March 27, 2023

Marketing: It’s not about you, and when you make it about you, you are never going to succeed (podcast episode #53)


Get ideas for being an effective manager, change management, and more by listening to episode #53 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast. I had an exciting conversation with Onaisa Landis, Vice President of Marketing, Octane.

Listen now to hear Landis discuss thinking beyond what your product does and growing your team members.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

Marketing: It’s not about you, and when you make it about you, you are never going to succeed (podcast episode #53)

The How I Made It In Marketing podcast is underwritten by MECLABS Institute, the parent organization of MarketingSherpa. To learn how MECLABS Services can help you get better business results from deeper customer understanding, visit

Change does not want to happen. The status quo is tenacious. To quote Isaac Newton, “An object at rest stays at rest…yadda, yadda, yadda…unless acted upon by an unbalancing force.”

In your career, in your company, you are that unbalancing force. You tenaciously swim upstream against the status quo, and make change happen.

And yet…even as hard as that is… we can’t stop there. Not if we want to be good marketers. Not if we want to be good leaders. We need to use our communication and collaboration skills, and bring our internal team, and our customers, along for the ride.

I love how our latest guest put it in one of her lessons – “Change (even good change) is hard, and everyone wants to be able to control, or at least influence, the change in their lives.”

That’s true for your employees. That’s true for your customers.

Our guest on Episode #53 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast told us the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson-filled stories – Onaisa Landis, Vice President of Marketing, Octane.

Octane surpassed $1.2 billion in annual loans in 2022. The company piloted its B2B loyalty program, Octane Preferred, in 2022 and rolled it out nationwide in March 2023. It has grown from five to 500 merchant integrations during Onaisa's time with Octane. And Landis has built her team from three to more than 10.

Listen to our conversation using this embedded player or click through to your preferred audio streaming service using the links below it.

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Stories (with lessons) about what she made in marketing

Some lessons from Landis that emerged in our discussion:

It’s not about you, and when you make it about you, you are never going to succeed

Early in her career, fresh out of business school, Landis worked at General Mills in a rotational program where each freshly minted grad would spend one year as brand manager (aka business owner). Giving highly motivated, eager-to-make-a-difference brand managers a seemingly short tenure could be a recipe for disaster as many of them aspired to leave a legacy that would outlast their 365 days with the brand.

This became apparent during her rotation with Muir Glen, a little known, organic, canned tomato brand. It was a brand manager’s dream, a small and powerful brand that had been organically growing without much focus from the company. Relevant enough to have a loyal customer base, small enough to fly under the radar at General Mills. Landis had the opportunity to lean in and do with it what she wanted, without navigating internal politics.

Although Muir Glen was growing, it was losing share and maintaining shelf space at its largest retailer – Whole Foods – was imperative. Additionally, BPA concerns were top of mind for many consumers – especially amongst their target consumer, and retailers were looking for alternative packing methods. They decided to transition from canned tomatoes to premium jarred tomatoes and launch an exclusive with Whole Foods to retain shelf space.

They even flew to California to meet farmers and select the most beautiful tomatoes to display in the glass jars. Right before the holidays, they successfully pitched the idea to Whole Food and committed to an overly aggressive timeline to launch – one month – which was also how much time Landis had left in her rotation.

Taking the concept to market in record-breaking time had its own challenges – their plants weren’t set up for packing jars so they hand packed and stuck labels on the jars themselves. Yet the biggest hurdle arose when they ran the numbers and learned they needed to 4X the price to break-even on the cost of the glass jars. They didn’t have time to get consumer feedback and Landis pushed hard to launch as they headed into the new year. And so they did – and it bombed.

The price was far too high; customers were unwilling to spend close to $10 a jar.

And while that high from seemingly accomplishing the impossible and coming together as a team to deliver a new product at breakneck speed was something she always thinks back upon fondly, Landis realized she had made this launch all about her. Landis was so hungry to make a mark on this brand, that she forgot the most basic thing about marketing – understanding the consumer need and delivering a product that the consumer you serve is looking for.

Imperfect action today is better than perfect action tomorrow

A Capital One, after successfully making the case for the importance of customer marketing beyond the first 90 days of a customer’s lifecycle, Landis was tasked with bringing it to life. The scope of her role doubled, her team grew 4x overnight, and she went from piloting this idea of investing in customers to really owning the entirety of the opportunity.

At the time, it was the largest role and the biggest team she had ever had, and Landis really wanted to get it right, so much so that she was paralyzed. She became obsessed with launching the perfect strategy. They asked the right questions, analyzed the data, spoke to customers, created frameworks, opportunity maps, and iterations of their strategy… but they didn’t take anything to market. She was so focused on perfection that they accomplished nothing.

For an entire year, the company’s first customer lifecycle marketing team had no impact on the business, drove no results or real time learnings. It was a painful and valuable lesson to learn – progress not perfection. An incorrect decision today is always better than inaction.

To market effectively, you have to think beyond what your product does, you have to understand the role it plays in your customers’ lives

Many B2C marketers understand that humans make irrational, emotional decisions – from high-end bags to luxury cars – because of how the purchases make customers feel about themselves. Although it’s often lost on B2B marketers (and was certainly lost on Landis), the exact same notion applies in B2B marketing. This was a formative lesson for her, as she stepped into her role at Octane, leading B2B marketing.

Octane is a lending solution for recreational purchases – they provide technology and underwriting – thereby making the full buying experience better. When she first joined Octane, she spent hours speaking to their customers (small business owners, individuals who owned and/or managed finance at dealerships) to understand the role Octane played in their business.

Oftentimes those 30-minute conversations would go twice, three times as long, because what customers wanted to talk about was not their business but rather their lives – which were inextricably linked to one another. They talked about their hopes, their dreams, who they were being influenced by, who they were influencing, the legacy they wanted their business to leave in the world.

Landis realized during these conversations that customers didn’t love Octane because of its underwriting prowess or because of its technology – they loved Octane because it was the bridge between who they were and what they wanted to be. It was a really powerful insight that re-framed everything – the way the team talks about themselves, how they position their solution, their roadmap.

It has strengthened their relationship with their customers, it has made them more than just a lender and it has become their moat that keeps them ahead of their competition.

Lessons (with stories) from people she collaborated with

Landis also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with.

Being an effective manager is as much about driving business impact as it is about growing your team members

via Jeremiah Palmer, Brand Manager, General Mills

Palmer was of the best managers Landis ever had. At the time he was a Brand Manager overseeing their health and wellness brands. He taught Landis that being an effective manager was as much about driving business impact as it was about growing your team members and providing them the autonomy and support they needed to ensure they could be their best selves.

He made her believe she could do a lot more than she thought she could, empowered her to make important decisions (even when she didn’t make the right ones) and she learned a tremendous amount from him – not just about how to be a good leader but about what she is capable of.

No matter how important you are, make the people you interact with feel special

via Kellyn Kenny, CMO, AT&T

Early in her career at Capital One, Landis was looking at new roles at the company. Kellyn Kenney was the much adored and admired Head of Marketing at Capital One Consumer Bank back then (now CMO at AT&T). She sat down with Landis to talk to Landis about her career aspirations (mostly to convince her to not move to a different line of business!) and afterwards Landis sent her a note thanking Kenney for her time and telling Kenney how she thought the world of her.

