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Leadership Edge with Eggplant CMO Candice Arnold

I had the pleasure to interview Candice Arnold, CMO at Eggplant. Candice joined Eggplant as CMO from QuantiQ. She was named as one of the top 50 most influential Women in the UK Channel and was shortlisted as CRN’s marketeer of the year in 2018. With prior experience at IBM, Sun Microsystems and Oracle, Candice brings an extensive track record of marketing expertise. She firmly believes that marketing breathes life into brands and services. As a senior marketing professional and a digital native, she has extensive experience leading large global teams to solve complex commercial issues.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path? Ioften say to people that I’m just a little girl from Africa. Born from a heritage of storytelling, a desire to excel and beat the status quo, I have found marketing to be a great stage to show these qualities off. Growing up in apartheid South Africa, one has two choices: do nothing and simply live as a product of the system or chart your own course. I always strive for the latter.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that? Very early in my career, I made the mistake of not checking a thumbnail image carefully enough in a mock-up. Once it went to print in a glossy magazine (>1k copies), I realized that it was inappropriate, and it had to be reprinted. I’m now obsessive about images!

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that? A few bosses ago, the most glowing comment in my 360-degree report noted that “she is impossible to manage, but customers simply love her work.” The tipping point for me came from not being afraid to advocate the customer amid bureaucracy. I have always maintained that being customer obsessed creates a better company, one that empowers employees to make business simpler with every interaction. My marketing discipline today centers around making things clear and easy for customers to do business with us. This starts a virtuous cycle where the company is sensitive to customer buying patterns, this educates offerings and allows the entire organization to sell the way people buy.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story? Eggplant is more than your average software factory — we care for our people, and ultimately all believe in our lofty goal of ridding the world of bad software. I have worked for large and small companies across the globe and the ones that make a difference are united in attaining that one singular goal.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people? We are super excited to be working on an immunity passport app to help keep with the fight against COVID-19.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout? My advice is two-fold: everyone can critique, but not everyone can create, and secondly creative genius needs time for both commotion and calm.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that? I have been super lucky in that I have had many a mentor and a strong circle of counselors. One of my first CEO’s and still a good friend, Vito Bonafede, was both a world champion rally driver as well as an astute businessman. I learned the art of negotiation, how to marshal a sales team, and how to play golf like the best of them.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There are hundreds of memorable marketing campaigns that have become part of the lexicon of our culture. What is your favorite marketing or branding campaign from history? Can you explain why you like that so much? Emotionally and because it’s tech I have to say I love Apple’s ‘for the crazy ones’ — emotive and memorable. However, for being cheeky, it has to the 2009 Veet ad run in the Australian Daily Telegraph — strategically placed beneath a picture of a smiling Barack Obama in two words it made the world chuckle — Goodbye Bush!

If you could break down a very successful campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like? Please share some stories or examples of your ideas. A multi-pronged approach is fundamental as people need to be reminded of your brand and purpose across a multitude of planes and mediums. For me, a campaign starts with mapping how potential customers procure the service currently; how do they search for it; what are they asking for; how will they find us and then set about taking the hurdles away and making our superior offering accessible. Once we have a hit and someone takes the time to download an ebook or watch a video — you need flawless sales execution to nurture the interest without overselling or rushing the process.

Companies like Google and Facebook have totally disrupted how brands market over the past 15 years. At the same time, consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. In your industry, where do you see the future of marketing going? The brands that make the cut are those that offer a predictable outcome — customer advocacy is becoming more and more important. Wise King Solomon said it best: ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ as customer advocacy is just a new term for good old-fashioned word of mouth — this will still be the biggest revenue driver.

Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Marketing is a thankless task — the little things often go unnoticed, don’t let that get you down — Steve Jobs said it best: ‘details matter, it’s worth waiting to get them right’.

  2. ‘Coloring in’ is a term of endearment — my previous CEO used to fondly refer to my department as the coloring-in department. Though I despise the notion that all we do is wave coloring pens at a problem — I value design and have seen function become completely irrelevant because someone forgot to spend time on form.

  3. Create for your audience and not the critics — it is all too easy to criticize but takes courage to create. Don’t give in to the ‘opinions of 1’- your audience have differing world views and there is every chance that they appreciate your creation.

  4. Imposter syndrome is real — every new role and its evolutions gets more eyes on what you are doing — reform is not an overnight thing — so fight the fine fight and stop listening to that inner critic — our self-talk tends to be too harsh sometimes.

  5. IT support never like Macs — use the tools that make you feel in control even if that means you need to become your own IT support or, in my case get married to the CTO (as an aside, that’s how I met my other half).

Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners to become more effective marketers? I’m a big fan of Piktochart, Keynote, Unsplash, and obviously the Adobe creative cloud.

What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills? I’m a big Seth Godin fan. I read 5 books at a time to keep my commute interesting — typically two business books, an autobiography, a historical account and something from Trevor Noah.

Who is your hero? Can you explain or share a story about why that person resonates with you? This one changes every time I read a new book. After reading ‘Atlas Shrugged’, I was enamored with Ayn Rand, then following ‘Why the caged bird sings’ it was Maya Angelou, and most recently since reading Becoming, I feel connected to the Michelle Obama story. Her childhood in a small, humble family filled with love really touched me.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. My African roots and proudly feminist views have always seen me want to promote industry for South Africa’s most industrious workers, its single mothers. I have a pipe dream of creating luxury teddy bears filled with healing rooibos and other African botanicals, a dream that sees a botanical factory established in the Eastern Cape, one of the poorest regions in South Africa beset with high HIV rates and unemployment. A factory that allows these women to earn more than just a living but learn how to run an international business reliant on export and meticulous supply chain management. And, obviously, these teddies are IoT connected and tested using Eggplant test automation 🙂

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