Episode 8

Episode 8: Tia Cummings-Hopkins, Brand Value & Measuring DEI

Published on: 23rd May, 2022

About Tia:

Tia Cummings-Hopkins has nearly 15 years of brand marketing experience across companies like Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, IHG Hotels & Resorts, and Procter & Gamble. Currently, she serves as the SVP, Global Brand Marketing Lead for Square. Prior to her career in brand marketing, she had varied experiences in corporate philanthropy, manufacturing operations, and product development. 

Tia has a B.S. in chemical engineering from Hampton University and an MBA from Purdue University. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, traveling, reading, and spending time with family and friends. 

Tia discusses the value of the brand for B2C and B2B marketers and highlights the importance of measuring DEI initiatives. As she says in the episode “If you’re not measuring it, then you’re not serious about it!”

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Video of Interview

Transcript
Guy Powell:

Hi, I'm Guy Powell and welcome to the eighth

Guy Powell:

episode of the backstory on marketing. If you haven't

Guy Powell:

already done so please visit pro relevant.com and sign up for all

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of these episodes and podcasts. I am the author of the upcoming

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book the post COVID marketing machine, prepare your team to

Guy Powell:

win. You can find more information on this at marketing

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machine dot pro relevant.com. Today we'll be speaking with Tia

Guy Powell:

Cummings. She is the SVP of global brand marketing for

Guy Powell:

square. She's an Atlanta based award winning marketer and has

Guy Powell:

15 years brand marketing experience across companies such

Guy Powell:

as Johnson and Johnson, Kellogg's IHG hotels and

Guy Powell:

restaurants and Procter and Gamble. Prior to her to her

Guy Powell:

career in brand marketing, she had various experiences in

Guy Powell:

corporate philanthropy, manufacturing operations and

Guy Powell:

product development. She has a BS in chemical engineering from

Guy Powell:

Hampton University, and an MD MBA from Purdue. In her free

Guy Powell:

time she enjoys volunteering, traveling, reading, and spending

Guy Powell:

time with family and friends to welcome. Hi, Guy.

Tia Cummings:

Thanks for having me.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, absolutely. So let's get started. Tell us a

Guy Powell:

little bit about yourself. What's your backstory on getting

Guy Powell:

into marketing?

Tia Cummings:

Yeah, so I kind of stumbled my way into marketing,

Tia Cummings:

you know, as you just said, my undergraduate degrees in

Tia Cummings:

chemical engineering. And so I had planned ever since I was a

Tia Cummings:

little girl and all the way up, you know, through college that I

Tia Cummings:

was going to be an engineer, a scientist, and you know, stay on

Tia Cummings:

the technical side of things. And it was actually via an

Tia Cummings:

internship at Procter and Gamble. After my junior year of

Tia Cummings:

college, where I discovered what marketing was, I'd never even

Tia Cummings:

heard of marketing. So I was an engineering intern, working on

Tia Cummings:

Pampers diapers. And, you know, my job was really to sort of

Tia Cummings:

optimize diaper fit. And working with the marketing team, they're

Tia Cummings:

kind of passing along to me, consumer insights, I didn't know

Tia Cummings:

what that was then. But they're telling me this is what our

Tia Cummings:

consumers want in a diaper. And so then I'm in the lab, you

Tia Cummings:

know, prototyping and making diapers. And so I was just so

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fascinated with all my interactions with the marketing

Tia Cummings:

team, right, and, and seeing how they were the ones talking to

Tia Cummings:

consumers. And they were the ones who are setting the

Tia Cummings:

strategy and driving the business forward. And I'm just

Tia Cummings:

sort of this person in a lab. And I said, Man, what they're

Tia Cummings:

doing sounds really, really interesting. I got might want to

Tia Cummings:

do that, too. So I went back my senior year of college, and it's

Tia Cummings:

like, well, I'm about to graduate with this engineering

Tia Cummings:

degree, but I think I want to be a marketer. And so that's when I

Tia Cummings:

knew I was going to have to go to business school, in order to

Tia Cummings:

make this shift right to from engineering over to marketing.

Tia Cummings:

And so that's what I ended up doing. You know, I went to

Tia Cummings:

business school at Purdue, I got my MBA did not go to Marketing

Tia Cummings:

right away, even though I just said, that was my whole point of

Tia Cummings:

going to business school, I kind of got distracted again, go

Tia Cummings:

again, that technical pool was strong. And I went to work for a

Tia Cummings:

big conglomerate called United Technologies. And working at

Tia Cummings:

Pratt and Whitney, which makes aircraft engines for commercial

Tia Cummings:

airlines and the military. And so I started there was that UTC

Tia Cummings:

for three years. And then finally I said okay to you, you

Tia Cummings:

said you were gonna go be a marketer, let's go be a

Tia Cummings:

marketer. And so it was 2007 when I finally made my way to

Tia Cummings:

Johnson, and Johnson and started my marketing career as an

Tia Cummings:

associate brand manager.

