podcast | May 25, 2015
Case Study: Aligning the Marketing Strategy to the Skills of the Marketing Staff
Are you a marketing leader, with a new marketing strategy, which requires new skills that your marketing team does not have?
Are you a marketing leader who finds it difficult to keep the team’s skills current in a rapidly evolving marketing field?
If so, click here and listen to this podcast.
It is an interview with Jane Gasdaska, the General Manager of US Product Supply and Distribution for Philips 66, a $200 billion oil refiner and marketer. Jane has spent 20 years in the oil industry at P66, Mobile, and Tosco. She is an expert at marketing petroleum products.
By listening to this interview, you will learn how to:
If you are an overwhelmed marketer, do what Jane did, take a step back and create a marketing strategy, something different than just a collection of tactics, and then match the strategy to the skills of the team- deciding what to train on, what to hire for, and what to outsource.
If you need help, click here and hear directly from Jane how she solved this problem.
Speaker: Welcome to the SBI Podcast: offering CEOs, sales and marketing leaders ideas to make the number.
Greg Alexander: Hello, everybody. This is Greg Alexander, co-founder and CEO of SBI. Welcome to the SBI Podcast, which is a weekly podcast series, where we interview your peers and find out what it is they’re doing that helps them “make the number”. We’ve got a great show today because we’ve got a great guest, Jane Gasdaska, who is the general manager of US Products Supply and Distribution at Philips 66, which, as many of you know, is a multi-billion dollar oil refiner and marketer. Jane has been with P66, as we call them, for 14 years. Prior to that, 6 years at Mobil Oil Company and Tosco. With almost 20 years in the oil and gas industry, having done many things in that industry, Jane, in my opinion, is an expert at marketing petroleum products. She holds a BA in Mathematics from the College of the Holy Cross, a graduate degree in Systematic Theology from GTU, and an MBA from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. How about that resume? Jane, welcome to the show.
Jane Gasdaska: Thanks, Greg. That’s quite a buildup. I hope I don’t disappoint.
Greg Alexander: No, of course not. You won’t. You should be proud of all those things. That’s quite an educational background.
Jane Gasdaska: Thanks.
Greg Alexander: Today’s topic is aligning marketing strategy to the skills of the marketing staff. Let me give some context around that and then I’m going to ask Jane for her opinion on a few of these things as many of us have to think through this. Jane, right now marketers are overwhelmed. It seems every day that consumers are behaving differently. There are new channels to focus on, yet another new piece of marketing technology to learn. In your years at Philips 66, you spent a lot of time in the area of marketing. Recently, in the recent history, you completed the creation of a new marketing strategy. That happened, as I understand, right around the time that ConocoPhillips and Philips 66 separated. Can you share with the audience what you did at that time, how you thought about creating this strategy, and particularly, when you were doing it, how you thought through do I have the skills to execute this? Do I need to train some people? Do I need to outsource some things? Do I need to hire some people? Start me at 30,000 feet as you reflect back on that time.
Jane Gasdaska: Sure. Greg, Philips 66, like a lot of other petroleum marketers and other marketers in general, are playing in a really competitive industry, competitive landscape. We see the battle of the market share regularly on a daily basis. As we think about our business from a B to B and a B to C perspective, we were trying to look at being more effective in how we spent our marketing dollars and how we needed to be looking at that. I would say, from a B to B side, that’s primarily where I focused my attention from a marketing strategy perspective. I felt like we did a lot on the B to C that we had done throughout the years in terms of maintaining our brand and advertising and promotion. Some of the typical areas in terms of how we were reaching end users, but on the B to B side, where I focused my energy was on the concept of actually marketing to our B to B customers versus what I would call the standard entertainment. From that perspective, it was always a question mark for us whether or not we could enter the digital arena with our B to B customer base.
