Featured: The 2020 Email Marketing Benchmark Survey

Jake Schlan shares his take on the future of Marketing

Being named to the Fearless 50 is quite an honour, so when Marketo announced their 2019 Fearless 50 class, we were proud to see that 5 of the 50 are Knak clients.

We spoke with Jake Schlan, 2019 Fearless 50 member and Senior Manager of Marketing Technology & Operations at Palo Alto Networks, to find out what he loves about his field and where he thinks the world of Marketing is heading.

Knak: Congratulations on being part of the Fearless 50! It’s a well deserved honour. How did you get your start as a Marketer?

Jake Schlan: I actually studied Psychology in school, and while it’s not a traditional business path, I think it had an impact on my eventual transition into marketing.
I started as a BDR, dialing for dollars at a job that was almost 100% commission. A year later, I transitioned to a similar role at another company, and after nearly two years there, I realized that sales — or at least inside sales — was not for me.
I was well-liked within the company though, so when a Marketing Coordinator role opened up, I asked to be considered. I got the job, and I’ve been in the field ever since.

Knak: What do you love about Marketing?
JS: I don’t work in the traditional marketing mold. From the start I’ve been almost 100% focused on operations – and I started before Marketing Ops was really a thing – so for me, marketing is about data flows, problem solving, and building cool tools.
I love that my job allows me to empower those around me by giving them new ways of doing traditional marketing. I can inspire them to take on new marketing channels and rethink how to tell our story to prospects.

Knak: Let’s talk about innovation. Which recent marketing innovations are you most excited about?
JS: I’m excited about the push towards a single source of truth – the Customer Data Platform (CDP). Once upon a time, this may have been your CRM or MAP, but with the boom in the MarTech landscape, we have long outgrown the ability of these platforms to track every point of interaction with our prospects and customers.
A return to a single source of truth – one that has every data point, every touch – will allow us to analyze our data in new ways, find new approaches, and better justify our marketing spend.

Knak: And along the same lines, which marketing trends do you think will be big in 2020?
JS: AI is the big new thing, although I’m not completely sold on it’s current execution. The current implementation of AI is similar to the current world of medicine: penicillin might work for most people, but for others, it’s deadly.
There is no single, best-fit model for all companies, but that’s what we’re being sold in the marketplace. I hope, just as we’re seeing a push towards personalized medicine, that’s where we’re headed in the realm of AI, with models personalized to each company using their own data, not just look-alike data from similar companies.

Knak: Any marketing trends you think are overrated?
JS: I think Account Based Marketing (ABM) is overrated. It’s a buzzword that’s used for so many tools. To me, at its heart, ABM is account planning, which is something that Sales has been doing since Sales became a thing. It may be new to the marketing world, but any team that has strong alignment with their sales team is already doing ABM.

Knak: Fast forward to January 2021. How do you think your job will look different a year from now?
JS: The new buzzword in the industry is Revenue Ops, a combination of Sales Ops, Marketing Ops, and traditional Ops roles. This presents an exciting opportunity to collaborate with colleagues who have a quasi-similar background but use a different framework for viewing data. If it’s done successfully, I believe it will give companies a richer picture of the entire customer journey as opposed to hand-offs from one scene to the next.

Knak: Do you have any tips for your fellow marketers? Any parting words?
JS: I was fortunate enough to hear President Obama speak at Dreamforce last month, and I’m going to echo his words: “Be kind and be helpful. Everything else will fall into place.”
In my own marketing journey, I’ve tried to keep in mind that on any given project, someone in the room knows more than I do about some aspect of it. It would be foolish to disregard their experiences.

Congratulations to Jake, and the other Knak clients who made the list. We’re proud of their commitment to innovation, and we love what they’re doing to push the field of marketing forward.

Tania Blake is Knak’s Marketing Manager, where she’s known for her strong attention to detail and unique ability to balance "process" with "getting stuff done". When she’s not juggling a million and one projects, you can find her cooking up a storm, doing yoga, or hanging out with her family.

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