April 25, 2024

Strategic Delegation: Time is your most precious asset (podcast episode #96)


I had a delightful conversation with Tomer Zuker, VP of Marketing, D-ID, about his career transition from sales to marketing, organizational politics, and generative AI in business.

Listen to episode #96 of How I Made It In Marketing now to get ideas for team building, career advancement, and goal setting.

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

Strategic Delegation: Time is your most precious asset (podcast episode #96)

Get even more ideas from this episode by using the Analysts – Video Transcript expert assistant in MeclabsAI. It’s totally FREE to use (for now). Just paste the URL for this episode into the message box with Analysts – Video Transcript selected and hit enter. (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa).

Wherever you are in your career today, you are not necessarily stuck there. I’ve heard time again from guests on How I Made It In Marketing about how they’ve been able to make dramatic, perhaps unlikely career shifts.

On the flip side, if you are a hiring manager, do not pigeonhole potential recruits based only on their current experience.

For as my latest guest puts it, ‘look past the CV.’ Hear the story behind how he learned that lesson in his career, along with many more lesson-filled stories, from Tomer Zuker, VP of Marketing, D-ID.

D-ID has raised $47 million overall, including $25 million in a Series B round of funding led by Macquarie Capital two years ago. Zuker manages a team of 10 marketers, in addition to freelancers and agencies.

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 he made in marketing

Here are some lessons from Zuker that emerged in our discussion.

Look past the CV

Zuker’s career actually didn't start in marketing – he was in sales, and he was good at it. But he wanted to be in marketing. Without prior experience, it's difficult to make the jump across departments, especially at a huge company like the one he was at (Microsoft). But he had the desire and Zuker knew he had the skills. Luckily, a senior marketing manager took a chance on him. He learned a lot, tackled every challenge and never looked back.

Because of this experience, he encourages others to consider the whole person when assessing candidates. If you just look at a person’s accrued experience, you miss their skillset and interests. Excellence tends to come from passion and hard work, and that's what he looks for now as he builds his marketing teams.


Transitioning from sales to marketing underscored the vital lesson of delegation for Zuker. It’s essential to acknowledge that his time carries a premium value. Hence, it is prudent to delegate tasks that do not fall within your core responsibilities or areas where you cannot add significant value to the organization. Remember, safeguarding your time should be a priority, as it is your most precious asset.

Understand the rules of the game and set your own boundaries according to your values

Where there are people, there is politics, interests, and coalitions. This is true for every organization and especially true in very large corporations, where Zuker spent 20 years of his career. One can decide not to play organizational politics, which is perfectly fine, but it comes at a cost. Alternatively, understanding the rules of the game and setting your own boundaries according to your values is possible.

He encountered this early in his career at Microsoft and later at IBM: colleagues taking credit for achievements not their own, shirking responsibility for mistakes, sycophancy, and more. This environment sharpened his senses and his intuition.

Lessons (with stories) from people he collaborated with

Zuker also shared lessons he learned from the people he collaborated with.

Time is your most precious asset

via Alon Rafael

As a young and eager marketing executive Zuker was determined to tackle every task, large and small, with gusto. In theory, he had the right idea. But his manager at the time, Rafael, pulled him aside and said words he'll never forget. "Time is your most precious asset."  What he was teaching Zuker was the importance of dedicating your time to areas you add significant value, and delegating to others those tasks that don't require your particular skillset.

This lesson is critical when working with a team but it also resonates in this era of generative AI. There are things humans need to do, and there are things that are quickly and cost effectively created with the help of technology.

Without clear and identifiable goals, you don’t know if you are effective, improving, or contributing

This event occurred at the beginning of Zuker’s journey as a sales manager at Microsoft. He was on his way to a meeting with a potential client, accompanied by a senior manager from one of their technological partners. He had only been with the company for a few months. He distinctly remembers that after the meeting, the manager asked him: ‘What are your goals?’ This might seem like a very basic question in hindsight, but for Zuker, it was incredibly significant.

At that time, he had not yet been given clear objectives, and the fact that he had no way of knowing whether he was succeeding was unsettling. He realized that without clear and quantifiable goals, he wouldn't be able to tell if he was on a path of improvement, if his activity was effective, or what his contribution to the organization was.

Networking is a talent and skill

In one of Zuker’s first roles in sales, he joined a seasoned client manager at a large conference. She had been with the company for several years and managed significant clients. Throughout the event, he noticed that both existing and potential clients approached her, engaged in conversations, and vice versa. She was simply a magnet. Her ability to know almost all the participants by name, to act kindly yet professionally, to advance her goals, and to make connections between people was astonishing.

It was like watching an artist at work. He realized that our professional network is an asset that needs to be developed and nurtured. It's a talent and skill no less than negotiation, presenting, or campaign management.

Discussed in this episode

Copywriting for Marketing Leaders: Why you should never delegate the marketing message (and how to get it right)

Marketing Career: How to become an indispensable asset to your company (even in a bad economy)

Marketing Research Chart: What are your peers' top email marketing goals?

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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.

Tomer Zuker: And where it started to change the way we create content and the right format for the content. Because things that work in the past for Google Search are not working for Gemini or work differently for Gemini or other. chat bots. So we need to adjust, our, the type of content and the structure of the content in order to meet the new algorithm.

Daniel Burstein: Can you think of any specific example that you talk about? Epic. Short form versus long form snippets. Like what? What? Is there a specific thing you're doing differently for AI?

Tomer Zuker: Yeah, we found out, for instance, that those tools really love, like a structure, formats, like tables. you don't have to show that, you know, the, the borders of the tables, but once the the output, the content is built in, in the format of the table, it's easier for those tools to, captured, the data.

Intro: Welcome to how I made it in marketing from marketing Sherpa. We scour pitches from hundreds of creative leaders and uncover specific examples, not just trending ideas or buzzword laden schmaltz real world examples to help you transform yourself as a marketer. Now here's your host, the senior director of Content and Marketing at Marketing Sherpa, Daniel Burstein, to tell you about today's guest and.