Landis remember so distinctly, Kenney responded to Landis and said “That means a lot – especially coming from you.” That phrase “especially coming from you” made Landis (someone pretty low on the totem pole at Capital One at the time) suddenly feel relevant – feel that the head of her function, thinks something of her, that she is important.

What Kenney was able to do with that one sentence was drive loyalty, make Landis want to go above and beyond to prove that she was worthy of Kenney’s phrase “especially coming from you,” and made Landis a fan and follower of Kenney for life. It was a very valuable lesson that no matter how important you are, if you are able to make the people you interact with feel special, feel relevant, those people will be devoted to you for life and that is very powerful.

When it comes to interacting with her leadership team, Landis gave an example of an exercise that she learned on a podcast last year from the CEO of Snowflake, Frank Slootman – if you could do it all from scratch, if nothing existed, and you had a whiteboard to create whatever you wanted to create, what would that look like? Because that's where you come up with those really big ideas, those moonshots.

Change (even good change) is hard, and everyone wants to be able to control, or at least influence, the change in their lives.

via Mike Brady, Head of Retail Experience, Momentum Financial Services Group

When Landis first took over Marketing at Octane, she was really excited to jump in, take the reigns, and make change happen. She designed a new org, opened several new requirements to dramatically increase the size of the team, and set a strategic vision and charter for the marketing function. She did all the things she thought she should be doing as a new leader to make her function a strategic asset for the organization and make the individuals on her team feel valued.

What she failed to do was engage her team throughout the process. When she spoke with Brady, a former colleague at Capital One (and friend), he pointed out that she had forgotten to bring her team along for the ride and they likely felt that change was happening to them not with them. It became so obvious to her then: change (even good change) is hard, and everyone wants to be able to control, or at least influence, the change in their lives.

Since then, she has always tried to ensure that she problem solves with her team, that together they talk through where they are, where they want to be and what’s the path to getting there. This collaborative approach not only leads to a more engaged team, it also brings about better results.

Related content mentioned in this episode

Customer-First Objectives: Discover a 3-part formula for focusing your webpage message

SaaS Marketing: Always bring the customer story forward (podcast episode #42)

B2B Marketing: Marketing shouldn't be about driving demand; it's about driving value (podcast episode #40)

Content and Communications: Tenacity, keep it simple, authenticity works (podcast episode #33)

Blog Optimization: Button change leads to 34% increase in comments

About this podcast

This podcast is not about marketing – it is about the marketer. It draws its inspiration from the Flint McGlaughlin quote, “The key to transformative marketing is a transformed marketer” from the Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages free digital marketing course.

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Not ready for a listen yet? Interested in searching the conversation? No problem. Below is a rough transcript of our discussion.

Daniel Burstein: Change does not want to happen. The status quo is tenacious. To quote Isaac Newton, an object at rest stays at rest, yada, yada, yada. Unless acted upon by an unbalancing force. In your career, in your company, you are that unbalancing force. You tenaciously swim upstream against the status quo and make change happen. And yet, even as hard as that is, that's not enough. We can't stop there. Not if we want to be good marketers, not if we want to be good leaders. We need to use our communication and collaboration skills and bring our internal team and our customers along for the ride.

I love how our latest guest put it in one of her lessons. Change, even good change is hard and everyone wants to be able to control or at least influence the change in their lives. That's true for your employees. That's true for your customers. Here to tell us the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson filled stories, is Onaisa Landis, the VP of Marketing at Octane. Thanks for joining us, Onaisa.

Onaisa Landis: Pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

Daniel Burstein: All right. So let's take a quick look at your background. I cherry picked off your LinkedIn here. You worked at General Mills where your final role you were a Senior Associate and Marketing Manager, savory snack and beverage innovation, convenience and food service. Also in your time with General Mills, you worked on the Yoplate brand, the Mira Glen Brand, and that final role was innovation in convenience stores. And then Capital One, where you worked for six years. Your final role was Head of Checking Growth Marketing at Capital One. But you also worked on brands leading. You worked on positioning the company that was best known as a credit card company as a bank. You worked on customer lifecycle management, but now you are the Vice President of Marketing at Octane and as Vice President of Marketing, you've grown the number of merchants working with the company from 5 to 500. And Octane itself has grown from $350 million in loans originated to $1.2 billion in loans originated per year in the two years you've been there, that is a lot. So congratulations on those successes. And give us a sense of like, what is your day like as Vice President of Marketing at Octane?

Onaisa Landis: Absolutely. Every day starts with me setting aside some time to really think about what are my builders for the day? What are the biggest projects that I need to further for that day, and ensuring that by writing that down, those are essentially the tasks that I need to make sure no matter what happens, I'm able to address over the course of the day.

Next, it's connections with my team. Updates on key projects. Progress is being made, challenges, hurdles where I can step in to be able to clear hurdles that the team may be facing. A lot of conversations with cross-functional partners,  better understanding what's on their roadmap. How are they tracking towards organizational progress and growth? How is the marketing agenda being able to be further by cross-functional partner work? Where are there potential roadblocks or challenges where we need to revisit the way in which we as a marketing team are thinking about our initiatives? Because of the way in which our cross-functional partners priorities are evolving. And then finally, probably one of the most fun parts of my day is reviewing what's actually going to be going out to hit the market, what's going to be seen by our customers.

So taking a look at the creative, taking a look at the strategy, taking a look at what is the story that we were telling across all of the marketers on the team. To one, ensure we're telling a consistent story in the market and two to ensure that we are telling a motivating, mobilizing story and our creative is really coming to life in a way that distinguishes us, differentiates us as a company, as a brand, and the way in which we're serving our customers.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, from our conversations, I really appreciate your focus on serving your team, serving your customers too, and serving your team. And so I think there's going to be a lot of good leadership lessons here, not just marketing lessons, but general leadership lessons. And here's one before we even jump into some of the lessons from the stories of the things you made, here's something that jumped out at me from your application I really liked because the best leaders, I mean, all those just bona fides we've read about you in the beginning, you could have a pretty big ego. But like I appreciate your humility.

Here's something you put in your podcast guest application. When I think about how I made it in marketing, my real answer is I haven't. I don't know that anyone has because making it is fundamentally against what marketing is about evolving, growing, changing, learning. And I love that. And you'll see that through all the lessons that you talked about. But it's funny, when I named the podcast, How I Made it in Marketing, right, it was obviously a play on words. It was, you know, I love that's something I love about marketing. We actually make things, you know, I say not like an actuary or podiatrist, whatever it is. We make things, we make brands, we make products. We're going to hear about some things that Onaisa made.

But it's also know how I was successful in my career and the thing that really threw me is the people I most wanted to talk to were the most humble leaders. And the thing that threw me is I've talked to, you know, some former colleagues I had that were really successful in their career. I was like, Come on, you should apply. I'd love to have you on. And the response I got kind of surprising. It's like, I don't feel like I want to be on a podcast called How I Made It in Marketing, I don't feel like I've made it yet. It's like what your successful, I appreciate that humility. I appreciate you applied even because of that.

You know, we've had I was just looking at the number 2418 applications so far. This is going to be episode I think, 53. There have been a lot of people that have been drawn in by the ego and the bright lights, and that's how we kind of weed them out in the application process. But fortunately, even though I stumbled upon this name that would pull in that the very ego driven people I've gotten to, humble people like Onaisa to be guests as well. So I appreciate that. And this first story is a great example of that. So you said your first lesson is it's not about you, and when you make it about you, you are never going to succeed. So how did you learn that lesson Onaisa?.

