Previously, she co-founded and served as president at SideraWorks, a social business consultancy, and she was VP of social strategy at Radian6, a social media monitoring and engagement platform.
I invited Amber to Marketing Smarts to discuss her new role at Sysomos, her views on what the modern marketing department looks like, and the increasingly important role of brand and employee advocates in enterprise marketing.
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:
If you want to recruit (and keep) the best talent, be sure HR accurately portrays your company culture (06:12): "I'm a huge believer in the importance of culture as an organizational success metric. I loved the people (at Sysomos). I can teach anybody anything, learned skills, but it's really hard to reshape a culture once you have one, so loving the people you work with and...buying into the energy...and buying into what people are there for and why they're at work every day is really important to me. From...our CEO all the way down to super-junior, entry-level folks that have recently joined the organization, there's just so many smart, fun, enthusiastic people that I was immediately attracted to that."
There's no "one right way" to organize your marketing department (09:42): "I guess you have to kind of figure out what your main objectives are in terms of the function of your marketing organization inside the company. There are organizations that are...mapped to the marketing funnel, so you have organizations that have lead-gen teams and demand-gen, and then you have people that are responsible for nurturing, and then you have post-sales teams who do customer marketing, so that's one way to look at it.... The great folks over at HubSpot have a cool presentation up about how various marketing departments are organized, and theirs is based on their inbound marketing philosophy. They have people who are responsible for generating the buzz, people who are responsible for generating the content that creates that buzz, they have lead generation and nurturing teams. So, a lot of it reflects the business need of your marketing organization. For [Sysomos], I think we're probably going to be some kind of hybrid."
Your marketing team should be like Wonder Woman's jet... invisible (12:25): "In really sales-driven organizations...it's the people who get the money in the door, and then the people who figure out how to help the people getting the money in the door. In our organization, we have a lot of sales and we have a lot of product and engineering.... Marketing is going to end up being a lot of the engine behind those things.... The way I've put it to my team is that marketing should be sort of invisible. Our job is to make everybody else look good, and our most important clients are our sales department, because our job is to enable them with the information, materials, messaging brand, and even internal culture that they can sell to grow our business. I worry a lot less about the direct customer-facing marketing right now as I do making sure our sales department is fully enabled to do their jobs well. The customer marketing and all of the external outreach falls out from that."
Cultivating your brand's community is difficult and time-consuming, but worthwhile (14:24): "I think [cultivating a community of brand advocates] is incredibly labor intensive. To do it really well, it's high-touch, it doesn't scale easily. You can't just throw a framework at it and say 'we're going to repeat this process over and over again.' True cultivation of customer advocacy is a long, slow burn that's created in small pockets that you build and grow over time, so it's not an insta-solution. It's not a 'just add water' and poof, you have this customer community. It really is kind of a methodical, organic process, and our instant gratification business culture really struggles with that, because it's not so easy to just hit the ground running and build it. It takes a lot of time and energy."
Amber and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.
Photo of Amber Naslund courtesy of Jeff Pulver.