Daniel Burstein: Wherever you are in your career today, you're not necessarily stuck there. I've heard time and again from guests on how I made it, marketing about how they've been able to make dramatic, perhaps unlikely career shifts. On the flip side, if you're a hiring manager, do not pigeonhole potential recruits based on only their current experience. But as my next guest puts it.

Look past the CV. We'll hear the story behind how he learned that lesson in his career, along with many more lesson filled stories from Tomer Zukor, VP of marketing, added. Thanks for joining us, Tomer.

Tomer Zuker: Thank you. Thank you for having me, Daniel. Nice to meet you. Nice to be here.

Daniel Burstein: Well, let me tell the audience a little bit about your background real quick so they understand who they're listening to. Tomer spent 12 years at Microsoft. He held roles in sales and marketing and left as a channel executive for multinational accounts. He also worked at IBM, where he worked in marketing, and he was a business unit manager of security software for the Cognitive Solutions division at IBM.

He was the head of partner marketing for Amazon Web Services, and for the past year, he's been the VP of marketing for Did. The ID has raised $47 million overall, including $25 million in a series B round of funding led by Macquarie Capital two years ago. Tomer manages a team of ten marketers in addition to freelancers and agencies.

So, Tomer, give us a sense. What is your day like as a brand strategist?

Tomer Zuker: Well, you know, working for, startup in the, hyper dynamic domain of generative AI, which is I think, the frontline of the industry. It's really crazy. it's, a nice mixture between brand and performance, between marketing and product and marketing and sales. So it's all around. last year we had, a very interesting and strategic, process of rebranding, reshaping the strategy of the company.

I had the pleasure and, you know, the opportunity to lead, this, process from a marketing perspective. And now, since the beginning of 2024, it's the time of execution, executing all the brand strategy that we have designed back then in 2023. So, it's super exciting. from a marketing perspective, to deal with, you know, the new branding, the new voice, the new narrative.

And to do that in a fast paced industry like, I industry, which is crazy.

Daniel Burstein: I want to we're going to learn a lot of lesson from that. Not to mention you mentioned your entire career, sales, marketing channel, all that stuff. Right? It's gonna be great. So, let's take a look at some of the lessons from the things you made. That's a great thing we get to do is marketers get to make things right.

I've. I've said before, I've never been an actuary or a, podiatrist, but I don't feel like they make things right. We make things like you said. You make a brand, we make things. so you first lesson is look past the CV. So how did you learn that lesson? Tomer?

Tomer Zuker: Yeah. so my my story as a marketing, didn't start with my my marketing. marketing was my passion, but I've started my journey in sales. and to be honest, after spending a few years, with sales around 30% of my career, 35% as a, as a, as a, as a professional was in sales. And this is one of the first recommendation I share with students and, you know, junior marketeers, and even senior marketers spend a few years working with sales, ad sales, you know, create these kind of frictions with real customers.

and I had the opportunity to do that. So I spent a few years working for, enterprise sales, that I was, at Microsoft, super, complex, you know, sales cycles, very, you know, demanding customers, you know, big enterprises, retailers, manufacturers and financial, services company and such. But my heart, my passion was in marketing.

but, you know, I don't know if you had the chance to work with big corporation, but, once you are, like, being tagged as a salesperson, it's really hard to switch from another for other disciplines. And it's like, this is like the complexity of life. So I need I needed to create like this kind of a bridge, I would say, between sales and marketing and create my own opportunities and hopefully, to get this kind of chance.

And lucky for me, I did get a chance at one of the, senior marketing manager. He manager, a team at the marketing division. probably. so something in me as a human being, above the CV. but beyond. Beyond, you know, the, the LinkedIn profile or my CV. And so, like, a spark of, marketing, you know, potential over there and what I did there at that time is trying to get closer and closer from the sales discipline into the marketing, and I asked for a few opportunities to do, like, small projects, to run events, to create a plan.

And once I established this kind of trust, from this marketing senior marketing manager, at me, I have started to get more and more opportunities and waited for the right timing and the right timing reach to me. One of the people, I had them as a marketeer. It was, by the way, on top of my day, work as a salesperson was like my extra time, which I didn't have.

but that was my my passion. And so he, he, opened, a new position in the company, and he was approached to me and asked me, if this is something I would like to do. It was very, you know, innocent question. And of course, I jumped into that and I took it and, as much as I can and, invests all of myself into these opportunities, opportunities.

Orient was great, to be honest. I had to run like a mini campaign in order to sell myself because I was not the ideal, you know, candidate. I was like, of, like, ordinary or traditional marketing back up because I came from sales. And before of that I did some techie roles. So I started my journey in a techie role.

I did QA professional services. So my background was not like the ideal candidate. But again, this person saw something beyond my CV and gave me the chance, which I'm super thankful for that, and by the way, this is something I really, adopt, as a manager. along my career, and I have more than 1 to 3 or, you know, cases when I opened the door for people that are not coming from a pure marketing discipline and even, not the exact expertise they have as a marketer is just to give people a chance.

If I see something that's designed there and it's beyond the CV. for instance, given an opportunity for, marketing manager that, run, marketing for, a ballad group, right. Dancing is far, far, far away from tech. Right? or someone that was a digital marketing manager in the, Ministry of, finance. in the government.

Right. Different sector, completely different sector. And I have more than one example there like that. So I'm try and when I interview people just, you know, to dive into their personality and their curiosity, their passions and their values and to see if I can, you know, close those gaps. and, you know, just make, you know, the things happen, like, like the opportunity I got.

Daniel Burstein: So that's a really interesting background. You you said you went to marketing. you already had that sales background. You even have that tech background doing things like QA. So looking around you in the marketing department, what did you do differently than other marketers with that background? Because earlier in my career, I had a chance to work with some major software companies.

I was a consultant and I was working with sales enablement. And frankly, the head of sales was a little frustrated with the field. Marketing group was I didn't feel like they were getting leads from this major sports sponsorship they were doing. And so he introduced me to them and said, hey, have this guy write it. And so I think and it was successful.

I think the thing I did differently and maybe I just got lucky, is that it was a sponsorship. And so they were very focused on the branding of it. Right. And where mine since I just I've been working in sales enablement, I've been working every day with sales folks and talking about their code and talking about these meetings.