Onaisa Landis: So yeah, absolutely. And you know, honestly, this is a lesson that I've learned repeatedly throughout my career. It's not about you. It's about your customer. It's about your team. It's about your business. You have to put your own personal agenda aside. If you don't have the right motivations, that's going to come through really clearly and you're not going to succeed as a marketer. You're not going to succeed as a business owner, as a business leader, and you're not going to succeed as a team leader. Very early in my career a freshly minted grad from business school, I began my official marketing career at General Mills, as you mentioned. And the way that it works at General Mills is they recruit from business schools, and you step in as an associate brand manager or an associate marketing manager, and it's a rotational program.

And so on an annual basis, each class, so to speak, rotates from one brand, one project to the next to the next. That really ensures that the people who are going through the program are constantly learning. They are being forced to wear different hats to really be able to build out their generalist marketing skills. And it also ensures that there's always fresh ideas being brought to these brands that fit within the general Mills portfolio.

That's all the goodness that comes from this rotational program. And the downside here are these ambitious freshly minted business school grads who are so hungry to leave a legacy behind, to leave a mark on the business that they only get to touch and own for one year. So if you have a shelf life of one year, what are you going to do to leave that legacy and leave that mark and I certainly fell victim to wanting to leave a legacy behind, first and foremost, above and beyond what was the right thing, the important thing to do for the business or for the customer.

And so the brand that I was working on, Mira Glen, it's a small organic canned tomato brand, and it had been growing significantly. And as I took a look at the numbers, I saw that while the brand had been growing, we had been losing share. And that's because a category was growing larger than the brand was. And we had been losing shelf space with one of our most important retailers, which is Whole Foods. And this was a really significant opportunity for us to kind of fight back in one of the most significant retail channels, Whole Foods, and become relevant again for our customers and grow share as opposed to lose share. This is a time a decade ago now where the canned tomatoes, canned everything had a pretty negative reputation in the market. Specifically, when you have an organic brand, BPA was a very significant concern and natural retailers specifically were looking for alternative packaging methods.

So we had this idea what if we pack our tomatoes in glass jars? One, it would really allow us to showcase the beauty of the tomatoes that we are glad we're selling to our customers. Two, it would really allow us to differentiate ourselves from our competition because no one really had jarred tomatoes. All tomatoes came in cans. And third, it seemed like it would be right up a Whole Foods alley because it would allow us to break free of BPA.

And this was just in the last couple of months that I had left on the brand. I know that I'm going to be rotating off soon. And we really wanted to bring this idea to market.We spoke to whole Foods about it. We kind of did a lot of brainstorming and incubating of ideas, and they were super excited about the potential of this. And, you know, once you get your key customer on board, you feel also very motivated and driven to be able to deliver on this thing. General Mills is a huge organization. We moved at breakneck speed really over the course of a month and a half. We had created a timeline to be able to go from an idea to actually getting the product in market, to have a pilot in place in one of Whole Foods regions. We flew out to California as a cross-functional team, so that was marketing, that was R&D, met with our tomato farmers, selected the variety of tomatoes that were the most beautiful, that would really shine through in these glass jars.

Our facilities weren't set up for jar packing, and so we did it ourselves. We had packed these jars, we stuck these labels that we designed ourselves onto these jars to be able to get them to Whole Foods at the right time. The biggest challenge that we went through, in addition to just breaking through all barriers and moving at the speed of light, which was difficult to do, it was actually right around the holidays. So especially challenging in the December time frame. Was that it was really expensive, the jars were expensive, the jars were not the same size as tomatoes. And so people are used to buying tomatoes, canned tomatoes for $2. You increase the size by three x, you pack it at something much, much more expensive just to break even. We needed the jar product to be three times more expensive than the canned product.

The very core of what you learn as a marketer. Certainly the core of what General Mills tells you as they're training you to be an effective marketer is that you've got to speak to the consumer. You have to have conversations with them and understand, are they excited about this product? And then you take it to market, then you test it, but you've got to get some degree of just feedback from the customer to validate that they’re there before you put blood, sweat, tears, muscle behind actually launching it.

Unfortunately, since I was rotating off the desk, I didn't have time for logistics of consumer conversations. I needed to get this product out the door. And so we never had that conversation. We never got a did any sort of gut check around. Would a product sell for three times the price of what customers are used to paying. We launched in one of the regions in Whole Foods and it did look beautiful and I was so proud when I saw it on shelf, but it didn't sell. That price point was one that customers were just not comfortable with paying. And looking back at it, it was so much about me and my desire to move so rapidly because if I had waited a month, two months, I probably wouldn't have been the person who took it to market. Someone else, my predecessor or the person who proceded me would be the person who would be taking it to market. And I really wanted it to be me, the person who brought Jarred Tomatoes to Whole Foods.

And so looking back, a lesson that I learned very early, it shouldn't have been about me. I would not succeed. I will not succeed. No one succeeds if something is only about you. Your agenda, your timing is a great idea, something that could have definitely resulted in significant business gains executed in a fashion that didn't prioritize business gains, didn't prioritize the consumer need, prioritized my agenda, my timing.

However, looking back, it was still probably one of the most fun projects I worked on and probably what really started to get me excited about working on small teams, being able to move really, really fast to get something out the door. And so the whole seed of life at a startup I think got planted way back then. Even though I didn’t make a move to a startup for much after that, much after that. But that's where the ability to come together, break through all barriers and move at the speed of light to get something out of the door. I kind of got hooked.

Daniel Burstein: Well, like I said, first of all, just starting out of the gate in this podcast episode with you know, kind of a mistake or something, you could have done better, you know, hats off to you for not, you know, having two or three amazing stories of how you did wonderful things. And then, oh, by the way, this little thing. But let me ask you this. So this happened earlier in your career, which was a benefit. So I'm sure, like I think of when the things happened early in my career, like, oh boy, they imprinted in my brain and I did things differently. So I wonder, like then going forward after this, how did you put their customer first in your campaigns?

I'll give you a quick example from someone else, like I think, and interviewed Sherry Lowe, who's the Chief Marketing Officer of Exabeam on the How I Made it Marketing. And one of her lessons was always bring the customer story forward. She talked about she came into PR and marketing from broadcast sports journalism, and, you know, they learn when it comes to a story, don't bury the lead. You know, it's always like focus on boom, here's why it matters. And you know, in the early days of especially tech marketing, they weren't doing that yet. It was all speeds and fees and all these things. And it wasn't about the customer. So I wonder, you know, wow, that is kind of jarring. I'll say, you know, thing to have happened early in your career, but then how did you how did you use that to, you know, later in your career really put the customer forward and really focus on the customer?

Onaisa Landis: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the very next role actually that I had from Mira Glen was moving into innovation within a convenience store channel at General Mills. And that's when the whole idea of design thinking was really changing the way in which marketers were bringing new products to amarket. And so the idea of rapid prototyping, bringing a customer in, even when you don't actually have a product that you're selling, but you're coming up with the basic principles of what could this next thing look like?

