“In my opinion, it is all down to trust. A lot of organisations don’t believe their people are really working unless they are being watched. Things are changing and evolving, especially within an agile environment like Everlytic“Karyn Strybos
With extensive agency experience, Karyn is now on the client-side as Everlytic’s Marketing Manager. As companies continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, she lets us in on how her organisation has weathered the storm during this turbulent period. Welcome to this segment of Women In Marketing
THE JOURNEY TAKEN
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career in marketing? How’d you end up at Everlytic?
I started my marketing journey at an online retailer where I spent 5 years growing into various roles – internal marketing, then direct into more segmented marketing, website manager and finally managing all the marketing aspects of the brand.
As the company was small and growing rapidly, the opportunities for growth were continuous and I had the opportunity to start grooming a team underneath me which was both exciting and terrifying.
I remember being in tears when I left there, I think everyone remembers their first job and especially when you become like a family. But I was set to further my growth in other areas. The first place I moved to the role was not challenging enough for me and there really wasn’t enough work to keep me stimulated. That is when I entered the world of agency life, this is not for everyone I tell you, but what an amazing experience that most would not change for anything in the world.
You have the opportunity to work on many different brands, which exposes you to many types of campaign strategies. Working with a phenomenal bunch of creative minds with different backgrounds, experience and theories encourage you to constantly push the boundaries in your campaigns. But most people who have worked in Agency will tell you that the end goal is to get to the client-side, so that is one of the reasons that my path sent me to Everlytic.
You have accumulated an envious amount of experience having worked for top-tier companies such as Digital Planet, Quirk as well as Accenture. What did you learn from these roles and how do you apply experiences in your current role at Everlytic?
Digital Planet was my first full-time job and it will always have a special place in my heart. The greatest learning from here was managing people with different personalities. There is no Bootcamp session for a leadership training session. You either sink or swim in the learning pool, making mistakes along the way.
At Quirk, I was exposed to amazingly talented people who taught me to think a bit more out of the box, and that team collaboration is key. I’m not going to lie, agency life is hard – it’s long hours, sweat, blood and tears. I remember one of my colleagues telling me that I should look forward to the 3-month breakdown…and I thought she was crazy…turns out she wasn’t lol, but as we know in life – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and it did! It’s a ton of pressure but I still wouldn’t change it for the world, it made me into everything that I am today.
Accenture gave me the opportunity to work with various people around the globe, we were the internal agency for marketers across Accenture globally. My boss was based in India, my project team in the USA and my customers in Europe. It was an experience like no other. One day I had an epiphany and decided that due to my experience levels being entirely digital, I should broaden my knowledge even further, so I took a 3-year break from digital where I worked at a B2B agency focused mainly on events. This was a huge shift for me, but once I got into it I did really well.
All the roles that I have had over my 16 years’ experience have set me up for the role that I am in today. They have provided me with a strategic mindset, strong project management and leadership skills which help me and guide me along my newest path. I missed Digital and wanted to get back into it – and that is what sent me to Everlytic.
As a woman in the marketing and communications environment, what challenges do you face within and outside the organisation? What message do you have for other female professionals in the fraternity?
I don’t think it is necessarily a woman vs. men thing in my organisation today, but there is a continuous struggle in general where marketers aren’t taken as seriously as other departments and sometimes are just thought to “make things pretty”.
Marketing encompasses so much more than that, yes, we are responsible to uphold a certain brand image (and we love pretty things), but our main goal is to drive the right type of leads into the business and that is no easy feat. We are also responsible for a percentage of new business revenue and have targets to prove it.
My advice for other female professionals in marketing would be to continuously communicate and share the business impact-driven from your marketing initiatives so that other departments can see the true value. Collaborate with them as much as you can; add value where possible – be someone that takes a great interest in the business as a whole and not just your department.
Also, push yourself to share the work that you have done and have an opinion on things. As women, in general, we struggle to toot our own horns at the risk of seeming overly confident. You should be confident in your abilities, that’s the first step. And have the data to back it up so that if someone does push back, they can see that you have actually done the research and put thought into your response.
I also believe that a marketing team should not work in a silo, which is what we try really hard to do at Everlytic. The more we collaborate with sales, the more we understand the type of information that is needed to nurture our leads.
Aligning with our development team gives us the opportunity to add our own perspective and suggestions but also to understand each of the features and the pain point that it solves – the more we understand the better we can market. Collaborating with the customer success teams and support teams helps us get a far greater understanding of how customers utilise the product and what type of information is required to help them use it better.
ENTERING THE WORKPLACE
What does your typical day of work look like? How does your calendar look and are you a coffee or tea kind of person?
I am an early riser and most productive in the morning, so I start my workday between 07h00 and 07h30, I generally have a ton of email to catch up with as well as admin which I tackle first. As we are an agile organisation; I have a daily stand up with my team and we run through the previous day’s tasks, if there were any challenges and then what’s on the list for the current day.