It was definitely a little more rubber meets the road of not just this overall branding thing. It tied into the brand, but it tied directly into getting conversations about sales, about specific products. And I think that was a successful, not unique to someone work in sales. That's, I think, partly the difference between brand marketers and direct response marketers.

And as we mentioned, you're brand marketer now. But what did you do differently when you were now in that marketing role that you've been a marketing role since you've had that sales and tech experience, and you've seen other marketers do?

Tomer Zuker: Yeah, I think I think, you know, in order to be a successful, salesperson, I was okay, I was good, really good. To be honest. you had to have this kind of, I would say, like resilience because you have to suffer of getting a lot of no's, right? it's it's it's build your character. And I think also like when you are spending time in, in marketing, when you are running campaigns and events and tradeshows and you're doing so many activities, it can be very intense.

It can be very frustrating when you are creating the best campaign ever, but it doesn't deliver. you need to keep pushing. You need to, create this kind of character when you have to, you know, just swallow and, keep going. I give you another specific example. one of the company I work with, I came to, manager.

I can name the name, right?

Daniel Burstein: That that that's fine with you.

Tomer Zuker: Yeah, I know, and. Okay, so when I joined the IBM, as a marketing manager, the first of all I did was the marketing manager of the, system and technology division, which is all the hard core, old school IBM technology. You know, you came in imagine, like hardware and network and storage and such. And what I found out that there was a lacking of real case studies, refresh case study, that customer talking about the real benefit, the real challenges and such.

And I work with a team, of like 15 marketing or something like that. And when I started to ask some tough questions, why we don't have it, the answer I got and you're getting that, you know, it cooperates from time to time. Hey, we tried that. It failed. We cannot create, you know, case studies, you know, and, you know, as a separate sales person excels person.

When someone say to him saying to me, no, you cannot do that or we don't do that here, it's giving me like, zest of motivation. I would say, by the end of the year, I had ten case studies, that served the sellers, you know, across the board. And, and for me, it was like, like, very I would say, important win, internally to convince people that, you can bring, like, new, tactics or new approach or fresh, you know, perspective in order to, gain your, your objectives.

So you can imagine that after this kind of, experience ahead the last the next time people say to me, no, we don't do that. I had, some backup, to convince them that I can do something else.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, we'll see about that. We'll see if we don't do it.

Tomer Zuker: Okay? Okay.

Daniel Burstein: okay. So your next lesson, you say just pretty straightforward delegate. So I assume this the lesson you learned as you've moved up in your career, how did you learn to delegate?

Tomer Zuker: Yeah. So, you know, this kind of transition from a sales to to marketing? this is, as you mentioned, this was the right time for me to learn more about delegation. first of all, to acknowledge that my time, carries, premium value. So, and, and to be honest, it's something that is hard. it's not only moving from sales to marketing, it's moving from individual contributor into management role.

my, I would say my time has become, a valuable, resource. I had to I had to understand that, to acknowledge that, it was hard for me in the beginning, just to outsource some of the activities I'm doing for so, so long. And I think I did that, did them okay. And hand over in them to other people on my team or outsource to freelancers.

but the lesson I learned that in order to grow, you know, you need to release. You need to trust people. otherwise you will be, you know, you're going to stuck in doing that in the same in the same spot for four years. and it's like it's like almost like a new skill. I had to, to, to teach myself, in order to grow.

and it's something that really helped me to, increase, or to improve my impact and increase, even, you know, to, cross, cross the road and get more and more responsibility, tomorrow. so I had almost to, to understand that my time is precious. And other people can do my role or my my my task.

as good as I myself. once I train them or teach them and whatever, and it works. And to be honest, and I try to to to, you know, teach this lesson to my, my employees as well.

Daniel Burstein: I mean, can you give us a specific example of something you've delegated and how you did it? Because I think at a high level, we all understand this. I remember I was interviewing the owner of a business of a, of an ad agency, and we're having this conversation. And the way the light bulb went off for him is he would look over all the financials for years.

And so, once he got this business coach at one point and he said, and the business coach asked him, it's like, hey, you've looked over these financials for years. Have you like, first of all, how good are you at math? And he's like, well, not really. I mean, my background's and creative. And that's why I had an ad agency.

It's like, okay, so you're probably first of all, not the best person to do this. Okay. You look over these financials for years. How many mistakes have you found. And he said I have not found any mistakes. And so his business coach convinced him it's like this is something you just have to delegate and let someone else own.

And yeah, maybe there's some long term looking over other things and making sure it's working well, but not the day to day that that he'd been doing and wasting his time doing that. So can you think of a specific example of yeah, what you say I agree with I think we all agree with, you know, you you raising your career, you have to delegate.

But that's the biggest change for me. It was difficult going from I can be hands on in marketing and craft. This exactly how it needs to be crafted versus okay, now I've got to trust someone else not only to do this right, but to do it right by the deadline, you know? So I think the examples come to mind.

Tomer Zuker: Yeah. I think, it's easier for me and I assume that everyone is to delegate, you know, project or task that, you know, I really don't like to do them. You know, it's easy to delegate this kind of stuff, right? So I know that. Yeah. So I, I really don't like, and I have no, like, any kind of adventure, you know, advantage.

Sorry. in, like, logistics and processes and bureaucracy. I really hate it. so it's easy for me to delegate the higher part of my role to delegate is those activities that I really love to do. And I think and think I'm good at that. I really love to create content. I'm a content creator. I'm writing hundreds of posts, I have a podcast, I'm running, community.

I really love it. but it's it's time consuming work. You know, if someone, you know, creating blog posts and articles and produce this podcast. Right. it's work. So those are the exact points that it's it's like fighting with myself, with my passion, with my heart, to relieve something, to go to, to let something go for someone else.

It's almost like, saying goodbye to a piece of my heart, you know? Yeah. so one of the of the specific, cases I remember is creating, some assets for the for for the sellers, for the product marketing team, whatever. And I started to write down, you know, one page and and such, and then, I, I found, I found out that, you know, someone else can do that, like I do.