Like I remember bringing in customers and having focus groups where we're literally designing things with pipe cleaners because we wanted it to look so very infant. In it's very early stages that our customers felt like, Oh, I can give complete, true, honest feedback because it's not like this thing is final the thing is ready to go and my feedback is going to potentially derail the project. People just felt a lot more comfortable being able to give very honest feedback. I mean, from that point on where it's at, something that's really been at the forefront of how we have delivered anything to the market. Capital One at Octane as well. The first question that I would ask my team, the first question I always ask myself is have you spoken to our customers about it?

Something we used to do very frequently at Capital One on a weekly basis, even for a while, bringing customers into and through the door, sitting down with them and speaking to them for hours about the way in which we taking new things to market and getting their feedback. What do you think about this? Why did you make this decision? Why did you open an account with this bank? Why did you open an account at this point in your life at Octane? What do you think about when you think about Octane? How do you think about the lender that you're choosing on a daily basis? What are the challenges, the struggles that you're having in the market today? And that really is the first gate that we go through before we begin work on finalizing what an actual product or what actual marketing campaign will be.

Daniel Burstein: Well, let's talk about Capital One, because I think your next lesson really plays off. You know, the first one the first one was maybe moving too fast and maybe with the wrong motivations, although I do love at the end, as I said, how I made it a marketing you saw on the shelf. That was something you made, you made a brand, you made a product very fulfilling, yeah.

Onaisa Landis: CPG allows you to do that, which is really fun, right?

Daniel Burstein: But the second lesson, you said imperfect action today is better than perfect action tomorrow. And I think you felt Capital One maybe sometimes move too slow. Is that the issue?

Onaisa Landis: It wasn't necessarily that the organization moved too slow. I think in the specific example that I gave it was more about me moving to slow. It was more like me leading my team to move to  slow. So a lot of organizations and I think Capital One was no exception, focus a whole lot on bringing new customers in through the door to acquisition and top line growth is a massive area of focus for companies. And then how do you actually care for the customer? How do you retain them? How do you engage them? How do you continue to make them feel special on an ongoing basis? Really caring for the customer kind of falls by the wayside because the growth, the top line growth is what a lot of the focus of marketing ends up being.

And so I had helped pioneer the idea of customer lifecycle marketing at Capital One while I was working in consumer bank. And had driven some real value through a really small team focusing specifically on onboarding. I'm thinking about those first 90 days and we were able to have some significant wins and I was able to sell to the leadership team that we need to actually have an entire customer lifecycle marketing team that's thinking about the entirety of a customer's life and how to engage them, how to grow them, how to care for them throughout their life. Because that would allow for us to move from really this funnel marketing approach to a flywheel of where continue to bring in, grow, evolve, and then ultimately the true measure of success for a product for a marketer is how much is that customer serving as your ambassador talking about you.

And so the customer lifecycle piece was really important to enable that the customer becomes your ambassador, your steward really a promoter of your brand. And so my wishes and dreams came true. I was my role grew significantly, my team grew. But  4x essentially overnight from leading this really small and nimble team driving onboarding, to really thinking about the entirety of customer lifecycle management. Never been done before. And I got to write, I got to write the book on how to do this and figure out what we were going to prioritize and how we were going to prioritize to be able to drive value to the organization and drive value to our customers by focusing on customer lifecycle marketing . And instinctively, I wanted to have the answers, figure out the opportunities before I was ready to actually take anything to market.

And so with the significant team that we had collected to be able to work on this big problem for the first time, we spent a solid year doing all of the analysis that we could possibly do. What is the perfect segmentation strategy? How do we build the appropriate two by two matrices to understand which segments to prioritize, which segment to de-prioritize? What were the behaviors of our most profitable customers that we wanted to be able to learn from, to be able to drive further engagement with our less engaged customers? What were the customers that we wanted to take to our destination? Which of our customers were in it for the wrong reasons? I mean, we did all the possible analysis that we possibly could. We built all of the strategy deck that we possibly could. And at the end of the year, we didn't take really anything to market.

And so with all this momentum behind me, with all of this focus across the company eyes on this team that was created for the very first time ever, we didn't have any results to show at the end of the year. And as much as you want to have great results, the only thing that's worse than having bad results is having no results. Because no results mean that you learned absolutely nothing. And we kind of created this echo chamber of strategy, excitement, internal dialog, internal focused, but nothing that allowed us to actually take something out to market and say, hey, this is working, this is not working, this is resonating with our customers. We should do more of this. We should do less of this. And without that, we were just speaking to ourselves and driving no consumer value. And also as a result, absolutely no business value.

And so had I on day one said, I have no idea what I'm doing, let's just do something. Let's take something to market and let's learn as we were doing that, while we also parallel path the analysis to capture the optimal insights, to then iterate on what we do next. And after that and after that, we would have been able to learn a whole lot more and we would have certainly been able to drive a whole lot more customer. And as a result, business value.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, that's a common challenge. Like, Oh, we've got great ideas and we've got these beautiful presentations we're sharing internally. Like, Oh, but yeah, nothing, nothing got out. So it looks to me like there was maybe those first two lessons really inform the third lesson of what you did now in Octane, where you say to market effectively, you have to think beyond what your product does, you have to understand the role it plays in your customers lives. So jumping into Octane, it is a little more of a startup atmosphere. How did you try to build that customer intimacy and understand customer lives?

Onaisa Landis: Yeah, I've been really privileged in all the roles that I've had across my marketing career, where I've had the opportunity to first foremost, as I step into an opportunity, be able to really embed myself in understanding our customer need and the role that we could be playing in our customer's lives. That was the case at Capital One as I built our positioning at my first role at Capital one, and that was true at Octane as well.

Octane is my first B2B marketing role. Prior to that, I'd really grown up in the world of B2C, and I think it's something that B2C marketers are very aware of. It's kind of common knowledge in B2C is that humans make irrational decisions and you really want to be appealing to emotion and you want to be appealing to the irrational in the moment decision making that humans make. And marketers have the ability to do that, to be able to appeal to those emotions in a way that really no other function does. But I think sometimes we forget that in the world of B2B marketing that is equally true. You're still interacting with dealing with humans on the other side. Sure, it's humans who are part of businesses, small businesses, large businesses, but they are still humans. They still have emotions, they still have egos, they still have opinions. And you really need to be able to play to those human emotions just like you do in the world of B2C marketing.

And so when I began my role at Octane, I spent hundreds of hours speaking to stakeholders, internal and external. So that was everyone from employees and founders to partners and customers. And when we were speaking to when we were having these customer conversations, we would often have 30 minutes scheduled to speak to our small businesses, our customers, the dealerships that we work with. And those 30 minute conversations would extend to 60, 90 minutes of these individuals talking about their hopes, their dreams, their motivations, what influenced them, who influenced them, who they were hoping to influence. Because through these businesses that they were leading, that they were part of, that's how they're thinking about the legacy that they were going to be leaving behind and the role that Octane played in their lives. It wasn't that they were thinking about Octane. They were thinking about how can Octane enable them to lead the legacy that they wanted to leave.

And the way in which you could really the way in which we could really deliver unique value to our customers was through helping them understand how we can help them realize what they want to be and how we can be a solution to the ultimate legacy that they want to be leaving behind in the market. And so it really grounded the way that I thought about what our opportunity is as a marketing function within octane, it wasn't just about talking about features, it wasn't just talking about the reasons to believe and the distinctive, the differentiating ways in which Octane delivers our landing solutions to our dealers. But it was about how do we make dealers feel like they are getting unique value from us that allows them to be who they want to be. And by associating themselves with us, how do we ensure that they are able to represent the change that they want to be leaving behind?

