Mantras For Marketers To Live By

We’re nearing the end of the year, which means it’s time for the 2016 edition of your ‘50 Marketing Thought Leaders Over 50’.

Each of the Marketing Thought Leaders highlighted below, have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share; and have gained the respect of their peers through their words, actions and achievements, in print, in person and online.

Combining their well-deserved recognition with some added value for our readers, we asked each finalist to share their own Marketing Mantra, and let us know why they believe it creates better marketers.

Thanks to each of the 50 experts on this year’s list, for taking the time to share your insights! And for those readers out there who would like to hear more from this fab 50, you can easily keep up-to-date with them by following our ‘50 Marketing Thought Leaders Over 50’ Twitter List HERE.

Remember – To make the list, a person must have been nominated. So, if there’s someone you think should make next year’s list, be sure to stay tuned for when nominations open next year.

So without further ado… please join us in congratulating:

Brand Quarterly’s 2016 ’50 Marketing Thought Leaders Over 50′
(click on the ‘+‘ beside each name to view full finalist details and insights)

Danny SullivanFounding Editor – Marketing Land & Search Engine Land


Always question and explore.

It’s important to always be testing, always be watching, always be asking how something works with marketing, how it can be improved or what new thing you should be trying.

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Joel CommChief Shenanigizer – Joel Comm, Inc.


“Do good stuff” is my mantra for all things in life.

When we seek to bring value to the world around us using our passions, talents, skills, abilities and personality, without expecting anything in return, we can expect our good seed to return a harvest. When brands and businesses make delivering value a priority and not placing so much focus on ROI, they’ll discover that the ROI occurs as a natural consequence.

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Shep HykenChief Amazement Officer – Shepard Presentations


Always be amazing!

Teaching our clients to deliver amazing customer service (and CX) is all about delivering on our “mantra.” We want to deliver amazing service to our clients, and we want to help our clients deliver an amazing customer service experience to their customers (clients, guests, etc.) as well as their internal customers (employees, team members, etc.). This has been our consistent message for 30+ years.

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Marsha CollierAuthor | Futurist | Radio Host – The Collier Company, Inc.


Respect the customer! Follow psychographics, not demographics!

You really can’t make someone a loyal customer without making them feel a welcome user of a brand. Don’t blow smoke; appeal with honesty and transparency. This means a marketer needs to partner with various departments to assure that what you’re selling is what the customer wants. Find commonalities across generations to give your marketing a holistic and recognizable approach.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

David Meerman ScottMarketing Strategist – Freshspot Marketing LLC


Educate and inform instead of interrupt and sell.

Many marketers steeped in the tradition of product promotion naturally feel drawn to prattle on and on about their products and services. But nobody cares. What people do care about are themselves and how you can solve their problems.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Shelly KramerCEO – V3B | President – Broadsuite Media Group


My marketing mantra is simple: Serve your customers. Focus on what they need, not what you sell.

Understanding your customers, what drives them, what their pain points are, and who their target audience is, then helping develop strategies that genuinely help them be more successful, is what marketing is all about – that’s service. That is not about selling them what you want to sell them. Don’t lead with the sale, lead with the idea that great customer service leads to successful relationships.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Jon FerraraCEO – Nimble Inc.


Stop talking about your products and services. Talk about how you make others better, smarter, faster.

Instead of talking about how great our company, products, and services are, we tell stories to inspire and educate others about how they can be great. If you “teach people to fish, they’ll figure out you sell fishing poles.” This results in other people telling our stories for us enabling us to become trusted advisors to our prospects, customers and most importantly their influencers.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Robert RoseChief Strategy Advisor – Content Marketing Institute


“Make your heartbeat match the heartbeat of the universe; your nature match nature” – J. Campbell

Our goal as marketers is simple. It is to create and deliver value to customers – from the first time we meet, to the ongoing relationship we have with them after they purchase our product or service. If we can always match their needs and wants, with our goals, then we have a much higher chance of true, lasting success.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Mark W. SchaeferExecutive Director – Schaefer Marketing Solutions


Focus on trust, not traffic.