Even better. So I had to relieve this kind of, passion I have and outsource or hand over it to someone else. and I'll tell you a secret. They did great. Better than I, but it gave me the, I would say that the understanding, the understanding that, this is something I can replicate and do more and more and more.

And of course, with the time I had, I could do and, you know, something else that I have more like a relative, like, like advantage, you know, dealing with strategy or dealing with, the structure of or my organization or to, establish a better network internally in the organization.

Daniel Burstein: And I feel, frankly, one of the reasons we don't delegate to, especially as we're growing in our careers, and we're more comfortable of those things because the new things you have to do in that role, like you said, strategy, budget meetings, all these things, like they're newer and they're less comfortable and they're frankly a little scarier, don't have the blueprint for it already.

Write you a blog post. You probably done 100,000, you know, boom, I know how to do this. But let me ask you, on the flip side, I agree with you about delegating. Right? But is there's something specific or things that you don't delegate. You're like, no, I cannot delegate this. And I'll give you an example. we once published a video called copywriting for Marketing Leaders Why You Should Never Delegate the Marketing Message and How to get it right.

And I had and come up with that. Our CEO from Boston came up that I love that. And to me, writing has always been 80% content, all content, 80% having something good to say, having something worth saying. The other 20% is just, you know, saying it well. And so that 80%, especially overall for the brand, the value proposition, those things.

I mean, I think every marketing leader should be deeply involved in that. Then the execution of that. Yes, that's that's where you delegate. And I could be wrong about any of that. But for you, like, is there something you're like, okay, this is piece I cannot delegate. I need to be deeply involved in it and understand it before I delegate other pieces around it to my team.

Tomer Zuker: Definitely, yes. I can think about, three, three domains or three topics when I, insist to be deeply involved in. First of all, is the strategy. I mentioned in the beginning of our discussion that we had the very interesting and complex, rebranding process. it took a year. half of this time, six months.

It was mainly discussions around the strategy. Which company are we? What is the DNA of the company? What is the ICP? What is the, you know, the the core advantages or the the core USP for us, versus the market and then the competitors. in those discussions, I was the sole marketeers in the room. There were the founders of the startup, the chief product officer, few consultant, and that's it.

I, was the sole marketeer because it's super sensitive. it's super strategic. and I, Create this kind of bridge from the strategy, to, to the, the extended marketing team. Only once the strategy was established. Not before that. So strategy is number one. The second part, the second topic is numbers. Numbers. You know, in the end, my role as a marketing, this is my approach.

We can we can open up a discussion around that is I need to contribute to the bottom line of the company. That's it. Okay. I'm not speaking in terms of leads or aimco's. I'm talking in meetings, opportunities and actual budget. Sorry. Actual, revenue. So anything that deals with the numbers, it's something that, I'm into that very deeply together with my Demand Gen team, but I'm into that very deeply.

It's super important for me. In the end, this is the contribution, the real contribution of marketing to the organization. And this is related to my own perspective about marketing as, department in the organization marketing for me, it's not a cost center, it's a profit center. And in order to, back it up, I need to be into the numbers and ensure that we are heading to the right direction.

So this is number two numbers. And number three is all other sensitive, you know, activities that we are having, for instance, working with this with, venture capital services and investors highly, you know, sensitive in some cases highly confidential and stuff and stuff. So these cases where he's like a mixture of business but also with emotion, emotion.

I'm trying to be in the front line.

Daniel Burstein: Those are those are some great examples, very specific. so you mentioned working at some big companies and, you know, there can be there's a lot of upside to working with a big brand. There can be some challenges to one of the challenges you mentioned. Understand the rules of the game and set your own boundaries according to your values.

So what do you mean by that?

Tomer Zuker: Yeah. So when you are working on the, you know, These Being Giants, organization, as we are talking about thousands of marketers between hundreds, 2000 marketers, on top of that, additional stakeholders, you know, from sales, product operations such you need to know to how to navigate in this, in this domain to to better understand, you know, the politics, the unspoken rules.

the things that are hidden from our eyes. in in some cases, it's very confusing. It's very confusing to, to to make the right decisions or to engage with the right people. and you can find yourself, in a, in a very complex or sensitive situation. So what I'm referring to is, is, is to find and maybe it's, it will sign, you know, where to to your, to your ears.

But to, to understand who are you as a, as a person, first of all, what are your values? What you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do in order to meet, your own objectives? it can be it can be very, I would say, tough in those, dynamics. I can tell you that, more than one time I make some decisions that impact my career because I didn't want to cross boundaries.

it's hard for me to jump between into a specific, examples at this stage, but it's something that is related to, gray area between reaching numbers and hitting the targets, and my values. in those cases, I'm trying to really listen to myself, to, to my core, and make the right decisions. and in some cases, all it was also related to, very aggressive, behavior of other people.

so I need to take a stance and, put some lines over there. So these are the type of, you know, cases when I go back to that whiteboard and try to, to figure out what I'm willing to do and what I will not do.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. And so, I mean, what you're talking about, I assume we could call office politics and it like, what has been the difference between working for some of the biggest brands in the world mentioned IBM, Microsoft, Amazon and working for startups because and I've had the chance to work with both too. And what I hear, it's so funny, like if I talk to colleagues now, there are some very big companies, you know, that's their complaints.

It's office politics. You can't get anything done. It takes forever to get things done. They don't notice me. I'm lost, blah blah blah blah blah blah. Right? And then when I talk to people at the small companies and startups, it's like, you know, people don't know our brand. We don't have the budget, we don't have the resources.

I don't have the skills. I can't compete with the big companies with their technology. Right. So it's always like, you know, the grass is always greener, right? But you've you've done both. so what has been your experience like what if you had to break it down like the pros and cons of the big brands as the biggest organizations in the world and the startups, what would you say?

Tomer Zuker: Yeah, first of all, you know, where, where you see people, you see politics. So politics is everywhere. It's us as people, you know, you, you, you can decide that you are not playing this game, but there will be some impact, you know, so you have to play the game. You you can you can create your own rules and your own boundaries.

