Interviews

Emma and Sanna on Leadership, Marketing, Motivation and Public Speaking

Helena Nuttall

I came across Emma and Sanna on a webinar all about how to measure influencer marketing. It can be difficult for marketers to estimate the impact the role of an influencer has on their brand, and Emma and Sanna delivered a really insightful presentation explaining why this is and conveyed different, more effective approaches to influencer marketing data analysis. The topic fascinated me and their presentation was engaging, fun and informative. Following the webinar I was eager to learn more about their roles within Cure Media and get their guidance for public speaking and presentation delivering. I was so delighted when they agreed to do an interview for The Notable, and they’ve kindly discussed with us their career journeys, how they motivate themselves and their team (especially through Covid), and they also share their top tips for leaving our comfort zones and getting ourselves out there…

Sanna Ödmark – Head of Marketing, Cure Media

Please may you give us a bit of a background to how you got into marketing and ended up at Cure Media?

I’ve always been fascinated by human psychology, and especially what motivates us to do the things we do. This is one of the key aspects of marketing, understanding human behaviour and what strings to play on in order to trigger the right emotions and actions. I’m also quite a creative soul (fun fact, I was a finalist in Sweden’s got talent, singing my own songs!) and marketing is definitely one of the most creative and evolving industries there is, which makes everyday fun – you’re never fully learned and you constantly get to come up with new ideas and test new things. 

After my studies in Jönköping and California I graduated with a Master’s degree in Marketing (2014) and have been working within various marketing roles since then, both on the brand side as well as on the consultancy side. When I joined Cure Media in early 2019, this felt like the perfect match! We connect performance and emotion with people and technology to tell stories that truly shine, and helping brands do this is our everyday mission. 

Has your role changed since the pandemic, and if it has, how have you managed to overcome these changes?

I think I can speak for most marketers when I say that 2020 taught us that it’s impossible to plan everything in detail, both in our personal and professional lives. As a marketer, the need to be flexible, agile and to have your ear against the ground has been more important than ever, because you don’t know what the next day will look like. As long as you know what your long-term goal is, the overall direction of your team or company, you need to be fine with the fact that the road there may not look exactly as you thought from the beginning – but it can be just as good, or even better, on this new route! 

Some concrete changes we did in our marketing strategy was that we started to host online webinars instead of our physical seminars. Instead of meeting with 50 people Irl, we were suddenly able to invite hundreds of people in our target audience at the same time, i.e. get our message across to many more people. This is of course a positive thing that has come with the digital shift, even if I really miss meeting with people pre-corona style. Another thing we did was to launch a podcast, Influencer Marketing Talks, which is a great way to spread insights and ideas in a time of social distancing and working from home. 

What’s the best piece of advice you would give someone looking for a job in marketing?

To succeed in B2B marketing today, I’d say it’s crucial to understand the whole business and to work closely together with sales and operations. You need to understand the full marketing funnel, and the whole customer journey, in order to be able to support the business and add value at the right time and place. It’s no longer enough to be creative and great at creating visually aesthetic content – you need to really understand who your target audience is, what challenges they have, and how your solution fits in. How can you help them reach their overall business goals and what value can you bring to their lives? 

I think many B2B marketers today are a bit too focused on the early stages of the consumer journey, i.e. on bringing in new marketing leads to eventually hand over to sales. My best advice is therefore to make sure you have a deal-centric, full-funnel approach right from the start. Make sure you understand the whole picture, and align with the sales team to become their best buddy – it will make life so much easier (and more fun!) for everyone to work as one integrated team.

Is there anyone who really inspires you, and why?

That’s a great question! Except from the amazing people I work with at Cure Media I want to give a shout-out to a woman named Ester Blenda Nordström, who lived between 1891-1948 and was a Swedish journalist, author and explorer. I read this book about her last summer, ‘A Damn Sunshine’, and it made a huge impression on me. Ester lived in a time where women only wore long dresses and were not allowed to vote, but she refused to act as the proper girl she was expected to be. She dared to question the status quo, went her own way, fought for women’s right to vote and made history by becoming Sweden’s first undercover journalist. She was a true influencer of that time.

Emma Lundsten – Head of Operation & Customer Success, Cure Media

Please may you give us a bit of a background as to how you got your job as Head of Operation & Customer success?

When I started at Cure Media over 4 years ago we were still a small start-up with just a few people. My first role was as a sales representative but quite soon I realized that my passion was more about working with and growing our existing clients than to gain new ones. That was also what I had done in my previous job. 

We didn’t have a setup for this part of the customer journey at that time so I pitched to our founders that I wanted to build the operations team with much more focus on developing and growing existing clients rather than just executing campaigns. They believed in me and gave me the opportunity to create a new role based on which areas we saw big potential in and what I wanted to build. 

What does an average day look like for you?

 Everyday looks different since my role is very broad. I have the overall responsibility for the whole team, our customers and the campaigns that we are doing. So one day I can have 100% focus on a specific client and work with identifying keys to why we are reaching such a good success, or the reason why we’re not, to gain findings and share with the team. Another day my focus might be on helping a client with their influencer marketing strategy to make sure that they use the channel in the best possible way and that we always develop our collaboration to reach better results. 

Almost every day I keep track of all of our campaigns so that we are in phase, both with the process and in terms of delivering results, I coach the team and help them with their daily tasks and I keep a close dialogue with our bigger clients to build a strong relationship and a good collaboration together. 

What skills are required for your job, and what are the biggest challenges?

I would say that you need to be eager to find results, a big part of my job is to identify results and to present to the client what we have achieved. That is something a bit off about my role, I get to learn a lot and every day I find new ways of measuring success, but it’s also the most challenging part since it’s not always clear what to search for. 

Beside that, you need to have a big passion for influencer marketing, I read every article I can find and I follow a lot of influencers just to always be up to date with what’s new and take inspiration for how we can improve what we are doing. 

How do you create motivation for yourself and for your team?

For myself it’s mostly around success, the motivation I get when I see that we are doing great stuff for a customer is my biggest motivation! Also when I see the team develop, when someone is struggling to get things done in time or to find the right way to reach the best results, it’s amazing to to see that person finally cracking the code! I try to motivate the team with the same things that are motivating me, to lift them for both small and big achievements, to let them grow in a customer relationship and take more responsibility so that they feel proud of themselves. 

As a leader I always want my team to feel that if something is done right, it’s because of them and they should get the pride, and if something goes wrong, I will take the responsibility and we’ll learn together. I think that type of leadership motivates and and enables people grow.   

Emma and Sanna:

You both delivered an amazing presentation. What advice do you have for someone who struggles with public speaking, or is preparing a presentation? 

Emma: Two years ago I would never have thought I would stand in front of 1000 people giving a presentation. I think when you’re truly passionate about what you’re going to talk about, and you feel comfortable with a supporting team around you, it’s just to throw yourself out there. It might be a little (or very) nerve-racking in the beginning, but the feeling afterwards makes it 100% worth it. For every time you enter the stage you will be more and more comfortable.

Sanna: I agree with Emma, it’s all about throwing yourself out there and leaving your comfort zone. And of course it helps when you have your team in the back and an amazing colleague by your side. When it comes to creating and giving a presentation, my best advice is to always have the audience in mind – how much do they know about the topic beforehand and what’s interesting for them to hear about? Make sure you don’t speak too much about yourself but instead, clearly show what’s in it for them – why should they listen to you? And of course, before you start, make sure to always tap yourself on your shoulder and remind yourself that you’re awesome! 

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