231 episodes

In each episode of Confessions of a Marketer, Mark Reed-Edwards talks with a marketing leader or thinker about the deepest challenges in our business. Luminaries such as Beth Comstock, Whitney Johnson, Jacques van Niekerk and more share their wisdom with Mark. The podcast is a must-listen for marketers around the world and has ranked consistently among the top-rated business and marketing shows.

Confessions of a Marketer Mark Reed-Edwards

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 18 Ratings

In each episode of Confessions of a Marketer, Mark Reed-Edwards talks with a marketing leader or thinker about the deepest challenges in our business. Luminaries such as Beth Comstock, Whitney Johnson, Jacques van Niekerk and more share their wisdom with Mark. The podcast is a must-listen for marketers around the world and has ranked consistently among the top-rated business and marketing shows.

    How To Love Your Customers So They Love You Back

    How To Love Your Customers So They Love You Back

    I'm Mark Reed Edwards. Welcome back to Confessions of a Marketer. This week, we have Ben Afia, who describes himself as a consultant, speaker, and author who's had his fill of cold corporate organizations treating their employees and customers like robots. So his mission is to make businesses more human.
    And to that end, he has a new book out called The Human Business: How to Love Your Customers So They Love You Back. I've known Ben probably for about 15 years. We've worked together and he's been on this podcast a number of times.


    Ben, it's great to have you back.

    Ben Afia: Thank you very much for having me on, Mark. It's a pleasure.

    Mark Reed-Edwards: For those people out in the audience who don't know you, could you just sketch out your career history and how you came to write this book that I'm holding in my hands?

    Ben Afia: So I started specializing in language at Boots, the chemist in the UK. In that role, I was working in brand strategy. And looking in particular at the voice of the brand and managing copywriting across the business. But I got made redundant about 20 years ago, decided it was time to go solo with a new baby on the way and about to move house, it was the perfect time to start a business. And so it turned out to be so my Boots colleagues went off to various places and encouraged me into companies like Eon, Barclays, Legal and General, and so my freelance career went from there. And I started as a copywriter specializing in brand tone of voice. But clients very quickly were asking me to extend that.
    So we were looking at the language and this is the language that people might be using in the marketing team, writing communications, but also the language in customer service and throughout the business, indeed. And so we were asked to train people in writing skills, but also in spoken empathy skills.

    So when the contact center people are on the phone with customers, they are speaking and then confirming things in writing. So that started to extend the work that we were doing. And very quickly, I realized that really what we were doing was change. So I started looking, this is probably 15, 16 years ago when we first worked together, probably thinking about how do we help this change to stick?

    How do we get the right behaviors throughout an organization? And for me, the change really stems from the brand, from the brand strategy, your vision, purpose, values, behaviors. It's all an extension of the behavior on the front line. So that all of these things join up. And I ended up realizing that really I was working on three things.

    I was looking at the culture or the employee experience. I was looking at the brand or the brand strategy. And I was also looking at the customer experience. So that's what I ended up trying to pull together in my book because I just needed to organize that thinking in a way that might make sense to the companies that I was working with.

    And the insight that had come to me was that. Unless you align your culture and your brand, you can't possibly give the experience to customers that you hope. Or that they hope to receive because you end up promising through your marketing, things that you can't deliver through your service. And the only way to join those up is to align culture and brand.

    Mark Reed-Edwards: And there's nothing more disappointing than to see some kind of marketing campaign that says, you know, our store is a great place to visit. And you go there and there's a disconnect between what you see in their marketing and what you experience. And so what you do is you kind of connect those two.

    Ben Afia: Totally. A few years ago, I was running a workshop. I had 40 customer service people and the company, who will remain nameless for the moment, had just launched their new brand strategy. So they had a new strapline, a new campaign, and this had gone public. So I had 40 people in customer service in this workshop.

    And I said, what do you thin

    • 35 min
    Add the Bravery Trick to Your Marketing Toolkit

    Add the Bravery Trick to Your Marketing Toolkit

    Mark Reed-Edwards: My guest on Confessions of a Marketer today is Ed Evarts—author of The Bravery Trick: Four Ways to Say Hard Things. The book has been praised by scholar Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School as untangling the behavior of bravery in ways that allow us to move forward. The Bravery Trick is available on Amazon.