But not playing the game will damage you. in your career. I'm I'm super honest, super open. however, there are some few differences between working for a, you know, big corporation and small startup. First of all, you see the people, at corporates, it's really easier for people to, you know, to play the second hike, you know, and not see you in the, in the office.

I would say, but in a small startup, those are the people you are. You are sitting next to, you're eating lunch with, you cannot hide from those people. So the communication is more direct, is more open. and this is for me. This is like a good side. The good side, because it is really ready to my, my character as a person, I think when being but it's tougher you need to, you know, tackle directly some of the issues, some of the problems were in cooperation, because of the, you know, more complex structure.

You have a lot of, layers and hidden agenda. it's more complex. It's almost like, you know, trying to control the puppets, I don't know, so again, there are some good side. Good, good, good size and bad sides for each of the, the, the organizations and the structures. and to be honest, I'm really happy I did both, because it really gave me a perspective.

You cannot win them all. there are some, you know, advantages working for, big corporation when you have the budget. You had a lot of people you can gain some get and gain some expertise in specific domains while in start up. In most of the cases, you have like budget constraints, you are always in a hurry because, you know, startup innovative, you know, very dynamic and competitive landscape.

But, to be honest, after spending around 20 years in corporation, I really enjoy my last years working back, with startups. I my recommendation for people, if you have the chance to work in both sides of the of the spectrum, I would say do that. it will make you a better, professional.

Daniel Burstein: Well, I love how you say it's not the organizations people where there are people, there are politics. and in the second half of the episode, we're going to talk about people you collaborate with in lessons you learned. But first, I should mention that the how I Made It in Marketing podcast is underwritten by Mech Labs, the parent organization of marketing Sherpa MC labs, a I now has 13 expert assistance to help you with your marketing, along with a guided headline writing path to write a powerful headline, all trained on a methodology built on the results from 10,000 marketing experiments.

It's totally free to use. For now. You don't even have to, so just go to Mech Labs ai.com and start using it. That's mech Lab s i.com to start getting artificial intelligence working for you. So here's your first lesson. As I mentioned, we're going to talk about some lessons you learn from people you collaborate with. Time is your most precious asset.

You're kind of hinting at this. When we talked about delegation, you said you learn this from alone. Rafael, how did you learn this from Alan?

Tomer Zuker: So, yeah, it's funny because this is this is like a lesson, that really, something that, you know, he said to me, like, many, many years ago, 15 years ago, something like that. We are still in touch. he became like a friend. And we are doing, doing, like, a mutual mentoring. I would say, but, he he teach me, that the, the importance in the importance of dedicating my time to areas where I have the significant value, and this is something that, as I mentioned in the beginning of our conversation, it was really hard for me to understand in the beginning because I, you know,

I push that back. but this listening is critical when working with, with the team. but it also, you know, resonate, in, in this area of generative AI, going back to what we are doing today. And I feel that on a daily basis, going back to the things I mentioned in, you know, few minutes ago about creating those posts and content and such.

Now I can save a lot of time using gen AI tools, and they are really saving a lot of time. I assume you will have discount, gain some experience working with the GPT or other tools if you know how to work with them in a very, methodological, methodological way. Sorry. you can spare, I believe around 6,070% of your time.

So it's not only like saving your time or delegating to other people. You can delegate to tools. And now we have the technology that you can outsource your day to day work, that you don't have a competitive edge, to add on top of that to AI tools and are very intelligent. They are very efficient. They're very fast.

And once you delegate those task to AI tools, you can focus more on task or project that you, as you as a human being, have an edge. you can invest more in being creative, using more of your imagination or using your soft skills, to collaborate with other people. In the beginning, it was hard because how AI tool can write better than me, but they can.

you are in the end. I see that, by the way, when we are doing I'm talking about myself. You know, I said that I really don't love, you know, those endless processes and such, we are not good in, repetitive work as as human being. We tend to be tired, doing mistakes, you know, you see that a lot.

But once you outsource, those repetitive tasks into, for, for machines, for AI, you can save a lot of time, precious time, and do other, other tasks that are more important from a strategy point of view.

Daniel Burstein: Let me ask you. That's a great point. Then how do you stay an indispensable asset to your company in an era of generative AI? So, for example, I interviewed Christian Zhivago about this way before I like 10 or 15 years ago. And her answer was, you know, you got to keep learning about new technology. You got to measure campaigns.

But one of the really key things I like was you have to focus on understanding the customer better than anyone else in the organization. Right. And she would talk about regularly interviewing customers in person on the phone to really understand them. Right. And that's how you became an indispensable asset even before I. But now for now, you know, you talk about it's such a quickly changing environment that generative AI can do more and more every day.

How do you stay an indispensable asset to your company?

Tomer Zuker: Yeah, it's a good question, to be honest. Maybe my answer will change a year from now. because it's really hard to, you know, to, capture the market. the, the growth is enormous. but I find I, I can, I can, I can talk about a few things. First of all is our ability to orchestrate more than one tool.

So think about now, as a marketing manager, I have a team of ten marketeers, as you mentioned at the beginning. But on top of that, I have some virtual workers. They are AI agents and AI avatars. This is what what dad does. so when I'm looking about the organization structure of the my marketing department, I have real human beings, but I have also some virtual marketeers there.

And my, advantage as a human being, as a human, human manager, I would say, is first of all is to motivate my human employees and encourage them to use more of the technology like the avatar, the agents, the AI agents, you know, to benefit more. So, leveraging my own, virtues and capabilities as a human being to generate this kind of motivation and passion, to encourage, to do experiments, for instance, to make mistakes, you know, I believe I, you know, if they are doing mistake, they say, sorry, apology, whatever.

No, I'm allocating a certain amount of my marketing budget for experiments. And if someone is failing, that's fine. You know, and this is like a human character. This is my own, you know, virtues as a human being. Because this is going back to my belief. I don't know what are the beliefs of GPT, but I really know my belief, my own beliefs and my my own values.

So, this is like the places where it's it's it's more than a tool, like a functional, you know, skill set or something like that. It's before of that. It's around. It's big words about inspiration, okay. About motivation, about, empathy. Those are the places where I generative. I cannot bring value, or at least not as much human being can.