Guy Powell:

You know, it's so funny. We have a very similar

Guy Powell:

background, I started off as an electrical engineer. And then I

Guy Powell:

got my MBA, just like you did. Yeah, exactly. And then I worked

Guy Powell:

as a consultant, and then a product manager. And then I went

Guy Powell:

over to, you know, to marketing and now I've been in marketing

Guy Powell:

for way too many years. But it's funny how we all ended up here.

Guy Powell:

And I think you're right, though, you know, the the fun. I

Guy Powell:

think marketing is more fun. Although engineering is fun,

Guy Powell:

too. I enjoy that. But marketing, they have more fun,

Guy Powell:

they get to spend a lot of money and do some really cool stuff.

Guy Powell:

So

Tia Cummings:

completely agree. It's so much fun. And it's

Tia Cummings:

because like you get to do so many different things. That's

Tia Cummings:

what I love about marketing. You really are like the hub of a

Tia Cummings:

wheel, and the spokes are all of the different cross functional

Tia Cummings:

teams you work with. So you know, you still work with the

Tia Cummings:

r&d and technical people and you work with finance and you work

Tia Cummings:

with operations and supply chain and sales and and that's what

Tia Cummings:

makes it It's so fun, right? It's really hard to get bored in

Tia Cummings:

a marketing job.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, absolutely. And I agree with you too, is

Guy Powell:

marketing is the is really the center that hub of the whole

Guy Powell:

organization. Because if you don't have your marketing,

Guy Powell:

right, you know, for price to keep the cost down for getting

Guy Powell:

the message out there for distribution, for quality and

Guy Powell:

everything, then, you know, everything else kind of falls

Guy Powell:

apart. And it's marketing that has to bring all that together.

Guy Powell:

I I agree with that. That's a great metaphor for that.

Guy Powell:

Awesome. Yeah, yeah. So tell us about your current role at

Guy Powell:

Square.

Tia Cummings:

Yeah, so I joined square coming up on a year now.

Tia Cummings:

And it has been a fun ride. So as you mentioned, I'm the Senior

Tia Cummings:

Vice President of Global Brand Marketing. So I sit within our

Tia Cummings:

central marketing organization reporting to our CMO. And my

Tia Cummings:

team is made up of four different teams. So the first is

Tia Cummings:

your brand insights and strategy. So the team that does

Tia Cummings:

all of our market research and really understanding our

Tia Cummings:

customers, and then flows that into building out our strategy

Tia Cummings:

for the brand, our long term vision. So that's one team. And

Tia Cummings:

I have our integrated marketing team, which does all of our

Tia Cummings:

paid, you know, advertising and media campaigns. I've got

Tia Cummings:

experiential marketing, so all of our trade shows or

Tia Cummings:

activations, anything that's like event based. And then the

Tia Cummings:

last team is brand partnerships and sponsorships. So those are

Tia Cummings:

the four teams that make up a global brand at Square.

Guy Powell:

Wow, that's a lot. That's an eye those are, you

Guy Powell:

know, a lot of fun. And I especially like the

Guy Powell:

experiential. Those are, there's, there's always so much

Guy Powell:

creativity going on.

Tia Cummings:

Absolutely. I feel very fortunate to have this job

Tia Cummings:

and to have those four teams within my remit. I do get to

Tia Cummings:

have a lot of fun.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, so what was it like no, previous to that you

Guy Powell:

were at Walker, and with the bevel brand. And so tell us what

Guy Powell:

it was like to switch from kind of a consumer packaged goods

Guy Powell:

over to fintech.

Tia Cummings:

Yeah, so that was a big shift for me, an

Tia Cummings:

unintentional one. So, you know, I'd spent pretty much my entire

Tia Cummings:

career in consumer marketing and primarily consumer packaged

Tia Cummings:

goods, right. And no matter where I was, you know,

Tia Cummings:

Kellogg's, Walker j&j, you know, CPG, brand marketing, the

Tia Cummings:

fundamentals are consistent, doesn't matter what the product,

Tia Cummings:

you know, is or the category you're in. And then I did my

Tia Cummings:

stint at IHG Hotels and Resorts, which was still consumer

Tia Cummings:

marketing, but now more service oriented. And I've been talking

Tia Cummings:

to one of my mentors, because I'll be honest, my goal has

Tia Cummings:

always been to become a CMO. And that's the track that I'm on.

