How do you make sure you understand your customers, and how do you make sure they understand you? That is what we talked about with Vanessa Hope Schneider (LinkedIn | Twitter: @VHSchneider). Vanessa is the Head of Marketing at Clara Labs. She has a different background from most marketers: she studied avant-garde poetry at Columbia University, but eventually transitioned to tech marketing. Before joining Clara Labs, she held roles with companies like Airbnb and Eventbrite.
On this episode, Vanessa talks about what it takes to truly understand your audience and communicate effectively with them, and what to look for when hiring a marketing team.
Vanessa's Background - (00:46)
- Vanessa started in publishing. That unique background has helped her see the value of hiring others from different and unique backgrounds.
- “I appreciate The Valley’s interest in young people, and there’s this meritocracy where if you’re game, if you’re smart, if you can figure it out, there’s room for you at the table. But it also makes me think about how important it is to have some people around the table who have seen some things. You need a bit of both.”
Building Great Teams - (3:41)
- Vanessa looks for people who have the mindset of a spy.
- “You need to be able to amass a group of marketers who are excited about coming to authentically know the distinct communities that your company needs to reach.”
- It's important to have the humility and the curiosity to find out about the audience, and the ability to execute on reaching them.
- No matter how big your marketing team or research team, there is always a way to learn about your audience.
Consistent Creativity - (9:05)
- At bigger organizations, if you want to be creative, you need to understand where money comes from, where it goes, and how to access it.
- Vanessa always sets aside money for experimental processes. If it is a high-risk initiative, it is important that the company learn something from it no matter what.
Marketing Organization as a Doorway- (19:45) - Vanessa compares marketing to the Roman doorway god, Janus. Janus has two faces in opposite directions.
- “Marketing organizations are most powerful when they are both representing the outside world to the business and representing the business to the outside world.”
- Most people think of marketers as pushing the corporate message to the audience and forget about understanding the people they are trying to serve and representing their needs.
- It’s important to be quiet, listen, and do research without having an agenda.
- “I want you to have a human-centric explanation for anything you are doing.”
Effective Communication - (28:17)
- There is a balance between being clever and being clear. It’s always fun to be clever and use puns. But it isn’t always useful.
- “For anyone that’s working on a product or service that’s coming to market, you have got to be clear first. Just explain what the thing is.”
- Everybody wants to be sold something that feels like it was built with them in mind.
- Mentioned: Laura Dern saying “pew.” - Be consistent in your styling.
- “Write it so that it makes sense.”
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