Entrepreneur/Co-Founder and Former CMO Joe Kaplan Talks Effective Marketing

Joe is a proven leader and key influencer in large corporate organizations, and he is an entrepreneur with extensive start-up expertise. He has been a Senior Marketing Executive in both Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) organizations with high-level Business Development experience. He is highly strategic, with a solid understanding of the tactical marketing solutions that drive ROI. Joe was the Co-Founder & CEO of eGolfScore, a real-time mobile golf technology company that developed one of the first apps on a mobile device. At Western Union, Joe created a successful marketing and promotional campaign with Hoop Dreams, #1 documentary film.

When you were CMO, what was your experience like? How did you work your way to becoming CMO, and what challenges did you encounter?

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I always felt like I was a marketer, but the jobs that I’ve held earlier in my career were more financially driven. For instance, being a financial analyst or in business planning, there was less marketing and more operational learning, which helps when you become a marketer. My first real official marketing role happened at Nabisco, which was a very big consumer packaged goods company. I had the opportunity to work with a lot of great colleagues, and I also worked on big national brands like Grey Poupon and Milk-bone.

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When we won an award for Grey Poupon, I remember asking some of my colleagues out of curiosity as to how much money we made off of that promotion. Interestingly, there was less rigor at times towards the financial impact of some of our marketing campaigns. Now, that’s not everybody, that’s not to throw anybody under the bus, but that was the reality in focusing on our campaigns. We did a lot of big splashy things with bigger budgets, but as someone who came from a financial background and a marketing mindset, I was asking questions like how do you make money, how do you drive ROI. And I’ve been asking myself these questions throughout my career, including when I worked as product manager at Western Union, VP of Marketing at a financial service organization, and when I was CMO of the largest division at CIT Group.

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When you become CMO, you need to become concerned with the overall company brand an image to the market place, and everything you do underneath has to tie together because no matter if you have one dollar or a million dollars,you really want to make every dollar look like ten. You want that multiplier effect. You want to learn different ways to build that brand umbrella while still working with each organization in order to get the actual blocking and tackling done, as well as marketing tactics that will drive the business. In that arena, there was always a balancing act. The biggest thing was learning leadership skills and ways to bring people together, not only internally, but also with a lot of external agencies. So, it’s critical that you get everyone working as one team, and that’s where you can leverage your budget and have a bigger impact on the market and customers.

As CMO, what did you find was the most effective way to delegate and organize?

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Become a really great listener. As marketers, as salespeople, we really like to talk. But the way to get your message across first and foremost is to really listen to your customers. Your customers could be your employees or colleagues within your marketing group and team. What are they saying? What are their needs? How do they work best together? You really have to pay attention to that. And I think by doing that, you really gain the respect of the people that are working with you, it is a very collaborative environment which I follow, and at the end of the day as the leader you need to be very decisive, which is another big thing. Being decisive is the way you gain respect from your team internally and externally. But to make those decisions it comes back again to listening to everyone and gathering everyone’s input. I don’t think you’re going to have all of the information and that’sanother thing you learn is that when you’re doing analytics, you try to do it as extensively and diligently as possible. However, there’s a time when you have to draw the line, and make thedecision based upon the information at hand. I think that doing all of those things helps you gain respect from your team members, which helps you delegate more and drive the business.

What’s the most effective way to market an idea or product?

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When it comes to marketing, everybody has their thing, but here is how I do it. On the simplest level, there are 7 questions that I like to ask: what is our product, who is the customer, who will sell it, how many people will buy it, how much will it cost to design and build, what’s the sales price, and when will we break even. It’s a simplified list, but it incorporates a lot of different things. What I find interesting is that by determining these 7 things, these answers will help you decide if you’re spending you’re advertising or marketing dollars on a billboard, on a television ad, or on social media – or a little on all three!

Everybody obviously for very good reasons got caught up in social media marketing. Nothing wrong with that, it’s fantastic, I was an early driver, co-founding a real-time golf technology company in early 2000 (eGolfScore). We were at the early stages and cutting edge of the Internet, wireless and mobile devices and marketing, way before Facebook, just when Google was getting started. I think what people got caught up in is so much of whether it’s Snapchat or Instagram or Facebook or whatever the medium is, once again, the basic question never changes. There’s always a customer and understanding who that customer is and how they interact with you is the best way to develop your marketing plan, media plan, selling plan, and how you want to basically distribute the resources that you have towards creating value for your business.