"If there's been a silver lining in the past year, it's that people have stopped making excuses. We can't afford to keep doing the small things—the things that don't move the needle. We've also realized that we just don't have the patience for them anymore and that's been incredibly refreshing."
That was the standout moment for me in recording today's podcast with Lisa Kant of Zendesk. As soon as she said that, I interrupted our recording to let her know that that she'd just nailed the intro snippet without even knowing it. And things only got better from there.
As the vice-president of product marketing at Zendesk, Lisa was instrumental in leading the company's rebranding over the past 12 months. As part of its reinvention as Champions of Customer Service, Zendesk meticulously examined the things that added the most value to its end-users in the post-pandemic world. That, in turn, compelled the management team to ruthlessly prioritize what was important to customers, which led to situations in which, in Lisa's words, "we had to kill our darlings." Projects that weren't adding value were cut.
In this episode we talk about the importance of finding your brand's "why" and how that why can act as a compass, a North Star in everything you do. Just as MarketingProfs' why is to create smarter marketers, Zendesk's is to be helpful and to allow Zendesk customers to act as champions of customer service to their own customers.
In addition to discovering its "why," Zendesk had to rethink not only its "what" (products/services) but also its "how" (delivery), as the company's entire sales process transformed from a predominantly in-person model to a new self-service model.
We spent quite a bit of time discussing Lisa's reading choices, and with good reason. One of those choices, Range by David Epstein, tackles the question of whether generalists or specialists are more successful, how each of those two groups learn, and how their methods of learning contribute to their long-term success and both personal and professional happiness.
This topic is especially relevant to many of us in the world of marketing who have moved into our marketing roles later in our careers—and not necessarily in a straight line but from different positions and backgrounds. We're often not marketing specialists, but feel that we're generalists through and through.
We looked at the issue from a brand lens, as well: Companies that have been specializing in their particular niches are now facing disruption from startups and new technologies that are challenging the status quo. Established brands are forced to take stock of their position and determine whether a specialist or a generalist model is appropriate.
Listen to the entire show now from the link above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes, via Spotify, or via RSS and never miss an episode.
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"Marketing Smarts" theme music composed by Juanito Pascual of Signature Tones.
Published on March 4, 2021
Lisa Kant, vice-president of product marketing at Zendesk. In this episode of Marketing Smarts, Lisa and Matt tackle the differences between generalists and specialists in today's marketing world, discuss what a complete brand reinvention looks like, and muse on the silver linings to be found in the events of the past year.
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