Too many internet marketers are focused on “massive traffic” instead of building trust that leads to brand loyalty. We’ve become a bit complacent in that sense. Of course for some, there is a business case for “traffic,” but for most of us, we need customers who stick around and actually take some action. To do that, we need to dig behind our dashboards for data that can produce real insights.

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Lee OddenCEO – TopRank Marketing


If you want your marketing to be great, ask your community, customers and influencers to participate.

Customers are overloaded with information and mistrust ads. But they do trust peers, experts and influencers. By collaborating with industry and community experts with active networks, brands can co-create content that resonates, is trusted and inspires action.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

David AakerVice Chairman – Prophet


The best route to growth: go from “my brand is better than your brand” to subcategory competition.

The best way to grow is to develop functional, emotional, or relationship customer “must haves” that create new subcategories and, as the exemplar, manage those subcategories to be winners and position your brand as the most relevant. Moving from brand to subcategory competition will require a mindset and tools that are different than “my brand is better than your brand” competition.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Dr. Shawne DuperonFounder – Project Forgive


Take risks. Grieve your inevitable mistakes, forge ahead.

Smart business leaders take risks. When you stretch and take risks, you’re going to make mistakes. The game is to take ownership of a business choice that didn’t work out, grieve that decision and loss (forgiving yourself), which allows new solutions to emerge. When you don’t embrace the grief, you keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. Moving through a business loss catapults success.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Jeff SheehanPresident – Sheehan Marketing Strategies


Quite simply: “People buy from those they know, like, and trust.”

It is something that has been around since commerce started, and still extremely relevant today. I try to ensure that everything I do for myself or clients aligns with this philosophy, namely: 1. Creating awareness via media and FTF meetings to facilitate knowledge. 2. Having empathy for others and helping them to further admiration for what I do. 3. Instilling trust by nurturing relationships.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Matt SweetwoodU.S. CEO – beBee


Social media is not just something you do. To be successful at it, make it your lifestyle.

Social media is a highly effective way for marketers to build brands and business. Once marketers realize that it isn’t just an occasional or daily activity but needs to be an integrated part of their lives and their business’ lives – they can start interacting in a way with customers and clients that is deeper, longer lasting and ultimately more successful.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Tim HughesCo-Founder – Digital Leadership Associates


In the connected economy we all need a personal brand – this is not a tool but a change in behaviour.

The buying process has changed – marketers and brands have to transform to meet this change. Marketing has to be less ‘me’ focused and more personalised to the customer. This means stopping the 1950s broadcast marketing (even on social media) and creating communities where customers can live and engage.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Janet FoutsCEO – Tatu Digital Media | Author | Speaker | Corporate Trainer


Be a compassionate marketer and lead with their truth, not ours.

Compassion means we not only feel the pain of the people in our markets, but we honestly wish to help them resolve the issues causing that pain. Listening to what they need and really hearing it helps us deliver marketing and services from a mindful, considered place rather than trying to force them to take whatever we want them to have.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Tiffani BovaGlobal Customer Growth & Innovation Evangelist – Salesforce


The experience customers have with your brand is made up of either the intentional or unintentional decisions you make.

Customer experience is the sum of all the various touch points a customer has with a brand. High performing organizations have tight collaboration between sales, marketing and service. Without it, decisions get made in a vacuum, and the disconnect between groups manifests itself in poor customer experience. Fix? Use technology to enable seamless collaboration, align the people and metrics and put the customer at the center.

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Gerry MoranGlobal Head of Social Media – Cognizant


You need to ‘build the plane and fly the plane’ at the same time to be an effective marketer.

Knowing how to ‘build the plane and fly the plane’ at the same time ensures successful marketers get their strategy off the ground to deliver results – while improving it along the way. Simultaneously building and evolving programs enables immediate business impact and the ability to stay on your customers’ radar and improve results.

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Drew NeisserFounder | CEO – Renegade LLC


Cut through.

To truly cut through, marketers need to differentiate everything, from the purpose they embrace to the employees they hire, from the service they provide to the experience they deliver, from the stories they share to the influencers they engage. This commitment to uniqueness must be deliberate and relentless. Anything less is like trying to cut down a
forest with a butter knife.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Bernie BorgesCEO – Find and Convert


Know thy customer… Keep your message simple… Meet the customer where they are… Be useful.