We met some internal resistance and we had a lot of debates internally about whether or not our B to B customer base was digital savvy or even utilizing a variety of digital platforms. A lot of our sales folks didn’t believe that. Some of our marketing people didn’t believe that. Ultimately, when we looked at how people were consuming data and how people were engaging online, and we did customer interviews, we embarked on a strategy that was going to require us to build out a B to B website and to do some marketing automation – all very new areas to us. When I say new I mean areas that we had never even contemplated entering. Definitely, from that perspective, we were looking at, “Okay. If we’re going to look at building this roadmap, we really have to think a very comprehensive approach to it.
Greg Alexander: In the context of oil and gas, which some of our listeners might not be too familiar with that industry, when you say the B to B customer, who are you referring to?
Jane Gasdaska: In our branded channels, we would have a marketer or a reseller or a dealer. Those are the folks that would be distributing and selling our product- our gasoline, our diesel fuel – to a customer at a retail outlet. A marketer may be a business person that owns a chain of stores, and they may own and operate those stores or they may just be delivering fuel to those stores and have other people that actually own and operate those stores. We would be dealing on a B to B side with a marketer or a reseller who could own and operate one or more site. A reseller usually has us delivering the fuel to them, but they own and operate the site, or a dealer. A dealer is somebody who owns and operates their site. I think I said it the wrong way. The dealer is the one where we would be delivering the fuel to them. The reseller would deliver fuel to themselves.
Greg Alexander: Okay. Very good.
Jane Gasdaska: Those would be the intermediaries that we are doing business with them. They are the ones that actually touch the end user.
Greg Alexander: You went from this, what I would call … And I’m oversimplifying, I know, but just for today’s podcast, to keep it basic, you went from a non-digital marketing strategy to a digital marketing strategy. This digital marketing strategy was pointed at these B to B intermediaries, as you referred to them. The thought there was would they respond or not? You did some market research interviews, et cetera, to figure out they would and then you began marketing to them digitally with some basics like a website, but also some advanced capability like marketing automation.
Jane Gasdaska: Correct.
Greg Alexander: When you did that, there’s a skills questions there. Correct?
Jane Gasdaska: Yeah, that is correct. I would also add, Greg, when you mentioned about adding that as part of the strategy that I would say it was one of the spokes on our strategy. We weren’t going 100% digital, but we were adding that into our overall communication and touch point plan. There definitely was a skills question for us when we put the roadmap together and understood what it was going to take to actually execute. We certainly had, I guess, what I would just call some gaps in our knowledge base and our talent that we hadn’t ever really contemplated before.
Greg Alexander: It makes sense. You were doing one thing one way for a long time and it was working. Now you’re trying these new things, and digital being one of many new things, and people haven’t done it before. They have to learn how to do it.
Jane Gasdaska: Correct.
Greg Alexander: Before we dive into that, though, let’s take one quick step back, which I probably should have started with, which is what prompted you to deploy a new B to B marketing strategy in the first place?
Jane Gasdaska: That’s a good question. I think when we looked at our business overall and we saw that our brands in certain areas of the country were not as strong as other brands. Some of that had to do with the changing petroleum landscape amongst refining brands alone, but we also noticed a big change in the petroleum landscape overall with what I would call non-traditional retailers starting to take some of our market share way. I talk about grocery stores that carry fuel – Costcos – and in various parts of the country, there are some outstanding retailers that have absolutely nothing to do with gasoline, but they’re people like and Quicktrip. They’re just really outstanding retailers that are starting to take market share away. What we were trying to look at was, “Hey, if we are trying to defend our market share in a declining demand environment, it’s going to require us to actually grow and to steal share from someone else. How can we become more valuable to people that want to distribute this product for their business or for their livelihood?”
We were setting about on making some program changes to our brands. We really needed a venue to be able to prospect to new customers, but we also needed a venue to be able to market to our own customers to say, “We have some valuable things here that are going to make your business more profitable. We think that this is going to increase your enterprise value, ultimately, and we want you to put more stores, or we want you to brand other sites with us and increase our through-puts as well. It’s an overarching theme.
Greg Alexander: Shifting landscape, declining demand, more competition, the need to bring more value, thus a new marketing strategy, which makes perfect sense. We’re going to take a quick commercial break here. When we come back, we’re going to dive into this skills challenge – matching the skills of the team to the marketing strategy. Come right back.
