Giuseppe Caltabiano, Senior Director of Marketing at Rock Content, talks to The Ortus Club’s Hannah Hodkinson about the essentials of an effective long-term marketing strategy as well as the importance of flexibility and creativity in marketing.
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Can you give us a one-sentence summary of your company?
Rock Content is a global and distributed company that creates integrated marketing solutions designed to build premium content experiences. Our solutions empower brands to launch content strategies that build awareness and drive revenue.
Can you describe the of role a Senior Director of Marketing in one word? Why?
I will say ‘strategist’. I think the role may change based on the size and focus of each company but in general terms, a good and long term strategic vision is required. At Rock Content for example, the Senior Director of Marketing has a responsibility over most of the marketing functions. In my case, I need strategy for marketing growth, product marketing, branding, and creative operations. We run marketing campaigns in collaboration with the content team with the double-objective: building our brand and capturing demand.
What current challenges are Senior Directors of Marketing facing right now? Can you identify a solution?
The main challenge, not just for Marketing Directors but for marketing departments, is avoiding falling into the trap of what I call ‘short-term marketing’. The KPIs of our bonuses are based on short-term figures, so we forget about long-term strategy including brand building.
We need to properly combine the two different disciplines. The real challenge is understanding the context in general and designing a proper marketing strategy for your company. It’s balancing long-term marketing, which is brand building, content marketing, and awareness initiative, to generate demand and also short-term marketing, which is lead activation and performance marketing, to capture that demand.
Without a proper balance, your brand risks failure and you don’t want to risk being in a situation where you have built strong conversion capabilities but you are generating weak demand or vice-versa where you have strong demand but weak levels of conversion.
Can you identify a solution?
I don’t think there is a magic recipe. We just need to go back to the marketing basics. Marketing is where science and creativity blend. We need to sapiently combine long-term and short-term marketing. Marketing activation is based on logic and rational messaging but at the same time, we must focus on long-term initiatives through the emotional, creative side of marketing. A proper balance of the two disciplines is the way to address this challenge.
“We just need to go back to the marketing basics. Marketing is where science and creativity blend. We need to sapiently combine long-term and short-term marketing.”
How do you explain the success you’ve had in your career?
I think it’s a combination of several factors. The first is the humility to continuously learn from others, follow leaders, and learn best management practices from others.
Second is my experience in both global large enterprises, where I spent nearly 15 years of my career, and startups, where I moved about 5 or 6 years ago, which gave me a proper understanding of B2B and B2C marketing domains and perspectives.
I think this double experience gave me some kind of flexibility and understanding of the two different worlds: the large and the small brands, consumer and B2B. And finally, my marketing studies and background. I think proper marketing education is often underestimated, but it’s a critical foundation. The experience is not enough. It should be based on solid marketing education.
How can you see your role evolving in the next two to three years?
I think it’s not just about my role, but all marketing functions. Branding is back. Creativity is back. Emotional marketing is back. All these aspects have been neglected in the last few years.
Now, recent studies by marketing authors like Byron Sharp and Peter Field, just to mention a few, demonstrate with evidence that marketing ruled by logic or the left brain has dominated the marketing scenario in the last few years. We are expecting rising creativity together with the rise of emotional marketing, and that’s really why I’m focusing so much on stress in the concept of this kind of two-velocity marketing—long-term and short-term at the same time.
What career advice would you like to share with Senior Directors of Marketing?
Go back to basics. Be very curious. Keep learning. You will need a broad marketing education to start from branding, pass through content, and end up with performance and activation. Never jump to execution. Analysis first, diagnosis first, then build your strategy based on guiding principles and finally, think about the execution and the tactics.
The very final point is to hire the right team and rely on them. Hire people you can learn from. Surround yourself with the best experts in different fields. Their success at the end will be your success.
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