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Community Highlights: Meet Ted Rubin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ted Rubin.

Hi Ted, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I like to say I got started in social media, and in the third act of “My Story,” as soon as getting involved in this thing we call the Internet when I joined Seth Godin’s start-up, Yoyodyne, in 1997. Everything digital-enabled sharing in ways never imagined before… so for me, that is where it all began.

Although I have always been social and networking, building relationships, has been at the heart of what I do, it was in 2008 when I joined e.l.f. Cosmetics that social marketing became the core of what I do every day. Social platforms were first starting to dramatically scale and I was fortunate to be at a brand that was making it the heart of what we did seemed to be the natural way to go.

We were selling to women, without which, in my humble opinion, there would be no social marketing; we were selling a fun aspirational product, cosmetics; and since e.l.f. was a family-owned business there was no legal team to get in the way of my social experimentation. The brand thrived, we built the first aggregated social content site for a brand, and consumers and influencers (referred to as “bloggers,” content-producers at the time) felt like they were a part of the success…. which they most certainly were.

I shifted to the title of Chief Social Marketing Officer (CSMO) after I left e.l.f. and joined OpenSky. For me, the change was about an important shift in what I wanted to focus on, and how society needs to be a shell around everything we do. At Collective Bias where I was on the Advisory Board since 2010, CSMO and a partner from 2011-2016, in effect, the role was the same.

Since Collective Bias was a socially-focused company, being the Social CMO allowed me to make certain that CB integrated a social posture in all they did internally and externally. For other organizations, a similar role would most probably report to the CMO and be responsible for not only social marketing but making certain social integration is thought through with respect to all other marketing, PR, and customer service activities.

I believe that a big part of who I am is how I think so here is a little insight into my Social Marketing from a brand perspective… Listening is so important now for a brand. Companies may be listening, but the true challenge is making that listening part of how you evolve your strategy on a month-to-month basis. Are you allowing your marketing initiatives the flexibility to adjust according to what you hear?

From a personal perspective, for me, it is the ability to build relationships 24/7 from anywhere in the world, and to stay connected and engaged with those who matter, and to yield influence via the content you create and share.

I think the biggest challenge in the marketing world is recognizing the value of relationships and determining how to measure that value when it comes to connection, advocacy, and influence. Relationships are like muscle tissue, the more they are engaged, the stronger and more valuable they become. At Collective Bias we were aggressively working to define a set of metrics to measure ROR (#RonR), Return on Relationship, and determine a direct link to ROI. And since then I have continued on that path.

An important, often overlooked, reason so many companies resist totally integrating social and valuing ROR, is that it takes a lot of manpower hours, judgment, and constant vigilance… it is not just “set and forget” marketing. For me, this is what makes it exciting and interesting… the daily engagement and interactions that bring the consumer into the picture as a regular participant.

So welcome to the ‘Age of Influence,’ where anyone can build an audience and effect change, advocate brands, build relationships, and make a difference.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
From employee advocacy to peak data, let’s lay down the big challenges Marketers around the world are facing right now – and what they can do to improve their marketing in each area.

1. Understanding and embracing the power of employee advocacy

Empower your employees and they will power your brand. In today’s hyper-connected world, brands simply must embrace new ways of engaging with customers online, and your employees can help if you’ll let them. If you’re not looking for ways to involve your employees, then you are missing a huge opportunity.

Your employees are the best way to humanize and personalize your brand… and truly the best way to scale relevant, contextual content creation

Did you know that employee-created content (ECC) receives eight times more engagement than content shared from the company itself? On top of that, employee content extends brand messaging by over 500%. Crazy, right? So why aren’t more companies getting employees engaged in content creation? It’s well known that companies with engaged employees outperform their peers; involving employees in content creation can help to create a sense of common purpose.

2. Brand personality and connection

It’s time to stop making excuses, and start bringing in-person social skills to the digital world. All of the positive benefits are out there waiting, and it’s up to us to make the effort to realize them.

3. Delivering a truly omni-channel, integrated experience

This requires you to connect the dots internally as well—which means connecting your employees so they can collaboratively deliver that seamless experience. You can’t be omni-channel to the outside if you don’t take down the silos and become omni-channel inside. We often hear a lot about omni-channel marketing from an external viewpoint, but I think it’s also important to look at it from an internal perspective. Is your internal communication structure helping to build consistent company messaging and culture, or is there infighting about who handles what?

