In the latest edition of the Ignite University podcast, seasoned marketing vet Nancy Bhagat shares the career path and qualities that lead her to become VP at a Fortune 50 company – and how you can get there, too.
Throughout the interview, we’ll also touch on how to deal with emerging trends and challenges in modern marketing, and much more.
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John Lincoln: All right, everybody. Welcome to another Ignite visibility University. Today I have Nancy Bhagat with us to discuss what marketing looks like at the highest level, really excited to be speaking with her.\
Nancy, if you don’t know she has been VP of the incubation team at Intel VP of global marketing strategy at Intel an SVP and CMO at macro media and held critical marketing roles at a number of different companies.
So Nancy is a seasoned marketing and business executive who excels at identifying new opportunities and she’s currently president at the marble group and Nancy, thank you so much for being on Ignite visibility University podcast. How you doing today?
Nancy Bhagat: Hey John I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me here.
John Lincoln: Awesome, thanks so much for being here. So the first thing I wanted to get into is I just want to hear a little bit about your current role. What do you love to today. What is your day to day look like tell me just a little bit about that.
Nancy Bhagat: Sure, so as John said, I’m the president of Maribel group which is a consulting company and we’re focused on sales and marketing strategy and research and insights, and generally work with clients that you know have a business of changing business priority or identify areas where they’re looking to develop new products and to new markets really trying to change and amplify their commercial efforts and we work with clients from all sizes startups, large companies across verticals, although a lot of B2B and it’s really exciting in this stage of my career to be able to spend my time talking to other marketers senior executives focused on their business strategy and working as an extension of their team to help drive results.
John Lincoln: Awesome. And I’ve seen a lot of people who have had these really amazing careers in marketing eventually kind of transition into a role like you’re in now and I’m sure you’re bringing just a ton of high level strategic and tactical value to to a lot of different people in that role.
I want to go back just a little bit and I know that our Ignite visibility listeners, they’re really interested in what a career path looks like to eventually getting to a position like a VP of global marketing at Intel. So, you know, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind, could you walk us through kind of like what is your career path look like to getting to Intel and even to where you are today.
Nancy Bhagat: Sure, so you know, marketing, it’s interesting how its developed over the years because there’s so many different areas of expertise. And with something like engineering people tend to be a certain type of engineer, industrial or mechanical or electrical engineer. With marketing, you know, some people also focus in the same way where their specialist in digital or product or strategy.
What I’ve done is a little bit different in that I’ve been very deliberate in accepting positions and working to build out my capabilities across marketing in every domain. So I started out in an agency in the media side really focused on expertise there got involved with creative and moved into digital expertise product marketing and strategy. So I’ve got a real breath of capabilities across the spectrum of marketing and in in hand in hand with that.
I’ve also worked a lot of different settings. So from the agency side to a marketing services startup jumping over to the client-side working small clients a large clients I can, you know, that breath I think has been really interesting for me. And you know what, I think pushed me and I give a lot of advice along these lines of, you know, don’t be afraid to take risks. And really think about, you know, learning so you can learn either my way where you’re looking across the breath or you can go real deep and become an expert in so many different areas that are associated, for example, with digital.
John Lincoln: Yeah, that’s really interesting. You know, I think you know you can get pigeonholed a little bit. Right. So say you just spend, you know, eight or nine years just doing paid media and just specifically Google AdWords, that’s something that could probably hinder somebody who’s looking to get into kind of a general top-level strategic marketing role. Would you say that’s correct?
Nancy Bhagat: Yes, I agree. And that’s why I think particularly earlier on in your career when you’re looking at the first five to seven years, you know, how are you trying out different types of marketing areas and how you getting a feel for it because, particularly in this day and age, you know, marketing, it’s all about integration. Digital plays a really critical role across everything that we do. So the more you can pick up different areas. And then if you choose to focus, and then go deeper and one that’s fine, but at least you’ve given yourself a really strong foundation of understanding different parts of the marketing spectrum.