Daniel Burstein: I wonder if there's anything specific you could share of specific conversation you had or just an amalgamation of word cloud of things you learned from these conversations that then  became an offer or a campaign. So you know what you're thinking that, for example, we have a a free digital marketing course and in FastClass #5 Flint McGlaughlin teaches the customer forms to conclusion sets about you and about the offer.

And I think what I hear you talking about when you're having these conversations is you're trying to figure out, you know, what conclusions were customers making about Octane, about the offer, again, in regards to their own lives right. Because they don't really care about Octane. They care about themselves, right? No one cares about our brand or our products. They care about themselves and they only care about our brands or products when it helps them be who they want to be. So I don't know if you have any specific examples of how did you use those conversations to then get to the point of you're using your marketing, your messaging, your offers to help them make those right conclusions about the brand itself and about then that specific offer it's putting into the market?

Onaisa Landis: Yeah, Yeah, absolutely. And to your last point around, they only care about themselves and the role that you can plan their lives. I remember learning very early on that you want to create a brand that customers are talking about not because they love their brand, but because they love their friends and family. And so you really want to be something that adds value in a way that your customers feel like by not talking about you.

I'm doing my network a disservice. And that's really been a consistent foundation of the way in which I've thought about the solution that we can be providing through marketing, something that we learned to, as you were speaking with our customers at Octane, where that two pieces of what octane to do, things are really important to them. What it was caring for their customers, us caring for our customers, our dealers allowed our dealers to care for their customers.

And so what we really needed to do was to build experiences, continue to build experiences that allowed our dealers to deliver the very best possible experience that they could do to their customer. The other thing that we learned was that there was this natural element of competition, that dealers felt they were competitive by nature. They loved feeling like they were winning, they were beating out their competition.

They were just naturally competitive. And we really wanted to play to that. And so we launched our loyalty program. Octane Preferred is what it's called last year, which did two things. One, it optimized on air two, overdelivered on the promise of delivering the very best experience that we do to our dealers, the Octane preferred and dealers who get to benefit from our loyalty program builds off of that really providing white glove experiences to our dealer so that they can offer the very best experience to their customers.

And so it's been a cornerstone of what that program is. And then secondly, it has tiers and it has milestones. And so it allows the dealers to really compete with themselves, to hold themselves accountable. We hear stories from dealers about how they are have a checklist that they ride down on a monthly basis, how many loans they've sent to Octane because they want to ensure that they are meeting the thresholds of being able to keep their status as part of a loyalty program.

That's something that excites them and motivates them so much. They send notes to our sales team saying, Hey, look at me. I beat my how much business I sent you last month. Look what the dashboard is showing me. So we're able to really play to both of those things. Best in-kind experience as well as this element of fun and competition that the dealers really thrive on. And that's been how we've been able to deliver a really effective and market changing loyalty program.

Daniel Burstein: Are you helping them benchmark their performance? Duke's I mean, one thing I've definitely seen in a lot of B2B industries is, you know, companies always want to know, well, where do I stand among my peers, you know, whether that's marketing performance or that sales and all these things? Is that is that one thing that you're helping to, or is that just not related to the loyalty program?

Onaisa Landis: We benchmarked their performance against themselves. We also create case studies that really show the dealer is the most influential ones that are been able to significantly benefit as a result of what Octane has been able to offer them. Something actually that our sales team does on a regular basis as create, create leaderboards where they send out to their territories.

Here are the top five or ten dealers that are really succeeding. Here are the things that they're doing that allow them to be able to be so successful. And so it's just a really natural, organic way to be able to, one, continue to really play to the competition piece that they really thrive on, to allow them to see how they're doing versus their competition. And then three gives them really actionable insight as to what they could be doing to win as well, leveraging the solutions that Octane offers.

Daniel Burstein: I think that actionable insight can be so key because in any industry you're working in, if you're working with many players in that industry, then you've got kind of this wider view of what works and what doesn't in that industry. And so you can help serve them with your products and features and sets, and it sounds like you're doing that as well, but you can also serve them with information, and I think that helps build that intimacy.

It sounds like you're also doing that so I love that. So in the first half of the podcast, we talk about lessons from the things you made, everything from jarred tomatoes to financial products. Now let's talk about some lessons you learned from the people you collaborated with. That's another great thing we get to do in marketing. And some of these lessons are really just good leadership people, management type of lessons in general.

Your first lesson was being an effective manager is as much about driving business impact as it is about growing your team members. And you learned this from Jeremiah Palmer, Brand Manager, General Mills. So how did you learn this from Jeremiah?

Onaisa Landis: Yeah, so Jeremiah was my with my manager when I was managing the New York Land brand. It was my first time really being a business owner, being the P&L leader, P&L owner of the brand and I was both excited as well as nervous, and I had never had the autonomy to be able to make these significant decisions that moved the way in which our business would operate.

And Jeremiah saw the excitement in me. He saw the hunger in me, and he basically gave me free rein to be able to run the business as I wanted. He was certainly there to, I'll call it, quote unquote, rescue me as needed. But for the most part, I felt like I was in charge. And by feeling like I was in charge and I got to make the decisions and instilled this incredible confidence in me that allowed me to make decisions at a really rapid pace and be able to look in the rearview mirror and learn from those decisions.

Myself. And I think learning from your mistakes, learning from your decisions is probably the most powerful ways that you can learn, because you very clearly remember the feeling of, Oh, that didn't work and that was on me and I need to do it differently next time. So I think parents teach you, you don't need to touch fire to say that experience at its heart, but sometimes you do because you remember how hot that fire is.

And Jeremiah allowed me to touch the fire over and over again and allowed me to without burning my entire body. He was always there to make sure that there weren't any significant third degree burns that took place. But I was allowed to touch the fire, and I learned a lot as a result. And that's really framed the way that I think about myself as a leader. You need to create an environment where your feel, your team feels safe and making mistakes, feels confident in making decisions and feels like you're there to have their back when needed. But you don't need to be going in there and risking them every single minute.

Daniel Burstein: Well, I love that. That led to the first lesson you talked about, but also how do you help your team prior to this feel like this is one of the key, right? You give them all that freedom. My gosh, you're so much we can do in marketing now from artificial intelligence to traditional things like print advertising. And so I wonder, like, how you get like the priorities for your overall organization and then for each individual.

I'll give you a quick example. I interviewed Tara Robertson, who's a CMO of Bentley on how I made it marketing, and one of her lessons was focus and prioritization are critical to your success. And she talked about a role she had where, you know, they start the roadmap with 400 lines and they sit in a room for hours as a team and they debate it till they get down to the three things to prioritize and focus on.

Because like she said, you can prioritize, you know, 1 to 3 things. You can't prioritize, you know, 400. So I wonder with you, with your teams, with the people you manage when they say, how do you get those priorities for your group and your organization and then for that individual and balance that with, like you said, their freedom to actually run with things and execute. But I would imagine it can't be just entire whitespace that, you know, they're running around it.

Onaisa Landis: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I think the most important thing that you can do as a leader is really be able to define what success looks like, what are the goals that you're trying to deliver on, and then really create the space for the team to figure out their own path to getting there and be there alongside them. So I think I always say to my team is, I don't want you to come and present to me from across the table.