We live in the age of the 5-second attention span. The daily volume of messages thrown at the customer is unmanageable. The marketer must be clear on key message points, useful, human in the manner of interaction, and responsive to the customer. Engaging one-on-one (real or perceived) creates loyalty. This mantra must be lived by the marketer every day because loyalty must be earned every day.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Teresa de GrosboisPresident – Wildfire Workshops, Inc.


Influence-based marketing has one simple truth: To get influence, you must give influence.

In a world where only 14% of buying decisions are now informed by paid advertising, top marketers must master word of mouth and influence marketing. Relationships become key – relationships with your following, and with other influential people who have followings. Building relationships on the exchange of influence is a skill that has become to marketing, as breathing is to staying alive.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Gary R. SchirrAssociate Professor – Radford University


Just do it! Try, observe, and then iterate or pivot.

It is cheap – and quick – to fail online and on social media: a marketer can test a multitude of ideas quickly. Lean startup and design thinking processes should be applied throughout marketing. We should observe our target clients, customers, and audience to learn as much as possible about them; then we should experiment and learn. The goal is more good ideas implemented more rapidly.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Deborah WeinsteinPresident – Strategic Objectives


Big ideas deliver big results. Bigger ideas deliver bigger results

Be bold! In the words of the great German philosopher, Goethe, “Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” Marketers get limited by the medium or tools at their disposal. If you let big ideas lead and apply creative problem solving, with a moonshot approach, you and your clients will reap the reward.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Alan SeeChief Marketing Officer – Alan See CMO Temps, LLC


Tell them a story. A good story or strong symbol is more compelling than facts and figures.

People don’t think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. They focus on the story, and data merely comes along for the ride. Tap their emotion, if you’re not speaking to the emotional side of the brain, you’re not talking to the decision maker, emotion makes people take action. And remember, when you are telling your brand’s story, you aren’t spending money, you are investing.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Susan BorstSr. Director of Industry Initiatives – IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau)


Only the curious have something to find.

Being curious is the only way to stay relevant in today’s ever-changing marketing world. This mantra suggests that without a strong desire to learn more about something, the very definition of curiosity, new ideas will simply not be found. A curious mindset allows for agility and potential innovation that can lead to better, more informed choices relative to your strategic goals.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Cheryl BurgessCEO – Blue Focus Marketing


Social employees are the new authentic marketing channel.

Success in the digital bazaar depends on branding from the inside out. Social employees drive this process through authentic storytelling, helpful content, and community engagement. This works for two reasons: 1. social employees are more trusted than branded channels (and even CEOs!), and 2. employee engagement exponentially grows a brand’s digital footprint.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Kirby WadsworthCMO – Bayshore Networks


The Internet murdered the 4 P’s. Now 4 T’s create sustainable advantage; Trust, Tribe, Treatment, Transaction

Building Trust = understanding target, honesty, and helping first. Building Tribes = Trust at scale. Treatment at every touchpoint must strengthen tribal bond. Transactions must occur naturally to keep focus on relationships. By measuring the Four T’s, marketers avoid deathtraps of promoting features as benefits, selling on price, generating mountains of marketing bullshiteam, and spraying / praying spam.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Rebecca LiebAnalyst | Author | Advisor – Conglomotron LLC


1) Strategy before tactics. 2) There is no marketing without content.

Digital marketing brings with it a plethora of new media and new channels. Again and again, marketers feel the need to embrace – with great alacrity – the newest shiny object without first asking “why”? How will this fulfill business goals? How will we sustain the initiative? Measure it? What will we measure? This is where strategy comes in – addressing the ‘why’ before the ‘what’.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Jeff SwystunCEO – Swystun Communications


Marketing has a ‘golden rule’, always ask yourself, “How would I like to be marketed to?”

This keeps the focus on reciprocity. Marketing is a relationship, a two-way street, a process to achieve mutual benefit between people and brands. People expect marketing but do not want to be sold. They want to be valued, heard, and feel special. If you practice this golden rule, you will be that much closer to finding relevant truths that meaningfully and beneficially connect people and brands.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Colin ShawFounder | CEO – Beyond Philosophy


Customer experience (CX) is the new marketing.

