Behind The Smoke Screen: Janet Schijns

Behind The Smoke Screen: Janet Schijns
February 19 15:26 2016 Print This Article
The Small Business Journal had the unique privilege of speaking with Janet Schijns, chief marketing technologist at Verizon to get a glimpse of how Verizon Enterprise approaches marketing, and how small businesses can incorporate these concepts into their marketing strategies.

JAY: Let’s start with the basics, Janet. What is it like being the chief marketing technologist for Verizon Enterprise. How do you start your day?

JANET: Like everyone else, I start my day with coffee! However, I don’t sit at my desk while I drink my coffee. There’s a limited amount of hours in the day, and needless to say marketing at Verizon requires every available minute. I call a huddle with my team to review our progress and what needs to be improved. My role at Verizon is to create ways to use technology to effectively engage with customers.
What group defines your target audience the most?
Here’s a striking fact, every marketer must know. Millennials account for over $600 billion in sales. If you are embarking on a marketing project, you have to embrace this audience and learn their unique needs and expectations. Getting stuck in the past has never been more dangerous.

JAY:How do get into the minds and feelings of the millennial group to properly align your campaigns?
JANET: Firstly, businesses have to understand the fact that the world has gone digital and technology always wins. The more you can do to digitize your company the better off you’ll be. Second is, to be a successful leader, you must have your finger on the pulse of what’s trending around you. I make it a requirement to always check all of my social media channels constantly throughout the day. You must get a razor sharp understanding of what the needs and desires of your target audience are in order to market effectively.

JAY:Do you try to interact with an audience on social media, or simply look around to see what’s going on?
JANET: Absolutely! And I encourage any business to make sure they are engaged in social media. As you are reading my answer you are probably thinking, “I don’t have the time to constantly write, tweet and retweet what other people are doing on social media, I have a business to run!” The truth is, I think most small businesses are confused as to what they should be doing on social media. In reality it’s not about constantly coming up with new things to say. In most cases, when companies constantly write or tweet about themselves, they immediately turn away their audience. The art of social media is to start a conversation. Strategically write or post about a topic that relates to your business, offer an opinion or an insiders take, and wait to see how the audience responds. Relevant comments bring followers, if you have followers you’ll have conversation, if you have conversation you’ll have meaning. There’s no need to come up with crazy content, listen, learn and adapt.

JAY: When a company is ready to launch an advertising campaign, what is the smartest way to get the message across? Since most small businesses are running on a tight advertising budget, what’s the smartest way to spend the money?
JANET: Firstly, I was an entrepreneur early in my career, so I totally understand the constraint small business face. For 16 years I ran my own tech company, and you have to use each advertising dollar have with the best option for return. From my experience both from my own business, as well as with Verizon, it’s all about understanding your customers. Scattering the market with a broad message would not engage the audience. We use all our energy and resources to understand what our customers are looking for. Often times this is the step small businesses overlook when marketing their campaign. Developing a conversation on social media, whether it’s through a LinkedIn post or a Twitter exchange is worth a whole lot more than a super bowl ad.

JAY: What do you see coming down the pipe for the next five to ten years? What should small businesses improve to stay ahead of the curve?
JANET: Years ago everything was location, location location. Now as the world becomes more and more digitized the location has almost zero impact. At the same time, many businesses are not working hard enough on improving the back end of their web sites. With millennials making up the majority of the market, if your web site takes two extra seconds to load they will go elsewhere. Just as companies in years past invested in their front window to bring customers into their store, companies now need to invest in their back window so their network will give customers the experience they are looking for.

JAY: Before I let you go, can you share some of the mistakes have you made along the way that looking back actually helped you understand marketing?
JANET: Actually, I think this is probably the biggest lesson of all. When you know too much you are dangerous as a marketer. I was always so involved with the latest developments in technology, and when I would design an ad, there were so many things I took for granted. I assumed everyone would understand my message. Many times it’s not so. You must do everything you can to create a clear message. If your marketing doesn’t engage the customer, it’s worthless. I used to always say, if you can tell it to my Dad and he understands it, I hit the mark!

Janet revisedJanet Schijns is the Vice President and MarTech Chief for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. Janet spends her time creating real and sustainable customer experiences using digital transformation, demand gen, and marketing programs that drive results from awareness to marketing qualified leads to close.  Specialties: Leadership through change, Digital transformation, Brand impact, Go to Market, Channels and Technology Alliances, Social Media Campaigns, Change Management, Organization Strategic Recalibration, Growth Planning, Strategic Development Projects, Talent for a Digitial World, and Marketing that works for top and bottom line growth.