And for me to be sitting across the table and critiquing your work, I want to be sitting next to you so that you feel like I'm there with you. I'm in the trenches with you. So from a tactical standpoint, how do we actually deliver on this? Well, at Octane, we fall on. Okay. Our framework, though, we set the objectives top of House to determine what are we trying to actually accomplish as an organization this quarter, this half this year?

And then what are the key results we need to deliver on to enable us to do so? And that trickles down from function to function. So that allows us to have a lot of line of sight into what what does success look like? What are the goals that we're trying to drive towards? And from there you come up with the initiatives, the ideas, the projects, the team comes up with initiatives, the ideas, the projects that would enable them to actually be able to deliver on those goals.

And that's where the autonomy comes. Then what are the things that you're delivering on? What are the projects that you're using to deliver on those goals? What are you learning ultimately deliver Taking a project to market is the very beginning of the journey. Whether or not it's delivering the results, why it's delivering good results, why it might not be delivering results.

What are you learning is probably the most important piece of any sort of in market execution. On the complete flip side of that, as you listen to a podcast last year, the CEO of Snowflake talked about this and I thought it was really inspirational. And I went through this exercise with my leadership team of if you could build your business, your function, your team, if you could do it all from scratch, if nothing existed, and you had a whiteboard to create whatever you wanted to create, what would that look like?

Because that's where you come up with those really big ideas, those moonshots you're not straddled by. This is what's happened and how to optimize on the things that have happened, but nothing exists. And so all that exists is the ability to have new ideas. And if you have a completely new idea, then you can work backwards from here.

Is this crazy, bold new idea How do we test that idea and see if there's a there there versus here's what we've done for the last few years. We are continuing to optimize and get better at the way in which we're delivering this, but optimizing doesn't necessarily land on an entirely new way of being able to deliver value.

Daniel Burstein: Right? There's time when we need that incremental change and there's time when we need a radically new idea. And for those listening, okay, that's objectives and key results. That's one way to manage your team. Let's talk about it. So that's kind of getting into the actual the doing of things are getting of things done. But as we talked about with customers, even with B2B customers are humans.

There's a feeling there's a partner life they play. Let's talk about that a bit. I really like the story from like how this just made you feel in your career, this experience you had with a very high marketing leader. You said no matter how important you are, make the people you interact with feel special. And you learned this from Kellyn Kenney, CMO, AT&T. I think you're working together at Capital One. So how did you learn this from Kellyn?

Onaisa Landis: Yeah, she was probably one of the most influential leaders that I've worked alongside. Unfortunately, we over our tenure at Capital One only overlapped by like six months or so. I always wish that I'd had an opportunity to work for her longer. She was leading marketing within Capital One consumer bank, and I was fairly low on the totem pole four or five levels below her and had been at the organization for a few months and was exploring a couple of opportunities, new opportunities outside of her core team.

And my manager had set up time for me to speak with her about my career trajectory of capital on what I wanted to accomplish and which role would allow me to be able to get to do what I wanted to do. And I think at its core, she was really trying to ensure that I stayed in my role and didn't move on to a different function.

But that's certainly not how she positioned the conversation, which are very much a seeking conversation. We were she was trying to understand what motivated me and what drove me, and I love the conversation. Just feeling really good about myself off, about my growth trajectory, a capital one about this leader who was really spending some time to listen to me talk, help me achieve what I wanted to.

And so I sent her a follow up note, thanking her for her time and telling her what an influential leader she was. And she responded me and said, I remember so distinctly to quote her, she said, That means a lot, especially coming from you. And I just felt like especially coming from me. But who am I? Why does she care about me?

And wow, she must really think that I am something that I could be something that my feedback from her for her, me telling her that she's an influential leader for me is meaningful for her. That made me feel so confident in myself. That made me feel like I am important, that made me feel like I am valued, that made me feel like I need to go above and beyond to prove that I am what she thinks I am, that I have earned the I've earned the right to tell for someone to tell me, especially coming from you.

And so that really transformed me from being someone who was a fan of Kellyn to really being a true truly Devo noted employee of Kellyn’s. And it's taught me from a pretty early part of my career journey that when you interact with someone, especially as you mature through your career, especially as you become more senior, you have an ability, the opportunity to make them feel a certain way about themselves.

The role that you play in their lives is so much more significant than just a 9 to 5. But who they think they are and who they think they have the potential to be is really framed by how the leaders in their lives are interacting with them and making people feel special is incredibly important, incredibly motivating, and really is what can make people go above and beyond to prove themselves to you and drive value at an organization.

Daniel Burstein: So that's just a beautiful human moment. But you know, what strikes me is it's very parallel to what you've been talking about with customers to customer lifecycle management, the conversations you have with customers and you have customers like so excited about your your company and your brand that they have to tell their friends and family they shouldn't be giving it from them.

And so I wonder if you've had a similar experience kind of with customers as a brand leader, whether it's in a commercial marketing message, whether it's anything you, any program you rolled out to customers to kind of have that experience. Because I always feel like every customer touchpoint is a thing of value. Sometimes we look at something like, let's say customer service just as a cost center costing quickly, get off the phone, use those, you know, automated things and all that stuff.

But really that's 1 to 1 marketing. It's a customer having experience with you. And I was also reminded of this interview Jeannie asked the most who's the head of content communications that way dot com and how I made it marketing. One of her lessons was authenticity Works. And she talked about in her time leading marketing at eHarmony about how really you know big thing that eHarmony marketing departments task was but find real couples find real couples success stories and let's tell these stories I mean that's what we're doing We're making these we're we're changing the trajectory of these people's lives.

And how can we kind of just, you know, make that story clear and have that, as you said, just that wonderful touchpoint that you will always remember. So with a brand like eHarmony, obviously it is so transformational on someone's life. But even I mean, the food we eat, especially it's organic, the financial products that can be really key to our life, either in the B2B or B2C side. So I wonder like, do you have any corollary on the customer side from from this same type of lesson?

Onaisa Landis: Yeah, where we were at when I was a capital one, we were entering into new markets with this new idea of cafes. We were transforming the way in which people were doing their banking. We didn't just want to be a traditional brick and mortar branch. We want to really bring together living and banking and under the umbrella of these Capital One cafes, we partnered with Peet's and people would come in, they could hang out there, they get their cup of coffee, get a discount, and they have a capital, an account, and they're doing their work.

They are living their life as they would. And also there's a side of banking that goes alongside it. And so investing in the communities where these cafes were being built was really important. And the first market that we really dove into as our petri dish as the opportunity for us to do a whole lot of testing was in Boston, where we launched this idea of cafes and we really double down from a marketing standpoint and now the really important pieces of the story of what we were doing in market in Boston was telling stories.

Finances are such an incredibly obviously personal, emotional thing, and financial technology and innovation and financial services is a fairly new thing. So a decade ago, fintech wasn't really a category that existed, and it was the large banks that had existed for ever, for hundreds of years, and they were the large banks that customers were used to using. And we wanted to bring humanity back to banking.

So we launched this campaign called Everyday Money in Boston, where we really sought inspiration from Humans of New York. If you're familiar with humans, they are really, I think, the ultimate storyteller and we walked around Boston, the streets of Boston, and we stopped people, couples, families, individuals and talk to them about their relationship with money, with everyday money.

