00:01:09 Why don’t you give us a little bit more information around who you are, how you’ve got to where you are today, and what people are about to hear about?
00:12:28 So these guys either looking to start interviewing, or who might actually be interviewing people, what sort of advice do you have around interviewing in general, for marketing roles?
00:25:58 So if we’re now have someone on the marketing career ladder, and they’ve reached exec level, how do they get from exec level to manager level without experience?
00:30:56 What’s the most valuable marketing skill you can have Mark?
00:32:52 Coming from a performance activation background what would be the best route for me to pick up branding and communication skills? Quite a specific ask there, what advice can you give?
00:35:57 What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in marketing business? And how did it come about?
00:46:06 Describe your perfect B2B marketing department, examples of teams you’ve seen smash it and why, what kind of budget they have or activity did they undertake?
00:48:57 How do big corporates justify spend on difficult-to-measure campaigns around brand/thought awareness?
00:51:52 Gender pay gaps now, so percentage of male versus females in leadership roles, do you think this challenge needs addressing in our industry?
00:53:38 Looking back on your career, how often did you value experience over a higher salary?
Fiona Jensen: 00:00:12 Welcome to Market Mentors, a podcast for the marketing leaders of today and tomorrow. I’m Fiona Jensen, a Director and co-owner of Market Recruitment. For over a decade I’ve been helping B2B marketeers find the best jobs with great companies. Together we’ll discover how marketing experts reach the top and learn from their experience. Ask career related questions you can’t get answers to elsewhere. Be tough, be challenged, be mentored.
Fiona Jensen: 00:00:45 What happens when you mix a journalist brain, a marketer’s heart and an editor CEO role? We give you Mark Choueke. Now co-founder of communications and PR agency Rebel Tech, who support, service and grow tech [inaudible 00:01:00]. I am delighted to be here with Mark Choueke.
Mark Choueke: 00:01:08 Very good.
Fiona Jensen: 00:01:09 CEO of Rebel Tech, and I am super excited to introduce. So rather me rambling on Mark, why don’t you give us a little bit more information around who you are, how you’ve got to where you are today, and what people are about to hear about.
Mark Choueke: 00:01:23 I’m Mark Choueke, I have come to my current role as co-founder of Rebel Tech, which I can talk a bit more about in a while, through a different pathway, really. And I think different pathways is going to be a theme of some of the conversations that we have, Fiona, because I think with all the talk about diversity, and all the talk about a different pair of eyes and a different background and experience, it’s still really difficult for most organisations to do more than talk about that stuff. It’s really, really difficult for a lot of organisations to find ways of incorporating new people, backgrounds, experiences, context and sort of outlooks into an organisation that they’re trying to grow, and that already has a path and a direction. I came to this through … I was a journalist. I was a journalist at the national newspaper.
Mark Choueke: 00:02:24 I was a journalist for trade magazines. I was editor of Marketing Week, once upon a time, although I realised yesterday that it was 10 years since I started there. I was there for three years. And from there I went, I decided I was going to try and do what I’ve been writing about because I was writing about transformation. I was writing about digital, I was writing about data. I was writing about marketing and brand and engagement and strategy, but I’ve never been given a chance to do it. Now as much as I was kind of a commercial editor and there to try and help an organisation grow and produce brilliant editorial, but also make money and make it valuable to the market, I’ve never been given a role where that was my job to actually go. And I wanted to test myself rather than just write about it. So went to a PR agency owned by Chime, and helped grow the new at the time Good Relations Group.
Mark Choueke: 00:03:21 My time in PR was a learning curve but really it didn’t speak to me, it didn’t really satisfy my need for innovation and what we now know, why I now know and call entrepreneurship and innovation and culture changing and all that cool stuff that we get to do as bosses and as marketers. There was a process and it was very traditional and everybody can say they’re entrepreneurial but actually when you’re in organisations, you realise that there’s different levels and flavours of the same thing. And from there I got a call from somebody who’s working here in [inaudible 00:04:02] actually. I bumped into an old colleague called Ian McCaig, who was the founder of a SaaS customer experience solution called Qubit. And I knew him because when I was at marketing week, he was one of my biggest spending clients.
Mark Choueke: 00:04:18 He was working for Google with these other three Qubit founders at the time. So we did lots of great editorial together at marketing. We did round-tables and events, and so on and so forth. And he’d left to form this thing called Qubit and I’ve never seen him again.And we crossed each other’s paths in Soho one morning, and he went, “Ed.” No. He went, “Mark.” And we have been lifelong friends ever since [crosstalk 00:04:42]. We’ve been friends ever since. And he immediately said, “Look, I’m looking for a PR manager for our firm. We’re 50 people in the UK and 10 in New York and we’re growing fast and we need a PR manager and I said, “I don’t really want to be a PR manager. I think a PR manager sounds like somebody who’s going to do lots of press releases like event admin, I want to be a leader in a business. I want to be testing myself.”
Mark Choueke: 00:05:05 And so I spoke to him and later my CEO, Graham Cooke and convinced them that they needed their first global communications director. So I became global communications director of have a tech company. And it was my first exposure to tech, to big data to selling to enterprise software. I mean, it was a huge learning curve. It wasn’t like I came from Oracle or IBM looking for the startup thing or one of the big four accounting firms. I came from journalism basically.
Fiona Jensen: 00:05:41 Yeah.
Mark Choueke: 00:05:42 And I had a lot to learn, but the people there were super smart and really, really kind and I did two and a half or three years of the best work I’ve ever done. And then from there, I was in the first round of redundancies when things went really, really bad for Qubit for a couple of years, and those redundancies rolled on but as far as I know, and I’m still very, very much in touch with the people who matter there, to me, at least, the businesses on a short 14 again, which is great news. It’s a brilliant business. But you know it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Because from there I was able to do some consultancy and some navel gazing and some messing around doing bits and bobs-
Fiona Jensen: 00:06:22 [inaudible 00:06:22] fluff?
Mark Choueke: 00:06:27 Always. But that’s where I found Nicole and Nicole Lions is my co-founder at Rebel Tech. And if it wasn’t for the fact that she and I were both trying to just figure out our next moves at the same time and were doing some consultancy and met and started having more regular coffees and then pitching together for bigger pieces of business, we never would have found out what a great pair we are. And I think it’s-
Fiona Jensen: 00:06:50 Dynamic duo.
Mark Choueke: 00:06:51 Well, we’re not Batman and Robin yet, but I do feel like every job I’ve ever been to has been alien to me. I didn’t know it was going to be a good editor until somebody gave me the editors job. And the editor’s job on the first day at Marketing Week was to make an entire department redundant and start again, with a restructure, that’s not easy. Go into a PR agency where everything is set in stone. And they’re used to making tons and tons and tons of money sometimes, and I get this is probably a universal thing. It’s not me slagging off, anyone in particular, but probably an expensive good or better stories or content or processes alien to you, as a journalist.
