Sandra Malone, Director of Marketing for marketingmoves, interviews George Stenitzer, Vice President-Marketing & Corporate Communications, Tellabs.

George is based in Chicago, Illinois USA.

SM: Good morning George, thanks very much for agreeing to do this interview for us.
GS: Good afternoon to you in London –

SM: As Vice President of Marketing & Corporate Communications at Tellabs, how have you seen the role of technology marketers change over the last few years?

GS: I’ve seen some overall trends driving the way marketing is implemented. For example, with the advent of social media, marketers have less control over what is said about their brand and business. Marketers are unable to interrupt customers. Customers can take to one of many channels to get their view across and give instantaneous feedback. I also find that customers are thrilled to discover information on their own, and that means that as marketers, we need to proactively put information in those new places. Half of the decision to engage or purchase takes place in a customer’s mind – marketers must therefore challenge the old marketing methods, challenge the status quo and move more seriously into digital, internet and content marketing. It could be uncomfortable for some technology marketers.

SM: What’s your vision for marketing in your sector? I’m not asking for your confidential market approach, rather a broader picture of what it would take to be a success in marketing in technology. In other words, taking all of your extraordinary personal experience and knowledge to date, what can you see over the horizon that’s needed in either human or other resources to drive market share?

GS: There are two parts to that question. In marketing we absolutely need to understand the customers’ journey and the touch points that we can have between our brand and the customer. Customers’ behaviours are now much more important than their opinions. It’s how they behave and what actions they take that’s the difference between the customer choosing your brand or a competitor’s . For example, there used to be a time when marketers used opinion research to understand customer requirements, but now, key customers won’t participate in standard research. That’s why tracking behaviours becomes more important. It will also drive more thought-provoking content. A customer’s attention window is smaller today, yet they are receiving an inverse proportion of information. Two minutes is about the right serving size for customers in terms of content information.

As for technology, I describe it as a’ Game of Leap Frog’. Leap, Stumble and Pounce is fundamental to technology. Competitors are continually leaping over each other with new product innovations, but eventually they stumble. At which point, their competitors pounce. Marketers need to listen well and watch for the stumble. That helps in defining new customer needs and opportunities and could lead to the creation of new solutions. There’s a very small window to pounce.

SM: What skills and attributes impress you the most when you are recruiting marketers?

GS: I like to see people who have done their homework on the company and on me. I like to see persuasiveness. Literacy is very important, both visual and financial literacy. For example, how does a candidate work with infographics? Financial literacy is important too. Understanding the balance sheet is crucial; demonstrating that the candidate can control expenses and manage ROI is absolutely critical.

SM: Can you share some key insights with us on what it takes to be a global marketer?

GS: I think it’s important to understand how different cultures collide. Different languages, different histories, different means of listening, communicating and negotiating mean that people respond and react differently. It’s so important to have a local presence to help a company work through these differences. Top down campaigns created from ‘the centre’ will never work. There has always been a need for campaigns to have local input with local relationships. Campaigns from the centre are always concerned with the rigid use of language and vocabulary. It’s more important to ensure a clear understanding of intent, purpose and meaning, if you want an effective global campaign.

SM: For today’s marketer, who is perhaps quite young and ambitious, what tips could you share?

GS: What would I discover about them through their online presence? As a professional marketer, it’s now critical to have a good online presence. I’d also suggest that they join professional associations to network and make contacts. I joined the Business Marketing Association, (USA) and served on committees, as a board member and officer, both locally and national. I’ve learned the most from my peers.

I’d also suggest that marketers have a career plan to ensure that they have a broad and well-rounded background set of skills and experience. Don’t get stranded in a dead-end specialist role. Remember how important print advertising was? Unless those specialists have kept abreast of all that is digital, they will have been left behind.

SM: Finally, how do you see the technology sector evolving – what will be the drivers, barriers and enablers?

GS: The biggest change has to be the move to mobility. We are always on the move with our laptops, iPAD’s etc; we use our smartphones to bring us the answers that we’re searching for. We have a thirst for content and I see that continuing. As a company, we have to be where people are searching.

There’s also a big data big trend. Companies are amassing huge amounts of data – they know how to collect it, but leveraging it will be the problem.

SM: George, thank you so much for your time and your insights and good luck at Tellabs.

GS: Thank you.

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