John Lincoln: Awesome, that’s great advice. So Ignite university or everybody out there, you know, think about creating a diversified skill set, you know, I started out actually as at a magazine where I became director of online communications and I was a marketing manager at a place for a couple years. And then I became a director of SEO and then, you know, kind of worked in all these different areas. I would agree with Nancy 100% that just makes you so well rounded and understanding those different aspects can make you a great marketer. So, you know, and Nancy that’s allowed you to climb, you know, all the way up to, really, the highest levels of marketing and I think it just be really interesting for our listeners to hear when you finally get there right when you finally become you know the SVP the CMO when you become the VP of global strategy at a big company. What does it feel like up there. What is your day to day look like? Walk us through that just a little bit.
Nancy Bhagat: Sure. Well, I think first of all you never stop learning. And that’s one of the things that once you get to the most senior role or a senior role, you still have to be touch in touch with what’s going on around the whole marketing world and it’s very dynamic. So, you know, I’m not an expert on Google AdWords, but, uh, certainly try to pay attention and I watch your podcast John so I’m familiar with what’s going on. So you’ve got to continue that learning aspect and being knowledgeable of what is happening in the marketing industry.
John Lincoln: Definitely. And I just, I think one thing I’ve noticed I do, I do have one or two friends who are in that role as a CMO and I’ve seen some of them who are very deliberate with their time and they don’t overbook themselves. I’ve seen other ones who are CMOS who are triple booked every hour of every day. I mean is it very busy at that level or certain things you have to do to kind of manage your time effectively?
Nancy Bhagat: Definitely. I think everyone’s busy. Now, it’s not just, you know, a certain type of industry or companies so I think I, I set aside time for reading and for watching podcasts and attending conferences and doing everything I can. Because being knowledgeable and educating myself continues to be important part of my job, regardless of what company on that side. I think that is critical.
John Lincoln: It wouldn’t, you know, these, these companies structures just grow and grow and grow it and you know we’re talking to Qualcomm on the podcast, pretty soon here. I’m excited to kind of hear about how they’re structuring their marketing department, but when the companies get so large, how do you effectively manage, you know, a marketing team of 20 or 50 people or or 100 people across different product lines, you know what, what goes into that as a, you know, executive dashboards talking about that a little bit.
Nancy Bhagat: Yeah, so one of, one of the things I was going to point to to your, your comment around how do you stay aligned with what’s happening in the industry. I think surrounding yourself with really strong people’s critical. So whether it’s people on your team as a senior manager or whether it’s having peers that are really knowledgeable in different areas that you can turn to and talk about, you know, what they’re working on and learn from them from a more tactical perspective, you know, collaboration is really critical, but having access to information. And that’s where the ability to have dashboards so easy to see what’s going on. You can pull up reports at every level.
There’s so many different kind of collaboration tools. Some companies are using slack. There’s a lot of different types of products out there. So having access to information, being able to report out and share it in a nimble fashion is really critical because information is valuable used at all levels of the organization. So yeah, so there’s a lot of different things in terms of how you manage both at a very large level with a lot of people as well as how you manage in a smaller environment.
John Lincoln: And it seems like to me, it becomes much more strategic business-oriented new business old it elements new market entry, you know, opposed to like tactical stuff. So, you know, for all you Ignite listeners out there, you know, that’s a big shift from somebody who’s a specialist to becoming a, you know, a head of marketing. When do you see the shift from tactic to strategy really happened.
Nancy Bhagat: Well, I think, to two parts to that. So one as I see marketing really getting much more accepted as having a seat at the table and driving business impact. And that’s it. The most senior levels, that’s really increased I’d say over the last couple years. And there’s a number of CMOS out there who have done a really terrific job of driving a very strong, important role at at the senior leadership team as you go through your career and you reach different levels, really thinking about the strategy at every single level is increasingly important because you need to be able to equate what you’re doing with really, what’s the value of that and the importance and you have to be able to articulate that because you can be a really great tactician and, you know, have your spreadsheets and your numbers and have the best plans in place. But if you can’t articulate that to your boss or to other important business leaders as to why you’re doing it and why it matters to them in a language that they understand then you’re never going to be able to continue to rise in your career. So I think you always need to be strategic at every level as you move up the ladder. The amount of strategy becomes increasingly important but you’ve got to be thinking, every time, even your first job, what am I doing and why should someone care about it.