I am working to reduce the number of meetings that I have but I can’t lie when I say admin and meetings take up the bulk of my day, I spend time analysing the types of leads that our campaigns are bringing through to the business as well as the status of those leads. I keep a close eye to make sure that all of our efforts are producing the right results. Most days I feel like I blink and poof…there it goes.
I am both a coffee and tea person, I generally have my cuppa tea in the morning and the last cup at night (although I seem to be having more hot chocolate these days than anything else). Coffee keeps me going throughout the day. Thank you, COVID-19 for the lonely coffee breaks I now have to take.
Forbes has an annual ‘The World’s Most Influential CMOs’ report. For the year 2019, one of the key highlights from the report was that 31 of the 50 CMOs were women whilst there were 19 men. In your opinion, is this a positive representation of gender equality?
The above does show a positive representation of women and the opportunities to prove themselves and be successful in these roles which shows great strength and resilience as it is not always easy. There are, unfortunately, still men in businesses who see women as weak and emotional, and don’t feel that they can be both mothers and strong high-powered performers. I believe that our empathy is what sets us apart and is an amazing leadership tool and with the mobile workforce today, you can afford the flexibility to focus both on family and on your career.
Mindsets are changing, but to this point, I feel it is also important to note that gender diversity is extremely important in an organisation and that men and women bring diverse perspectives, problem-solving approaches and strengths to an organisation so this is by no means a man bash and some of my most inspirational leaders have been men. Men who see the value and potential of women.
Closely linked to the previous question, several studies reveal that women account for the majority of purchase decisions including traditional male products such as automobiles, consumer electronics as well as home improvement products. Despite this, surveys further show that advertisers still do not understand women. Why do you think this is the case and what should change if research says that 50 of the most influential CMOs are in fact, women?
If you are in the business of marketing and selling your products and solutions, you better make sure that you know your audience, their pain points, their aspirations. Use data to gather this information as often how humans communicate their wants and needs, and their actual actions taken are very different. Use technology that can help you easily analyse your data and strategically send communications to your audience based on their interests and behaviours (Small Everlytic punt here…ahem our software can help you with that 😉).
COVID-19 has been a disruption to a number of organisations. So much that several businesses, small and big alike either having to cut down on staff or being forced to close down. On the same token, however, several organisations have used this time to regroup and use this as an opportunity for change in structure and processes. How has your organisation and specifically, your department, countered against the impact brought by the pandemic?
For us, in particular, we are lucky that we are a digital business, and further to that a digital communication business. This means that our software’s needed now more than ever. Marketers need to find new ways to keep brand loyalty alive, and often this can be done by providing helpful and valuable content.
At Everlytic we follow an inbound approach to marketing where we create thought-leadership content that helps both the industry and our customers to market better. We have created blog posts and an ebook to help businesses understand how and why they need to continue communicating during this time and how to compile a crisis communication team. We try to adjust our content with the trends at the time and what is relevant in the industry.
Systems around remote work and video conferencing are increasingly becoming a staple to most organisations. To illustrate this, according to the infographic created by Visual Capitalist, Zoom is now worth more than the 7 biggest airlines in the world at a whopping market capitalization of just over $40bn. Working from home/remote working is an aspect of modern-day work that has been long overdue. Why do you think most organisations who are seemingly able to convert to this way of work have struggled to convert? Furthermore, how have you and your organisation structured your work since the COVID-19 pandemic? Any key lessons?
In my opinion, it is all down to trust. A lot of organisations don’t believe their people are really working unless they are being watched. Things are changing and evolving, especially within an agile environment like Everlytic. We are all held responsible for our own work, but also know that the work that we do affects others in the company.
We live in a culture where we speak up if we feel someone is not pulling their weight. Our founder instilled the most phenomenal culture in his belief that everyone does the best that they can with the information or tools they have at that time. We have a culture where we run retrospectives and collaboratively come up with solutions to solve issues or problems within the team.
We adopted working from home a week before the national lockdown and continue to work from home today. I foresee a much more flexible environment going forward as we haven’t really felt a drop in productivity and everyone is continuing to perform as they did at the office, other than the odd power outage or network failure.
I do feel that where the w-f-h culture suffers a bit is on the collaboration front as nothing beats being able to sit around a boardroom table or huddle in our dev lounge for a brainstorming session. I guess we will learn as we go.
Not everyone can work from home – some people have distractions or need an office to be stimulated.
Hold people accountable for their tasks but provide a more flexible working environment if that works better for them. People with kids may prefer to work early mornings and in the evenings, as they have to play teacher in-between.
As an organisation we have a daily stand-up, which I mentioned earlier, having these types of meetings helps to iron out or highlight any potential issues. The entire team goes through their tasks from the previous day, any challenges or issues they have faced and what is on their plate for today. This helps to bring everyone on the same page and to know what work is coming their way next.
Set up 1:1 meetings with your team to check-in and make sure that they are doing okay.
Use your video – it helps to maintain those relationships, and if your team struggles with data, then arrange a WIFI dongle or 3G card to assist.