Daniel Burstein: No. That's great. And I love what you say about the failing. And I mean, I've heard it said, if you're not failing sometimes and you're failing because you're not pushing it hard enough, right? I mean, I'm sure each one of us could be successful 100% of the time if we just stayed in, you know, what we're comfortable with.

But to really push it, you got to be failing sometimes, cause then you're really pushing the envelope.

Tomer Zuker: Definitely. And, you know, this is when when people talking about, the imposter syndrome, I'm always saying, okay, that that's good. It means that you are working away from your comfort zone. You are trying new, new stuff. It's a good signal. That's okay. That's okay. Completely fine.

Daniel Burstein: I love that. So earlier you were talking about how important the numbers were to you. Recurring revenue. And you. Here's one of your lessons you learned, from someone without clear an identifiable goals. You don't know if you are effective, improving or contributing. So it sounds like you learned that pretty early in your career. How did you learn that?

Tomer Zuker: Yeah, it's really happened. in the beginning of my, on journey, I was a says manager at Microsoft. I, you know, many years ago, but I really remember that, I was on my way to a meeting with, potential client, company, and we'd buy a senior manager, for one of our partners, technology partners.

And we had, you know, we had the meeting I spent, I think, in this role only a few months. And, after the meeting, this person, he was like, senior than me. and you have more experience than me. And he asked me a very direct question, and that really confused me. He asked me, what are your goals?

and it this it seems very, very basic question. but for me, it was, first of all, very confusing and very significant and, you know, and remember that, although many years, if passed away, and I realized once he asked me that I really don't know the answer because my manager at that time didn't, you know, gave me any, any clear goals or KPIs.

Now, without goals and KPIs, you don't have a compass. It's you don't know if you are winning or losing. If you are gaining real, contribution to the organization or not. so it struck me. And after I went back to the office, I went to my manager and asking for a very specific direction. And this is something I'm trying to do all the time.

Okay, set clear KPIs and goals. They can be quantitative like sales quota and such, but they can also be, qualitative. can be even soft KPIs. That's fine. But just show the people the way people would like to understand if they are gaining, a progress or not, if they are heading to the right direction or not.

Otherwise it's a waste of time. It even it's even unfair for your employees or for your colleagues if they don't know what is the road and what is direction. So, you know, be a spotlight.

Daniel Burstein: Well, can you give us a specific example of a goal you either set for yourself or someone on your team and how you came up with that goal? Because and marketing. Sure. But we did benchmark reports, and one thing we would ask is, you know what, what goals marketers have. And I was looking at an old chart about email marketing, and it struck me that the top choice, it was exactly, I think 67% each, whatever it was exactly tied.

It was between delivering highly relevant content, getting additional traffic and increasing revenue. And I thought, that's a great example of how we as marketers get and sometimes, right, because you got to serve the customer, you got to get more brand interest at the top of the funnel. You got to get hard revenue, right. And so will the what is everything, a goal or, you know, do you have to prioritize goals?

Right. So can you give us an example kind of walk us through in your mind, like how you set a specific goal for yourself or someone on your team?

Tomer Zuker: Yeah. So so I think I think the easier, goals is those hard coded goals. Okay. You have, numbers to bring. You need to generate revenue for the company going there up into the funnel. How many opportunities, how many meetings, how many mql, how many leads and such? These these are, you know, maybe tough to achieved, but easy to define.

you can see them, you can track them. I think the more complex goals are the soft goals. Okay. The goals that can show this kind of progress. we talked about content. Okay. So I've started to measure the type of content we are creating. it's that there is, like, indirect impact of those KPIs on the hard coded KPIs, obviously.

But I wanted to, measure the quality of the content. Okay. it's great that we, we creating content and now we the genie. It's really easy to create content, right. but I want to create the best content there is. We need to measure that. So measuring the number of pieces of content we creating is nice, but also about the consumption rate of those content and the ranking of this content and how this content really serve the strategy of the company.

I can tell you now what I did, where, it started to focus on specific industries like telco insurance and such. So I have started to move away from like a horizontal, like generic, you know, type of assets into more, specific or industry oriented, content. This is a KPI how many assets we are going to create for the insurance industry or for the e-commerce industry and such.

So this is one thing. The other thing is like completely soft goals. And this is the question I'm asking my team members from time to time. What have you learned this week? Okay. and this is this is part of my, philosophy as a manager. I want to challenge my team. Teammates. I want to challenge my my my workers to encourage them to learn something new.

and this is this for me is one of the KPIs. So I'm trying to allocate budget for people to learn more, to develop more. And this is not, less important than reaching to the next, you know, milestone and achieving the next meeting with, with the prospect.

Daniel Burstein: So you mentioned something really enticing. I don't overlook you mentioned your measuring the quality of content. So I want to understand how you do that, because especially in the age of I mean, that was hard before, right? Especially, you know, when marketers are challenged with do I outsource to like a content farm somewhere or do I get, you know, a really high dollar writer or whatever to to do this right with I it's become even harder.

And for example, we have this I guild with a group, you know, that we're working on artificial intelligence. And as I mentioned we have meth labs. I and, you know, one of these, marketers would show me like, oh, look, oh, ChatGPT give me these ten headlines and blah, blah, blah. Why should I even mess with Mac labs?

I and, you know, I was like, okay. But then we start looking at the screen and here's a ten headlines from ChatGPT. And here's the ten headlines from labs AI and ChatGPT is great. So this just a specific example. Not trying to do some. But I looked and it's like okay look at those. Have got that GPT it.

It goes like this. You get ten headlines right away. But then you forget you don't look like they're not very good. You know versus okay here the the headlines that are better. Yeah. And I think in the age of AI sometimes and again this isn't particularly new to AI. This happened with content outsourcing 1520 years ago. in the age of AI, it seems like such a magic trick sometimes where it's like, oh my gosh, I put this information in and stuff comes out and we give this false trust to it.

And I've done this, I've done this. I was writing, for example, a blog post, about this very topic about how we can't overly trust AI. I put in AI transcribe or a chat log from one of our AI guild meetings into it. I put it into the AI, I asked it to summarize, and I published that and I didn't even notice.