Mark Choueke: 00:07:29 As a journalist, you expect just to be able to snugly get on with the thing, the tasking in hand, which is I write great stories, and I don’t have to shift my opinion for anyone. When you get commercial, suddenly you do. So that’s a learning curve. Going into Qubit, it was a massive learning curve. Probably the biggest learning curve I’ve ever experienced and the one I’m enjoying the most is right now, having to run a business, people’s livelihoods are in my hands, finding out what you’re not good at very, very quickly, and trying to figure out how to get it done. It’s a brilliant life. But I’ve always felt, and I think Nick said this as well, when we met, we’ve always felt slight misfits and slight cultural outliers to whatever we’re doing. And I think that whole alternative halfway now, weirdly, people well, when I was a marketer, people used this quite routinely announced me on stage at conferences as a marketing guru, and I had to make my first point.
Mark Choueke: 00:08:26 Just to be absolutely clear, I’ve never been a marketer, I’ve never done your job. So nobody could really call me a marketer. I’m a journalist, as I was at the time. Right now, somebody has hired me before a CMO and I would be hired as a CMO. If I was on the market and looking that’s what I would be pitching myself as. Have I never had [inaudible 00:08:46] level brand management training, have I ever had years and years and years of experience of owning a P&L. Have I had? No, and I wouldn’t claim to and I wouldn’t pretend to and I’ve made sure I surrounded myself with people of serious quality.
Mark Choueke: 00:09:00 But do I bring something different and do I bring a set of skills, if you think about it, the one thing that links journalism and PR and being a communications director, trying to do internal and external coms [inaudible 00:09:14] a range of markets and products and running your own business in this field is you have to be great at content and storytelling. You have to understand your community and what they’re in the market for, what kind of triggers are going to get them going, you have to understand how to follow up and make something out of it. There’s a lot that spreads through.
Fiona Jensen: 00:09:31 So with regards to your current company, just to close that off, Rebel Tech, what do you guys do stand for? And who do you care about the most?
Mark Choueke: 00:09:45 If you go to a website, you’ll be typing in rebeltechpr.com.
Fiona Jensen: 00:09:48 Yeah.
Mark Choueke: 00:09:48 We knew we were going to go in through PR, because we need to get bought by somebody within an organisation. So it’s just a gateway, really. We also knew that we were going to serve B2B tech, by the way, because it’s the niche, we understood and that experience in and if we go fully to the market for anyone, we go up against some really nasty big sharks and we don’t want to put ourselves in those pools, were quite happy to be specialists. The PR bit is the misnomer. What we try and ascertain is rather than what’s the PR shape, goal and marketing shape, or what’s the business goal you’re trying to achieve that’s going to give you either a really brilliant 2019 or an utterly shit 2019. And we try and figure out the solution. So that’s how we can help. And so often we find ourselves doing what other people call marketing, communications, content, PR campaigns, strategic help, sometimes even as far back in the cycle is positioning and messaging.
Mark Choueke: 00:10:45 Because if you come to us thinking PR is the last thing you need to get right before you get rich and famous, we can often point to holes in that theory by saying, so tell us a bit about yourselves. What do you do? What did your product do? Who are you? Who do you sell to? Why do you make your … How are you interesting, new or different? How are you better? What did the last 10 great sales deals look like? How long did they take you? And if you can’t answer these questions, then you might need some help. And often they haven’t managed to [inaudible 00:11:13] product people who we serve, are often visionary. They’re super smart.
Mark Choueke: 00:11:18 They’re fantastically determined and passionate about the problem they’re trying to solve. They’re not great at storytelling. They’re not great at figuring out how to articulate very, very quickly in a simple like, “Who are we? What are we doing? Why are we better? Why would you pay for us? And if we can help them solve that bit, then often from that amazing, unique story comes then the content strategy or then the campaign or then the what are we trying to achieve? [inaudible 00:11:42]. So we do a little bit of everything. We’ve done events. We’ve built LinkedIn communities, for groups of founders that just wanted to look bigger. They were getting some traction in the commercial sort of sense.
Mark Choueke: 00:11:56 They were getting some conversations, they hadn’t closed deals, they just needed and wanted to look bigger. And we’ve created really superbly active LinkedIn communities for them with great content and great sharing, great networking, great deal closing. And the PR bits have been incidental. So yeah, we’re about making our clients grow. And we’re really enjoying it.
Fiona Jensen: 00:12:17 Okay. Well, I can imagine that there’ll be a hot phone, hot little red phone now on the desk ringing.
Mark Choueke: 00:12:28 0783213927.
Fiona Jensen: 00:12:28 He gave his number. So while I’ve got you Mark, on the hot seat, or in the hot seat, let’s get some advice for people who are actually in the interview process. So these guys either looking to start interviewing, or who might actually be interviewing people, what sort of advice do you have around interviewing in general, for marketing roles?
Mark Choueke: 00:12:48 I used to hire people for marketing week, and I had help. Had people around me senior people that I trusted, willing to do a lot of legwork and a lot of thinking and a lot of questioning. And sometimes I remember I didn’t really understand why they’re asking the question, but it’s their turn to talk, right? And then at Qubit, that was the first time I’d ever experienced that kind of interviewing. These four lads came from Google, they were used to scaling fast. And when I got my job, I had to interview with the CMO who hired me, the CEO who clearly hired me and I was going to report to, and seven other guys.
Fiona Jensen: 00:13:25 Seven?
Mark Choueke: 00:13:26 Yeah, they lined them up.
Fiona Jensen: 00:13:27 In the same room?
Mark Choueke: 00:13:28 No, one by one. One after another.
Fiona Jensen: 00:13:29 Oh, okay. Like speed dating-
Mark Choueke: 00:13:32 Like a tech product guy, an engineer, or customer success guy, or top sales guy. And the idea was that everybody had to have it. They said, “Mark, you’re going to work with a whole range of people across the organisation. So everyone’s got to know you, like you understand where you come from, or what you’re trying to achieve. And it’s great for you to understand a bit about their roles and their needs and what they’re trying to achieve.” And actually, by the time I started on my first day, did not feel like my first day because I knew everybody, and I knew sort of how they linked together. So it’s very powerful. Marketing Week was the first experience or engagement, I’d had with competency interview, I find that really useful and powerful. So that’s the whole, can you tell me about a time where you have turned a bad into a good? And how to go against the grain to do it, whatever it might be.
Mark Choueke: 00:14:23 The problem with that is, people rarely come with stories ready made, they don’t prepare in that way. And it leads you to a lot of nervous, awkward silences. With kind of think about that for a couple of minutes. And that doesn’t make for a really comfortable interview. Everybody can do their job, and everyone knows what they get paid for. And everybody can do a 9.00 to 5.00. And that’s not the market you’re in if you’re interviewing, it really isn’t. You’re now in the market against some truly astonishing people in a world where everybody’s suddenly realised I could actually do this on my own. I don’t need to work for a bog standard, process driven and unimaginative company.
Mark Choueke: 00:15:02 I don’t need to not really care or enjoy my work. I can go into it for myself. And so there’s a chap up here who he’s 22, he’s running a team. He’s not always doing it brilliantly, as far as he’s concerned. But I’m enjoying watching him. I wasn’t running a team at 22, he has a product, a company, a brand and a team. The product is technologically amazing. He’s a smart kid that’s dropped out one of the world’s top universities to do it, I’m sure his parents are chuffed. He’s got big clients. And he’s helping us for free to do the targeted ad strategy for the event that we’re running at the end of the month. Because we’ve formed this relationship and he’s so fired up by it he’s almost as passionate and as committed as my own people on this. He’s spending his own time doing it. And he’s telling me what the strategy is going to be before I’ve even thought it out.
