Brand Relationships for the New Age

Nada Stirratt

VP of Marketing Solutions - North America at Facebook

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"The first piece of advice that I give to everyone starting out in this business is to learn how to code."

Nada Stirratt

VP of Marketing Solutions - North America at Facebook

Transcript

Britt Erler

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Connect CMO Leadership Virtual Summit hosted on Quartz Network. My name is Britt Erler, QN Executive Correspondence. Thank you so much for joining us. In today’s interview, we will focus on the changing demands of customers their expectations, and what this means for marketing leaders as the industry continues to shift. Facebook’s Nada Stirratt as VP of North America joins us today for an in depth conversation, highlighting ways to leverage tech to build new relationships and adapt for whatever the future may hold. Welcome, Nada.


Nada Stirratt

Thank you. Nice to meet you and nice to be here.


Britt Erler

It’s a pleasure to have you here as well and thrilled to dive into this topic today as it will be extremely relevant for all the Marketing Leaders that we have joining us. Before we do so, if you wouldn’t mind providing the audience with a little bit more background about yourself and your current role at Facebook.


Nada Stirratt

Sure. As the VP of the North American Global Business Group, my team runs our relationships with partners and companies of all sizes from small and medium-sized businesses and up to the largest multinational companies. Ultimately, what we do is care deeply about getting them the absolute best business outcomes we can possibly get for them. I’m very, very excited to be here and talk about what we’re seeing in the market because so much has changed in the last year and a half.


Britt Erler

It really has. We have seen so many shifts, but most importantly, I think the marketing industry has been hit one of the hardest. That’s really where I want to start this conversation today. Nada, in your role as the leader of North America for Facebook, you oversee relationships with companies of all sizes. That market for Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger, what’s changed for the businesses after this past year and a half?


Nada Stirratt

I gotta tell you, I think just about everything has changed. Everything from how businesses find customers, how they service their existing customers, supply chain management’s talking, the way that they attract talent, even how they’re financing their businesses. I mean, it’s almost like it doesn’t matter the size of the business, no one has been prepared, or certainly left unscathed by this pandemic. I’m happy, so if you think about businesses—think of them two different ways—so there’s a large global businesses and then there are those small and medium businesses. On the large global side, what we saw was: a. having to quickly manage remote customers, b. having to then furlough employees and then rehire employees all while you’re worrying about keeping product on the shelf. We had to do some really quick pivots to help there as well. We took traditional brick and mortar businesses, and we help them pivot by, for example, buying something online and then picking it up in store. How do you take customer service, which is go in and have a conversation to Messenger and WhatsApp very, very quickly. Nowadays, just doing a ton of work on our Jobs API, because people just need help on recruiting. People are understaffed, and so that’s a lot of some really basic things to get big companies certainly a lot closer to the digital place. Then, if you think of the smaller businesses, I mean, they’re the lifeblood of their communities, and they were particularly hit hard. I’m sure where you live, Britt, you’re used to finding a small business because you walk down the street, and you walk in and you see them, and you establish a relationship. Imagine, last March, you never walked in anymore. We had to do a ton of work to quickly get small businesses, those resources and tools. We did a whole mentorship program. We did a grant with $100 million in grants for SMBs. We even created solutions so that small businesses could have an online commerce experience. No company was unscathed. A lot of work had to go to invest in the right ways that we can ultimately drive a business outcome during a really hard time.


Britt Erler

I completely agree with you. You think about how the focus has really been on the customer experience, but as you mentioned, there are so many smaller businesses that maybe don’t have the revenue or the connections to really pull off something of that scale. I want to kind of dive right into that next area of this is what the customers are expecting from small businesses, large businesses, as this has really changed within the past year and a half. What changes have you personally seen in regards to the customer expectations?


Nada Stirratt

I think the first part is around the relationship consumers expect to have with brands. Consumers want to be sure that the brands that they are choosing to do business with reflect their own views on a whole range of social issues. This hasn’t always been the case. Companies have been responding in really beautiful ways. Like what Nestle is doing on water sustainability, and then there’s a Canadian lifestyle brand country and they plant 10 trees for every item that’s purchased. That’s becomes something that I think is really important and a point of pride for all of us in this business. I would say the most important value alignment that we have seen over the last 18 months to two years, has been consumers demanding of businesses to have equitable representation in media. Consumers are expecting people in ads are going to look like the broader cross section of the world. Facebook recently partnered with the Geena Davis Institute on gender and media and conducted a global research study, and we found that diverse representation has a direct positive impact on the business outcomes. It’s just so clear values alignment is good for business.


Britt Erler

It is, and it’s really beautiful to see these trends that are really becoming popular. As you mentioned, the need for diversity customers want to make sure that their values match with the companies they’re personally working with. I really hope that these are trends that stick moving forward into the following years, because it’s created such a transition for the marketing industry itself. With these trends that we’re seeing in a couple that you just mentioned there as well, what are some of the areas that you think these brands can make sure that they’re building successful relationships?