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Greg Alexander: Welcome back, everybody. I’m here with Jane Gadaska, who’s the general manager of US Products Supply and Distribution at Philips 66. Today we’re talking about aligning marketing strategy to the skills of the marketing staff. Right before the break, we learned that Jane orchestrated with her team a new B to B marketing strategy in response to shifting landscape in her industry, more intense competition, new entrants into the market, and the need to add more value to the customer, and do that through marketing and help them grow their business as a way to take share because the only way you could grow is take share. This required lots of new programs, lots of new tactics. You develop the strategy, you go to your team. Sometimes maybe these are things that they’re doing for the first time, sometimes maybe there are things that you haven’t even contemplated before, so now you, as a leader, are faced with a decision. Do you train the team? Do you hire some new people? Do you outsource? Do you not do some things in your strategy because you think the skills gap is too big of an execution issue and that it wouldn’t work because of that? How did you think through those options?
Jane Gasdaska: I think when we first looked at what we were trying to accomplish, I’m a firm believer in chunking it out and starting with the end in mind. Identifying what the priorities were and then what it was going to take to be able to execute that from a workload perspective, but then also understanding what infrastructure we needed and what human resources and human skill set we needed to go with it. Also I would comment on the fact that understanding we were about to undertake an organizational change, what that would require for the organization to absorb it and not only to absorb it, but to actually be energized about it or to be excited about it. For myself, that was really important to have people involved with the execution of that strategy that we’re really excited, first of all, about embarking on something new that was going to create additional value for our customers and for us, but also that was going to challenge them and be able to have them learn a new skill set.
When you think about undertaking that change, we looked at an assessment – and I would just call is a capability assessment – of our folks to say, “Hey,” looking at their background, looking at the work that they’ve done previously, looking at how capable overall they were with regard to their technological skills, because a lot of this was going to require digital capability as well as social media, I would call it, interest and capability. Understanding where we stood and did we need to make any shift in jobs? Did we need to buy any talent or recruit folks in, or were our own resources capable of being trained or being brought up to be able to manage those tasks, learn new skills, and orchestrate the execution?
Greg Alexander: One of the things that I love about Philips 66 is that the typical tenure of an employee there is really long, which means it’s a great place to work. Really, it stands out. So many of clients, a typical job tenure, it might be 3 years. Yours is measured in decades instead of years, which is great. You have these very capable, loyal employees and you’re going to ask them to go do new things like social media. Create content, run e-mail campaigns, some marketing automation tools. You said something that made me think about this, which was before you even started doing the skills assessment, you wanted to do an interest assessment. Who’s interested in even doing this? Who wants to do this? How did these tenured employees react to things like social media?
Jane Gasdaska: I would say that the majority of folks that we would have in the area of social media were almost tenured employees. We found it to be a really good match with what I would call employees in the 5 to 15-year time frame. That sounds like pretty high, or that range probably seems pretty long, but in our company, as you said, it’s really common to see employees working 30-plus years. We have folks that are very early in their career that are the millennial demographic. It’s how they live and how they operate. When they think of marketing, it’s very common for them to be involved in social media anyway. It really was a good fit for us to match that population. That doesn’t mean that the rest of the organization was either excluded or didn’t think it was the right path to go on, it just meant that the people that were actually going to execute it were in a different time frame. One thing I would say is that given our corporate identity and our corporate brand overall, that we did need to make sure that we were aligned with our corporate strategies and our corporate policies on social media. That was always a concern for us as well.
Greg Alexander: There’s a great example of matching the strategy to the skills. You have the strategy, you decide social media is one of the channels that you want to market to this B to B customer, too. Instead of forcing this on a population group inside of your team that may not want to do it, or may not be familiar with it, you give it to the millennials who … They grew up on this. To them, this is normal. It’s exciting and fun for them. That’s a perfect example of this. Let’s talk about a few other examples. Having worked with you guys for a while, I know that the requirement for content generation was pretty high. Generating content is hard. Was that a skill that you assessed? How did you go about building that capability?