Someone pointed out to me, wait a minute. We didn't talk about landing page optimization. We talked about whatever other topic. Right? So in that way, how are you measuring the quality of content? I feel like we're just kind of sometimes mesmerized by this magic trick that we overlooked at the not all the high quality.

Tomer Zuker: I totally agree. I think it's, easier and easy getting easier and easier to create content. You don't have to be like, you know, like the the content, the ideal content creator in order to create content. And it's, it's very, templating to create a lot of content. But most of the content created by AI is, is, is is is mediocre or it's not.

The best. You need to work. You need to polish that. So I'm talking about like, they can help you, those two to cross like the 60, 70% percent of your journey. But then you need to add your own, your own voice, your own perspective. and I have to be honest, I encourage my team members to use, chat, GPT and Gemini and cloud and such tools because I truly believe about their values.

More than that, I'm hiring only people with X experience working with gen AI tools to my department. So it's a mandatory requirement from, for me as a VP of marketing to hire people, that deal with Gen I now. Yeah, journey brings more, complexities because once you everyone creating more content, it's hard. It's getting harder to stand out because you have so many identities.

And my focus is on the last mile, those 20%, to give specific examples, you know, adding the authentic voice of the brand of the company. Who are we as a company? and also to bring the the authentic voice of the writer, my own style of writing or my team. so it's important now measuring the, the, the, the quality of the content, can be, using some, you know, scales and ranking.

And this is something that I'm now deploying, on my website because, you know, without getting the feedback from the audience, you almost like blind. So you, you think you create the best content, you know, ever. But each it should meet the expectation of the, of the audience. So you need to get some feedback. So these feedback can be with, with the reaction of people that consuming and reading the, the content on the, on the, on the, on the blog or the website and such, but also to read to to speak with customers and ask them this, is this help you now working in the B2B organization?

And it's easier for me to cross to, to, to make this cross checking because we have sellers that meet with customers and I encourage my team members to meet those customers. And we are using assets in the in the sales process. And I getting feedback if those assets really help helpful or not. And we are getting, you know, that salespeople can be very aggressive going back.

Hey, this is like sorry, like a shitty whatever. paper. And I'm going back to the beginning of our discussion again. My, my own personal experience working in sales. I really have, like, allergic, allergies for a marketing fluff. Okay? I want the content to be very specific. Hardcoded. you know, I call it, like, these type of assets.

It's very common. Like, what is the reason to believe? Give me facts, give me figures, give me statistics, give me real examples. this is more compelling. And for me, this is like, a few of the, of the of the directions or the ways for you to, to measure the quality of the content.

Daniel Burstein: So just so I'm clear, though, when you talk about scaling, is it a thumbs up, thumbs down on the web page. Is it a 1 to 10? Like, do you actually have something on the content where customers are ranking it?

Tomer Zuker: I'm optimizing out, not thumbs up, thumbs up, thumbs down is nice, but it's not enough numbers. I need to scale. good or bad? It's nice, but it's not enough for me. I would like I would like to rank them. Now. Once I have this kind of ranking, it will be easier for me. First of all, to better understand what are the expectations of the audience, of the visitors.

And also it's more important to create the right content for my paid campaigns. I'm talking about organic, you know, content. But now when I'm spending dollars on that, I need to be very, very precise. So do I use the right assets? And I can think about a third, advantage is to ensure that the content I create as a marketing manager meets the company company strategy.

For instance, if I seen a lot of, like, you know, on the, on the scale 1 to 5, a lot of five of the content that is have no, no connection to the current strategy of the company. 20 to 24 is great. I'm getting five, but it's there is a gap between my content and the strategy of the company.

It's a bad sign, but I need to measure that.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I remember talking to a major, marketing company and and they just put up so many blog posts and some of them seem so disconnected from their brand. Like, I talk about their value proposition. And I was sitting down with this, one of the marketing managers or someone at one point, and I was asking, I don't understand the strategy there.

They're like, well, we got a lot of interns. We got like junior marketers. We got to get a certain amount of leads from the blog. every month. And so we just write about everything and yeah.

Tomer Zuker: It's it's so it's almost like you keep working for the SEO, you know?

Daniel Burstein: Yes, exactly. That's another machine. You got to be careful not to work.

Tomer Zuker: For it, you know. And by the way, now it's getting harder and harder because, you know, the SEO world is changing using AI, it's not only search engine is like jets. it's a different type of SEO. So and we are learning the learning that, by the way, this kind of methods, and we are if started to change the way we create content and the right format for the content, because things that work in the past for Google Search are not working for Gemini or work differently for Gemini or other, chat bots.

So we need to adjust, our, the type of content and the structure of the content in order to meet the new algorithm.

Daniel Burstein: Can you think of any specific examples? Are you talking about FAQ short form versus long form snippets? Like what? What? Is there a specific thing you're doing differently for AI?

Tomer Zuker: Yeah, we found out, for instance, that those tools really love, like a structure, formats, like tables. you don't have to show that, you know, the, the borders of the tables, but once the, the output, the content is, is built in, in the format of the table, it's easier for those tools to, captured, the data.

So we have started to work with some consultant in order to change the way we create content. Because now still okay Google search being whatever they are still dominate the word. But within one year, two years, all the practices that we are doing in SEO for the last 20 years are, you know, are going to the trash. We need to adjust ourself to a new type of, methods.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. It's interesting. And I would suggest to look at your analytics because when I'm looking at our refers, you know, it's the traditional yeah, Google's whatever, but you're starting to see like ChatGPT and some of the AI engines we are getting there too. so you mentioned one last lesson here. Networking is a talent and a skill. How did you learn this lesson?

Tomer Zuker: to be honest, I learned that for my mother. Yeah, but, yeah, she she is a very social person. So, I learn from him as a as the other boy, but from, from a business perspective, I think the first, the first time I learned the power of, being a great, great, great networker worker was, one of the first, my first day as a as a salesperson, I.