Nada Stirratt

Some of these are trends, that well not new, have certainly accelerated over the last year and a half or so. I think the first one is the biggest one, and that is now that consumers and companies have to see every connection as an opportunity for a transaction. The days of brand budgets being on one side, and [inaudible] budgets being on the other side, those days are just about gone. Remember that like much maligned marketing funnel from top to bottom, it’s collapsed. I mean, consumers want to see a message, and if they want to, they want to be able to buy something, have a conversation, they want to be able to do everything without friction. So that collapsing and that needing to do everything in the same area and container for consumer, in order for it to be easier for consumers is a really, really important trend. It kind of piggybacks to the second trend that we’re seeing, which is that the entire brand exposure needs to be cohesive. There is no longer the distinction. I’ve been in the media business for a very long time, it used to be paid media versus editorial or organic or earned. That has to blur significantly more so and it actually has a lot. It’s why influencer marketing is just so important. It’s like influencer marketing is that great combination of advertising and culture. This year alone is expected to influencer marketing will be a $14 billion industry, so that is huge and getting even bigger. I think the one of the most exciting things that you would think is 5 years out, 10 years out, but that is all the really cool stuff that’s happening in AR and VR—Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Businesses had to get creative against a customer base that just wasn’t leaving a tone. I love the example that I want to share because it’s a little bit ironic. It’s in the real estate business. During a time when no one wanted to physically go to another place for an open house, real estate company sent Oculus headset to prospective buyers. You would do a virtual walkthrough in the privacy of your own home. Using AR, you could turn around and see how your own furniture would look at scale in that house. This is just the early days of AR and VR. Each one of those trends. By the way, it’s all going to merge, drive just a ton of excitement for consumers and the industry.


Britt Erler

It is exciting. I spoke with another Executive the other day. He’s one of the companies that develops these AR technologies. It is incredible, really, the opportunities that are going to be available. It’s commonplace for a lot of companies throughout the world. This is a really exciting time. I love to see all the creative ways that marketing has really brought the customers into their brand and really into their homes as well. As we’ve discussed all this today, a transition like this, whether it’s in terms of tech or customer expectations, is never a quick or easy feat. There are always going to be negatives or pitfalls along the way that executives need to be prepared for. In your experience, what are some of the pitfalls to be avoided? How can executives really make sure they’re prepared for them.


Nada Stirratt

Pitfalls today are magnified because there’s really almost no barrier to switching. Let’s start with the most basic—the technology has to work. There is nothing worse for a consumer than to get engaged with your company and try to complete a transaction and then it fails. Think about like you’re trying to message accompany and you get this stock response. We’re back that has nothing to do with your answer. Those little things become the big things really, really fast. Remember, it only takes one click for you to lose your customer and go someplace else—it’s that easy. The barriers for switching are so low. The same thing applies to thinking about the umbrella about authenticity. Brands have to be clear on their values, because consumers are increasingly making decisions based on alignment with those values. Today’s customers are so smart, and they can spot insincerity in an instant, again, and switch in a matter of seconds. It’s not about like going through the motions because you think you have to as a company. You’ve got to be so committed to your mission, and it has to be strong, it has to be genuine, and has to be on display.


Britt Erler

It really is a long term commitment, a long term plan that you have to put in place. As you just mentioned, making sure that you make your mission and your passion, really the center of the organization is not something you can just put in place and say, “Okay, I’m done. I don’t ever have to do this.” This is something that a corporation has to continue to evolve and change as their customer base does. I think those are incredible insights. We have a lot of executives joining us today who, like you have been in this field a very long time, but also some who are just entering the marketing and advertising space. What is some advice that you have for those executives to make sure that they’re growing their careers in the right direction?


Nada Stirratt

The first piece of advice that I give to everyone starting out in this business is learn how to code. This is not about being a computer scientist or a coder, but it’s about having an understanding, even if it’s a superficial understanding of the process, and the art within it. It’s something that I regret, not having that skill myself.


Britt Erler

I think that is a fantastic skill as well. That even goes to say, for executives now who have been in the business a long time, this may not be a skill that they have. I’m really taking the opportunity to making that a forefront focus. For the executives who have been in the business, a lot of them are in the process of rebuilding their companies and making sure that they’re moving in the right direction. As we wrap up this conversation today, Nada, what are some final pieces of advice that you have for them to make sure that they are moving forward?


Nada Stirratt

I really think that now more than ever, people have to think of themselves as global citizens. With technology, there’s not those geographic boundaries that have been around forever and ever and ever. Think of all campaigns as a global campaign, and then ultimately embrace this love of learning or this continuous student mindset. Our business is changing all the time, and the speed of innovation is just astonishing. If you see yourself as a student of consumer behavior, you’re then going to be prepared to pivot because there are going to be pivot over and over and over again. I will say that in my almost 35 years in this industry, there has never been a better time and more dynamic time to enter marketing as a field. Changing technology, changing consumer behavior, changing expectations, and just as overwhelming amount of choice means that the ability to influence and create relationships has just gotten more challenging, but it’s a heck of a lot more interesting. Take it from all of us, you will absolutely never be bored in our business.


Britt Erler

I couldn’t agree with you more. Although last year was difficult for many of us, the transitions and the changes that we’re seeing now in the marketing industry truly are for the better. It really is an exciting time. Nada, thank you so much for being here and providing your advice and your insights. This will be crucial for Marketing Executives as we move forward into this new world. Thank you for joining us, and thank you to everyone who has tuned in today as well. I’m sure you will have further questions for Nada. Not to worry—there will be a discussion forum underneath this presentation. Thank you again for being here and enjoy the rest of the Connect CMO Leadership Virtual Summit.


Nada Stirratt

Thank you


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