    Ed is the founder and president of Excellius Leadership Development, which focuses on helping its clients build awareness of how others experience them in the workplace so they can manage that experience effectively. He’s written two other books and is host of the Be Brave at Work podcast.

    If you're wondering what bravery has to do with marketing, well, everything, really.

    So be brave and keep listening. I've also known Ed for longer than I'd care to admit, but it's great to have him here. Ed, welcome.

    Ed Evarts: Thank you, Mark. I think we met when we were toddlers, or at least.

    Mark Reed-Edwards: Yeah, preschool. Yeah. But anyway, we won't go into that. Could you tell me a bit about your career and what led you to found Excellius?

    Ed Evarts: So I spent a number of years post college working in retail and worked for a number of local New England retailers, Jordan Marsh, Filene's and Lechmere, who are all gone. I left retailing in 1998 and began working at a records management company called Iron Mountain. I was at Iron Mountain for almost 10 years.

    I got laid off from Iron Mountain in 2008 and was at a juncture in my life where I really didn't want to work for a company any longer. And so I spent that summer networking and talking with people about how to start your own business, which for somebody who had been employed with others for my whole career, I had no idea how to start my own business and what to focus on.

    So I did that that summer. And then in the fall of 2008, decided to open up my own practice, which at first I called Evart's Coaching because I wanted people to know who I was and what I was doing. And then two to three years later converted it to Excellius Leadership Development.

    Mark Reed-Edwards: It's funny how layoffs can have a catalytic effect on your life, not just economically, but sometimes success can come out of the hardest points in your life.

    Ed Evarts: Well, I have built a new relationship with the person who laid me off at iron mountain. And just to tell that story quickly: my performance review was late and this boss called me and said, "Ed, I'm ready to give you your performance review. Can you come to my office at four o'clock today?" And I said, "Sure."

    So I was excited to get my performance review. I went into her office and I sat down and she said, "In reality, Ed, I'm not here to give you your performance review. I'm here to let you know that we've made a decision to eliminate your role at the company." So for that day and for a few years following it, it was the worst day of my professional career.

    And I can say with all honesty, Mark, 16 years later, it was the best day of my professional career because they kicked me out and I had to make some decisions, which I was not anticipating needing to make. And it just opened up a whole slew of opportunities. And I joke, I think today I'd still be at Iron Mountain if I didn't get kicked out.

    And so to your point, it was you know, a great, great opportunity that at first felt horrible.

    Mark Reed-Edwards: I have a similar story, which we won't go into, because this is all about you, Ed. So, I'd love you to share the story about your podcast, Be Brave at Work.

    Ed Evarts: So I would say about five years ago, I had coffee with a colleague that I worked with at Lechmere, I think 20 years previously. And so when I left Lechmere, this person and I did not stay in contact at all. And then when I left Iron Mountain in 2008, we began connecting virtually. And so said hi on LinkedIn and checked in on LinkedIn.

    And I think about 10 years after that, he said, let's go get a coffee, let's catch up

    • 18 min
    How to succeed on Amazon in 2024

    How to succeed on Amazon in 2024

    Robyn Johnson, CEO and founder of Marketplace Blueprint, is with us on this episode of Confessions of a Marketer.

    She has been heralded as one of the country's foremost leaders on the topic of selling and marketing products on Amazon.com.

    And she has the distinction of being on the episode that kept this podcast going even while we were on hiatus, with hundreds of downloads and listens every month since we went on ice about three years ago.


    Mark Reed-Edwards: Thanks for joining me today.

    Robyn Johnson: It's my pleasure, and I think it's awesome that I can help you be here as we reopen things. And Amazon has changed so much. Dog years are, you know, one year is every seven years. I feel like Amazon every one year is 10 years.

    Mark Reed-Edwards: That's for sure. I mean, think back three years ago, we were in the middle of the pandemic still. And the world was kind of getting used to using more and more technology. So Amazon had a huge boom as a result of that, along with the other tools that we all use every day.

    So the world is definitely different from when you and I talked three years ago. I'm sure things have happened in your life that are make you different. Can you share a bit of your background and what you do at Marketplace Blueprint?