John Lincoln: 100% and I thank you so much. So Ignite listeners it is so important to keep that in mind. I used to think I had to pack, you know, 100 pages into a deck with tactic and tactic. I’m doing this. I’m doing that. You know when you’re working with somebody at Nancy’s level that’s really not what they want to see. They want to see one slide, top-level strategy, showing that you can summarize and take the big picture of a massive business and put it into one area that’s brief that’s going to save them time. Give them the information that they need to make the decisions. And so that’s a big shift and something that I’ve learned by Nancy talking to you, frankly, and then working with other. CMOS over time. So, really interesting stuff there. And I think strategy is really everything as you get working with bigger and bigger companies.
And so, Nancy shifting gears a little bit. You know the marketing world is changing a lot. We’re seeing a lot of people go from more traditional based advertising to digital advertising. We’re seeing digital advertising get incredibly sophisticated, so many different places to spend your money so many different sources and mediums as far as traffic going to your website. So where are you seeing some of the biggest successes in marketing right now and how has that kind of changed over the last few years.
Nancy Bhagat: So the rise of digital has been, I think, incredible both with the speed and the increased sophistication in innovation, as you point out, and I do think, you know, a lot of large companies that were known for their digital marketing efforts have if not gone completely to digital it now represents a significant portion of their marketing spend in activities. So, so that’s important. And what’s interesting, too, is the whole field of digital measurement is changing. And that relates back to our ability to demonstrate the business impact and also be accountable. So there’s a bunch of new companies to that are jumping up that are helping in terms of the measurement and the tracking space there. I think there are some other areas that tie back to this when you think about digital in terms of one of them is the rise ofDirect to Consumer so DTC you’re seeing much and more marketing innovation. A lot of it is digital in terms of how you reach customers as well as innovation in testing different types of sales channels.
Nancy Bhagat: So just another couple things to think about digital that’s related. Getting back to, you know, data, you know, whether reasons why I think some of the early companies getting into the space was their ability to track and it’s not just, you know, click throws and all the actions are taken from a campaign perspective, it’s really getting into data itself and data about our customers and prospects and what does that mean from a digital strategy and a big data perspective. So you’re seeing this small world of digital that’s now grown and expanded to so many different aspects of what digital really means. And what’s included in that definition.
John Lincoln: I think you just hit on such a really important point. And I just find it fascinating. The way that you can organize data nowadays from collecting people and turning them into different audiences for paid media for Facebook though look alike audience email addresses finding people to target through online through email addresses. I mean data. Just building data over time, never looking at a visitor as one visitor, but as a piece of data that you hold on to for as long as until they clear you are until you get in trouble from the European Union for GDP are basically or you have to follow those rules, of course, right.
But so, so I would say, you know, I’ve heard from a lot of people like pain point wise, one of the biggest problems they have is clear attribution in your tracking. What, what are some of the bigger pain points that you’re seeing for your clients and that you’ve seen just in general, from the marketing perspective in the modern age.
Nancy Bhagat: So, you know, you mentioned the privacy issue, and in some people are saying, oh, now we can’t track. We can’t collect data. And that’s really not the case at all. So I think the real challenge for marketers is how do you become relevant and we’re seeing a lot of this with the rise of brands that are focused on being socially conscious and companies that are taking more of an outside-in perspective, that is about how are they relating to the people that they want to sell to are they developing products and solutions that match their needs are they socially responsible in that their values map back to the people they’re trying to reach. And if that’s the case, then people are more than willing to actually give you their data and they want you to reach out to them.
So I think what’s interesting now is it’s an easy way out to say, well, I can’t track and there’s all these privacy laws in place that forbid me or prevent me from doing my job effectively instead of challenges. How do you do your job in a way that you’re really much more focused on the market and bringing that insight to your messaging, to your communication efforts, even to your products and the role of marketing helping to influence all that in some cases owning it is really important. And I think that I’d say it’s a challenge but it’s also an opportunity.
