A Core Plan And Agile Strategy Plus An Easy Prioritization Framework With Jared Rhue From rewardStyle [AMP 161]

Nobody enjoys tedious, manual busywork. Precious work time is wasted, instead of spent on completing projects. Makeshift marketing isn’t fun. It’s unproductive and creates inefficiencies due to a disconnected marketing stack. Today’s guest is Jared Rhue, head of business-to-business (B2B) marketing at rewardStyle. Jared describes his strategy of combining a core plan with agile methodologies to improve team collaboration and communication.

Some of the highlights of the show include:
  • rewardStyle: Influencer marketing pioneer started from passion for fashion
  • rewardStyle’s revenue model drives more than $1.2 billion annually in retail sales
  • Global Community: More than 250 team members; 50,000 top-tier influencers, and 5,000 retail partners
  • Strategy, Plan, and Review: Jared’s average day at rewardStyle
  • Strategy Steps to Success: Document marketing plan, strategy, and methods
  • Marketers must be agile for ability to ask and listen to audience challenges
  • Short Message Service (SMS): Relevant channel for B2B marketing in the future
  • rewardStyle’s core plan consists of positioning, value proposition, and priorities 
  • Secret to Team Success: Eliminate fire drills/urgent projects created by makeshift marketing chaos
  • Questions to prioritize projects: 
    • Does it support quarterly/yearly Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals?
    • Does it drive annual revenue?
    • Are there dedicated deadlines?
    • What’s the scope of work, and which team members will it impact? 
    • Which projects will need to be deprioritized?
  • Stay on Track with Tasks: Implement marketing organizational management platform and agile methodology  
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A Core Plan And Agile Strategy Plus An Easy Prioritization Framework With Jared Rhue From rewardStyle

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You’re listening to the Actionable Marketing Podcast powered by CoSchedule. The only way to organize your marketing in one place, helping marketers stay focused, deliver projects on time, and keep their entire marketing team happy. Nathan: Makeshift marketing is the cobbled together mess of single function tools and spreadsheets we use in an attempt to organize our marketing. You’ve got one tool for email marketing, another for social media marketing, another for work management, and another for content marketing. You get the problem, right? The real challenge that this causes is a disconnected marketing stack. That means the person who handle social media doesn’t really know what’s going on with content marketing or when a project deadline is to shift, communicating that to everyone can be really difficult. It often requires a lot of tedious manual busy work to reschedule and stay in sync as a team, especially as a team of teams. The result is a lot of precious time spent coordinating your work rather than completing it. Makeshift marketing problem isn’t new, but what is new is that more so than ever before, marketing teams are being asked to produce more without being given more team members. Marketing teams are also expected to shorten their production cycles/timelines to produce more work faster. Now, I’m borrowing these facts from a handful of reports that I read recently from that analyst firm, Gartner, so I know this is a huge industry-wide problem. Where I’m going with this is that the inefficiencies of makeshift marketing actually can prevent you from delivering upon those expectations. You’re expected to complete more work to shorten your production cycles and to publish on time. It’s a challenge. That’s why we’re chatting with Jared Rhue today on the Actionable Marketing Podcast. Jared is the Head of B2B Marketing at rewardStyle, a pioneer in the influencer marketing space. Today, you’re going to learn about Jared’s strategy that combines a core plan with agile methodologies. You’ll learn about his simple framework for planning urgent work alongside planned requests and how his team collaborates. I’m Nathan from CoSchedule and now it’s time to get AMPed with Jared. Hey Jared. Thank you for being on the podcast today. Jared: Hey, Nathan. Thank you very much for inviting me. It’s an honor to be here. Nathan: It’s an honor to have you, too. Jared, I know that you just began a newer position to you at a really interesting company. I was wondering if we could just start there. Tell me a little bit about rewardStyle. Jared: Absolutely, Nathan, yeah. I’ve had the fortune to become the Head of B2B Marketing you’re at rewardStyle. rewardStyle pioneered the influencer marketing industry and it all started with a vision from our founder, Amber Venz Box. She had a passion for fashion and she had started really the first fashion blog back in 2010. What she realized was people were just reading her blog and then going to the store and buying the outfits that she was recommending, so she wasn’t able to make any money off of that. She created a rewardStyle to create a revenue model for influencer marketing. Our vision and our platform is we unite influencers, brands, and consumers through the power of distributor original content. Right now. we drive up more than $1.2 billion in annual retail sales. Nathan: That’s a big deal. Jared: Yeah. When I first was doing my due diligence on them, when I saw the B behind 1.2, I had to double check on that. Being [00:04:22] I tell you that is accurate and today we’re a global community of more than 250 team members 50,000 top-tier influencers, and we have 5000 retail partners that’s scans more than 100 countries. Nathan: Quite the big company. You’re mentioned 250 team members globally. What does that mean for a marketing team? Are you a team of teams within the marketing department? What does that structure break down and look like for you guys? Jared: Great question, Nathan. The company identified how expansive we are as far as the business model. We really are a B2B2C model. We’ve grown to a point where we need to split the two businesses. They have done it and myself to focus on the B2B side, then they brought in my partner in