“Outwin, outlast, outplay,” may be best known as the “Survivor” reality TV show slogan, but at March 30’s “Women Making a Difference in Marketing” event it was also a practical suggestion for women trying to succeed in marketing careers.
A mixed crowd of students, young professionals, and experienced marketers attended the panel discussion and luncheon, hosted by the Institute for Executive Education, and co-hosted by the American Marketing Association, Boston Chapter, the Sawyer Business School Department of Marketing, and the Suffolk University Alumni Association, and moderated by Lu Ann Reeb, EMBA ’08, of Skyways Communications. The panel included marketing experts from a mix of companies: Linda Swain, Senior Vice President, Marketing at Jones Lang LaSalle, a global commercial real estate company; Barbara Moulton, Director of Marketing Communications at the MBTA; Bernadette King, Global Marketing Director at Gillette Venus/P&G; and Christine Quern, Senior Vice President, Feinstein Kean Healthcare, a division of Ogilvy Public Relations. Although these executives direct their marketing campaigns to specific audiences, they all agreed thinking broadly and creatively and understanding your competition were the best approaches to successful marketing.
Economic challenges have forced marketers to “Do more with less,” said Swain, but that may lead to better ideas and strategies. Although speaking the language of your customers gives you an advantage, the panelists agreed that, for the women just starting out in their marketing careers, generalists will succeed because they will understand the importance of alliances and the need to be flexible. When asked about marketing challenges for a company like the MBTA, which has no competition, the MBTA’s Moulton replied that the competition is people driving cars.
Elizabeth Wilson, chair of Suffolk’s Marketing department, said it was fascinating to hear Moulton talk about developing the “Charlie Card” and finding ways to make the graphics appeal to a more diverse audience than the ‘one white man’ who is portrayed. “Making an emotional connection can be essential,” Moulton said.
All of the executives had different career paths and were honest about the commitment needed to succeed in marketing, and the challenges involved in balancing family and a career.
“There is no doubt in my mind that, at least in the marketing field, women are no longer bumping up against the glass ceiling, they are dancing on it.” said Michael Barretti, Director of the Institute for Executive Education and Professor of Marketing. “Just one look at the credentials and responsibilities of today’s panelists confirms it.”