John, one of the season, the sales, sales account executive, in a big conference and was like a big customer event. And she had, been with the company for a few years. She was like senior than me, very experienced. And throughout the event, I noticed that both existing and potential clients approach her, engage in conversation with her, and vice versa.

She was like simply a magnet. So people reach to her, come to her. She make this kind of connection between people and capture some opportunities and leads. it was almost for me. It was like overwhelming. It was like a pure magic to see how the personality of the person popped out in those interaction with real people, and how you can translate those interaction into business.

So for me, networking or being a networker is an asset. And I can tell you that, allocating a certain amount of my time every week to meet with people, I'm trying to, secure this time for me, it's like a very precious time to spend with with real people, and and conversing with them and learn with them and, and the network the power you we we talked about, you know, the differences between AI and people in human beings.

This is one of the differences. people, prefer to connect with other people. This is how evolution made us human beings. And why not to make the most of it.

Daniel Burstein: So I agree, the struggle I've always had is I'm a super introverted guy, right? So I've always struggle with this. so let me ask you, I think you're a pretty good networker on LinkedIn, right? So do you have any specific tips or tactics or what works, what doesn't when it comes to LinkedIn networking? I got to admit, like I said, I'm introverted.

I'm less of a reach out type of person. Unless you're something real specific at someone I used to work with. I see the mentioned in the Wall Street Journal or something like that, or, you know, there's some real specific thing like that. But what I get mostly, honestly, is just endless, BTR, SDR type of sales requests, you know, like, oh my gosh, we got to get on a calendar and talk about whatever the thing I'm selling.

and that, you know, occasionally I get those real genuine networking, but it's just become such a flood of that. So do you have any specific tips of something that's worked for you there?

Tomer Zuker: Yeah, many tips I can speak about, talk about LinkedIn for hours. And so, I'm just like a warning. This is like a warning. yeah. I have a few tens of followers and connections on LinkedIn. for me, it's, like a gold and gold mine. but, over the time, I have started to look on the networking on LinkedIn in more strategic, way, and it started with my own objectives, and, and based on my own objective, I defined the type of network I would like to establish.

and it's very important because there are, there are some few approaches, like are you going to approach to any person, you know, are you going to accept any kind of connection request? What are the boundaries? What is your strategy? So I'm trying to be very structured in that way and accept only connection requests. That meets my own objective now.

And in some cases nobody will. I hope nobody will get offended in some cases, I deleted, you know, all connections. That doesn't serve my current objective in 2024. Maybe I engage with them like 15 years ago. so first of all, my my first step is think about, on your network as a tool, okay. And you need to for this tool to be sharp and ready and serve, you know, not things you did in the past, but for now and, and in the near future.

So this is one thing. The other thing is that if you, identified some of, important people you would like to engage with, okay. And currently you are not connected. in some cases when you are sending in connection requests too soon, you are going to be rejected. So what my my tip for, for anyone that would like to approach like a senior or, you know, executive or any kind of influencer and such, try to cook this relationship in advance, okay.

Identify this person, spread some likes, comment on post. It's super super important. Establish your on brand as an expert. You know create this kind of awareness to your presence. And only once you think you established this kind of connection, send the first connection request. And it's it's happening most of the most of the people don't act like that.

Now going back to the, what you mentioned about those SDR is will be the the project. This is really bad practice coming from sellers that don't understand that the operating on LinkedIn is very similar to the real life. Okay. You're walking down the road, you're not approaching to any stranger, right? Someone will call the police. So don't take those practices and bring them to the virtual world.

It's the same. It's people. LinkedIn. It's not a platform for lead generation. It's a platform for creating or establishing relationships. and relationship. It's something that is very fragile. You need to gain trust. Without trust, you will not do sales. So if someone approached you, I'm telling you what I'm doing. If someone approached you, just often them accepting a connection request and trying to pitch me, I block them, I delete them, okay?

For me, they're not professionals and I don't want to waste my time.

Daniel Burstein: Amen, brother. Amen. Preach it. I love it. So, there's some great advice from LinkedIn. Well, tomorrow we talk about so many different things about what it means to be a marketer from all your different stories, from longer, different lessons. If you had to break it down, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer?

Tomer Zuker: Well, I think, you know, the marketing discipline has went through so many changes during the last 20, 25 years. You know, you know, digital marketing and the mobile marketing and now using it, I a lot of, you know, remote working, many, many revolutions and such. I think. What what for me, it's it's it's still valid.

It's still important. are the following things. First of all, I think curiosity, for, for for a good, good market, you need to be very curious. You need to learn a lot. you need to, to care about people. In the end, it's people. And it's the insights from people. It can be like, consumers can be organization like companies, businesses and such.

But you need to to to care about, about them and about their, their interest and understand, understand their, their needs and motivation. So curiosity is number one. the second, I would say quality is, I would say, be bold. Okay. boldness for me is is like a virtue of a good marketer. I think we, we discussed about if you are staying in your comfort zone, you will be okay, but okay is not enough.

the market is super, super competitive. And in order to, to stand out, you need to take some bold moves. And it's okay to making mistakes. Calculated, calculated mistake, you know, whatever. But be bold. And for me, being bold, by the way, it's not only to do those crazy creative campaigns in the Super Bowl. Whatever. Being bold is to to be committed to your numbers.

Being bold, you say, hey, I'm not measuring myself on leads. I'm measuring myself on real revenue. Coming to, the company. Don't hide behind that. Be behind the marketing art. You know, marketing is a profession, so be professional, committed to your numbers. So for me, it's like those kind. These kind of, you know, I would say balance between, being professional, be like a people oriented person and, be bold.


Daniel Burstein: Well, thank you for sharing all of the bold lessons from your career, Tomer. I learned a lot. I really appreciate your time.

Tomer Zuker: Thank you so much for inviting me. It was fun.

Daniel Burstein: Good. I'm glad to hear that. And, thank you to everyone for listening. I hope you learned a lot.

Outro: Thank you for joining us for how I made it in marketing with Daniel Burstein. Now that you've got an inspiration for transforming yourself as a marketer, get some ideas for your next marketing campaign. From Marketing Sherpa's extensive library of free case studies at Marketing sherpa.com. That's marketing RPA ecom.

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