posts related to the campaign have garnered some of the highest engagement rates of anything we’ve ever posted.  It’s been incredibly rewarding to see and hear the stories our youth athletes have to tell and how Wilson plays a part in their journeys. The most exciting results have come from a brand lift study we conducted where we’re seeing double-digit lifts in key brand health metrics like “for me” and “is a brand I talk about.”

Drew: Was it tricky implementing a program like this over a wide range of sports – did you have to make adjustments as you moved sport to sport?

Each of our sports has its own culture and a slightly different tone of voice; that uniqueness is critical to engaging authentically with youth in each specific sport.  So as you can imagine, it was challenging to get all of our individual sport marketing teams to coordinate on approach, content and timing. Believe it or not, I think this was the first time we used a common look for our social skins and avatars. In the end it was worth the extra time and effort because it helped us take a huge step forward in presenting ourselves to consumers as one brand.

Drew: What are some of the major lessons learned when it comes to driving (user generated) content programs like #MyWilson?

Our baseball team has a long-running social photo contest called “Wilson Wednesday” where consumers submit photos of their glove for a chance to win a prize.  We learned through that promotion that it takes a while to get consumers over the hump to submit photos and even there we’ve had limited success with getting consumers to submit videos.  Given that, we decided to lean on a content partner, Whistle Sports, to help solicit user generated content for the My Wilson campaign.  Whistle Sports’ community readily garners and shares UGC content and so when they asked for videos on our behalf, UGC content began flowing in.  As we suspected, we saw a limited number of consumers willing to create and submit content directly through our channels.  Photos a little more, but very few videos.  Moving forward we will be looking for ways to build a stronger two-way conversation with our audience so they are primed when we’re ready to turn on a UGC-based initiative.

Getting B2B Content Marketing on the Payroll

11/10/15

I’m on the phone the other day with my friend John Hall of Influence & Co and casually ask, “Do you know any Chicago-based wizards of content marketing that would be good panelists?” [My inquiry was anything but casual in that I’m emceeing the first day of Incite’s Content Marketing Summit and I’m a stickler for getting sharp and articulate panelists thus making my role a whole lot easier.] Anyway, back to the story. John suggests Charlie Breit, VP of Marketing at SurePayroll, a division of Paychex, and I have to say I was initially skeptical since this particular category is not, at least in my mind, inherently scintillating. Of course, I should know better than to” judge a book by its cover” and as you will see in our interview below, not only does Charlie know his stuff but also his approach is truly inspiring. Read on — this particular interview definitely pays dividends right to the last!

Drew: How important is content to your overall marketing strategy? What role does is play in the overall mix?

Content is a key strategic pillar for us within our marketing strategy.  Two-thirds of our new customers are either new small businesses (or households with Nanny Payroll) or new to payroll solutions (and also only have 1 – 4 employees), so they are usually not very familiar or knowledgeable about the ins and outs of taxes, payroll, etc.  Also many are new small business owners, so they are also trying to get their business up and running and often times can be overwhelmed by everything they need to do.  We see ourselves as a strategic partner that helps business owners simplify an aspect of their business that at times can seem difficult and hard to understand – but it doesn’t just begin and end with our payroll software.

Our content marketing program is a way that we can help all of our customers learn about taxes, payroll and running a business.  As a whole – our customers want a solution that is low-touch and software that they can manage on their own – with little help/inquiry to our service team as needed.  Content is a way that we can help educate our customers and provide them the support they need to be more successful in their business and help them get a better handle on taxes, payroll, etc. as they grow and develop as a business.  Content is something they can access and consume on their own time, which aligns to our main product/service.

We use content throughout all phases of our marketing program and mix – to help with acquisition to retention to advocacy.  We’re also looking at how we can develop content to improve our overall experience and support our Sales and Service interactions – everything from mining what topics come up in these interactions and building content to support our customers and prospects having a better understanding of the process and what is expected to helping them achieve their desired outcome without a call to using content as a pro-active follow up to make sure the customer/prospect has the right information.

Drew: Do you have a specific strategy for content? 

We are currently evolving our content strategy.  Initially, content was developed to supplement SEO and drive acquisition traffic and therefore content was developed around keyword and search opportunity. We are moving to a strategy that assess our small business owner and household customers’ needs and then developing content that will be designed to be self service and offer depth and breadth on topics that are important for our customers.  We will no longer chase keywords and search traffic, but instead look to use content to improve the value that we deliver our customers and increase the usefulness/utility that we provide.  As a result – content will also become more effective for retention and for deepening our relationship and engagement with our customers.

Drew: How do measure its effectiveness? 

The old strategy measured effectiveness through traffic driven to our site, leads generated and sales.  As part of our strategic move – gross volumes no longer are relevant, but instead we’ll look at success metrics focused on our target segments. We will still look at our acquisition funnel and see how our content supports acquisition, but in terms of our target market and not just gross volumes.  We’ll also look at retention rates for customers who engaged our content vs. customers who didn’t and our overall satisfaction with our customer experience (e.g. CSAT, NPS).  In addition – we’ll see if our other success metrics improve as we begin to implement our new content strategy.  Also from a measurement standpoint – we are moving towards looking at the effect of content over a longer term period and not just how it drives an immediate action.  We’re still determining metrics to measure this – but the goal is to better understand the long term impact of content and not just measure views, shares and leads generated when the content is released.

Drew: Is there a particular content program you have initiated in the last couple of years that you’re particularly proud of? 