    Robyn Johnson: Yeah, so I've been eating, sleeping, breathing Amazon for about 13 years now. We started as sellers, took a hundred dollars, grew our business to a million dollars in just a couple of years and primarily on Amazon. And after that, we coached a lot of other high volume Amazon sellers. This was when it was the wild wild west. You could do anything. People were taking apart food and repackaging it in very unsafe ways. We didn't do that, but there were a lot of people who were. And then about seven years ago, eight years ago, we started the agency called Marketplace Blueprint.

    And in that agency, we specialize only on Amazon. So we don't do Facebook, no Meta, no Google. We only do Amazon. And the reason for that is because everything in Amazon is integrated. So to work on your SEO for Amazon, you have to coordinate with ads, compliance, inventory management, and negative customer experiences.

    All of those need to be integrated to make sure that you get the best mileage out of your ad dollar on Amazon. And also that you don't get stuck with a bunch of fees or being unable to sell at all.

    Mark Reed-Edwards: So every company that makes a product, pretty much, thinks they need to be on Amazon. How do you decide on whether Amazon is in fact the right forum for your products?

    Robyn Johnson: So I will say that there are some products that Amazon is not a good fit for. Amazon works best on repeatable products, products that are going to be consistent. There is a space for custom products. We have a custom dog tag company that we've been working with for a long time that was on Shark Tank.

    They do very, very well. You can do custom items, but one of a kind things that are not repeatable, those don't do as well because Amazon's algorithm is really designed for is you have to really be able to repeat that sale over and over again. Now, the things that have changed is it used to be, you know, field of dreams.

    If you build it, they will come, you know, you just put a garlic press. press on there and you stick a label on it and it would sell. Those days are dying if they're not already dead. You really need something that will bring some unique value, so it fixes a problem or it solves a need in some way that's unique to others.

    Or you need to have very, very deep pockets. You can still launch a garlic press, but to get it to where you're going to get those significant organic sales, you're going to need to invest a ton of money in ads and be willing to go into the negative for a period of time if it's a really competitive or commoditized product.

    And then the other thing is we need to balance how much search volume is there for your product. S

    • 22 min
    Paul Lowe: Marketing Consultant

    Paul Lowe: Marketing Consultant

    We're back with this mini series of Talent Showcase episodes focused on people in marketing, communications, PR, and allied fields who're looking for their next opportunity. You'll hear their stories, successes, and how they can help their next employer or client.

    Today, I'm joined by Paula Lowe. Paula is the founder and principal of The PR Table, a marketing communications consulting firm, where all of marketing has a seat at the table. Although Paula's expertise is in media relations and communication strategy, her experience encompasses all aspects of marketing communications, from email marketing, content development, and social media to website creation and maintenance.

    Paula has more than 15 years experience, having worked with large multinational corporate entities and small startup ventures within a wide range of industries, including technology, Financial Services, Health Care and Medical, Health IT, Supply Chain, Non profits, and Supply Chain and Logistics.


    Mark Reed-Edwards: Paula, it's good to have you on the show. Welcome.

    Paula Lowe: It's great to be here, Mark. Thank you.

    Mark Reed-Edwards: So, I just told your life story, but can you tell me more about yourself beyond what I just shared, your background and career path?

    Paula Lowe: Sure. It's always fun to sort of remember the story. I actually went to school in Boston and graduated with an associate degree in hospitality management. I quickly got a job at the Ritz Carlton in a supervisory role, but realized that it was not going to afford me the opportunity to complete my degree, which was very important back then.

    So I transferred and got a job as an admin assistant at an environmental engineering firm. And about a year in, I transferred from the facilities department to the corporate communications department. And that was it. I fell in love with corpcomm. I began to realize that my natural storytelling and relatability with people was something I could leverage in a career that I would find satisfying and challenging.

    So I got in touch then with our PR consultant that was brought in. My boss said, "I'm going to have you work with our PR consultant, help tell some stories. I think you'd be good at it." I said, "Great." And that was it. From there, I left the environmental engineering firm and I joined Lois Paul Partners back up in Lexington.

    I've had my career in public relations ever since.