crime and he’s the head of B2C marketing. Our marketing team supports both of those businesses. Then I stepped in place to really be the conduit as well globally with our other teams over in the UK, Shanghai, and Brazil. Nathan: Super cool. That transitions into my next question for you. As head of B2B marketing, what is a day in the life look like that for you at rewardStyle? Jaren: It’s definitely evolving being here, coming out about 60 days now, but it always starts with a cold brew coffee, that’s one of our [00:06:14], a cold brew tap in office, so very thankful for that. That’s how I start my day. Usually anywhere around 3–4 meetings a day. I really try to cap it at that so I can actually get some work done, then it’s either meeting with marketing team members, and then I usually have one or two cross functional team meetings. As I mentioned, I’m the conduit between our marketing and our B2B sales team. I work closely with them, actually sit right in-between them which is great for communication and collaborating. I try and dedicate a couple of hours to working on strategy, planning, and we’re doing projects. As far as a sneak peek into what my day looks like, day-to-day right now working on 2020 planning, doing some martech evaluations, and do sales enablement content review with the sales team. Nathan: I was going to just pry into something you mentioned that’s really interesting to me is a cross functional meetings. I assume that means you are doing work for other departments or business units throughout the company, is that right? Jaren: Definitely. A lot of it’s on collaborative projects that we’re working together on, whether it be a conference that we’re planning for our sales team or our conference strategy together for 2020. Some work with our sales leadership on which ones we should really target, how we should target those if we should go and as sponsors, speakers, just have a presence there at the booth. That’s one example. Another one is working bilaterally with engineering and our CRM team, to map out a possible move to another CRM heading into 202. A lot of different teams and joint decisions being made and a big decision like that. Nathan: Definitely. That transitions into something I wanted to ask you about. It sounds like you’re really diving into the strategy for 2020. Something that we found from the CoSchedule side is through some custom research, that teams that document strategy are 313% more likely to report success than those that don’t. I was wondering if you could just give me the lowdown on your marketing plan, how you approach that. Do you plan the entire year out? How do you take agile into that? What’s your process for planning like? Jared: Great question, Nathan. I’m passionate about this topic and that statistic is absolutely accurate. I lean towards building a loose strategy heading in, especially with our 2020 planning and being agile. I also believe, though, that it’s vital to have that core marketing plan in place and committing to things like an inbound methodology account-based marketing for us. I want to be successful and stay relevant in our industry. You’ve got to be agile and be able be able to pivot quickly. I’m not sure if you guys can attest to have campaigns we planned or producing. We’ve got to be prepared and able to shift. I’m really convinced that we as markers also have to be agile because we have to ask and listen to our audience, what challenges are they facing, and how we can effectively market to them. Guessing what they think or how they want to be marketed to is really a recipe for failure. In my experience, with the age we live in, the speed of new technology, and shorter attention spans from our audience, I really believe we have to be agile to stay relevant. Something interesting I was just speaking with a video platform sales director yesterday. She said she believes in the next 12–18 months, SMS will actually be a relevant channel for B2B marketing. That took me aback because I was like, “Wow, that’s invasive and that line has never been crossed,” but she really stretch my thinking there to just continue to innovate and how we can get in front of our prospects and customers. Nathan: Jared has more to share here in a minute, but it’s time for a break. If you’re interested in learning more about agile marketing, we recently published a book here at CoSchedule to help you out. Find the book on Amazon by searching “how to get started with actual marketing.” It’s available in both print and Kindle formats. If you’re curious as to how to implement actual marketing best practices within CoSchedule, there’s a brand new courses on the CoSchedule Academy to help you out. Check it out at academy.coschedule.com. Now, let’s get back to the show with Jared. Something that you had mentioned, Jared, was you have a core plan and then you make sure that you’re able to actually adopt. Is the core plan like the company positioning? What is the core plan look like for you guys? Jared: The core plan is definitely going to be our primary value proposition, why we exist and our core priorities for the year. That’s what that component of it looks like. Nathan: All right. If we’re talking about projects, one of the things I wanted to ask you about was balancing some of those urgent projects with what you have prioritized. What would that look like for you guys? Jared: I’m really convinced that it’s vital to a team's success to eliminate as much as possible in an environment of project chaos and fire drills. I think you guys call it makeshift marketing. I’ve lived it and it’s no fun; it’s highly unproductive. We try our best just to stay true to prioritize in planned projects for this reason. Of course, in the marketing world, urgent work inevitably does arise. The past is our priority factors, so to drill into how we prioritize those. We have a step-by-step questionnaire. Number one would be, does this support our quarterly and/or annual smaller goals? How will it drive new revenue? The third one would be are there committed deadlines to clients or other departments? Fourth is what is the scope of work and which team members will this impact? Then check-check-check, we ask which projects will have to be