Tia Cummings:

And one of my mentors who was is a CMO had shared with me that

Tia Cummings:

she spent many years in CPG, like me, but then she did a

Tia Cummings:

stint in tech. And she felt that that really helped her get a

Tia Cummings:

different set of experiences that set her up, and really

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differentiate it from a lot of other people who are going for

Tia Cummings:

cmo roles. And so she told me, she's like, if you ever get the

Tia Cummings:

chance to work in tech, I suggest you consider it. And

Tia Cummings:

then three months later software calls and just fortuitous the

Tia Cummings:

way that were. And so I was like, Oh, this could be

Tia Cummings:

interesting. And I was nervous, because I was like it's really

Tia Cummings:

more b2b, which I've not really done, except for back in United

Tia Cummings:

Technologies many, many years ago. And I was like, how is this

Tia Cummings:

going to work? How do they approach brand? Are they going

Tia Cummings:

to appreciate brand? And, you know, are they gonna be more

Tia Cummings:

focused on performance marketing, and only b2b chant?

Tia Cummings:

Like, what do they know about brand? And, to my surprise, they

Tia Cummings:

were really, really passionate about No, we really want to

Tia Cummings:

build a strong brand, we want to make square and iconic brand.

Tia Cummings:

And that's why we are talking to you as a consumer marketer, who

Tia Cummings:

has a lot of brand experience, right? So they were intentional

Tia Cummings:

and seeking me out. And I have been really pleasantly

Tia Cummings:

surprised. I think, obviously, the brand is at a younger stage,

Tia Cummings:

and their brand marketing function is less developed than

Tia Cummings:

all the big CPG companies I've worked at. But the good news is,

Tia Cummings:

that means I get to come in and build it, right and sort of help

Tia Cummings:

establish this foundation for the future of the square brand.

Tia Cummings:

And so that's really exciting. And so is it b2b Yes, but it's

Tia Cummings:

also more b2b to see right because we still do a lot of

Tia Cummings:

leveraging b2c channels, because a lot of our business owners are

Tia Cummings:

almost like consumers, they're small businesses, their sole

Tia Cummings:

proprietors, and so they kind of you have to reach them almost

Tia Cummings:

like a consumer in many ways, you know, and then we've got the

Tia Cummings:

the larger end of our business where we do a lot more b2b. So

Tia Cummings:

it's been this really cool mix. And it's really helping me learn

Tia Cummings:

a lot challenged me as a marketer and grow me as a

Tia Cummings:

marketer. So it's been fun.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, absolutely. The FinTech and b2b and, and

Guy Powell:

you're right, you're kind then that transition between b2c b2b

Guy Powell:

or b2c to the business owner, and then you know, and then of

Guy Powell:

course, at the higher end, then you're directly b2b. And

Guy Powell:

secondly, you know, compared to like a CPG, which is kind of a,

Guy Powell:

an ongoing purchase, these companies are buying one, and

Guy Powell:

then they're holding on holding on to it for a long time. So

Guy Powell:

it's kind of more of an investment good than anything

Guy Powell:

else.

Tia Cummings:

It is. And then the goal is like, once you get

Tia Cummings:

them in to, you know, one or maybe two, how do you upsell

Tia Cummings:

them to other products in our portfolio to support their

Tia Cummings:

business, right? Because we may get them in on one. And you

Tia Cummings:

know, maybe it's like, Oh, I'm gonna try, you know, one of

Tia Cummings:

your, one of your registers, I'm gonna buy a, an X two, it's

Tia Cummings:

like, great. And, you know, we have all these other add ons or

Tia Cummings:

additional products that could support maybe back of house for

Tia Cummings:

your business or staff management. And so, you know,

Tia Cummings:

there's there's definitely opportunities to continue to

Tia Cummings:

grow them within the square portfolio of products. But

Tia Cummings:

you're right, right, it's a, it's a bigger purchase decision,

Tia Cummings:

it's longer than if you're, you know, just selling toothbrushes,

Tia Cummings:

which I have in the past.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, and plus, it's the owners money. It's not like,

Guy Powell:

you know, it's not like, you know, where it's business, where

Guy Powell:

the business is buying this thing, and it's somebody that's

Guy Powell:

just spending to a budget, it's, you know, it's my money, you

Guy Powell:

know, am I gonna make sure it's the right thing. Exactly. And

Guy Powell:

that makes a big difference, I think in terms of how, as a

Guy Powell:

marketer, and how you have to then build the brand, because I

Guy Powell:

think, you know, there's always even on the b2b side, there's

Guy Powell:

always a large emotional component. The drivers of those

Guy Powell:

emotions are different, but there's always a large emotional

Guy Powell:

component in there. And so I'm sure that, as you're, you know,

Guy Powell:

VP of brand, SVP of brand that that makes a big difference for

Guy Powell:

how you communicate to the marketplace.