Mark Choueke: 00:16:01 I want people, Nick and I are looking for people always who can demonstrate, rather than tell of something extraordinary about them. And after that, it’s up to us to sell the company in a way that has them bursting down our door to get a job rather than someone who can pay them time and a half.
Fiona Jensen: 00:16:22 Perfect, there you go. So there’s a real, real reason behind the interviews. The being there, the [inaudible 00:16:29] that company, why you?
Mark Choueke: 00:16:33 So one of the questions I often ask is … For example, what do you like on a bad day? When things are going horribly wrong, do people like being near you? What would your friends say about you when you’re at your worst? What does that look like?
Fiona Jensen: 00:16:48 Have you ever had someone say, I want to have many many friends.
Mark Choueke: 00:16:48 No, but I’ve had people say-
Fiona Jensen: 00:16:54 [crosstalk 00:16:54] my worst nightmare.
Mark Choueke: 00:16:57 Yeah, sorry. [crosstalk 00:16:57] Didn’t need to bring that up. I have heard people say I am awful. I’m wrong. If I’ve spent three months building something, a campaign or an idea and it gets pulled at the last minute, and there’s nothing I can do about it, sure I am shitty to be around at work. And it’s not pleasant. And I need to work on it. But that’s where you really get into the richness of an interview. Because interviews can be really quite sort of stale and stagnant, or you can make them feel like … The best interviews for me, it’s not about who you hire, but the best interviews for me are the ones where neither you or the candidate wanted to end when it’s time to go.
Fiona Jensen: 00:17:37 Yeah. Where, you’re literally still talking as you’re okay. Yeah, they’re all definitely cool.
Mark Choueke: 00:17:43 Yeah. I don’t know if there’s a … In our parents generation, there was probably a set template for how to get a job.
Fiona Jensen: 00:17:50 Yeah.
Mark Choueke: 00:17:50 And now there isn’t.
Fiona Jensen: 00:17:51 No, that’s very true. That comes from [inaudible 00:17:54] trained conversations, and-
Mark Choueke: 00:17:57 Well, but it’s also who you’re meant to be, what shape and size and profile you’re meant to be. Which is why one of the questions I’m really interested in that you asked about was how to translate a job spec or a job advert into the real world.
Fiona Jensen: 00:18:13 Yeah.
Mark Choueke: 00:18:13 That’s a massive challenge.
Fiona Jensen: 00:18:15 Yeah.
Mark Choueke: 00:18:16 You talk about, I’m 43 years old, and I have spent the last five or six years if not more, working exclusively with people in their 20s. And they have a world of different needs from the ones that I-
Fiona Jensen: 00:18:32 And different expectations there as well.
Mark Choueke: 00:18:35 Oh, God. Yeah. One wonderful woman that we hired last year said to me in the interview, what guarantees could you make me about my work life balance?
Fiona Jensen: 00:18:48 Wow.
Mark Choueke: 00:18:48 I was thinking about. Because in my first second or third job, I don’t think I would have dreamt of walking in and asking my hiring manager to start making me guarantees about what time I could … About how rich my life outside of work could be.
Fiona Jensen: 00:19:01 Yeah.
Mark Choueke: 00:19:01 But I kind of love that she was asking. yeah, I mean, you go, Okay, I want to this isn’t even about money anymore. This isn’t even about what job title you can have. You’re actually asking me to guarantee you a brilliant experience. And then you go “Well, hang on, good though, because we should be trying to promise our candidates and our hires an amazing experience.” If all we ever get to is a 50 person agency. But everybody loved being there, and has only good things to say even when they leave. So, yeah the expectations have changed massively. And I suppose the only advice I’d give is, be interested, be dynamic, be curious, be a journalist, ask a ton of questions at every opportunity and take the answers and do something with them.
Mark Choueke: 00:19:47 There’s two problems with marketing for undergrads. One is that it is the sole discipline where other disciplines feel like they have every right indeed the kind of responsibility to comment on how we’re doing and to comment on what they know best. Nobody, no marketer worth their salt would go in and start questioning the CFO on the numbers. You don’t do it. You trust you’ve got the best person in the job, who knows exactly what he or she is trying to achieve and knows what to report on. So you can often do yourself a favour by learning to have tough conversations and learning how to circumnavigate people. If you’re likeable and you like people then all the better for you. But you also have to rely on that commercial understanding of what’s the right thing to be reporting on. Nobody in the boardroom is going to really give too much attention to your beautiful 25 page analytical reports on how many likes or followers you’ve got.
Mark Choueke: 00:20:48 It’s more about what does that mean, what are we doing for the business? And how does that align with what we’re trying to do strategically. And the other problem for undergrads wanting to go into marketing is that there is so much to marketing these days, I’ve had a job where I went to be effectively the CMO and all the right sounds and reassurances were made before I got there. And I did all the signal. I tried to do as much looking yeah [crosstalk 00:21:17]. It lasted three months.
Fiona Jensen: 00:21:20 Right.
Mark Choueke: 00:21:20 And it wasn’t pleasant. And it was really unhappy for them as well as me. So it was the right move for us to part ways after three months, because I went in that based on what I knew and what I’d done. And that’s kind of the reason they came to get me. They said, “Come and do for us what you did over there.” And what I did over there was lots of different channels, lots of different campaigns, lots of different, a mixture of performance and measurements and analytics with brand building and awareness and creativity and trying to build an emotional appeal. And what they wanted was absolutely performance marketing.
Mark Choueke: 00:21:53 Now, if I’d known as Marketing Week editor, about something we call performance marketing, I would have written about it whole lot, but I didn’t. Performance marketing is largely inhabited by young, brilliant mathematicians, digital people who live for uplifts and spreadsheets and measuring and impact and that sort of impact. I remember walking into a meeting with a performance marketer who worked for me, who was willing to say to the CEO, “We’ve done well as we’ve got a four percent uplift.” Now the questions you and I have when somebody says we’ve got four percent uplift lets punch be able to celebration is a 4% uplift in what? From a base of what and what does it mean? What’s good and what’s bad enough? Is four percent good? Now what are you talking about? Doesn’t matter to many.
Mark Choueke: 00:22:46 The way we treat marketing these days, certainly in tech is really, really scary for me, The data is everything. Performance analytics and measurements are everything, even at the expense of a really good story or effective campaign. And I’m talking not just fluff I’m talking in an effective hard hitting business impact campaign. Because we’re so tight on measurement and analytics, we’re forgetting to do the things that drive measurements and analytics in the right direction. So if you’re an undergrad and you want to go into marketing, I would love to meet you and ask you the question, what is it you really want to do? Are you a talker? A salesman? A communicator on stage, somebody who should be out there as the brains trust of an organisation in sales meetings on conference stages, building relationships?
Mark Choueke: 00:23:37 Are you are a CRM data person? Are you like a performance? Are you a kind of, we send out 50 emails a week, we know how many get opened, we know how many get replied to, we know what our best subject line was? Or are you a good content marketer or a journalist, somebody who understands the story, the recipients the needs and can build lead gen out of that. What kind of person are you and it’s not as easy as saying an undergrad who wants to go into marketing these days, I think my question would be, what do you mean by marketing?
