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Jay Snider

Palo Alto Software VP of Marketing speaks at standing room only Pub-Talk

by Jay Snider

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Our Vice President of Marketing, Marci Hansen, is something of a marketing rock star. She’s worked for some big names, including Eddie Bauer, Amazon.com, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and in 2005 was named Brandweek’s Guerilla Marketer of the Year. So when she was the featured speaker at the Eugene area Smart-ups PubTalk on January 20, it was only mildly surprising that the event was sold out.

Smart-ups is an organization devoted to improving the climate for Oregon’s Willamette Valley emerging growth-oriented companies. It’s a group that’s near and dear to our hearts here at Palo Alto Software. In fact, we’re a supporting sponsor of the group and our CEO, Sabrina Parsons, is an active participant in the organization.

So, back to Marci’s talk. In a standing room-only space that normally comfortably accomodates the monthly Pub-Talk gathering, Marci covered the basics of branding and marketing, with a focus on the Internet and integrated campaigns. Starting with her experiences at PETA2 (the youth branch of PETA), where she built a brand and website that brought in a million page views a month and a mailing list of 200,000 email subscribers, Marci focused on the nuts and bolts. How do you build a brand?

  • Develop your voice and stick to it
  • Determine pain points and address them
  • Launch big – appear bigger than you are when you launch, because small=death. (Aside: When you meet Marci, she appears to be about 5 feet tall. She’s actually only 3 foot 6… That’s how good she is at marketing!)

She gave some great examples from her days at PETA2 where, as the first marketing professional in the organization’s long history, she mobilized young people and increased awareness for the group’s cause.

From there, the focus shifted to building an Internet marketing campaign. Concentrating on her time with Knit-Picks, online providers of luxury yarn and knitting supplies (with a decidedly different market than PETA2′s), Marci talked about how important it is to build branding into any marketing campaign. The idea, according to Marci, is that you define who you are and what you do, and you make sure that doesn’t get forgotten as you go about your daily marketing activities.

And marketing activities don’t exist in a vacuum. Marci talked about the importance of building circular Internet campaigns that tie together the different mediums you use to get across your message. From Facebook, to email marketing, pay-per-click ads, to your main website and beyond, to print ads and catalogs, when the user experience matches at every step of the way, you’ll see better results.

Maybe I’m biased because she’s my boss, but Marci owned that room. With personality, humor, and a deep knowledge about the topic, she provided heaps of useful information to a crowd that appeared hungry for more. Marketing doesn’t necessarily come easy to small business owners who are usually great at what they do, but sometimes struggle because they end up having to do everything. Marci’s talk gave them some hope, some useful information, and a sneak peak at a software solution that will make her talking points even easier to incorporate.