Our SurePayroll blog is a great starting point for our content program as well as our Small Business Scorecard.  Both of these initiatives are focused on providing small business owners with content that is helpful as they are starting and building their business.  The Small Business Scorecard gives small business owners factual information about other businesses their size to help them benchmark and see what others like them are doing.  The blog has begun to bring a full breadth of content to our digital experience and look to be more helpful/useful than just try to sell something.  Both of these initiatives were originally started to improve SEO and drive traffic, but also helped provided small business owners with valuable content that helped them beyond just buying our product, so while we are pivoting the strategy – these are both initiatives that will be solid building blocks for our content program in the future.

Drew: With every business recognizing the need for content, how have you made sure that your content stands out from the pack?

First, we developed a brand story that provides us a starting point for what we are about and how we fit in with our target audience.  From there – we began to develop our brand voice and philosophy for how we want to align with our audience and how we could deliver value that was in context of our clients’ needs.  In the past – content was developed to chase keywords and traffic, so the only reason that content was aligned to what we do is that the traffic needed to have an interest in our solution at some basic level.  This meant that from an audience perspective there was really no rhyme or reason to why we developed the content that we did.  Content was optimized based on what worked, but “what worked” was driven by gross volume metrics.  In our new paradigm – we are looking at developing content from our strengths in the business and in alignment with “who we are” and “why we do it” of our brand.  This unique perspective and our commitment to being aligned to our audience’s needs provides us with a platform for standing out.  Our goal isn’t to be all things to all people, but a resource that our target audience would find useful and relatable too – and ultimately stand out from all other sources for this group – because we are focused on delivering value through our content  that is targeted to their needs and viewpoints.

Drew: If you were talking to someone new to content marketing, what would you say are the three keys to building a successful program?

  1. Target your desired audience:  Know who you want to connect and engage with and get to know them as well as you can – so that you can provide value to them in context of what they need and desire.
  2. Deliver value: Find ways to deliver value in all of your content.  Value is based on perception, so find ways to simplify, add utility or be useful that means a lot to your target audience – even if the general public doesn’t necessarily find value in what you are delivering.
  3. Be reliable: Consistently deliver content that is in the same voice, provides value and is something your audience knows will be there.  Content marketing should not be a flash in the pan project, but a commitment to the long haul.  How often or through what delivery vehicles/channels depends on your audience’s needs and wants, but your audience should know that they can rely on you to be consistent with what you deliver.

Drew: Are there brands out there that you think are doing a particularly great job with content?  If so, what do you like about their efforts?

The classic examples of brands using content very well to build community and passion for their brand is Red Bull and Disney.  As a consumer with young kids – Disney’s content has been extremely useful as we have planned our trips to Disney World.  We’ve extensively used their videos to have a better feel for what things are and aren’t to plan the trip and help us have a better experience.  Red Bull has done a great job for a while of connecting with their niche audience and developing content and being a part of experiences that are directly tied to their customers’ lifestyle.  They are targeted to their fans and their fans love all of it.  Also from a consumer perspective – I’ve been impressed with Home Depot’s content program and have found it very helpful as I try to tackle projects around the house.  They’ve done a great job of providing value beyond just being the place that I can buy supplies and tools.  Their content has been very helpful in better understanding what it would take to do a project right and sometimes shown me that it’s beyond my skill level and not worth starting at all.  I think the key denominator in my examples is that the content is directed at a particular audience and provides value or is useful in a way that’s not about buying something directly – but provides value in context of the relationship that I have with the brand.

Networking + Blabbing w Julie Garlikov, Nuvesse Skin Therapies

11/4/15

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If you had an advance copy of my book (hint, hint), you’d know already that Julie Garlikov is the master of making the most of “tiny budgets” having done so at Torani Foods and in her current role as VP of Marketing at Nuvesse Skin Therapies. What you wouldn’t know is that Julie nurtures her know how by maintaining a strong network of peers.  In our interview below, Julie shares some of her secrets, insights that are just part of the reason The CMO Club recognized her with its President’s Circle Award.

This interview is followed by our recent Blab on budget busting, complete with a number of great recommendations on how to cut research costs way down and when/when not to work with outside partners.  Consider this a Garlikov twofer, an efficient treat indeed!

Drew: How important is having a strong peer network to doing your job well?  Can you provide a specific example of some action you took as a result of your network?  

I’ve used my peer network as a valued resource and sounding board.  Most frequently, I get tips on agencies, partners and even staffing my team.  I also run programs and ideas by my peers to see what they think of a strategy.  You really need someone else with a similar headset to push on your plans before you bring them forward.

Drew: Have there been any unexpected benefits to your networking efforts? 

I’ve made some wonderful friendships along the way.  Some of the people I initially just used as a business sounding board are now friends.  We go to lunch frequently or catch-up on all things, both personal and professional.

Drew: Making time for networking is always a challenge.  How much time do you invest in peer to peer exchanges and how do you rationalize this investment?  

I spend a few hours a week at least on these efforts.  I don’t need to rationalize the efforts anymore, as I know the value the fresh perspective gives me and my company.  I’ve created bigger ideas, found new ways to solve my problems and just been pushed into new territories.  And, the energy of connecting with a peer lifts me up and inspires me, giving me a new perspective.

Drew: Effective networks are ones in which there is a lot of give and take and some would say, start with giving and the taking will follow.  What’s your approach?  Do you keep a mental scorecard?  How do you handle the takers?  

I am always willing to help out others and don’t see the world as a scorecard or a big mental scale.  Some of my network help me more than I help them and are more mentors.  But then I mentor others that way.  I see it a bit differently and think that if you’re helpful and give the time, you’ll always find others who will do the same for you.

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