What have been some of Everlytic biggest successes in marketing over the past 12 to 18 months?
I would say that the biggest success is that we have improved the quality of the leads coming into our pipeline immensely. It is more difficult to bring the right type of leads into a business and refining campaigns, content and targeting help with that. We spent quite a bit of time analysing what worked and what didn’t, and we seem to have found a successful recipe.
BCG published its innovation report for 2019 and at the core of its selection criteria are companies that have successfully married Artificial Intelligence in their products and services. According to you, what makes something innovative? How do you define innovation at Everlytic?
I believe innovation is about finding a really simple way to solve a complex problem.
According to Forbes, Diverse teams are better positioned to unlock innovation that drives market growth and at Everlytic we truly believe that. We ensure that we not only hire the best but that we also have diversity in the workplace.
Different people from different backgrounds and experiences bring about many strengths. By focusing on an innovative culture and environment we continuously push each other to be the best that we can be, do better, think differently and step outside the boundaries where needed.
At the time of publishing, an article from The Digital Marketing Institute estimated that the influencer marketing industry will hit the $10bn mark by 2020. Whether it is B2B or B2C, it is evident that brands and organisations have had their own success with this model of marketing. How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect this industry going forward and do you believe there is still a place for influencer marketing?
If an influencer is really authentically interested in your brand, uses it and doesn’t just go brand to brand based on who is paying them, then yes. Brands should choose influencers who have a natural affiliation with the brand or product otherwise it just becomes a trust issue for businesses or consumers.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Analytics
- Everlytic for all of our communications, of course, 😊 Yip – we eat our own dog food
What are your thoughts on Marketing and Sales alignment? How do you align your Marketing and Sales team at Everlytic?
I don’t think we are perfect at it, but we are getting there. The inbound and outbound sales teams meet on a weekly basis and we have a slot for marketing where we can align on the leads coming through or to update them on any new campaigns, or chat through any new initiatives that we would like input on. We try to loop some of the sales team members into brainstorming sessions and get their opinions on content where applicable such as lead nurturing content journeys. It’s really important as mentioned earlier to not operate in a silo if your marketing is on point and your sales team has no idea what is running there will be a complete disconnect.
2020 AND BEYOND
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information? Physical book vs eReader?)
I haven’t read a book for a while as I was busy with a leadership course – looking forward to diving into the next one. I am pretty flexible as I read both physical books and have an eReader. I also enjoy podcasts and audiobooks. I would highly recommend the Multipliers audiobook for anyone who wants to be a better leader.
What is on your Netflix watchlist/How do you relax?
Vikings, Dead to Me, Outlander, The 100, How to get away with Murder – Relaxing to me is playing the Guitar, reading a book, watching a movie or a series or playing games/socialising with friends and family.
A unique message for all young professionals in the marketing industry
Marketing can be really fun, but it’s important to note that this is not the case all of the time, it’s hard work but if you put in the time and effort it can be really rewarding and you will love the outcomes and creative movements that are born from it. Where possible try and push the boundaries, try different things. Some will work and some won’t. Learn from this and adapt as you go. Also, keep in mind that not everything is right for your brand, and not every channel, so make sure that you understand your audience and what channels they are most likely active on.
Also, very importantly, I have been in marketing for many years and the one thing that has remained constant is Email Marketing. Although it’s important to note that Email Marketing is not effective in the awareness phase, this is where social media, Google AdWords, Display and SEO and your other advertising initiatives play an important role. Email is really strong when someone has shown interest in your brand and given you permission to serve them with more information. It is still one of the most lucrative communication channels, so don’t push it aside for other cooler platforms, rather integrate it into your campaigns to allow for multi-channel effectiveness.
What haven’t you solved? What challenge is on your plate?
One of my biggest challenges at the moment is how to collaborate and brainstorm in a virtual way – we are used to huddling together in an interactive fashion – imagine lots of sticky notes and excited people jumping around.
I am still trying to find a solution to how to do this as effectively as we have done before. We have recently started using Miro which seems to be an interesting solution, but I am still playing around with it.
Any bucket list items (professional as well as personal)?
This is a hard one, I actually really like the idea of going into business coaching at some stage of my life. To help people in organisations continuously grow and improve themselves. I would also like to help the “old style” managers understand how to be a more modern leader in today’s age to get the most from their employees.
From a personal perspective, I would really love to travel the world and experience different cultures, a whole eat, pray, love scenario springs to mind.
Who are some of your female heroes?
What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
I definitely think AI and Machine learning are going to change the world of marketing, with the ability to be far more strategic and engage at exactly the right moment. Data is everything, but it’s also a huge responsibility – brands need to avoid being creepy with their usage of this data and make sure that they are transparent on how they are using your data.
At Everlytic we are super excited about data and how to enable our customers to execute more strategic campaigns through the use of our automation capabilities. We want them to have the time and resources to focus on creating winning content and campaigns and let the automation deal with the strategic execution.