This mantra makes marketers realize the experience the organization provides is the best form of marketing. The mantra implies customers see through the hype that marketing can create. In outlines that by marketing owning and leading the organization to provide a great customer experience, it will produce positive word of mouth that is the best form of marketing.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Ardath AlbeeCEO – Marketing Interactions, Inc. | B2B Marketing Strategist


Relevance is table stakes.

A focus on going beyond relevance insists that B2B marketers really know and understand their target markets; what they need, what they care about, and what they struggle with. Producing marketing programs that resonate will help to build more profitable relationships, as well as to validate contribution to downstream revenues. Both are critically important.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Gordon PlutskyDirector, Applied Intelligence, Strategic Marketing Services – International Data Group


Successful brands think customer first, placing the customer at the center of everything.

By thinking customer-first companies will design successful products, and create campaigns that draw insight from customer data. Marketers must remember it is about the customer, not their brand. Effective marketing must meet the customer’s emotional and rational needs to change behavior; true for B2C and B2B. Marketing’s goal is driving sales, and you need to think customer-first to be successful.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Joel BookSr. Director, Digital Marketing Insight – Salesforce


Smart marketing “serves” the customer by personalizing their product purchase and usage experience.

By using data, analytics and technology to deliver personalized offers and information to customers, smart marketers are accelerating sales and improving customer retention. Research from McKinsey & Company reveals that marketers who personalize the customer’s product purchase and usage journeys increase revenue by 15% and improve customer satisfaction by 20%!

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Judy ShapiroCEO | Founder – engageSimply


Great content engages. Great tech simplifies. But great marketing rests entirely on great execution.

The power of content is to engage audiences with passion and purpose. The promise of ad tech is to simplify marketing engagements. But the next innovation wave in ad tech will be all about next-gen execution technologies; inspiring and empowering marketers to create trusted and welcome user experiences – the gold standard for advertising excellence.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Scott AbelCEO | Chief Wrangler – The Content Wrangler


Content is a business asset worthy of being managed efficiently and effectively.

Factories use components. They assemble them into products using a repeatable, systematic process. This allows them to quickly adapt existing products for different markets. Marketers can mimic this approach by setting up intelligent content factories, designed to create and deliver customized content experiences automatically to various audiences on-demand. Intelligent content makes this possible.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Debra M RuhCEO – Ruh Global Communications


Brands need to engage with clients, use social media for positive social impact and focus on message.

We work on cause marketing for disability inclusion and accessibility. We find brands often mix up social impact messages by moving too far away from their brand identity. Remember that 85% of videos viewed on Facebook are viewed with the sound off. Caption your videos to assure viewers can comprehend your message. Brands must engage clients on social media. Do not talk ‘at’ us – talk ‘to’ us!

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Laura PattersonPresident – VisionEdge Marketing


It’s the question “why” that makes your marketing count.

To effectively measure the impact, contribution, and effectiveness of marketing on business decisions, you need to think in terms of markets, customers, and business priorities. However, each measurement must begin with you asking why and how. When you start asking these questions, you quickly make marketing’s data more relevant, credible, and influential to both your customers and the business.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Terry BrockPresident | CEO – Achievement Systems, Inc


Creating amazing, problem-solving solutions for others to continue growing.

We grow by focusing on helping others.
…It’s that simple.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Mark BurgessPresident – Blue Focus Marketing


Employee-driven content marketing is the new authentic branding channel.

The shift to online marketing communications has put a new emphasis on inbound marketing and less on intrusive outbound models. With this, the value of storytelling and authenticity has skyrocketed. People don’t want to talk to a brand; they want to talk to other people. Let your employees drive your content and advocacy efforts, and watch your brand value skyrocket.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Adele RevellaCEO – Buyer Persona Institute


Stop making stuff up. Act like a journalist, lose the scripts and ask buyers to reveal what matters.

Buyers always prefer their peer networks and reviews for advice. As we compete for influence, we can’t rely on creatively communicating our unique value. Through careful probing in unscripted 1:1 interviews, buyers will reveal why they abandon the status quo and what causes them to believe one option is better than another. By focusing on the levers buyers reveal, we earn their trust and business.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Ken RutskyConsultant | Author | Mentor | Speaker – KJR Associates, Inc.


Context over content. Their story, not ours.