Jane Gasdaska: Yeah. I think that skills continues to evolve. I think that we’ve evolved a long way from where we started. I also believe that we use mix of in-house generated content and we still use agencies to help us on certain things, where we want what I would just call a broader reach, or we have a wide sweeping campaign that needs to have a different look, feel, tone to it than our capabilities give us to just run the gamut, I would say, on a campaign under different mediums. I would say, when it comes to some of the in-house pieces that we use for either job aids or sales aids on some of the content that we produce, that we have really evolved, I would say, over the course of probably about 3 years to elevate the game internally.
Greg Alexander: Interesting. We’re going to take another quick commercial break. When we come back after the break, we’re going to talk about how to decide from a content generation perspective what to do in-house and what to do with outsources? We’ll be right back.
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Greg Alexander: Welcome back, everybody. This is Greg Alexander with SBI. I’m here today with Jane Gadaska of Philips 66. We’re discussing aligning marketing strategy to the skills of the marketing staff. Right before the break, Jane was sharing with us, as it relates to content generation, which was a component of the marketing strategy, which content she was doing in-house – things like sales aids and job aids and stuff like that – and content that she was outsourcing. Jane, if you would give the audience some advice on this, because I get asked this question all the time. I don’t know if I necessarily have the right answer. I’d like to get your perspective on this. What percentage of contents should be in-house and what percentage should be outsourced, and then the piece that is outsourced? What are the characteristics of that type of content that makes it the most likely candidate to be outsourced?
Jane Gasdaska: I can’t give a percentage on what I think should be outsourced and kept in-house. Some of that has multiple pieces or questions that have to be answered about whether or not it’s-
Greg Alexander: Yeah, too many variables.
Jane Gasdaska: Yeah. There’s a lot of different variables on what your budget is going to allow you to do. Sometimes it’s a time issue. It really, to me, that depends on what set of constraints you’re working on internally. I think when I look at things that I would send out, there are probably things that require, I want to say, less, in my mind, I’m thinking about the word writing, but less teaching somebody about the business or the requirements of what needs to happen when you’re selling a program to somebody. Maybe it’s a less complex piece that’s going out for us because I think sometimes we have intricacies of our business model that we have to incorporate in. Sometimes that gets really difficult to have to translate to an agency. I do look at things from an outsourcing perspective that we want to create simplicity on certain visual elements, things that we want high resolution graphics that we may not have access to.
Also if we want something customized from a graphic design perspective that we just don’t have the capabilities to do in-house, I would say that that’s another. That is something that we don’t do particularly well, so we would be outsourcing for that. I would also say that if we’re looking at multiple channels or multiple platforms that we want to use a campaign on and we want it to be skinned the same way under each of those different platforms. That would be a place where we would use someone to help us do that.
Greg Alexander: Yeah. I tend to agree with you. It is tough to say percentages, for sure. There are lots of variables there. It makes common sense if you think about it, that the things required – really deep domain expertise on your company, industry, products, et cetera – to keep those in-house and the things that might be less specific could be sent out to agencies. Yeah, I agree. Let me turn the attention on back to skills here for a second and talk about technology skills. You all implemented marketing automation technology. Many marketers these days, the joke is they’re becoming technologists and that tech is driving marketing now. That requires a new type of marketing employee. When you started embracing some of these new marketing technology, was there tech skill inside your department? Did you leverage IT? Did you outsource that? How did you handle that?
Jane Gasdaska: Personally, I think we utilize whatever we could find, but the first pockets that I look for in terms of within our own organization was just what I would call a high level of digital engagement. It would be employees that I knew were constantly utilizing whether or not it was the latest app, different websites that were doing things for either consumers, or efficiency applications. I could see that we would have pockets of … They just felt very innovative to me within our own employee population. I could hear some of the energy that they brought. If they would be with other people or they would be with me and we would always start with, “Hey, have you seen this?” or “Have you ever tried this?” or “We were using this.” They would be so excited about these different things that their energy really got to be very infectious. When I looked at people like that, I knew that they had the intelligence, they had the appetite, and they had just the desire and the intellectual curiosity to go down these new technological frontiers. They weren’t scared of it, they loved experimenting with it, they loved trying to break it. Those were exactly the kind of people that I was just like, “Hey, these people would be a good fit on the team that is going to go down this route.” That’s how I just started it.