Fiona Jensen: 00:24:17 And from that what do you enjoy doing.
Mark Choueke: 00:24:20 I think there’s got to be … Everything we do has to work for a client. We promise we’re less interested in PR and coverage than we are in impact and growth. And so within that, often people come to us knowing that they understand analytics. And we have to make good on that first, we feel like if we get your measurements and analytics and numbers and performance going in the right direction, then we’ve got license to come and talk to you about the really brave, stupid, crazy stuff that we do. That actually for us, creates the awareness, creates the impact, creates the pool. When we do this some beyond Brexit, weaponising creativity for growth events. At the end of the month, here at [inaudible 00:25:07] we’ve got people that talk about measurements and performance and analytics. But I’m going to be talking about how creativity and bravery as a strategy are the things that will get you through the tough times.
Mark Choueke: 00:25:17 Okay, because it gives you the emotional pull, it gives you the attention, grabbing, it gives you the, I know I would go to them if I had any budget. So what we do is we get the both sides right. We try and figure out how to do if you like, targeted brand awareness. So that’s targeted, we’ll go straight to your prospects and make sure that sales get closed and numbers are good. So that those who don’t give a crap about marketing or don’t want to hear about the fluff or the stories, they’ve got their needs taken care of. After that we’ve got license to go and create them something extraordinary.
Fiona Jensen: 00:25:56 [inaudible 00:25:56] rebel.
Mark Choueke: 00:25:56 Yeah, [inaudible 00:25:57] rebel.
Fiona Jensen: 00:25:58 So if we’re now have someone on the marketing career ladder, and they’ve reached exec level, how do they get from exec level to manager level without experience? We’ve all got to push up from someone how to do it. What advice do you have for someone looking to make that next step?
Mark Choueke: 00:26:17 Be it already.
Fiona Jensen: 00:26:18 Yeah.
Mark Choueke: 00:26:19 Go to them with a case. Go to the person that’s going to give you that responsibility with the reality that absolute transparent truth that you’re already doing that job. Simple as that you want to be a manager, be a manager, you want to be a director, be a director already, and don’t start worrying too much that you’re not given that responsibility, or the job title or the pay packet, go and do it, go and be it nobody’s going to have a problem. Go and ask for it. We recently got … We were hiring and we saw somebody who we really wanted to interview. This is the reality of the world now. He was a young man in his mid 20s and we were hiring for manager level. And he wrote to us and said, “I’d be delighted to come and interview.
Mark Choueke: 00:27:10 Thank you for the invitation. But before I do, so as not to waste your time I just want to know what remuneration you’re offering and I would like you to know that I’m ready for director level, I’ve spent two years at manager level and I’m aiming to be a director. So if you can’t satisfy me there, probably best we don’t waste each other’s time. We very quickly wrote back to him said, “Yeah, probably best we don’t waste each other’s time. Thanks for the interest.” Here’s the problem with that. Don’t start arguing or talking about money before I’ve even decided I like you. Because there’s no point. Every single interviewer or employer that’s ever asked me, “Can you give me a sense of what you’re earning before we get to …” I’ve said, “No, there’s no point.” It doesn’t matter what I’m learning. Now, if you like me enough, by the end of this process, then we’ll start talking about what I’m worth and what value I can bring.
Mark Choueke: 00:28:00 If you don’t want to do it that way, that’s fine. But then I’m out of the process and that’s great. Good luck. So started to negotiate with us before we’d even met him and decided he was the one for us is a little bit [crosstalk 00:28:14]. Well, it’s a bit [inaudible 00:28:16]. It’s a bit stupid, really, because you’ve gone way past, you’ve jumped over what am I interested in? Are you right for me, let alone on my right for you? What value could I bring? How can I do things differently? What are we going to create together? The stuff that really gets my heart beating faster, straight to let’s talk about money. Let’s get money on the table. And it’s like, “No, no, that’s not it.” But the other part is I’m expecting a director level job now.
Mark Choueke: 00:28:40 Now at Rebel Tech, we don’t really have a hierarchy. Job titles are there almost for the convenience of the market to try and give them an understanding of what we do and where people are. But for us, if it was just me, Nick, and the team would be really really happy. We offer the chance to come and learn and develop at your skills, we offer the chance to come and help us run a business. So if you want growing a business on your CV, you’re absolutely going to get that experience and you’re going to get the responsibility to do it, the expectations to do it. And we also ask, we’re kind of looking for people who are good at more than one thing. If you’re just straight, straight PR you have used to us but the person we’ve got who’s amazing PR, she also happens to be a wonderful writer or content producer. She also happens to be the biggest rebel of us all. Not just because you ride a motorbike and wears leather, she’s going surfing next week on her own.
Mark Choueke: 00:29:29 I mean, she’s just amazing. She’s actually got attitude and edge. She’s scary as hell. But she’s so effective. But him this kid and he was a man, he was a candidate. He made himself into a kid by talking about directorships already and it’s like mate, “Just because you’ve been a manager for two years tells me there’s two things lacking.” [inaudible 00:29:53] good as a manager or measuring your progress in time. Because I could be a manager for 10 years and I might have been good at it, but also you did that manager role for somebody else, you didn’t do it for me.
Mark Choueke: 00:30:07 Don’t come to me asking for promotion already, I’ve not met you yet. You’re asking me for … Go and ask them for promotion, if they feel you’re worth it, have a have a conversation with them but don’t be coming to me and saying, “Because of what I’ve done elsewhere, I need you to promote me before you’ve even hired me.” So I think being a manager. Don’t tell me you’re a manager.
Fiona Jensen: 00:30:24 Fine there you go. So you start doing before you ask for that.
Mark Choueke: 00:30:27 Start doing before you ask, yeah.
Fiona Jensen: 00:30:30 Market Mentors is produced by Rockwood Audio, a subscription production service that takes the pain out of podcasting, from advice and support to editing and production to music and artwork Rockwood Audio has you covered so you can stay focused on your goals, better faster easier, Rockwood Audio, save time sound like a pro.
Fiona Jensen: 00:30:56 What’s the most valuable marketing skill you can have Mark?
Mark Choueke: 00:31:00 If I have to pick the skills and qualities and characteristics, most important to marketing right now they’d be human ones not qualifications or certification ones. It’s bravery, relationship building and a kind of entrepreneurial quality.
Fiona Jensen: 00:31:21 I think that’s that journalistic brain as well that constant inquisitiveness is the why is that? Why can’t we do it better?
Mark Choueke: 00:31:30 The Chief Executive of Coca Cola, one of the former chief executive chairman of coke cola is a fellow called Muhtar Kent who was very, very successful in this joint role as chairman and chief exec. I once was unbelievably lucky enough to spend three days in his company out in Atlanta. And he used to talk about a company that kind of screwed up in a lot of ways during the ’90s. It certainly got to arrogance and too big for is its own boots according to him and it made mistakes. He talked about always being constructively discontent and if we’re going to make sense of the next 10 years and be successful, we need to remain constructively discontent and this phrase constructively discontent really spoke to me.
Mark Choueke: 00:32:17 It’s about you know certainly as a journalist at the time, was like that’s exactly what we are. We’re not out to get, out to prove wrong, out to … Well, some journalist are, I guess. But really, what we’re looking for is better answers and a relentless thirst for being better or being more effective or being more valuable and never ever, what you just said, never sort of resting on your laurels of being satisfied. Now that can be a pain in the bum to always have in a room if you’re always constructively discontent, always willing to ask the question, but it does not often make for great marketer.