Marketers today over focus on value and content, and sadly forget that the context of the market conversation between themselves and buyers exists in the customer’s context, not theirs. Your product and solution are a minor character in your customer’s story. To break through and lead, marketers must align their story and start and end their content in the customer’s context, not their own.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Eric FletcherCMO – Liskow & Lewis


TDSR: Targets + Drivers + Solution = ROI

TDSR is a marketing roadmap. It begins with strategic identification of the Target(s) we want to reach. Research and data analysis inform as to the target’s Drivers – the needs and aspirations likely to prompt action. This provides a basis for the creation of a Solution – from product / service innovation to specific deliverable. This kind of connection builds brand equity and generates ROI.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Vince FerraroManaging Partner – C-Level Partners LLC


You don’t have to be 100% right in marketing and branding so… fast speed, near perfect execution!

To use a sailing metaphor, you must often tack to the right answer for your business. You must use the wind to go from point A to B to C, etc. It is also true when you make branding and marketing decisions. My goal is to move teams to quicker with more frequent decisions. The idea being, accomplishments every three months are better for a business than waiting a year for 100 percent of a decision.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Adrian C. OttAward-Winning Author | CEO – Exponential Edge Inc.


Next-generation CMOs lead with a 4 A’s mindset: 1) Analytics, 2) Agile, 3) Automation, 4) Access.

Next-generation CMOs embrace a mindset of the “4 A’s” for their organization: Analytics: Mining data beyond traditional demographics to understand customer behavior, and time-ographics. Agile Methods: Creating a culture of teamwork and measurable results. Rinse, repeat, improve. Automation: Embracing new technology. Access: Content is key, but customer reviews and responsiveness also matter.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Shaun SmithFounder – Smith+Co


‘Above the line’ is becoming ‘below the radar’ for many customers today.

Consumers are bombarded with ads from print, pop-ups and TV. The emergence of new technologies mean they can screen many of them out, but those they do see, they take with a very large ‘pinch of salt’ in the wake of corporate scandals like VW, Wells Fargo and Barclays. So marketing messages are now often ignored unless they are authentic, entertaining and experiential. Think Lego movie.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Trevor YoungSpeaker | Author | Strategist + Adviser – PR Warrior


Deepen the connection with people who matter most to the success of your business, cause or issue.

Today’s marketplace is hopelessly cluttered and it’s only going to get worse. This being the case, we’re going to gravitate to those brands we have an affinity or emotional connection with. Deepening this connection requires organisations to focus on the people they serve rather than make it all about their products and services. Be useful, helpful, relevant, interesting, human and authentic.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Tony ZambitoOriginator of Buyer Personas | Market Strategist – TonyZambito.Com


“Think customers first!” A mantra for the new digital age and economy.

The importance of thinking of customers first has never been greater. This is different than just putting customers first. Thinking implies having cognitive skills to understand, assess, and be informed. Better marketers are informed marketers. They are informed by deep customer and buyer insights that help inform and shape effective marketing strategies. Thinking of customers first always!

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Lori MorenoCo-Founder | CDO –


“It’s all about our clients!” and you can quote me on that!

When our clients are asked, “What has your brand influencer done for you lately?” They proudly answer, “They did an unbelievable job spreading the message about my brand.” We listen. We listen some more. We fine-tune our course of action from the micro to the macro. Then we deliver exactly the results our clients ask for. We go the extra mile and do even more than our clients ask of us!

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

Keith KellerGlobal Twitter Marketing Specialist – Global Social Media Coaching


You are already awesome – my job is to make you world famous.

Twitter and other social media sites allow us to “share our brilliance” with the world. By tapping into the various platforms available, you can spread the word about what you do and share your wisdom with a global audience. I work with amazing people every single day now, and I still get such a thrill from sharing their messages with people around the planet.

 Website      Twitter       LinkedIn

David NewberryExecutive – LeanPie


“Pay it forward” – always put the recipient first and focus on how you can enhance their life.

It helps you to always consider the status, feelings, needs, expectations and aspirations of the people you are seeking to engage. Empathy sits at the heart of being human, and to be a great marketer it is critical to focus first and foremost on emotional wellbeing, as it is the emotional connection that you create that drives long-term brand loyalty.

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