Creating a culture of diversity and inclusion

It’s been quite a while since I posted on this blog, but I hope my excuses are legitimate. Last March after returning from ten months of traveling around the world, I joined digital agency Ueno as a Senior Marketing Strategist. Fast forward one year later, and I just became a mom to my first child! So, things have been busy but wonderful. And I’m here to tell you a bit more about the wonderful lesson Ueno has taught me about creating a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Diversity and inclusion sounds like a cliche HR term we’ve heard all too often, without stopping to think about what it means or have meaningful conversations about how to achieve it. The truth is, I didn’t think much about it until I started working at the most culturally diverse company I’ve ever been a part of… and a light bulb went off.

We represent six nationalities in our office of only ten people. It’s amazing. At any moment I might hear four different languages being spoken, and we spend our team lunches talking about cultural differences, where and how people grew up, and learn all kinds of fascinating tidbits about each other’s home countries. (One of our favorite topics is food because there’s no better source of culture, and we’re all foodies!) Our differences actually unify the team by giving us the shared identity of being international. When we have clients or friends visit our office, I proudly tell them that I am one of only two born-and-raised Americans in the office, naming all of the different countries where my colleagues are from. Impressive, right!?

Our wealth of cultural backgrounds impacts our work more than you might think. We’re all influenced by the things we grew up around, and learning about these different experiences sparks curiosity in one another. It leads us to ask more questions. In one example, I never realized how weird and stupid the American tradition of Groundhog’s Day is until a French colleague asked, perplexed, “So Americans think a little animal can predict the end of winter… for real?” Ummm, yeah, it’s super weird. And I’d never questioned it before.

So, while Trump isn’t making it easy, I would encourage any company to hire international employees. It really does impact the overall flavor of a company and naturally fosters creativity.

In addition to our international employees, Ueno has a culture of sharing ideas. The thought that great ideas can come from anywhere is ingrained in us. A designer can have a great marketing idea. A marketer can offer valuable design input. And, importantly, an employee with two years of experience can have an equally valid idea as the employee with ten years. Some might describe this as a flat culture, but to me it’s common sense. How can people grow professionally if they aren’t encouraged to share and test ideas?

The tricky part is soliciting ideas from people who might otherwise keep their mouths shut for a myriad of reasons… “That’s not my job” or “I’m thinking too differently from everyone else” or “This will probably sound stupid.” One thing I’ve learned from my boss is that you can proactively include people by asking them, specifically by name, what they think during meetings. Rather than inviting general feedback, calling on someone specifically for their ideas–even if it may seem like putting someone on the spot–is much more effective. Over time, people get used to it and can start to feel more comfortable sharing what’s on their mind. It’s not easy to open up to people and put yourself out there, and I personally still need to work on it. But if I’m asked my opinion, I’ll definitely take the opportunity.

It helps to have a socially-conscious and inclusive leadership team. I want to share something one of our company leaders recently shared on Slack:

 

Ok, so I’ve observed that some of our younger and non-english native people sometimes don’t fully understand what people are talking about, and feel too embarrassed and vulnerable about it to call it out.

Communication is the foundation for understanding and our ability to function but more importantly our ability to connect as people.

Two things to keep in mind:

1) If english is not your first language, you shouldn’t be afraid to be vulnerable about your language. You are learning and learning is hard. You should not get blamed for not speaking perfect English, or for not understanding the native english speakers (or anyone really). You are here because we want you here, we love that you have a different background and you add value in so many different types of ways.

2) To native speakers: english is the company language, but Ueno is an international company: you need to be aware that not everybody shares your cultural and language context. You are responsible for making yourself understood, not the other way around.

If you don’t understand something, just ask. And if you still don’t understand that’s ok, just ask again. And keep asking until you understand.


A simple observation with encouragement like this could make all the difference. Even if it seems like it should go without saying, it needs to be said.

Our diversity track record isn’t perfect. We’re mostly white, and our tech/development team is overwhelmingly male. But diversity is a common theme and one of our core values. It’s a crucial area of focus for our leadership team as we grow.

This may not be a marketing-specific topic, but I hope it sparks some thinking about diversity and inclusion, and why it’s so important to any business. Thinking and talking about it is a great first step to creating a stronger, more inclusive culture.