Fiona Jensen: 00:32:52 There you go. Valuable skill found, I think. Coming from a performance activation background what would be the best route for me to pick up branding and communication skills? Quite a specific ask there, what advice can you give?
Mark Choueke: 00:33:10 So [Cheryl and Shackles 00:33:10] Marketing Academy which has gone truly international since she first started in this country. You should be looking to the marketing academy website for that time of year when new entrance for the academy scheme are open. Because that sort of scheme gives you access to CEOs and CMOS and coaching and mentoring which can really, really either this or other gaps that need filling up for other listeners. Those sorts of schemes are out there. And there’s another one that comes here every now and again. We managed to come into contact, we’d called the Founders Institute. I guess what would be the best route for me to pick up branding com skills? I think understanding what you actually want to pick up in terms of skills.
Mark Choueke: 00:34:03 So branding can mean a million different things just like marketing can, branding can be … I know what I mean by brand. Again, citing that fellow from Coca Cola Muhtar Kent, to remember him saying, “A brand is a promise, a good brand is a promise well kept.” For him, branding was all about the values and everything linking together. But equally branding can mean some design agency. Coms skills, you can spend six months trying to read about good communications or you can listen to or be in the company or try and get jobs with people who are leaders in this space and will happily just espouse.
Mark Choueke: 00:34:45 I will remember a time I worked with an amazingly clever man called Kevin Murray, who was top of his game in communications and PR for many, many years. And one of the things that came out of my relationship with him was a genuine understanding of coms isn’t what you say, or the messaging that you craft or the thing that you put in a speed. It’s not what you say, it’s what the other person’s left with. If I’m in a room with you, I’m trying to get a big message and really land it you. It’s not about what I say, the coms is what you’ve walked away understanding and what you’re going to do next with it. So understand what you want in terms of skills. But I would say mentoring and coaching is expensive, and it’s hard to get.
Mark Choueke: 00:35:37 Mentoring is easier to get than most people think theoretically. You just need to figure out who you want to be in the company of who you want to be able to ask questions to? Who you want to sort of spend time thinking with and figure out what value you can give them.
Fiona Jensen: 00:35:57 Okay. Good advice. I say. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in marketing business? And how did it come about?
Mark Choueke: 00:36:06 The one that I just talked about.
Fiona Jensen: 00:36:09 Yeah.
Mark Choueke: 00:36:09 So I was in Qubit, I came with this great big thought of most B2B tech brands are all about, when it comes to marketing, all about their products, and all about their API’s and how fast things are and how smooth and it’s all about their products, it’s all about them. And I went with a thought that maybe we should be talking about the world. And the CEO to his absolute credit and the CMO, we’re all on board with this, we did some amazing campaigns, we did something called truth about data, we did something called the change agents, we did something called the expectation economy.
Mark Choueke: 00:36:46 And none of these things were about our products they were about the world and how it’s changing, and the benefits and things that marketers really, really need to know, marketers who we were selling to. So if we can tell wonderful enough stories about the world without mentioning our products, that is … And form relationships that way and get them understanding a little bit about that firm Qubit and what it does, and how it can benefit them. But the problem comes when you don’t just have to deal with a CEO, you can deal with the CEO for sign off, and for budget and for expectations.
Mark Choueke: 00:37:18 But to activate such a campaign, you need to work with everybody, other marketers who are more performance based and can’t understand why we’re talking about teaching marketers of a certain generation better maths with a campaign called truth about data, what are you doing? Why are you doing that? Where’s the ROI? Which can’t be proved, until it actually happens. And then it’s almost sort of retro fit in the story. You have to deal with outside of marketing. You have to deal with customer success, because you’re going to need clients to endorse or activate or help scale the approach. You’re going to need to speak to product and engineering developers.
Mark Choueke: 00:37:55 And these people rarely, rarely get marketing on any level. And really often don’t want to have an … Product you do that, I don’t mind. But talking to them about why you’re going to go to Texas or New York and California and [inaudible 00:38:14] to talk about digital transformation and the change agent. What did we call it? The Change Agents was a campaign we put together when we realised that the last handful of great sales we had in North America was the client was something new called the Chief Digital Officer, knew at the time. And this Chief Digital Officer was a new role on the board level with remit to entirely future proofing in a whole company and budget to do so and wasn’t very popular, because he or she would trample over stuff that had always been in place. Was trying to figure out what digital transformation meant to companies of many, many 10s of thousands of people and activate it quickly.
Mark Choueke: 00:38:58 And the only permission they have was from the CEO. So we said, “Well, let’s go and support these change agents and let’s build infrastructures, networking communities, and give them resources and insights and support to really encourage them or get them together over dinners and what have you.” And it was lovely, but don’t expect somebody to really understand it. So I used to have … The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is just because I’ve said it, sometimes 14 or 15 times doesn’t mean somebody really gets it, you need to figure out how to put your best idea or your best message in somebody else’s language.
Mark Choueke: 00:39:37 And that goes for the boardroom. But it also goes on a peer-to-peer across the floor in the kitchen, in the corridor, right? The Truth About data was a campaign I went to my marketing team about and said, “I had signed off for this great idea. Here’s what it is. Here’s what it’s going to do. Here’s why.” And everyone’s, “Oh, this is brilliant Mark, this is great. Truth About Data, we’re going to do the list, the magazine and everything else.”
Mark Choueke: 00:40:00 And one by one, each one would come to me a week later or two weeks later and say, “So talk me through the Truth About Data. What is it? And how does it play out? Or what are the pieces and go on it. I get it when you say it. But what is it? And I suddenly realised, “I’m not as good as I thought I was articulating big ideas.” Because I thought I can get excited about them and I can get somebody else excited in the next 20 minutes. But if they haven’t got the building blocks, or the pieces that are necessary for them to move forward and activate it on their own, or understand it or share it what I’ve said and done in that meeting isn’t worth squat.
Mark Choueke: 00:40:40 So yeah, I suppose the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in marketing and business is that we’re all wired differently and we all respond to different triggers and stimuli.” And some people communicate best purely through the medium of a Gantt chart. Until I got to Qubit, I’ve never seen a freaking Gantt chart. And I swear on my life, I still can’t read them. I still go, I’m going down that side and across there. And then up to see what the data is of that milestone. And what does that colour mean? My brain doesn’t work like that.
Mark Choueke: 00:41:16 I need a set of words, three words put together with some craft and the help of a thesaurus. And I’m there. I’m all over it. Or a visual and I’m great. Put it together on a spreadsheet. And I can’t make heads or tails of it. Like I often sit in presentations. Everybody’s looking at the same chart. And somebody at the front will say, “So how’s this shows, as you can see, and have a little nod [inaudible 00:41:40] and I’m like, “I don’t see what you’re looking at.” So we’re all wired differently. So if I want to convince you to help me today, I need to put it in language that you really buzz off, that you really get and unless I do I’m of no use.
Fiona Jensen: 00:41:57 So you always have to remember who your audience is and figure out what’s going to help them-
Mark Choueke: 00:42:02 Trust you to put it in a far more articulate way than I did. Yeah, know who your audience is, and how to get them activated.
