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What does it take to build a world-class brand? Many marketers aspire to it, but few are ever able to actually participate in building one of the top brands in the world. However, Michael Mendenhall (LinkedIn) has had the opportunity a number of times. As a senior marketer at Disney, he was able to learn from great brand builders like Michael Eisner, Bob Iger, and Steve Jobs. And as a multi-time CMO, he has had opportunities to perfect the craft of building a brand from the top.

Now Michael is bringing that expertise to TriNet, where he serves as Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer/Chief Communications Officer. On this episode, Michael opens up his playbook and talks about how to build a world-class brand. He also discusses how to manage a marketing team, why communications should sit with marketing, and much more.

5 Key Takeaways:
- “I've always built a team, not as if it's a marketing team as much as it’s a team that’s all about content. It's all about our narrative. It's about the focus and consistency of the narrative.” - Michael Mendenhall
- CMOs should focus more on driving meaningful engagement than on pure volume metrics.
- Communications is pivotal to marketing, and senior marketers should aspire to have supervision over the communications function and team.
- “One thing I learned from Steve [Jobs] is simplicity of message and focus. Don't get distracted in your messaging and communications.” - Michael Mendenhall
- Your brand is precious. If you aspire to be a world-class brand, don't allow yourself to put out anything that isn't world-class.

Bio:
Michael Mendenhall joined TriNet in March 2018 as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer/Chief Communications Officer. He leads all marketing and communications functions, including messaging, branding, advertising, demand generation, product marketing, and corporate communications.

Michael is a marketing and technology veteran with extensive leadership experience. Prior to TriNet, he most recently served as IBM’s Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Communications Officer for IBM Watson and IBM Cloud, leading all marketing and communications strategies for both business areas.

Prior to IBM, Michael was the Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Communications Officer at Flex. Michael also served the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Fusion.io, where he helped transform its brand positioning and product alignment prior to its acquisition by SanDisk. Before Fusion-io, Michael served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Hewlett-Packard and spent 17 years at the Walt Disney Company, where he rose to President of Marketing and Synergy for Walt Disney Studios and Executive Vice President of Global Marketing for Disney Parks and Resorts.

Notes & Quotes:
Michael's Marketing Background - (1:30)
- Michael was an actor, but decided he wanted to get more involved in business.
- Michael took a circuitous route through business and politics before ending up in a corporate marketing job with Disney.
- Disney taught Michael the importance of content and brand. But he could tell that technology was changing everything and wanted to be involved in tech, so he moved out to Silicon Valley.
- One thing that Michael loves about TriNet is the ability to help small- and medium-sized businesses find success.
- “It's people that make the difference. It’s people that actually build a better future.” - Michael Mendenhall

Best Practices for Building a Brand - (18:00)
- “I've always built a team, not as if it's a marketing team as much as it’s a team that’s all about content. It's all about our narrative. It's about the focus and consistency of the narrative.” - Michael Mendenhall
- Michael has found through experience that great campaigns don't have to be expensive.
- Many marketing teams have over-pivoted toward digital. Engagement is more important than pure volume.
- "We really look for, 'did we engage somebody?' not, 'did they click it?' Did we engage somebody? Did they pass it along? Has the media responded to it?" - Michael Mendenhall
- Mentioned by Michael: TriNet 'People Matter' campaign

Relationship Between Marketing & Communications - (35:30)
- “One thing I learned from Steve [Jobs] is simplicity of message and focus. Don't get distracted in your messaging and communications.” - Michael Mendenhall
- Michael says he would no longer consider taking a CMO position without communications being included in the role.
- Michael sees marketing pivoting more toward growth.
- Marketing needs to have communications under its purview because marketing is increasingly becoming a strategic leader in organizations.
- “You're gonna see an interesting transition from what you would consider the growth officer or the marketing officer transition into CEOs. I think that will be a future trend.” - Michael Mendenhall

General Marketing Lessons - (41:00)
- At Disney, no idea was ever tossed away, no matter how crazy. Michael has tried to maintain that openness to new ideas.
- “We were not going to do anything that wasn't world-class. Full stop.” - Michael Mendenhall
- Michael is meticulous about the details. He thinks "move fast and break things" is overrated.

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