    Mark Reed-Edwards: So what is one of your most important career accomplishments, do you think?

    Paula Lowe: I have to say, working for Hebrew Senior Life in Boston, which is a non profit. They have a hospital license for Hebrew Rehab Center. And they have eight or nine senior housing locations throughout Greater Boston. And I was there at the onset and throughout COVID.

    And that was a very, very challenging, stressful, difficult time. But it was also a really great learning opportunity because HSL is a leader in senior care. And the then- CEO, he's since retired, but he was a real inspiration to see how he handled things and we were able to bring them through that crisis really successfully.

    Mark Reed-Edwards: So what do you think you can offer your next employer or client?

    Paula Lowe: I think that the years of experience I have have led me to be, although I am a PR specialist, if you will, my forte is media relations and analyst relations, securing those relationships, but you know, there's a breadth of services and strategy that I can bring to my clients, so relationship building, persistence.

    One of the things I found as a PR person is that we have to be persistent. And if a client or I want a relationship with a particular member of the media, I will make it happen. It just might take some time and some creativity. I really find a lot of inspiration in trying to find different ways to do things.

    I'm not a believer in "this is the way we've always done it so this is the way we should continue to do it." So if my client

    • 8 min
    Kelley Lynn Kassa: Passionate marketing executive

    Kelley Lynn Kassa: Passionate marketing executive

    Today, I’m joined by Kelley Lynn Kassa.

    Kelley’s career evolved from public relations, media relations and analyst relations to marketing programs, content strategy, and content creation. She’s worked with a wide range of organizations, from start-ups to blue-chip technology companies.

    Outside of her professional life, Kelley is a foodie and a rower (look for her on the Charles River!). Plus, she coaches recreational rowing to youth, adults, and para athletes.

    The transcript

    Mark Reed-Edwards: Kelley, welcome.

    Kelley Kassa: Hey, Mark. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.

    Mark Reed-Edwards: It's wonderful having you here. It's been a while since we've caught up, so it's great to chat. Can you tell me more about yourself beyond what I just shared, your background and career path?

    Kelley Kassa: Sure, as you mentioned, I started in PR and I migrated or spread my wings into marketing. I tend to think of myself as a marketing utility player. And what I've found over the last few years is I've had a great deal of success and brought success to organizations that I've worked with by serving as a marketing mentor to them.

    I can come in and bring them the strategy and work with their in house marketing person, who's younger in their career, on the execution or I really just serve as a manager for that person. This way they have somebody who understands marketing and helps them reach the marketing goals and metrics that the executive team wants, while also making sure that they are learning about marketing and they're growing in their role as well. For one company that I worked with---an innovation consulting firm---they had had a series of new people in their career in marketing, there was no marketing executive, and they were celebrating their 20th year in business.

    After a few months of working with me, they said they've never been successful at marketing before. And now they've found that success. And so that's something that I'm rolling out as an offering to other organizations. It's something I've done not just with that firm, but also with a nonprofit organization that I work with where again, it was somebody newer to his career reporting into an executive director who had so many other things on his plate.

    Things were going south quickly. So they brought me in and I met with him on a weekly basis. It's that hands on stuff of, "Okay, what's on your plate? Let's prioritize that. What's coming up? What do we need to think about in three months that we need to plan for now?" As well as the day to day care and feeding of your employees. Like, "How's it going?"
    So that's what I'm really excited about right now.

    Mark Reed-Edwards: It sounds fascinating to me because you have so much you can offer. You're, a utility player. How do you figure out where you focus with a client?

    Kelley Kassa: Well, oftentimes, it's a matter of doing the initial triage. And my perspective comes from having worked for a number of PR agencies earlier in my career: "What are the bigger goals and then what are your quick wins?" Okay, so I'm probably going to butcher the baseball analogy because I'm not that much of an enthusiast, although I like going to Fenway to see the Red Sox. While you're focusing on what are the home runs we need to hit, how quickly can we get some singles under our belt, so to speak so that we start to get momentum.

    I listened to your recent podcast with Chuck Tanowitz, who I know well, and he talked about bread rising and needing multiple projects going on while your bread is rising. And it's sort of the same idea. The home runs are going to take a little bit more. You're going to need to put more effort into it.

