Lessons in Leadership and Marketing with Lisa Joy

Silicon Valley CMO Lisa Joy chats with Avasta about customer voice, marketing, and leadership lessons.

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Lance Nicholas Fernandes
Digital Marketing Specialist, Avasta
Lisa Joy
Former SVP Brand and Digital, Oracle

Lisa Joy is a senior marketing executive with over twenty years of experience in high-tech. She has worked at large public companies and start-ups. Most recently the SVP of Global Brand and Digital at Oracle, she previously held CMO positions at Otonomo, Neustar, NetBase, MyBuys and BroadVision. Her impact has been recognized through her inclusion in the Top 50 Women in Brand Marketing 2015, B2B Marketer of the Year, Marketers that Matter 2013, and OMMA's "Best Integrated Online Campaign" 2012. Lisa Joy graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Maryland with a BA in English Literature. A passionate mother to her four kids, Lisa Joy is a firm believer in empowering women (but really, everyone) in the workplace.

Lance:  You've successfully re-branded 6 companies. Given this track record, what do you think a company needs to do to ensure a successful re-brand?  

Lisa Joy:  There are a few basic steps. First, you need to take the time to understand where you have been and discover how your brand resonates with your customers in order to know what elements you should bring along with you into the re-brand. Next, make the investment in quantifying your brand equity. Get a baseline, and track and measure it as you make changes over time. Do your homework, talk to customers, employees, press, analysts, and study competitors, so you are relevant and distinctive.  

To ensure the success of a re-brand, I have this philosophy of building a "bridge" from your old brand to your new one. You must usher everyone through this change. Show them where you are now, where you are going, and the timeline to completion.  

When you have a brand refresh project, I suggest that you wait until all your critical assets are updated. Anchor the re-brand to something meaningful, like a big show and/or a product launch; so, everything is unveiled at once.  

One thing to keep in mind. Many people think that they need to throw everything out when they do a re-brand. But that is not the case.    

Let me share a story from when I ran the brand and digital team at Oracle. We were tasked with changing how Oracle was perceived; to be viewed as a cloud provider who is customer-centric and modern, a lofty task for a 47-year-old company that is thought of as old "on-premise" software. One of the first things I did was speak to customers and ask for the first three words that came to their mind when they heard "Oracle." They gave various other answers, but every single one said "red" first because Oracle is such an iconic red brand. At the point where I joined, the company was moving to the color brown as a main color because no one else was using it in the cloud space. When I heard the color red was such an important and resonant part of our brand, we began re-integrating it into our visuals.        

To read more about Lisa's work at Oracle, read her article on ADWEEK about their marketing transformation.  

 What's your biggest recommendation to a first-time CMO?

Lisa Joy:  My biggest recommendation to a first-time CMO is to learn how to delegate – hire people smarter than yourself. The hardest thing for a first-time CMO is learning to move from having your fingers in everything to empowering others. Next, shift to creating that north star, setting that vision and the bar for excellence, and make sure the team sees the necessary outcomes. Then, get out of the way and let people execute. Remove obstacles and celebrate the team as they succeed.

 Do you view marketing as an expense or revenue source?

Lisa Joy:  I personally view it as a revenue source. Early in my career, my first public company job was at BroadVision. I went in on my first day on the job with my plan, everything I was going to do and measure. I met with the CEO and showed him my plan. He looked at me and said, "I only care about three things: the letters E, P, and S (Earnings per Share). I don't really care what you measure; I'll know that you're (we are) successful when we've moved the stock". That was an important lesson. And guess what? The marketing team and whole company executed to that goal and the stock price went from 40 cents to $5 in 18 months.    

If we're talking to CMOs in this interview, my advice is that you have to look at what you're doing as strategic to revenue. Marketing shifts from an expense to a revenue source when you take the approach that your initiatives are to boost sales and, ultimately, to deliver shareholder value. Marketing and sales are two pieces of the whole; they're not separate. You have to look at marketing as the beginning of the revenue process.

“Marketing shifts from an expense to a revenue source when you take the approach that your initiatives are to boost sales and, ultimately, to deliver shareholder value.”

Lance:  What's a common mistake that marketing professionals have been making?

Lisa Joy:  I have worked with a lot of early-stage companies throughout my career, and one of the biggest marketing mistakes they make is that they get so inwardly focused that they forget to listen to the voice of the customer. They get so caught up in what their technology means to them that they lose sight of what it means and should mean to their customers. Marketers forget that their job is to hold a mirror to the customers and show how their business problems can be solved.

Lance:  How do you suggest CMOs get their company to stop forgetting about the customer's voice?  

Lisa Joy:  Companies are made of people, and people are goal-oriented and like to achieve. You need to have customer-related outcomes in mind and goals for everyone in the company. Skin in the game. The way you do it is to make it [the voice of the customer] a part of the company's ethos, and you live and breathe it in everything you do. It's everything from the language you use in your billing to how you talk to your customers on the website, how customer support answers the phone, and every other touchpoint in between and beyond.

 What is your most controversial marketing opinion?  

Lisa Joy: My most controversial opinion in this current zeitgeist is that people are letting their CMO go and are not replacing them - but they should. The companies that have the moxie to keep investing in marketing are the ones that are going to survive this recessionary-like period. The companies cutting right now are living off the resonance of the work that's already been done. Companies that continue to invest [in marketing] are the ones that are going to make it through these darker days. The most controversial thing I can say is to continue to invest and spend wisely, track and measure, as pulling back is very dangerous.  

About Avasta:

We are a collective of insights consultants that help leaders grow their business by identifying your most valuable opportunities and empowering you with the insights needed to attain them. Our purpose is to provide the insights companies are missing and bring a new level of clarity to the strategic decision-making process.

Our team is comprised of diverse professionals with expertise in analytics, marketing, brand, data & computer science, market research, mathematics, operations, and corporate finance. With experience in over 15 countries and proficiency in 12 languages, we have a successful track record of utilizing our complimentary disciplines to increase client growth and profitability. Visit our website to learn about how we can help grow your business.

For questions, queries and media information, contact discover@avasta.co .

Read articles Lisa Joy has published on her Forbes channel, or about the Oracle transformation in AdWeek,  view her interview with Laddrr, or interview with Gary Vaynerchuck.

Read Lisa Joy's perspective on women having their voice heard and their position made known in the workplace in her Harvard Business Review article.

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