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The Secret To Keeping Your Marketing Approach Fresh

January 20, 2017

By Drew Neisser

In truth, there are lots of good reasons to ditch your job. Your boss could be insane. The work your employer does bores you to tears. You find a better paying opportunity that allows you to finally move out of your parent’s house. I’m sure there many others but there’s also a counterpoint to be made for sticking around, especially if you’re lucky enough to find a job you like at a company that’s growing quickly. This was certainly the case for Elissa Fink, who just completed her first decade at Tableau Software, the last half as CMO. In my extensive interview with Elissa, you’ll learn how she’s kept her brand marketing approach fresh, offering lessons for any generation.

Drew: You started your career in ad sales at the Wall Street Journal. How important was that experience to your future roles in marketing?

Elissa: I would say the value to me as a marketer was extraordinary. I wasn’t really cut out for sales, but what got me excited about my job in sales was understanding the Wall Street Journal audience, how it compared to our big competitors, and our strategy in talking to our subscribers and to our advertisers. That’s when I realized what really turns me on is marketing and marketing information. I often tell people starting out in their marketing careers that experience of being a sales person is extremely valuable because you really understand what’s on the mind of a buyer, how to persuade, how to sell, and how to close. And that not only helps you as a marketer, but also helps you in your relationship with sales people as you market.

And I bet you are so much more empathetic with your sales teams than your average marketer.

Elissa: I feel like I have a lot of empathy because I have been there. And I think it’s extraordinarily valuable as a marketer to understand the sales journey from the top of the funnel all the way to the end.

You’ve been at Tableau for 10 years and nearly half of that as CMO. Can we talk about the advantages of staying in one place?

Elissa: The advantages are definitely that you get to be deep, to understand things richly, to build relationships with your colleagues and your customers. And you get to see this evolution in what you are trying to accomplish and to see how things that you seeded months or even years ago are blossoming. You also get to see evolutionary cycles and determine when you don’t need to do certain things anymore. For me, it’s been a really interesting journey. When I joined ten years ago we were about 40 people. Now we are like over 3,200 people. It’s really been like several different companies!

Wow, that’s such huge growth. It must be tricky to stay fresh and continue to drive change. What’s your secret?

Elissa: Well, two ways. Number one, I look at change as a fact of life. That we always need fresh ideas and don’t ever get …read more

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