Before an organization can have an effective omni-channel marketing strategy, it’s important to examine the internal communication structure. I think the CMO should be heading this up, because brand messaging (whether internal or external) is really a marketing function, even though there are different departments that feed into it. However, very few companies have a CMO who has broad enough oversight of everything that’s happening within a company regarding brand messaging. They’re in charge of consumer messaging, but brand messaging also affects employees and vendors.

AND I have come to believe that the real goal of Omni-channel is an Omni-Present evolution.

4. Overabundance of data

CMOs need to always remember that data will only take you so far; it’s judgment and instinct that will win the day. My advice is to make absolutely certain that your CMO and CIO have close ties, and learn to not only “play nice”, but to do their best to understand the vital role they play as a team. The kind of communication required to deliver the ultimate customer experience needs to run across and run through both channels. For them to be successful requires an enterprise-wide cultural shift.

5. Programmatic and digital spam

Brands are running headlong into brand equity destruction through incessant programmatic and digital spamming. The rise of retargeting and digital yield techniques is killing brands, and brand equity for the long term. It makes me wonder how many brand managers, and more importantly CMOs, bother signing up for their own email distribution lists or shop their brands from an anonymous browser to experience what their customers are being subjected to. Customer experience is no longer simply about a product, delivery, and service, but about how the customer experiences our marketing.

My hope is that as the new marketing world matures, building better customer relationships will become everyone’s primary objective, from sales to marketing, to customer service — even IT departments. If that’s the true objective, then “customer relationships” truly have a chance to be the x-factor in achieving Return on Relationship and enhancing ROI for the long term.

On a personal level, my greatest challenge has been the need to reinvent myself… whether that be in the business world or as a father.

You might know me as a positive guy if you have read, listened to, or watched my stuff over the years. I strive to be that way, especially when I’m interacting with others, but it’s never been an automatic thing for me when evaluating myself. In my younger days – still young, by the way, or at least like to think I am (Attitude, Perspective… Mindset) – I was my own worst critic. It was a challenge then, and it’s something that I still work on to this day.

The clarity of hindsight is a beautiful thing, and looking back I can see that a big problem for me was setting unrealistic goals, then getting frustrated by falling short. Why start with a mile, when you can train for the whole marathon? Because marathons are hard, and real-life doesn’t allow you to skip the first 25.2 miles just to get to the home stretch. I have learned, struggling with self-doubt? Try rewarding yourself for the little achievements

Today, I really try to take the opposite view and set incremental goals that lead to the big ones. And you know what? I’m having more success pursuing my ultimates, by rewarding myself for small, daily new habits. And I’m enjoying the process more without the internal pressure. I know I’ll get there, I know it takes time, and I always try to remind myself that incremental progress is meaningful. Again, none of that stuff is automatic for me. It’s not easy to give yourself a break, but it’s worth it.

And of course, I apply this very same principle to business relationships I’m looking to build, and rebuild of, and maintain, my relationship with my daughters. I set short-term goals, stay present and available ALWAYS, and am thankful always for the love I have in my heart, and the moments we’ve had… that will always be mine (Attitude, Perspective… Mindset). #ThisDadWontQuit… #TheDadWhoWillAlwaysLove

The same basic idea works for any type of goal, personal or professional. There is only so much that you can do on a given day. Setting unrealistic goals just makes it more difficult to accomplish what you set out to do, and can easily short-circuit whatever progress you do make. Set attainable goals, accomplish what you set out to do each day, and give yourself some credit for a job well done.

Over time, accomplishing those smaller goals lays the foundation for achieving the big ones… and most importantly leads to better mental health and more peaceful life. #NoLetUp!

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
ROR: Return on Relationship™, #RonR… simply put the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple $’s and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through connection, trust, loyalty, recommendations, and sharing. AND is used to define and educate companies, brands, and people about the importance of creating authentic connection, interaction, and engagement.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
Career Advice I’d Give To My Younger Self…
– Be careful about looking back too much. Learn from your mistakes, but try not to second guess yourself too much.

– Surround yourself with friends you trust… A network gives you reach; a community gives you power!

– Some friends will be for when you just need someone to listen and offer comfort; some will be for when you need advice. Associate with people who will drag you out of your comfort zone.

– Model yourself after people you admire.

– To reinvent yourself: (1) Ask why aren’t you happy, why do I want to reinvent? (2) What are you passionate about — can you make it a career? (3) Once you make the decision to do it, go for it!

Stop worrying about the perfect plan. Try things and get immediate feedback (which you can do easily these days through social media).

– My biggest mistake: Giving up too soon and letting too much time go by before trying again.

*Value Relationships because… Relationships are like muscle tissue, the more you engage them, the stronger and more valuable they become.

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Image Credits

John DeMato, DeMato Productions

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