Greg Alexander: Then you took those people that were going down technological frontiers, to use your terminology, which I really like. Then you let them know what your technology roadmap was and asked them whether they wanted to participate and they learned the new systems. Is that the way it worked?
Jane Gasdaska: Yeah. They were excited about … We had new roles that were being created. There were conversations or just about expressions of interest to say, “Would you be interested in this role?” Some of them were like, “Hey, that would be my dream job, if I could do that.” I’m like, “You would be my dream employee.”
Greg Alexander: Match made in Heaven.
Jane Gasdaska: There were some areas where it was a really good fit. We just had these people that were so jazzed about what they were doing and where they were going. They had clear line of sight to this is our launch date for some of these things. It was really fun to watch.
Greg Alexander: We’re going to take one more commercial break. When we come back from this, we’re going to wrap everything up here and give the audience some to-do, some takeaway value.
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Greg Alexander: Welcome back, everybody. This is our last segment. This is Greg Alexander with SBI. I’m joined today by Jane Gadaska of Philips 66. Today’s topic has been aligning marketing strategy to the skills of marketing staff. I want to conclude here with one thing we do know, and that is this is not static. This is going to continue to change. The marketing world is going through this transformation. This, I guess, skill, for lack of a better term of matching marketing strategy to the skills of your staff is something that needs to be developed. How do we get good at that? Jane, if you were to speak directly to the marketers who are listening to this podcast and give them your commonsense advice on how to get better at aligning marketing strategy with the skills of the staff, what would you advise them to do?
Jane Gasdaska: I would advise them to understand where they have gaps and understand the most efficient way to fill them. If it’s on the strategy side, have a thorough understanding of what you need to do to get to your goal and have a good plan together to get there, but also to understand where your execution risks are. Then on the skills side, it’s exactly the same thing. Don’t be afraid to say, “Hey, we don’t have that skill here,” or “We need to go out and get it,” or “We need to bite off a smaller chunk before we can get to the second piece of this, because our execution risk is going to be too high given the skill set that we have. We need to crawl, walk, run before we just jump. It’s definitely being realistic and taking that assessment of, “If this is where I want to get to go, this is what I’m going to need to get there. This is how I need to get that.”
Greg Alexander: Perfect. That’s exactly what I was looking for when I mentioned commonsense advice. That’s so practical. That’s what I was hoping that you’re going to give me. Let me offer my thoughts on this. First, this is targeted at the overwhelmed marketer. If you’re a marketer right now and you’re not overwhelmed and your strategy and execution is humming then hit delete. I’m talking to that person that right now is overwhelmed. What I would tell you is do what Jane did. Take a step back and create a marketing strategy, something different than just a collection of tactics. Then think about and match that strategy to the skills of your team. When you do that, the questions will emerge. What should I train on? What should I hire for? What should I outsource? It’s a way to think about the problem and break it down and unpack it into these digestible chunks.
If you need help doing this, we have somebody inside of our firm who I think is fantastic on this particular skill. His name is Vince Koehler. You can read about Vince on our website, which is salesbenchmarkindex.com. If you just click on the About Us section and click on our team, you’ll see his bio. You can click on that and read all about him. The reason why I’m recommending Vince to you is, number one, he loves having conversations with marketers and he worked with Jane and her team over the years and lived through this, as well as some other marketing organizations. He’s very patient, he’s very practical, and I think he could help you here. He loves helping. That would be my recommendation to you and my call to action. With that, Jane, on behalf of SBI and all of our listeners, I wanted to thank you for taking time out of your day to share your wisdom with us. I learned a lot. You’re very humble and modest and you know more than you realize. Your answers were spectacular. Thank you so much.
Jane Gasdaska: Thanks, Greg.
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