Marketing is all about the message. It is such a simple truth, yet it is often lost amongst the hustle and bustle of marketing professionals and the shifting technology they use. Making messaging priority number one, is something that Marci Hansen has made a conscious effort to do throughout her entire career, as a marketer and a marketing teacher. “I would say the number one for me, and I have seen it both in career and it is something that was important to me when I was teaching marketing, was that the message needs to come first,” she says This, however, is easier said than done, especially with a marketer’s tendency to move around.
“I would say the number one for me, and I have seen it both in career and it is something that was important to me when I was teaching marketing, was that the message needs to come first.”
Hansen is no different than most marketers in the fact that she doesn’t stay still. In her two and a half decade long marketing career she has held positions in a plethora of marketing departments. Her first encounter with digital marketing was with the ecommerce giant, Amazon. From there she took a sharp left turn and decided to move to the Caribbean where she worked with Ocean Spirits as a volunteer saving sea turtles. After about six months, she returned from her marketing hiatus with a vengeance. While working for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), she was awarded Guerrilla Marketer of the Year Award by Brandweek Magazine in 2006 for her work she did for Peta2, the youth marketing campaign of PETA. From there she moved to Dotser, then to Crafts Americana, and after that to Palo Alto Software in 2011 where she was VP of Marketing. She then decided to share her wisdom with the marketers of the future as a marketing instructor at Lane Community College. After that, Hansen founded SheerID, an enterprise solution that offers ecommerce companies instant eligibility verification, where she is now.
Practice the Balance Between Messaging and Technology
Hansen’s key to success is something that she has learned from the years of perpetual motion. Moving from company to company leaves more room for error, as the essence of the product can be overlooked. “It is important to take a step back and really see what the product is, and see how you can improve the messaging first, before you leap into different technologies,” she says. Her dynamic career path has given her the opportunity to perfect this, and practice the balance in the marketing relationship between the message and technology. Because of the differences between marketers and the people they market to, this connection can be difficult to stabilize.
Marketers are often early adopters. The rest of the world usually is not. This tendency to jump the gun, if not controlled, can sabotage even the best marketing spark before it ever has a chance to become a flame. “It is all so glittery and interesting. All of it can prove to be really helpful, but the most important piece is to drill down and figure out what your message is and what message is going to drive your sales forward.” she says.
Once the message is perfected, technology can push a message through the barriers that guard success. Getting the right technology to aid the distribution of a message or assist a team is crucial, and SheerID is no different, according to Hansen. Hansen, who admittedly, was “drug, kicking and screaming” into ActOn, now claims that the software is an ultimate success story for her business. Having these tools created better communication amongst the teams and streamlined the company’s efforts.
Master the Tech
As can be expected with any adaptation period, there are growing pains. Hansen recalls the panic of taking on a new technology with no front runner to apply it to their business. In this way, the company had to become dynamic in order to reap the benefit that technology had to offer. This is the second aspect to a marketing success – getting the technology down. The first part, is the message, and without that, the technology, no matter how advanced, will do no good.
This struggle for mastery of technology is one that Hansen believes must continue to be fought. She enjoys the flexibility of having multiple, smaller pieces of technology to one large all-encompassing mega software. Why? It is a natural way to keep tech companies honest. “To me it makes different technologies stay nimble, and when they know they aren’t doing certain things well, it forces them to connect with a technology that does,” she says. “I truly believe that nobody can do all of those things really well.” This requires more effort on her part, but learning how to use all these different tools means that she never has to settle for second best and her message, that she worked so hard to master in the beginning is given the chance it deserves. Through a quilt of technology Hansen and SheerID can conquer marketing goals.
The Drive for Deeper More Robust Personalization
As marketers master more and more advanced technology, the boundaries that confine marketing messages expand. Hansen knows that the walls that once held personalization in marketing are being broken down by new technologies. Her prediction on this is similar to the web of technology that she uses at SheerID. One giant personalization algorithm won’t be the answer, rather, multiple smaller personalization technologies will come together and weave the most personal experience for shoppers and deliver the message the best.
While technology can’t solve all marketing problems, personalization isn’t one of those instances according to Hansen. “I think personalization is something technology will step up and make a big difference in how consumers shop in the next few years,” says Hansen. Personalization may give, cold, robotic marketing the illusion of a human touch, but the true human aspect comes from the message itself, and success depends on it. “A lot of times, technology tries to fix a problem, but it just can’t be fixed through technology, there just has to be a human piece to it,” says Hansen.