How do you think about money? What role does money play in your life? It doesn't necessarily have to be about savings. It was out about every single day. And we took pictures of them and then we shared those stories so that we could make it more comfortable for people to be talking about money, because money is such an uncomfortable personal thing.

I don't want to look at the I don't want anyone to see me look at the price tag of that shirt I just picked up and store because that's embarrassing. I don't want to talk about how much money I have in my checking account or my savings account because I don't want you to be judging me. I could have too much.

I could have too little. I could be making the wrong decisions with my money. And I don't need you to know. I don't need you to be judging me. I feel embarrassed. I don't feel confident. And we wanted to make it much more normal. Natural, easy for people to be talking about money, to talk about their relationship with money.

Then, of course, make the connection between money, everyday money, and how Capital One should really be the place that you're turning to to manage your everyday money. And so we shared these really beautiful stories with these beautiful images of individuals talking about money, the role it plays in their lives, the good, the bad that came alongside it. The campaign itself culminated in Boston Art Week, where we took over an art gallery and a photographer who was doing a lot of who took the pictures came in.

We showcase the pictures and the art gallery. We brought in the guests who we had photographed. They shared their stories and we made the connection Capital One as part of that. And it was really just a beautiful, all very effectively executed campaign that allowed us to ingrain ourselves in the community, tell stories that were really meaning, were really meaningful and then also talk about how our product was able to deliver on that.

Daniel Burstein: Okay. So I love the I you know, I saw you worked on Capital One. I love the Capital One Cafes. I wasn't aware that you worked on. I thought you might have left before. So I want to ask about this because this really fascinates me. It's like I talked about customer service. You know, there's the companies that, you know, Zappos is famous for it, right?

This is 1 to 1 marketing this is a customer touchpoint. This is a thing of value. We're really going to do everything we can with this. When most companies look at it as a cost center. And the thing I just I came across a Capital one cafes, I mean, fairly recently within the past few months, and I just thought it was brilliant and it was for this reason because that's using your brick and mortar location, which we've all been taught.

Well, that's just a big expense. We need to cut back on these. Right. It's using that as a competitive advantage because two things are happening. It's either the online banks or you can just do everything cheaper or it's even the brick and mortar banks. Even I've read recently ATMs are going down. There's less ATMs in the country because it's just mobile banking, online banking, app banking, you know, which again, saves the company money and is a convenience for the customer.

But it misses that connection. It misses that connection to the brand. And so I want to just ask and get your thoughts on this of, you know, maybe how you pitched her or some of the behind the scenes there, because this to me seemed like it was going very against what everyone else in the industry was doing with cutting back on locations, ATMs, apps and all these things to say, hey, let's let's have a real in-person experience with a cafe, no less a cafe.

So did you have any insights here about how to like, you know, at a time when the entire industry is going in one direction and say, no, let's zag when everyone else is zigging?

Onaisa Landis: Yeah, well, so our cafes were essentially became our banner ad to be the cafe footprint, far less than a traditional brick and mortar bank branch. So branches were on every single corner. Cafes were one in a really prime location in a very urban setting. And so this became the banner for Capital One versus so a still a much more efficient way to be able to deliver customer service.

We also didn't go all in, right? We didn't go from cafes don't exist one day to tomorrow. We're going to take over the entire country with these cafes and these urban locations. We tried it first. We tried it in one location and said, okay, what's the impact of doubling down on cafes? That's what we did in Boston. And I think the cafe footprint there expanded to ten or 12.

Then we tried it in a different city and we said, okay, what if we only have one cafe in the city and one urban location? And what type of incrementality are we getting in a place like Boston where we have significant cafe presence versus just having it be a reminder to a customer that if you need a physical location, we are there, but also most of the time your banking can be done on the phone and or be done literally on your mobile device.

And so by being able to see the incrementality, by being able to test our way and to having a national footprint of we still have cafes, Capital One. So there's not cafes in every single city, but they're become relevant enough where people like yourself know that they exist. They are allowing us to move away from traditional banking much more efficient way to be able to deliver banking to our customers, but also allow us to build a brand and that, hey, they're doing something different here.

They're doing something unique here. Our TV ads focus on showcase cafes in the TV ads and markets where cafes are not actually available to consumers aren't necessarily all benefiting from them, but they've become part of this overall story that's being told in that market of capital. One has reimagined banking to fit your lifestyle. And when someone thinks about Capital One now, they should think about this beautiful.

All locations that they might have interacted with in person or they might have just seen in a TV ad, or maybe they heard someone else talking about. And that has become what our brand what that brand actually stands for.

Daniel Burstein: Yes, I love that. And I hope that's motivational for anyone listening who might be facing a similar challenging. I said, it seems like especially now with the current economic cycle, everything is going towards efficiency, brutal efficiency. And, you know, that's I mean, I'm a fan of efficiency and we certainly need that. We want to have good margins and, you know, deliver products in an efficient manner but don't overlook that human connection we can have with our customers, whether it's a financial institution, whatever it is, right?

Things like A.I., things like mobile, these are fantastic innovations, but we can't overlook that human connection. We're trying to build these brands. I think that ties very smoothly into our last lesson, where you said change even good change is hard and everyone's one and everyone wants to be able to control or at least influence the change in their lives.

So I mean, that one thing we're talking about, right, like I said, is this change for customers going to this brutally efficient economy we're heading to. And this is where maybe something like the Capital One cafes are a way to make, you know, customers feel like they have some control and they have some humanity there. But I think you're also talking about change as a leader within an organization.

You said you learned this lesson from Mike Brady, Head of Retail Experience, Momentum Financial Services Group. How did you learn this lesson from Mike and when you were trying to drive some change it within an organization?

Onaisa Landis: Yeah. So Mike was a peer of mine when we worked at Capital One and someone who became a friend and someone who I often turn to to get advice on how business is running, how the team is running. And so when I moved over to Octane, the new marketing leader at the helm, figuring out what it is that we're going to be doing with the marketing function and building this marketing function at Octane, there was a lot of excitement, a lot of momentum behind that, and I really grabbed the bull by the horns and was like, We need to make this marketing function all that.

It has the potential to be from day one. And so I stepped in with a strategic vision, with a charter for the marketing function, with the goal of what we want to really rebrand the marketing function to be within the four walls of the company itself. How we Wanted to Grow. The team opened up some new racks pretty rapidly shortly after I started to allow the function to grow and be able to be a key part of how acting as a company was growing.

And when I was speaking to Mike about this, neither of us were a capital and no longer something that I realized through our conversation was that there was all of this goodness in my mind that I was bringing to Octane and to marketing Octane. But what I wasn't really, and how I think about growing the team at Octane, but I wasn't spending as much time thinking about was the team that was already there.

The team that had made marketing what it was prior to me joining the team that had helped build Octane to what it was before me, or the new people who are going to be bringing in before any of them were there and they really needed to be brought along for that journey. They needed to be part of that change.

They needed to influence that changed and needed to be part of creating that new direction. They needed to feel like they were help being drive that change versus feeling like, hey, a new leader has stepped in and now all of this change is happening to me. That's been a really, really valuable lesson and I try really hard and I think that probably where I've grown the most as a leader over the course of my last couple of years at Octane is how I bring the team in to influence the direction that we're going to be going.