deprioritized? I learned a great example and trick from my former head of product when we are going through situations like this, team member [00:14:07]. This is important. We need this next week. He would always have the original list of five projects in the hopper and say, “Okay, if it’s that important, one of these five has to drop off the list, so which one has to drop? Usually, when people had that visual, it didn’t become as high a priority all of a sudden. Nathan: I really like the idea of a simple step-by-step questionnaire. That’s brilliant. Jared: Yeah. I think it’s important to ask those fact-finding questions instead of it just being urgent, like “This is ugent. How [00:14:48]?” I used to ask, “How [00:14:48]? Is it A, B, or C?” and of course, everyone’s always going to say, “Level one. It’s very urgent.” That’s why I build up these five levels of questions to really drill into it. Nathan: I think that’s important. I really like how simple it is, too. Oftentimes, the simple frameworks are the easiest ones to implement. I think that’s a great takeaway for the rest of us. One of the things that you talked about was scope and team. Just for a little bit of background here with you and your team there, how many team members do you have? Jared: We have a total of 26 members. That includes digital, social, content, creative, and PR. Nathan: Nice. Do you as a marketing team collaborate together on many projects? Does it pass from one of those sub-teams to the next? Jared: Yeah, absolutely. Again, it comes down to which side of the business the project is on. If it’s on the B2B side on my side or if it’s on the B2C side. The way the process works is either I’ll come up with the plan or the strategy, work with my SVP of marketing, and then we work with our project manager to start mapping out with the planning with the team. That also would include, if it is a global project or campaign, or if it’s specific to one of our international offices. Nathan: Jared, something I wanted to ask you is, how often do you meet with your team? Jared: It depends on the project, but daily with different team members if it’s a project we’re working on pretty intensely or deadlines coming up soon. I’m big on clear team communication and ensuring there’s alignment, so I really strive to make myself as available as possible. My team experience has really taught me that if there’s a breakdown in communication, there’s inevitably will be a breakdown in alignment, which is going to create friction, confusion, frustration, and ultimately wasted team to end with best deadlines From a cadence perspective, we have weekly leadership and marketing meetings. We have monthly committee meetings. I’ve started a couple of committees here like a conference committee. I have also started a content committee. I believe it’s real important to hear and listen to our sales team since they’re on the front lines and they’re getting the questions that our prospects are asking. I found that content committee to be really valuable for us to hear from the sales team, so we can curate our content to answer those questions of our prospects. I also have bi-weekly check-ins with my global heads as well. Nathan: That makes a lot of sense. I like how you keep open communication with the sales team. That’s really important. In my opinion is that marketers are sales people, so love it. Jared: Amen to that. Nathan: I have just one more question for you just to wrap this up. We did some research earlier this year and we found that organized markers are among the most successful marketers out there. I was wondering if you could give me the lowdown on what you think is some of the best ways to keep your team on track or on task and hit those project deadlines that you were just mentioning. Jared: Number one that’s most vital to hitting project deadlines and keeping my team on track is going to be to have a marketing organizational management platform in place like CoSchedule, so good timing for my promoter plug. I led an implementation and I have managed to team on CoSchedule. I can share from first-hand experience that it literally and immediately transforms the productivity and efficiency on the marketing team. It’s very budget-friendly and the ROI on the tool is immeasurable. Actually, it’s measurable because they have an ROI calculator which is pretty sweet. What I’ve also got to experience is CoSchedule is very user-friendly and the sales and support team is first class. Nathan, I just want to give a shoutout to my friends Peter [00:19:42] and Sara Flowers. They’re fantastic to work with. If your team isn’t on CoSchedule, just definitely take my word for it and schedule a demo. The second thing that’s really vital to keeping teams on track as we talked about to really implement the [00:20:02] methodology and have cadence Scrum meetings. So, daily stand-ups with our teams, weekly or bi-weekly check-ins, sprint plannings and then sprint retros. One thing I found really helpful when running sprint retros is to invite other departments. What I’ve noticed sometimes is marketing silos itself and other departments feel disconnected. Then, those comments start to float around, “What is marketing doing? What are they working on?” I found when I invite different departments or teams to our sprint retros, it really creates that open environment, it answers that question of what the heck is marketing working on, and it breeds an environment of inclusivity between the company. Nathan: I love that, the over communication. As a marketer, defining channels to communicate with stakeholders seems like it’s really important. It sounds like you guys are nailing it there at rewardStyle. I just want to say thanks for being on the show today and thanks for sharing this advice. I really appreciate it. Jared: Thank you, Nathan. Again, it’s been an honor. I love you guys and everything that you’re doing. I appreciate you.
About the Author

Nathan is the Head of Content & SEO at SimpleTexting. He's a demand generation enthusiast, content marketing advocate, and team player. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, running ultra marathons, and canoeing in the Boundary Waters in Minnesota. Connect with Nathan on LinkedIn.