Fiona Jensen: 00:42:07 Perfect. What’s the worst experience you’ve had working for someone?
Mark Choueke: 00:42:14 Nicole and I are determined to be the best bosses we can be. And sometimes we get it wrong. The lucky thing is that when we get it wrong, we are in a position with our team where hopefully they trust us enough to tell us where we got it wrong. And we can fix it. Or sometimes we can decide, did we get it wrong? Well, maybe it was perceived that we got it wrong, but actually, we did it for these reason. Now, we just need to make good on the relationship. But our aim is to be the best bosses and give a good experience because we’ve both been in situations where the boss has … If the boss cared about money, and money only, it wouldn’t be particularly inspirational place to work and I’d at least get it.
Mark Choueke: 00:42:55 I think the worst experience I’ve ever had at work is where a particular boss seemed to undermine people, me, often himself never really decided one way or another, wasn’t ever clear, was more than willing to drop other people in the firing line, wasn’t there to protect or defend a team, wasn’t there to build a team or really certainly not inspire a team. Was very muddled and very selfish and very egotistical and there wasn’t a lot of sense … Relationships are super important.
Mark Choueke: 00:43:41 When you come to an interview, one of the questions you’ll find yourself asking if everything’s going really, really well over, maybe two or three meetings is … So now I suppose we should talk about what you need, we talk about salary and we talk about potentially seniority or roles or responsibilities, or hours or working from home, flexible working, whatever it might be.
Mark Choueke: 00:44:02 You never ever say, “And can you guarantee me of a sort of relationship that we’ll have.” Because I’m going to see you a lot and I’m going to base how well I’m doing, we don’t do personal reviews, or what do they call them? Assessments on paper.
Fiona Jensen: 00:44:19 Yeah, the personal assessments and the-
Mark Choueke: 00:44:20 Yeah. We don’t do that stuff, we-
Fiona Jensen: 00:44:21 Performance reviews.
Mark Choueke: 00:44:23 No, we talk to each individual once a week. But you never asked the boss that’s about to employ you and indeed the boss never asks the candidate, “Can we talk about the relationship we’re going to have?” You never do. Because if you start romantic interest with somebody thinking it’s going to be some kind of relationship and it turns out to be a different kind of relationship and it’s not good for one of you, you’ll break it off. Whereas if I hire you today or you hire me, we’re going to spend an awful lot of time together. Sometimes in silence, sometimes in chaos and frenzy. Oftentimes under great deal of pressure. And relationships are super important, they’re often invisible until you actually experience them, and you can get them wrong so easily. So the most miserable I’ve ever been in work was, I was earning great money, I had a very, very desirable job title. If you told anyone over the weekend where I worked, they’d go, “Oh, wow.”
Mark Choueke: 00:45:32 And often walking into the building, especially on a weekend, you’d look up at the gleaming infrastructure and you’d go, “Look, it’s not perfect, but look where I work.” Right? But actually, there’s nothing that can heal the horrible ache you have inside when you know, that you don’t actually care about the person or they’re not interested in motivating or developing you. And after that everything else becomes a little bit material, really.
Fiona Jensen: 00:46:06 Yeah. It’s very difficult to manage that. And like you say, you could be working for the most amazing company, but if that gel isn’t there, then it becomes very difficult job. Describe your perfect B2B marketing department, examples of teams you’ve seen smash it and why, what kind of budget they have or activity did they undertake?
Mark Choueke: 00:46:29 The perfect B2B marketing team is the one that really is getting you everything you want how to B2B marketing. So we know we’re doing well, because we can look at the numbers, we have good systems in place with the right tools that enable us to report in a way that’s meaningful to the rest of the business, not just to internally as, “Oh, we got 15 likes today.” The perfect marketing team will be that which is helping set the strategy, tell stories of the business, the product and the people and growing the business. I don’t know if there is a perfect shape or size, if that’s what the question was. I think it’s the one that I think it’s hard to find. I think a lot of the time without the right amount of thoughts in the first place, it feels like trial and error. And certainly from Rebel Tech’s points of view, it’s not a secret to share that. Who comes into our business next will shape the direction of the business, but it’s also the perfect B2B marketing team must depend on your budget.
Mark Choueke: 00:47:33 So if you have got a budget or a resource for people and headcount, and you can’t get your perfect B2B marketing team, we’re very good at also partnering. So we have a really brilliant events partner. We have a really brilliant digital SEO partner. We have a fantastic digital advertising partner, we have video partners, and so we are a certain number of heads, but our influence and ability and capability stretches across various partners. Now we like working with them, and they like working with us. And we often do each other little deals. They often come to our celebrations. At least three of them came to our Christmas party at the end of the year last year, because they feel like Rebel Tech.
Mark Choueke: 00:48:18 To our clients, they’re absolutely Rebel Tech, they’ll have Rebel Tech email addresses. There’s a designer that went to come and see one of our big clients just recently and he’s absolutely brilliantly nailed a new website skin for them. They don’t know he’s not Rebel Tech.
Fiona Jensen: 00:48:34 That they are Rebel Tech if they support you do the work.
Mark Choueke: 00:48:40 So the perfect team is actually what you’re asking about is a knowledge of what you need to get done and then figuring out how to resolve it.
Fiona Jensen: 00:48:48 And then also diverse by the sounds of it, work for so you can bring ideas and creativity to the table when you need it.
Mark Choueke: 00:48:55 Hopefully.
Fiona Jensen: 00:48:57 How do big corporates justify spend on difficult-to-measure campaigns around brand/thought awareness?
Mark Choueke: 00:49:04 That easy, because they work. Simple as … Not just because something can’t easily be measured doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Anyone who wants to challenge themselves with such an uncomfortable idea should just go and read maybe the last 10 or 15 columns by the likes of Margaret’s and under there’s Tom Goodwin on Twitter as well. And you’ll find very quickly that there’s both instinctive takes on that that feel right as soon as you see and hear them but backed up with hard evidence, hard data about the power of these hard-to-measure big brand appeal.
Mark Choueke: 00:49:47 So if I say to somebody 100 times today, “What’s your favourite cereal brand?” A number of like 30, 40, 50 or 60% of them are going to say Kellogg’s. And that’s because Kellogg’s whilst it doesn’t sell you cereal every single moment of the day and doesn’t need to be front of your mind. Absolutely every time you walk into the supermarket. As soon as you get to the shelf, you can look elsewhere. And you can think about it. You can even compare prices and see if there’s better value elsewhere. But emotionally, the appeal will just make it feel right to reach for Kellogg’s. You know why? It’s the same as it was last week. The kids love it. It’s been in the cupboard. I don’t know what percentage of our kitchen cupboards across the land have Weetabix in them.
Fiona Jensen: 00:50:37 Oh yeah, definitely got Weetabix.
Mark Choueke: 00:50:38 But I don’t eat a lot of Weetabix. One I do, I love it. But it’s … These companies make money and they grow and they understand that not everything needs to be measured, that it’s not even about Tony the Tiger or whatever the monkeys called on the front of cocoa puffs. It’s not about those stories. It’s about what Kellogg’s, Colgate, Coca Cola. All of these brilliant big brands have got there for a reason. And that stuff still resonates. And by the way, whenever B2B brands get big enough, they start pulling more into the big brand awareness channels. I think that there’s certainly an argument for taking the best disciplines and understanding of the big strategic brand building unmeasurable campaign giants and the performance measurements and analytics of the performance marketers, and the-
Fiona Jensen: 00:51:43 Using it together.