John Lincoln: I think you just hit on one of the major pain points major opportunities. I am so excited you brought that up. I was talking to another gentleman who mentioned the same thing. He was saying, you know, for digital marketing agencies, it’s the biggest opportunity and the toughest time ever, because the great people who can differentiate themselves are going to go to the top and get market share the other people who, who are not good, you know, they’re going to, it’s going to become too competitive, they’re going to be gobbled up. And then I think about, you know, you talked about differentiator. There’s this shirt that I bought the other day from a store called Untucked. They have shirts, just like everybody else out there. There’s one main differentiator. It’s part of their brand name. It’s that it’s really been designed so that you can wear it untucked. Right. That differentiator has allowed that brand to completely cut through the clutter. I also bought a pair of shorts the other day, while we’re talking about what kind of clothes I wear, but the shorts, basically were marketing themselves on Instagram as the most comfortable shorts in the world, right, that was the main thing that they lead with and they just built this whole story around how comfortable they are and how many different places you can wear them and they really knew their markets so I think that if you can really refine that message in the modern-day and hit people a couple times with all these targeting abilities that we now have now it is a huge opportunity. And I think that that’s kind of what you’re saying. Right.
John Lincoln: Yeah, that’s definitely what I’m saying. And those are two great examples. The shorts company, are they the ones that started in San Francisco?
John Lincoln: They may be, I’m blanking on the name right now. Start with the V or something, but they yeah they’re doing mostly in I’ve seen a lot of this. It’s like companies that will build a story. They’ll have almost no brand, but they build a great story. And then they just, they just run tons of social media ads and do consistent remarketing through that and they build great business models off of it.
Nancy Bhagat: Great. So that, that’s a good example of what we we’re talking about so and I think too that there’s opportunity in digital and it is harder, but it’s worth it. And it also raises the importance, as a digital marketer, are you collaborating with other members of the marketing team. And that’s where getting the messaging right and, you know, understanding the profile of who you’re reaching out to what are their passions. So it all comes together and it brings up that word of integration, not just from a campaign perspective, but an integration from the communications and the value prop setting.
John Lincoln: Awesome stuff. Great. So last question I have for you today. I just want to hear a little bit about anything new, that’s going on with you that we can kind of shout out, but you know, just any final tips you know people in the modern day marketing climate, you know, marketers today, any final kind of words of advice for them in 2019 so so they can be successful.
Nancy Bhagat: Wow, that’s a that’s a tall ask. And I’ll say, first of all, let me say there’s not enough conversation around people development. And I think at all stages of your career, and you can be a junior person who’s working with an intern or you know college student is asking you for advice. I think at all levels, we need to see our roles and responsibilities and helping to develop other people, whether it’s mentoring or just teaching or just sharing information. And there’s a famous quote from Madeleine Albright that I love. She says there’s a special place in hell for women that don’t help other women. I’d actually broaden it too because I think helping men as well as critically important, so as you grow throughout your career think about, you know, both your role, how you’re getting ahead, how you’re expanding your own experiences, knowledge base, but also what’s, what are you leaving behind and how are you helping other people. So that so that’s one really important piece I want to make sure, because it is a role of everyone out there.
John Lincoln: Absolutely continue to invest in yourself, continue to learn, stay dedicated to to, you know, just learning on on a weekly basis, getting better at your field, things change so fast. And I know I kind of put you on the spot with that question, Nancy, but things change so fast, especially this year, you know, in the modern age. I mean, the thing is almost a lot of the experience that I have from, you know, over the last, you know, decade or two. You know, it is not as relevant anymore. What matters is what’s working right now so I love that investing in yourself. Studying learning, you know, becoming better. And a great place to do that is to watch the weekly news videos that I put out there. So anybody listening can check those out.
Nancy, as far as next things that you have going on and that are coming up in your life, anything exciting on the business or personal side that we keep an eye out for?
Nancy Bhagat: Yeah, I’ll just say I’m really excited right now about the opportunities for all of us as marketers, personally with the Maribel group I’m working with. Great cut great clients, both from startup to larger companies, helping them both drive change addressing challenges. So it’s a really terrific time and it’s it. The second thing I’m excited about is just seeing the recognition of marketers around the world, and there’s some really great people out there in the industry that are doing a terrific job and seeing them get recognition, I think, is a wonderful thing for us all.
John Lincoln: Awesome, Nancy. Thank you so much for taking time for giving back for helping marketers that you know the Ignite visibility listeners out there. We really appreciate the words of wisdom. I know people are going to learn a lot from this podcast. So thank you so much. I appreciate you taking the time and have a great day. Talk to you soon.
Nancy Bhagat: Thank you very much.