Interview with Oana Serban, Corporate Marketing Communications Manager at ZephyrTel
A seasoned marketing leader with over 18 years of experience in advertising, marketing, and technology, Oana is currently the Head of Corporate Marketing Communications at ZephyrTel, a global software company serving the telecommunications industry, where she is responsible for the corporate brand and all communications activities.
In her previous roles, Oana led complex campaigns for large international brands like Coca-Cola or Nestle, covering all marketing disciplines, from brand positioning and communications to digital marketing, events, and PR or consumer and trade activations. Later, she spent 4 years in a tech start-up, focusing on brand building and lead generation.
Your Journey as a Marketing Professional.
I’ve been working for 12 years in advertising, which I believe is a great way to start your career as a youngster. Had a lot of opportunities to learn as I was working with giants like Coca-Cola and Nestle on many different brands targeting different audiences and using various channels. This gave me the chance to go deep into brand positioning and communications, consumer activations, events, PR and digital. I was there when the early days of digital transformation have happened, migrating most of the campaigns from an offline medium to online platforms.
After a long journey on the consumer side, I was landing to the B2B tech sector working for start-ups in software services and lately in software provision dedicated to the telecom market, focusing on brand building and demand generation.
What are the primary marketing channels you have worked on? What will be your advice to young marketers on each of these channels?
I have worked on almost all channels but been focused mostly on PR, events and digital in the last few years. I believe keeping the consistency across channels is what every marketer would say, and I consider it as one of the golden rules. It takes way more than one shot to make your target audience remember your name, try your product or buy, and every individual, regardless their place in the marketing funnel, will see you (hopefully) several times on different channels, whether it’s TV, online, in-store or at a conference. So keeping the creative thread across the board is essential.
Using PR to get your message in front of the audience is always a good option for both start-ups and large companies, regardless of the industry. You can use this channel to build your reputation and cultivate thought leadership, amplify through wires and social media, but the frequency is highly important. Releasing news consistently is the key to a successful PR strategy. The only drawback is that measuring results is not an easy thing to do and companies trying to determine the ROI out of PR campaigns get to spend more to measure than to run the campaign itself.
If you’re a B2B company or working for a B2B company, you need an Events strategy as this is a great way to build your brand recognition into the target market and generate pipeline. There is a load of events on the market so you’ll need to narrow down based on industry, region, size and, of course, your goals. If you’re a start-up, make sure you don’t get lost into large conferences as you won’t have the budgets or the content to compete with the big guys. However, you can try on organize a series of bespoke events, but don’t try to do it on your own as getting the audience to an event is the hardest part of the job, and there are global companies who can help with that.
What I like about Digital is that you get instant results and it is very easy to track. If you launch your new website, you can get information on your audience, behavior, and visits just by juggling with Google Analytics. If you launch email campaigns, landing pages or forms, you’ll be able to track opens, clicks, and conversions in real-time. You’ll always feel in control with paid ads as tracking performance is a built-in feature and satisfaction will get to its maximum when you see clicks converted into sales.
What are some of the important marketing software that you have used and found to be really useful for your company?
I love trying new tools, and I’ve been using a bunch until I got to the most useful ones. There is a lot of marketing software out there, and I believe you can find what you need for your company even if your needs are very specific. I’m using MailChimp for quite a long time, and it’s still my favorite email marketing tool. I’ve recently discovered Canva, which is a great design tool for non-designers alike, while Grammarly is the best buddy when dealing with copywriting. I’ve been using WordPress for a while as the basis for website building, and I believe the CMS comes with a lot of rich features that help you do whatever you need without technical skills. Google Analytics is always good for tracking results. Not exactly a marketing tool, but I find Asana very useful for project management.
Would you like to share a few words about any marketing software that you use?
MailChimp is a great tool when it comes to email marketing. Has a forever free plan which is a great option for a start-up or a small business and paid plans as you grow. It is easy to use even for beginners, but it has some limitations in terms of design, and you’re not familiar with HTML, you’ll end up with basic templates where you can’t do everything that you would like to do.
I use Grammarly on a daily basis as it integrates with other apps that I’m using (Gmail, MailChimp, just to name a few) and helps me write mistake-free. If you get a paid plan, you’ll get advanced checks and vocabulary enhancement suggestions to improve your writing.
I’ve recently discovered Canva, and I find it very useful as it comes with a lot of templates which help you create various designs, from logos to marketing collaterals, and doesn’t require design skills. Canva does a quick and fabulous job when in need of images for email marketing or social media.
Your 2 line advice to people entering in the marketing domain.
I believe you should always test and learn, whether it’s new tools, new channels or new ideas. Although planning is important, don’t overdo it, just run a pilot, learn and improve.