 

-Posted by Elizabeth Donovan-

Why Segmentation is Marketing 101

Good looking adult woman working at the office. Probably waiting for lunch...The basics of marketing are to establish the benefits of the product you are trying to sell and to communicate those benefits. But a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t cut it. Your customers and audience are as unique as your friends—each has different goals, problems, and interests. And each person will use your product in a different way, for their own reasons. So, it’s important to segment your audience by their differences and communicate benefits in a way that speaks to them as individuals.

Today there are any number of ad and email tools that help marketers segment and target different audience groups for better results. But before you dive into execution, there’s some legwork to do. Here’s my broad checklist on how to segment your audience for the best results.

  • Before you can understand the differences within your target audience, first identify what commonalities they share. Who is your audience: where do they live, what do they like to do, what brands and products do they like? Identifying the key problem that your product solves on a high-level is also important. For example, Postmates might identify their main benefit as “We enable busy people to have anything delivered on-demand,” therefore solving the problem that people don’t have time to go to the store. The target audience is people who don’t have time. (Note: I’m using Postmates solely as an example; I don’t have any insider knowledge of their marketing strategy.)
  • Next, gather information about your current and prospective customers. You can do this through surveys, collecting information at registration to build your own database, or use built-in targeting options through your email-service provider or ad platform. For example, many ESPs will offer geo-targeting based on IP address and or Wifi/GPS data. Facebook is the best platform when it comes to data, because you can target by dozens of categories and data points.
  • Once you’ve established your high-level benefit and target audience, build out segments. If we look at the “people who don’t have time” audience, there are a hundred ways to break down this very broad definition depending on the information available to you. For example, you could segment by age group, urban/suburban dwellers, high-tech/low-tech users, parents, singles, etc. Overlap is inevitable, so try not to get bogged down with creating dozens of super-minute segments. Start with the basics.
  • Last one: think about the messages that might work best for each individual group, and how they like to receive information. Come up with a hypothesis and then test and reiterate to find the combination that works best. Here’s a (very simplified) example of how you might approach the Postmates case with a Facebook ad campaign:
    1. In Facebook Campaign A, use an ad with the same message and photo “You have better things to do than run errands this weekend. Try Postmates to get what you need, delivered anytime.” (image of individual outside jogging in park)
    2. In Facebook Campaign B, change the image depending on whether the individual is single or married:
      • Single Ad Group: You have better things to do than run errands this weekend. Try Postmates to get what you need, delivered anytime. (image of singles at bar scene)
      • Married Ad Group: You have better things to do than run errands this weekend. Try Postmates to get what you need, delivered anytime. (image of couple at home having romantic dinner)

Let’s say your hypothesis is that Campaign B is more efficient. If you’re correct, you can continue to refine the image/message for better results, or segment even further. Also, you may find out that certain segments respond better on different platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Partner Marketing, etc.) or via different mediums (email, push notification, SMS, desktop notifications etc). Pay attention to the data and continuously test your hypotheses.

For retention-based campaigns, it’s important to segment messaging based on how your users interact with your product. For example, at Reuters TV we segmented users into super users, medium users, and low users and built email campaigns based on how often a user was watching our content. This strategy is very common with e-commerce sites. Ever gotten the “We miss you, Person! Come back and receive 15% off your next order” email? If this tactic feels like a no-brainer, it’s because it works.

The bottom line: if you’re not segmenting your marketing campaigns, you’re behind the times. It’s important to build a segmentation strategy for customer acquisition and retention, but don’t feel overwhelmed. You can start with the simplest tests to gather valuable data and become more sophisticated as you learn.

Read more on this topic:

-Posted by Elizabeth Donovan (Pace)-

An introduction to aspiringCMO

This site is a resource for ambitious, career-driven marketers who are excited by new technologies and developments in our industry.

The idea for aspiringCMO was born out of Elizabeth’s drive to become an executive-level marketing leader, and her interest in staying informed on the latest industry news. While social media sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn provide access to a variety of news sources, there is an ever-growing amount of content to weed through. Our goal is to provide a selection of the most valuable, actionable and need-to-know ongoings in the digital marketing space.

We hope you will become an active member of this community and help us to improve the site as we grow. We welcome your comments, suggestions and expertise. Please get in touch by e-mailing hello.aspiringcmo(at)gmail.com.

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace