Marketing Mavericks: an Interview with Solana Marketing’s Diane Ferraro
Published: August 21, 2015
Author: Joe Stanton
Company: Solana Marketing
Twitter handle: @dianeferraro
How long have you been in your current role?
Since November 2013.
When you look back at the last six months, what were some of the biggest surprises of your job?
I’m shocked that there are some major brands who are not fully maximizing SEO opportunities. Every company who wants to gain market share needs to have a marketing expert on the team (or a trusted partner in an agency/consultant capacity) who understands how Google moves and shakes and be prepared for major changes that will impact their brand’s online presence. Another surprise was observing how travel and hospitality businesses often completely miss opportunities to do simple things to keep the customer happy and improve brand reputation. Rental car agencies are the biggest offenders. This should be a no-brainer. Any CEO who isn’t getting “state of the brand” updates daily or weekly from the marketing team should set up a meeting pronto to get this on the action item list.
What are 2-3 bold predictions you’d make for the next six months?
1) Content marketing will further separate the leaders from the followers. Brands that don’t take this seriously will fall further behind the competition. Marketers must be laser-focused and fully aware of what is required to maintain relevancy with Google and can no longer assume that the major search engines will pay attention only to number of blogs/posts/keywords.
2) Social media will be seen by the C-Suite as an essential part of company growth and a department that deserves to be part of overall strategy with its own budget. Gone are the days that the social media “team” is a lone college intern who only writes catchy Facebook posts.
3) No surprise here, but mobile sites will be even more important as smartphone users increase.
What’s your favorite recent ad campaign, and why?
I have a weak spot for ads that make me cry, which is why I love the “Dove Beauty” campaign. The recent video that went viral (“Choose Beautiful”) received backlash from some women’s groups, but the documentary-style ads were thought-provoking and certainly created buzz about the brand. The campaign has now been going strong for 10 years, which is quite a feat in any industry but a particular accomplishment in the world of beauty. The Dove marketing team has a clear understanding of their audience, and they’ve mastered turning shoppers into brand ambassadors.
If you had $10M, which marketing platform (e.g. Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) would you invest in, and why?
This would be dependent on the client’s target audience and strategic goals, but in general I’d allocate 40% to Google, 20% to YouTube, 10% to Bing/Yahoo, 15% to Facebook, and 5% to Twitter. The balance of $1M would be used to hire the most talented freelance writers, artists/photographers, and video gurus to create exciting, fresh and relevant content.
If you had $10M, which marketing technology would you invest in, and why?
Tony Ralph, Netflix Director of Ad Technology, stated at a conference earlier this year that the smart companies build custom solutions specific to their needs. Granted, the Netflix budget is likely above the $10M figure, and they have a team of geniuses who can indeed create internal marketing tech solutions. A realistic solution would be one that integrates web analytics, online and offline brand reputation, traffic and revenue. Domo on steroids would be a starting point.
What is/are the most important metric(s) you use to guide your decision making process?
Cost Per Lead and Cost Per Order/Sale, metrics I’ve used since my direct response days, should be part of every business, be it online or brick-and-mortar retail, restaurant, travel, or even construction and medical. I also look at social media: new followers, engagement, and conversions are vital metrics that gauge brand growth and crucial to guiding future ad campaigns and product launches.
Are there any specific books that have helped shape your marketing strategy?
Anything by author Donald Miller motivates me to be a better marketer. While not traditional “business” books, Donald guides his reader on the art and science of storytelling, an often overlooked skill and one that is learned by doing and life experiences and not always taught in college advertising and marketing courses. Tony Hsieh’s “Delivering Happiness” is a classic and is a go-to book whenever I need a reminder about company culture and superb customer service from the Zappos’ legend. Too many marketers separate themselves from customer service, which is a huge mistake.
More about Diane:
Over 20 years of marketing experience in a variety of industries (including engagement rings and diamond jewelry, mobile phones, hospitality, earphones, wedding planning services, non-profit and educational products) inspired Solana Marketing’s CMO and Business Growth Consultant, Diane Ferraro, to step out and advise other companies. A solid background in direct response and brand experience, and a laser-focus on ROI, are part of the foundation Diane has built upon and used to help retailers and dot-coms evolve into hugely profitable and widely recognized regional and national brands.