It's never it's not a dictatorship. It's not someone saying from the top, here's what needs to happen. It's hey, here are some of the challenges we're experiencing. How do we think we can address that? Hey, what are we as a collective marketing function? What do we want to be at the end of this year? What do we want to be known for?

What do you want to accomplish? All right, This is what we want to do. Then what is the bridge to get there? And I don't need to be the person saying, here's the bridge and here's the goal. Here is here are the biggest gaps together. We need to have that conversation, really lead the team to the water so that they feel like they're helping be part of what we want to be and building out the road that enables us to get there.

And something that I'm proudest of across my time here is that learning from that lesson, bringing the team in now, our culture as a marketing organization, as a marketing team, as so incredibly strong, the culture that existed in that marketing team prior to me being here continues to very much be the foundation of what our culture is today.

Really, really collaborative, really collegial. We really celebrate each other's lens. The marketing team very much feels like, No, it's not appropriate any longer to say a family because work is not your family. However, it does feel like there's something there's more than just work that brings us together and we are all in this together and it's not about it's not about swim lanes. It's not about this is my job. As of the job, it's about together. We are going to work together. We're going to succeed. Together, we will define what success even looks like.

Daniel Burstein: Now. That's great. I mean, I think one of the biggest bungles I made in my career is coming in to new role, being really excited to do all these great things. I remember so unkind and just said to me offhand, you know, it was like, you know, before you say, like, you know how bad everything is and how you should make it so much better is just remember like, well, we've worked really hard to make it just to this level of back then I was like, Oh my God, it's so true.

Like, I'm totally coming off wrong here. I need to, like you said, do all the other things said. But also got me questioning to, you know, change when it comes to customers and how you can communicate that change and how you message that change and how you handle that change. And, you know, for example, you know, even like we did a button test on our blog, you know, you do something simple, like a button test, you're trying to get a lift and we get a lift, we get more conversions, and that's great.

And then I kind of think, well, what does that change like for the customer? Because I know for me, like, like I use the Met business account. I used to be Facebook, the Met a business account and I'm guessing they're AB testing or something like that, which is great. They're trying to improve it, but I will go in and something I could do yesterday I can't do today and tomorrow.

Tomorrow I can do all this change. It's just frustrating. I'm just trying to get the thing done and that's very basic, right? Obviously there is, you know, mergers and acquisitions and end of life ing products and, you know, all sorts of, you know, major, major changes, price increases, acquisitions. So I wonder if, from your experience you talked about that, I guess I love the Capital One cafe.

That's definitely a change for the customer in a positive direction, but I know sometimes there's going to be lots of features. The prices are going to go up, the product is going to be end of life. You know, really, you know, something that people really like is going to go away. So you have any experience there, any wisdom on how I don't know if you get the customer involved, at least how you message that change. Do they at least understand it?

Onaisa Landis: Yeah, absolutely. You know, the amazing thing about being a marketer is that so much of what you need to do to be an effective marketer is be a human and be able to recognize what humans need and speak to humans. And that should hopefully set you up to be a successful leader that will help set you up to be a successful business owner that just set you up for success as a marketer.

So just like I just talk through with my team, really bring them along for the journey, telling the story and providing transparency, visibility. That's a lot of what needs to happen from a customer standpoint as well. Back in 2020 when with COVID, the we were going through a fairly aggressive environment where interest rates kept going down and down and down, which is obviously the opposite of what's happening today.

And from a consumer bank standpoint that meant that your savings account, your interest rate was decreasing and decreasing and decreasing. And actually at the time in 2019, we thought that rates were going to be rising. And that's the opposite of what ended up happening. And so we needed to tell our customers regularly, not just once, but every time the Fed change their rates. We need to change our rate over and over and over again. Your rate is decreasing, your rate is going down, your rate is going down. And it was really important for us to tell the story in a really real way. This is a change that's happening. That's not going to benefit you and we're not going to cloud that. We're not going to tell you or pretend like this is good for you. It's not good for you. Of course it's not good for you. Your savings rate is going down. That means that your money will grow less than it was yesterday, not because of anything you've done, but because of what's happening to you. But here's why it's happening.

Here's a full story that supports why it's happening. It's not just Capital One trying to not to do the right thing for our customers. It's because the macro environment has changed so significantly and because this is what's happening from the Fed. And here is how that impacts how we think about our business and how that impacts how you think about your money.

And so really telling that story in a really overt fashion, controlling that narrative. If you don't control the narrative, someone else will control the narrative for you is so incredibly important. I mean, it's something small, even like we're going through an exercise right now, of ensuring that all of our customers at Octane have multi-factor authentication set up. So that means they need to have two different ways to be able to verify their identity as they're logging in.

They're obviously dealing with a lot of private information for the customer, and it's something that the FTC has launched with a deadline of making sure that everyone has multi-factor authentication set up and it's changed, right? Like you're used to logging into your account in a certain way. And changing those behaviors is difficult. It's a pain, it's an annoyance, it's a nuisance.

And so we have started telling that story to our customers to prepare them for the change. This is going to be happening. This is why it's going to be happening here. The actual benefit you get from it like this keeps your information safe and secure. Here is how your customers benefit from it. Here's what is going to happen.

Here's how it's going to happen. Here's who to turn to. If you're having trouble with logging into your account. And so being able to really proactively tell the story to prime them over and over and over and over again, I think the the marketing truth of you have to say the same thing eight times to make sure that someone actually remembers it really is very much the case.

Say it over and over and over and over again. Tell that story, control the dialog, explain the why. That's why you bring them along for the journey and on the other side, hopefully your customers are walking that path alongside you rather than feeling like here is a change that's happening to me. And I was just pushed to the deep end and I wasn't ready for it.

Daniel Burstein: Now that's the worst thing, because that's how you're going to frustrate and alienate customers you feels happening to them the best you can do to give them the why, like you said, and then give them ways to reach out if they need help. So we talked about so many different things about what it means to be a marketer. I love the humanity you brought to it as well. If you had to break it down on honestly, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer.

Onaisa Landis: Style that I love about marketing that excites me and brought me into market in the first place? Is that the true foundation of marketing? The academic nature of marketing has been consistent over time and will continue to be consistent over time, which is who are you serving? What is their problem? How is your solution, your product delivering on that problem?

And how are you telling a story that connects the people you're serving with, the solution that you're selling in a way that allows them to see that this is how you are being able to make me happier, make my life easier, make me better. That's what the core of marketing is. And then there is all of the tools in your toolbox.

Marketing has evolved, changed so significantly in the last decade. Technology, data insights that allows you to be able to learn, test, wrap it so incredibly rapidly. It's really important, though, to focus on the listening, the understanding, the story. That's what the core of marketing is. And so don't forget to be a storyteller. Don't forget to think about what is your strategic approach and then leverage more, leverage the data and technology to iterate and optimize.

I think in today's world, it's very easy to get caught up and thinking about the technology and the data as a strategy. And that's not the strategy. The strategy is the story, the opportunity, the unmet need. And then the data and the technology are the things that enable you to test, to get better at being able to serve the right message at the right time, to be able to drive the correct action. But at the core of it, it is about listening, understanding and telling a story that really appeals to your audience.

Daniel Burstein: Well, Anita, it's been an absolute listening to your stories. Thank you for transparently sharing what you've learned in your career.

Onaisa Landis: It's been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

Daniel Burstein: And thanks to everyone for listening.

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