Social smarts from our new VP of Marketing: David Fossas

We have very exciting news, no, we aren’t performing a choreographed dance to the song “One Night in Bangkok” although we can’t rule it out in the future; actually, we’ve made a decisive and exciting hire, David Fossas, our new VP of Marketing.

David is a boon of knowledge that we mined for this post. He is also friendly and enjoyable to work with (he made us write that). We decided to kick a few questions his way to secretly test whether or not he deserves his fancy title.

Social Distillery: Are you ready for some hard questions? Have you done any mental exercises to prepare for the intensity of this dialogue?

David: I hope I’m ready.

Social Distillery: Alright then, QUESTION ONE! As as digital marketer, what are the top three challenges you and your peers face with regard to social media?

David: First, marketing has experienced a proliferation of new technologies and channels, and this intimidates marketers and executives. In an effort to make marketers’ jobs easier, companies building products for marketers have actually made their jobs harder – more complex. So, now you see this trend of marketers becoming over-specialized and marketing teams more siloed. Someone might only know analytics, or only know social, or PPC and display, or brand and creative. And, they advocate for one discipline over the other because that’s what they know and are comfortable with. It’s the lens through which they view the world. But, great marketing isn’t about technology or channels. It’s about audiences. It’s always been about understanding audiences to create products, communications and experiences that enroll those audiences to buy into the brand. If we know our audience inside and out, then deciding which technologies and channels to apply to engage those audiences becomes much easier.

The second challenge (and this is tied to the first), is that the proliferation of data has reinforced our nature to play it safe and created some false positives. This is symptomatic across business – not just marketing. “Advertising is dead.” “Why invest in creatives when the data will just tell us what content audiences want?” “We’ll just optimize the shit out of our marketing.” These philosophies are easy to spout in an era when marketers are being pressured to cut budgets. But, when everyone is swimming in the same direction, opportunity presents itself. Audiences today experience an attention deficit from the devices, channels, messages and alerts that bombard their senses every waking moment. Content is more fleeting than ever, and audiences’ retention is shorter than ever. Yet, great storytelling increases audiences’ sense of trust and empathy and increases their retention. This enables us, as marketers, to direct human behavior. David Ogilvy is quoted as saying “It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.” Never has this been more true. If you want your brand to stand out, invest in striking creative and crafting remarkable stories. Yes, by all means, leverage new sources of data to glean insights about your audiences that can inform that creative. But, people today – more than ever – need to be inspired. We need brave brands (and brave marketers behind those brands) to take chances and inspire audiences into action.

The third challenge is that social marketing is often pigeonholed into just managing the social media channels. But, the value of social media and social marketing is at the core of solving the challenges I listed above. Social is all about human behavior. The data that we analyze from social media enables us to better understand our audiences and derive core human truths, which enables us to craft more inspiring and relevant stories. Social and mobile channels enable us to reach and engage with our audiences around those stories more effectively. And, by collaborating with our peers in other marketing disciplines, those human truths and stories can be adapted and told through the traditional channels of TV, print, radio and outdoor – making marketing efforts more effective overall.

Social Distillery: Thanks David! That was really informative, you obviously know your stuff. When you aren’t solving brand problems and helping clients achieve success, what do you do? What is your passion project?

David: I love running and reading. And, I have three little kids at home that are getting more fun everyday.

I love coaching people in different stages of their careers. I often work with young people in the early stages of their careers, as they’re struggling to understand what roles and paths might be a good fit for them. Since the business and employment landscape is constantly evolving, my approach is to uncover the intersection between (1) their intrinsic motivators and (2) what they have the potential to be really good at, to create a lens through which they can seek out and evaluate income opportunities the rest of their lives.

I also work with entrepreneurs in the early and growth stages of their companies, as they work through all the complexities of building product, creating customers and defining what the business is going to be when it grows up.

In a way, these activities all align around my passion for improving the human experience.

Social Distillery: Nice, I think we have a little insight into what makes you tick. But, here is the toughest question of all, what attracted you to join Social Distillery and what do you hope to accomplish while here?

David: I’ve known Kristen for several years, and have watched the agency grow from an idea in her mind to an agency doing really interesting work with some special brands. That’s exciting. Coming into Social Distillery in a marketing role gives me the opportunity to focus on building the Social Distillery brand and business, while still working on a diverse set of client brands.

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For more on David, stay tuned. He’ll be working across clients, lending his expertise to create incredible brand experiences.

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