When Martin Kihn was a disgruntled marketing consultant, he wrote a book called House of Lies. Millions of copies sold, a television offer, nearly five seasons and 58 episodes later, that tale has been heard in one form or another by the masses. But, Marty’s marketing story didn’t end there. Today Marty is the SVP of Strategy for Marketing Cloud at Salesforce and he joined Marketing Trends for an in-depth conversation on what he sees happening in the industry today. Plus, he discusses his new book and why data continues to push marketers forward.
- Shift Happens: The fundamental aspects of marketing have changed. It’s now less about being creative and more about understanding what your data is telling you. As a marketer, you need to understand what your data is telling you and how it relates to your consumer. Then you need to inject that data into their experiences and influence them in the proper moments.
- Just Out Here Browsing: Browsing companies are taking a more prominent role in the marketing landscape. The level of connection between the consumer and the device is growing. Any businesses currently competing against companies that own major browsers are struggling to keep up with the level of data those companies collect.
- Fall Guys: As a competitor, you must organize your customer data. If you continue to stand still, and don’t empower your data, you will fall behind as a marketer. And those companies that stand still completely and do nothing with their data, will likely be out of business within five years.
- Key Quotes:
“As a CMO, you see a CMO’s tenure as being very short, and it’s because they have to be a statistician and an artist. And there aren’t that many people who can do both.”
“Marketing is moving more toward the data side than the creative side.”
“Marketing is shifting. You need to be able to inject yourself into the life stream of somebody. They started curating their own feeds. You as a marketer need to know what’s going on and you also need to know a little bit about them so that you can inject the message in that stream and influence people in the right moment in the context of their life.”
“It’s very sexy to find a new category and to issue an RFP and then get the vendors to trot in and do their spiel, but at the end of the day, when you’re trying to sign the contract, you’re like, ‘What am I actually trying to accomplish?’ That’s a really hard question to ask, and it means you need a really good data strategy. You really need to know your business strategy.”
“If you don’t start to organize your customer data as a competitor, if you’re a retailer and even if you’re not, the consumers expect it. So by standing still, you fall behind as a marketer. And if you stand still completely, you’ll be out of business in five years.”
“The big just get bigger and bigger and everybody else is just not able to gather enough data to compete.”
“Most marketers don’t seem to know what they want to accomplish with customer data.”
“Those two systems [engagement and CDP marketing] are different, but they’re complimentary. And I think you need both to do great marketing and they need to be connected.”
Martin Kihn is a writer, digital marketer, dog lover, balletomane and spiritual athlete. In his current role, Kihn serves as the SVP of Strategy, for Marketing Cloud at Salesforce.
Kihn was born in Zambia, grew up in suburban Michigan, has a BA in Theater Studies from Yale and an MBA from Columbia Business School. His articles have appeared in New York, the New York Times, GQ, Us, Details, Cosmopolitan and Forbes, among many others, and he was on the staff of Spy, Forbes, New York and Vibe. Until recently, most of his writing could be called satirical or snarky, meticulously researched and office-based.
In the late 1990’s, Kihn was Head Writer for the popular television program “Pop-Up Video” on MTV Networks and was nominated for an Emmy for Writing. He lost to “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” decided to quit writing and got into business school. Ironically enough, the tragicomic world of American business, where everybody seemed to be speaking an impressive language that was not quite English, and not quite clear, provided him with a whole new vein of source material, and his writing career really took off.
Kihn’s first book was a humorous expose of the consulting industry called “House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time” (Grand Central 2005), based on the three years he spent working for a large consultancy. The Economist said “a more entertaining book about business is unlikely to appear for a long time,” and Salon.com called it “exceedingly smart and funny,” echoing Publishers Weekly’s reviewer, who declared the book “highly intelligent and deeply funny.”
Former co-workers and pinheaded career consultants were less amused, however, spamming Amazon.com with one-star reviews and all but sabotaging the book’s chances in the marketplace.
Enraged but unbroken, Kihn reemerged a few years later with a grotesquely satirical stunt-memoir called “A**hole: How I Got Rich & Happy By Not Giving a Damn About Anyone” (Broadway Books 2008). The premise of this reality TV-type firebomb was that a guy who is too nice to get ahead in business (aka Marty) decides systematically to turn himself into a pricktard and reap the rewards. Film rights were sold to Warner Brothers, where it is in development, and Booklist raved “Kihn’s got a great ear for dialogue – and a comedic sense worthy of Second City.”
For reasons that elude the Author, “A**hole” became a publishing phenomenon in Germany and Austria, sitting for months on the Der Spiegel bestseller list and causing his German publisher to proclaim him “the David Hasselhoff of satirical non-fiction.” Notes from his legion of German fans lead some to suspect Kihn’s gossamer irony was lost in translation.
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