Marketing Through Change with Steve Goldhaber

Industry: Marketing/Professional Services

Role: Chief Executive Officer at 26 Characters

What is the craziest or most inspirational thing you've witnessed in your marketing career?

I am inspired by how far digital marketing has come. In 2000, when I started in digital marketing, I dreamed about what it could be and what it could accomplish. I saw the value, but it was not quite a reality yet.
Today, it is a reality. What I wished for then is achievable, and much more easily and measurably. What years ago would have taken two to three months and a team of 10 experts to build, I can now build myself, or with just a small team of one or two, in a day. That reality is my inspiration. I look forward to seeing how it evolves next.

What is the best thing you have learned about marketing during this crazy time of pandemic?

I find it interesting to see how the companies that have taken the time and made the investment to truly understand and speak to their customers (versus at them) and do the right thing by them are being rewarded. They may still be taking an economic hit right now as many of us are, but they will come back even stronger. Companies with a strong connection to their customers can more easily break through the clutter and get their message across. It’s sort of a litmus test of a brand. When something bad happens that affects customers, how do those customers react to engagement. Do they read an email or other communication and say, “wow, they get me and care” or “how dare they, they don’t have that kind of relationship with me.”?

What is the biggest marketing mistake you've made, and how did you adapt going forward?

Not adopting a customer first mindset sooner. Early in my career, I looked at channel first. For example, build a website and then figure out how that fits in to the customer journey. Sometimes it worked out. But it was harder than it needed to be and was not as customer focused as it should have been. Now, I understand the true power of starting with the customer's problems, and then using content and storytelling to help the customer move along in the journey.

When you look in your crystal ball, what advice can you offer marketing leaders over the next five years?

Stop and think is my best advice. What do I mean by that? I mean before you start working on marketing strategy or tactics, stop and think about what the true business problem is that you are trying to solve. Then, marry that with marketing strategy and tactics. The most successful marketers I have seen know how to do that. It is our jobs as senior marketers to dig deep enough to get to the real business problem. This idea was the catalyst for me writing a book called What’s Your Problem?

Any parting thoughts/words of wisdom?

Understand and solve the problem and understand your customer first, then figure out how marketing can work to meet your goals.

Favorite Marketing Book?

I would have to say Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae. I like his premise that there are these great new marketing tactics and channels available that can help reach and speak to our customers. But, if you just throw those on top of a business that is out of touch and not in sync with today’s times, you get a “big effective mess” or what Seth calls a “meatball sundae”.