Mark Choueke: 00:51:43 And just trying to figure out how you make that stuff work together. And on a very small scale. That’s what we’re trying to do.
Fiona Jensen: 00:51:52 Brilliant. Gender pay gaps now, so percentage of male versus females in leadership roles, do you think this challenge needs addressing in our industry? And if so, how?
Mark Choueke: 00:52:02 Don’t know how, but it definitely needs addressing. [inaudible 00:52:05] it’s just commit to doing it. We don’t have-
Fiona Jensen: 00:52:10 Do you think it’s just a numbers game, do we just need to say, “Right. We’re going to promote two, three, 20%, 30% more females this year than last year, or what do you think it is?
Mark Choueke: 00:52:21 I don’t think so. I think it’s about looking for skills and experience and understanding that when you’ve got them, it doesn’t really matter whether they’ve got a penis. There was a woman Qubit, who at the time for about six or seven years was the most senior person in Qubit, that was a female and she was halfway down the ladder, it made no sense. And now they’ve got an amazing US originally from the US, been in France for a decade and here for three or four years. She’s incredible and has made such huge speed inroads into a company that was really difficult to change. I had breakfast with her last week. And we were talking about some of the stuff she’s been doing. She’s inspirational. And there’s probably a … But there’s an opportunity conversation to have. And I know that that gets addressed in certain ways. I see a lot about it. And it’s gratifying.
Mark Choueke: 00:53:21 There’s all sorts of conversations that get had about whether we should just leave our names or CV. So people are looking just in the skills and you’d hope that we can get to a point at some time soon, where that’s just simply not necessary. Where that tactic or tactics like it aren’t necessary. I think we’re getting better. But I don’t think we’re anywhere near good. I think not hiring or promoting enough women is one thing, I think a gender pay gap is utterly unforgivable. I don’t see any reason why anyone should feel comfortable with that. So I saw something on International Women’s Day on Friday about many of the companies that claim to have women on the board, good female representation, or just lying. So let’s out those guys. And let’s sort that out. But I think if you’ve got women, and effectively they could finish by November or October or September that year in order to do the same amount of work for the same-
Fiona Jensen: 00:54:21 Same money.
Mark Choueke: 00:54:23 Yeah, for the same pay, then that’s something that nobody in the business should feel comfortable with. And it really shouldn’t be we’ll get to that when we can, it really shouldn’t be there were business priorities to take care of. But yes, we’re having that conversation. It should be still going on right now. I think it’s like climate change. It’s all that everybody feels or claims to feel the same way about it. But we haven’t cracked it yet.
Fiona Jensen: 00:54:44 No, yeah.
Mark Choueke: 00:54:45 And the problem, I would refer to with PR is it seemed to be that for a long time, when I was in traditional PR the women were the lower level divas and the men were these people that walked around in suits and open shirts kind of professing to be able to drop wisdom on any one opportunity.
Fiona Jensen: 00:55:05 Yeah.
Mark Choueke: 00:55:06 Well, at Rebel Tech if we’ve only got women, they’re senior. If we’ve only got women, they are directing clients, they are creating, producing and owning other people doing content, they are setting the strategy for the business. So it’s not something that I have sleepless nights about for Rebel Tech, but it is something that I think we should all be having sleepless nights about until we can say there isn’t a problem anymore, because it’s not like climate change, it’s easy to fix.
Fiona Jensen: 00:55:38 Yeah, very well said. It’s often said, you can be paid in money or experience. Looking back on your career, how often did you value experience over a higher salary? Did you strike a good balance?
Mark Choueke: 00:55:52 Yeah, took a pay cut many times.
Fiona Jensen: 00:55:53 Yeah.
Mark Choueke: 00:55:55 And anyone who’s listening who is either looking for a job or about to make a move, honestly, the unfortunate thing is that if you know what you want, and you know what’s going to make you happy, and it happens to pay less than what you’re on now, depends on who you are I guess, but for me, the answer is a very, very simple one. It’s not even a question. So I went from … My first job took me, which way did they go? First job out of doing a post grad in journalism sold me on something like 21 grand and 26 grand. It was during the 21 grand for the first year. And I got promoted and may 26 grand and sorry to be vulgar and talk about numbers, but it’ll become clear why it was during the .com bubble. And there was a lot of money switching about. And it seemed like a lot of money for a very young first timer and it was. Now put it against some of the kids that are going straight into the financial sector and the city and their starting salaries are amazing.
Mark Choueke: 00:56:57 But for me, it seemed absolutely brilliant. But I knew I wanted to be a journalist. I knew I wanted to work for newspapers. I knew I wanted to be the Clark Kent and running the Superman end in the newsroom and doing that thing. And it wasn’t happening for me there because it was a website and on something not particularly newsy. Okay. So I took a pay cut to go into newspapers. I went to the Evening Times one journalist, PR newspaper, five newspapers in a group. I was the Evening Times reporter. That was a very severe pay cut, but I was getting the right experience and doing the right things and suddenly being thrust into really, really uncomfortable places and situations and having to figure my way out.
Mark Choueke: 00:57:39 I’ve done it a number of times, and not least deciding to go from C suite or director level, big business salaries to running and owning my own business. And Nick and I understanding that for the first two or three years, our job is to grow the business and keep the money in the bank rather than bring it home. Yeah, it’s been uncomfortable. It’s been on any given day, there is something uncomfortable, that conversation has to be had about something that we have to change or downsize or just do without, but I’ve never been happier. And for me, if you are a young person, seeing that the money on the end of your paycheck always has to go up to show progress, that’s not how the … The world isn’t linear. If it ever was then fine, but it certainly isn’t anymore. And what’s going to drive you forward and make a better marketer or even just person of you is experienced development and love for what you do.
Fiona Jensen: 00:58:38 There we go. Experience every time. With pressures of general life, how do you manage the work-life balance and how important is that in today’s society?
Mark Choueke: 00:58:49 I think the world’s more open to, not just sitting for 10 hours at a desk anymore, and sweating over a computer or a typewriter or whatever it used to be. Lots of firms have built in half days or days for going to learn something or develop or walking around an art gallery. Lots of firms have yoga sessions or massage coming in. There’s ways of keeping healthy. Work-life balance is a tricky one in a world that doesn’t stop. So my job used to be between an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, or evening, and weekends and whatever, count it for something.
Mark Choueke: 00:59:28 Now, the work never stops and doesn’t matter who’s in, who’s out, who’s on holiday, who’s absent, who’s ill, if something has to get covered, it has to get covered. I’ve got an incredibly understanding partner and two children who I could always spend time with, who I miss greatly during the working day and sometimes work in the evening. But it’s up to me and my job to make it up to them when I feel like. There’s been a shift too far in one direction. But also I think caring enough about what it is that you’re doing that takes you away from that family time means that you feel that you’re investing the time in something that makes a difference. We spoke about it before you and I, can you imagine giving up or compromising on family time for something you don’t really care about?
Fiona Jensen: 01:00:15 No.