    So what can we do in the short term to show some wins and prove that marketing will get them what they want?

    Mark Reed-Edwards: So speaking of home runs, can you tell me one of your most important career accomplishments?

    Kelley Kassa: You know, I pride myself on the rela

    • 9 min
    Chuck Tanowitz: Seasoned strategic communications pro

    Chuck Tanowitz: Seasoned strategic communications pro

    Chuck Tanowitz is a seasoned professional in strategic communications, with a history of building strong programs that drive media and brand growth.

    His experience spans more than 15 years—he has played key roles in shaping the marketing and communication strategies for various brands, including Paytronix Systems, Greentown Labs, the N-Squared Innovation District, TenMarks, and a long list of others.

    Chuck is back on Confessions of Marketer for the second time—having joined us in 2017 in the very early days of this podcast.


    Mark Reed-Edwards: Welcome to this special episode of Confessions of a Marketer. I'm Mark Reed Edwards. We're back with this mini series of shows I've dubbed the Talent Showcase. These episodes focus on people in marketing, communications, PR, and allied fields who are looking for their next opportunity.

    My guests share their stories, successes, and how they can help their next employer or client. Today, I'm joined by Chuck Tanowitz. Chuck is a seasoned professional in strategic communications with a history of building strong programs that drive media and brand growth. His experience spans more than 15 years.

    He's played a key roles in shaping the marketing and communication strategies for various brands, including Paytronix Systems, Greentown Labs, the N Squared Innovation District, 10 Marks, and a long list of others.

    Chuck Tanowitz is back on Confessions of a Marketer for the second time, having joined us in 2017, the very early days of this podcast.

    Chuck, welcome back.

    Chuck Tanowitz: Thank you. I I really appreciate you having me on.

    Mark: It's great to chat. So can you tell me more about yourself beyond what I just shared, you know, your background and career path?

    Chuck: You know, it's interesting. I was reading an article recently that talked about developing a career portfolio as opposed to a career path, and I feel like that's actually a little bit of what I've done. Yes, the core of my career has been in PR and marketing and brand, but I've also taken on these other roles outside.

    That's how I ended up, for example, at the N squared Innovation District, which was really more of an economic development effort, as much it was a marketing effort. So it's given me this broad base of very interesting kind of pieces that I've done.

    You know, when I look at the work I did at Paytronix, which was very much traditional marketing and PR and brand, which was: drive leads and drive interest in this company.
    But then you look at something like N-Squared, where it was: "How do I develop a community? How do I bring in art into the project and develop placemaking? How do I connect with local colleges and universities?"

    And then something like Greentown Labs, where it was: "How do you build something from zero and get it known where you're trying to not necessarily build leads, but certainly build brand around a name and what it means and giving it some brand equity?"

    And then also creating my own PR from, which I had done a few years ago. And then also being a local advocate and sit on the Economic Development Commission. And then most recently, I spent three days in Vermont learning how to bake croissants. So it's, you know, how do I put all those things together and begin to say, "What do they all mean and how do you move forward?"

    Mark: Boy, there are some analogies one can make to baking related to our profession. You know, being patient, right? And letting things rise.

    Chuck: Yeah, sometimes I am not nearly patient enough in my rise. But yes, that is a big part of baking. In fact, I said to my wife the other day, "What I need to do when I bake is plan out a series of bakes along the way, so that while one thing is sitting and rising, I'm working on the next thing." You're right, it does align with where you are in PR, where you're kind of, yes, you might be working on a press release over here, but that's not going out, you know, for two months, th

    • 13 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
18 Ratings

18 Ratings

Mark Colgan ,

Actionable advice for everyone in marketing

The perspectives Mark and his guests offer on this podcast are incredible. If you’re looking for key insights and actionable advice straight from the best professionals in marketing, this is the podcast you need to listen to. Thanks Mark!

TrinityRow ,

Terrific Resource for Marketers

“Confessions of a Marketer” is a great listen, not just for the learnings, but to hear perspectives from marketers that come from different practice areas.

Nicolson1122 ,

Love this!

Small business need big marketing. This is so helpful.

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