Mark Choueke: 01:00:16 Even something one that it’s not you don’t care about, they actively make you feel unhappy or miserable it’s just as [inaudible 01:00:23] thinking about.
Fiona Jensen: 01:00:23 It’s not worth it.
Mark Choueke: 01:00:24 Well, that’s where the money versus enjoyment or-
Fiona Jensen: 01:00:27 The experience question comes in-
Mark Choueke: 01:00:28 Yeah, completely.
Fiona Jensen: 01:00:30 In a digital world of new apps, new startups, do the established incumbent legacy brands really matter anymore?
Mark Choueke: 01:00:38 All the brands owned by Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, Diageo and Coca Cola. They’re doing pretty well. And yes, they will have landing pages and apps and tweets and everything else. So I don’t know who these brands are. But there’s room for brands that you love, right? I’m 43. I wasn’t born when Converse All Star, those Chuck Taylor boots were invented or at their peak. But I’ve always had a pair in my wardrobe. They make me feel passionate and nostalgic for an era that I never experienced. 1950s America.
Fiona Jensen: 01:01:13 Yeah.
Mark Choueke: 01:01:14 Rock’n’roll, tail wings on your car and Buddy Holly and all that stuff. They make me feel nostalgic for a place and a time I never even experienced.
Fiona Jensen: 01:01:21 Yeah.
Mark Choueke: 01:01:21 But that brand has always been … And by the way that brand’s been in my wardrobe probably since I was a kid because that brand means something to me. Now I’m sure Converse All Stars got their own website and landing page and campaign that I can access digitally. Do I know it? No, I’ve got bigger and better things to do. But I don’t know what incumbent legacy brands are.
Fiona Jensen: 01:01:44 It’s interesting actually. Because whoever asked that question, I would be tempted to say, as a marketer, if you see a brand that you think is struggling and isn’t competing nowadays, wouldn’t that be a great conversation to have?
Mark Choueke: 01:01:54 Yeah.
Fiona Jensen: 01:01:55 Why not just reach out to them and say, “You guys look old hat to me and I can change that for you or I think I can add value. Let’s have a conversation.” Do you think it’s possible for a great entrepreneur to become a great CMO?
Mark Choueke: 01:02:07 I think it’s becoming a necessity. I think that the notion of being a CMO is getting unmanageably big as a job as a set of responsibilities and remits. When Amanda Mackenzie was at Vivo or Keith Weed, still at Unilever and outgoing obviously. Their roles included things like communications and PR, which was new to the CMO, sustainability and CSR and things like that. The role is becoming so unmanageably big, that I think you’ve got to have focus. But I think being an entrepreneur or being of an entrepreneurial mindset cannot harm and can only benefit somebody going into that role.
Mark Choueke: 01:02:52 Because the world is if you’re going to be the person that connects the business with the customer or consumer outside, the one thing you know about customers and consumers is they’re ever more demanding, they evolve every day, if you’re still selling to the customer, the way you were two years ago, you’re probably selling to a customer that no longer exists because they’ve moved on without you. So I think if you’re bringing a mindset that says, “Our customer is Jenny, she’s 34, she’s typically blah, blah, blah.” That’s one thing. But if you’re not coming with an understanding that things are moving. I know, again, Margaret’s and Tom Goodwin would challenge my premise that everything’s changing and everything’s new and blah, blah, blah. It’s not quite what I’m saying. But I do understand where they’re coming from.
Mark Choueke: 01:03:38 If you are not coming to the CMO’s job with understanding that opportunities and behaviours and access and an ownership of customers are all just. It’s a moving feast. It’s not it’s not standing still at all for me, that can only benefit organisation.
Fiona Jensen: 01:03:58 There we go. What is the book you recommend the most to B2B marketers today?
Mark Choueke: 01:04:03 It’s funny, you should say that, because I have it right here. I’m reading it right now for the second time, because the guy is coming to speak at our event at the end of the month. So we are running an event for anyone who’s interested. This all B2B tech marketers, founders and leaders, we’re talking about what’s going to happen to your businesses beyond March 29th or whatever breaks it actually happens. And we’ve got some wonderful speakers. We’ve got the editor-in-chief of Career Magazine. We’ve got somebody who, she’s an amazing speaker on immigrant entrepreneurship. She’s been all around the world 25 markets in two years looking at the cultural startups. But we have this gentleman, Sam Conniff, who wrote a book called Be More Pirate. Which is all about how to rewrite your rules if you think the rules simply aren’t working for you.
Mark Choueke: 01:04:55 If the rules that you’re facing and the environment that you’re operating in is there literally to benefit the people that run it and don’t make any sense to you then you have not just the right but the responsibility to go and rewrite the rules because the only way wealth changes is if rebels and pirates activate their inner urges and instincts. So we’ve got this guy talking and I’m very excited about it.
Fiona Jensen: 01:05:22 I can’t wait either. I’m hoping to get along to that event as well. So I’ve read the book. I think it’s brilliant. It’s really brilliant.
Mark Choueke: 01:05:30 It is something else if you want to read the book it’s called Be More Pirate by Sam Conniff. If you want to come to our event, just go to Eventbrite and search Looking Beyond Brexit and you’ll find us.
Fiona Jensen: 01:05:42 Fantastic. So what parting words of wisdom or advice would you share with our audience, Mark?
Mark Choueke: 01:05:49 Your audience seems to be one that is looking for next moves or looking to progress through marketing. And I think I’m just going to repeat myself. Every single element of marketing is valuable and has its place, whether you’re talking about creative content design, branding, CRM, big data, performance, strategy, insight, every single one of these elements is even old world marketing. So think about pricing and promotion and that classic four P’s model, it’s all necessary and it’s all interesting and it’s all worthy. But for me, what I’m really understanding now is that there is a rebel or pirate element to marketing that can be hugely exploited for both your benefit and the organisation’s benefit.
Mark Choueke: 01:06:37 And that’s about being more human, being more respected, being more brave, being more effective, being more creative, just being more adventurous and it’s the BBH, the classic advertising agency BBH line. If the world zigs we zag. If it turns out to be a rather dry flyer or a direct mail campaign whatever, what can you do to make it a bit more rebel and pirate? And be seen as … You don’t need to be insulting or abusive or edgy. You don’t need to be Paddy Power or Oreo cookies online to have a presence. You do need to be a bit human, you do need to be a bit real. You need to speak to people rather than product buyers and it’s just about figuring out a way to make sure that you enjoy what you do and if you’re that kind of person, as a hiring manager I’d hire you anytime.
Fiona Jensen: 01:07:31 There you go. So how can people find you, reach out to you mark? If they want to be more rebel or find out more about Rebel Tech.
Mark Choueke: 01:07:38 If they really, really want to we’re at www.rebeltechpr.com. My email address is [email protected] and you can find me on Twitter @March Choueke, which is C-H-O-U-E-K-E. And if you fancy a chat, I’m always here.
Fiona Jensen: 01:07:55 Super. Thanks so much for your time.
Mark Choueke: 01:07:57 No worries.
Fiona Jensen: 01:08:03 So there you have it. Career advice from a real marketing expert and leader in the field. Thanks for listening. If you’re enjoying this podcast, then please leave us a review in iTunes. We’d love to hear your feedback.