Tia Cummings:

1,000%. And I love that you said that I have spent

Tia Cummings:

so much time telling people, both internally and externally

Tia Cummings:

that even with b2b Marketing, you're still marketing to

Tia Cummings:

people, human beings who make emotional decisions, right. And

Tia Cummings:

there's this assumption that because you're marketing to a

Tia Cummings:

business, oh, no, everything is rational and scrutinize

Tia Cummings:

everything is like, yeah, you want to believe that. But guess

Tia Cummings:

what, these businesses are so managed by people, right. And

Tia Cummings:

people, they make decisions based off of emotions. And I

Tia Cummings:

actually stumbled across some research that I shared in a

Tia Cummings:

presentation last week by limit caught that proves brand is even

Tia Cummings:

more important in b2b purchase decisions than it is in consumer

Tia Cummings:

purchase decisions. And that was almost surprising. But then if

Tia Cummings:

you think about it more, it makes sense. Because, like you

Tia Cummings:

said, if you're making a decision for your business, like

Tia Cummings:

it's personal like this is, this is my money. And it's a large

Tia Cummings:

outlay. If, if you buy the wrong, you know, detergent brand

Tia Cummings:

or, or even buy the wrong computer, you don't like it as a

Tia Cummings:

consumer, return it get your money back by saying, hey,

Tia Cummings:

there's no real big implication there. But for business, and you

Tia Cummings:

make the wrong decision for a brand that you purchase, you can

Tia Cummings:

have a huge impact, right? And so it makes sense that brand is

Tia Cummings:

important. And they really want a brand that they feel

Tia Cummings:

understands them and connects with them. And so that emotional

Tia Cummings:

piece cannot be ignored.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, absolutely. I used to Well, when I switched

Guy Powell:

over from consulting, just before I got into marketing, I

Guy Powell:

was product manager for a product. It was a technology

Guy Powell:

product, and we competed against IBM. And at the time, you know,

Guy Powell:

you can't lose your job if you buy IBM, and they were twice as

Guy Powell:

expensive, and twice as slow. And I still had to fight my way

Guy Powell:

past it. So you know, it's not just price. It's not just

Guy Powell:

functionality. And what I found too, especially with larger

Guy Powell:

businesses is that you know, you have one price versus another

Guy Powell:

price. And what the employees do is they use rational arguments

Guy Powell:

to defend why they want to spend more money. And where you know

Guy Powell:

that I mean, the emotional arguments and rational to be

Guy Powell:

able to defend why they're going to buy this brand versus

Guy Powell:

something else. Yes, right.

Tia Cummings:

Because a brand is basically it's trust, right?

Tia Cummings:

That's what people equate brands, and that brand is

Tia Cummings:

something that I'm familiar with, and I know it and I trust

Tia Cummings:

it. So like your example I'd be that's a really great one,

Tia Cummings:

right, even though it was more expensive. This research that I

Tia Cummings:

just mentioned from Lippincott showed that price features

Tia Cummings:

benefits. Nope, brand number one in b2b purchase decisions, right

Tia Cummings:

with consumers price came out as number one, but it because of

Tia Cummings:

that, that inherent trust and that comfort like hey, this is a

Tia Cummings:

known entity, versus Hey, this may be a better product it may

Tia Cummings:

be cheaper but don't know it as well. So don't want to take that

Tia Cummings:

risk because it is a risk in the business world.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, absolutely. You know, it's so funny though,

Guy Powell:

but I don't know if I would agree with you. Totally. That

Guy Powell:

price is the only driver in consumer. Oh,

Tia Cummings:

no, not the only definitely not the only I fit

Tia Cummings:

it's usually one of the bigger ones. Okay, yeah.

Guy Powell:

Fair enough. Yeah, because I used to do some

Guy Powell:

training over in China. And one of the things they would say is

Guy Powell:

there is prices, everything, there's nothing more important

Guy Powell:

than price. And so then I'd hold up my iPhone, and I'd say, How

Guy Powell:

many of you have an Apple iPhone? And everybody had an

Guy Powell:

Apple iPhone? And it's the most expensive phone out there? And I

Guy Powell:

said, So how is it that price is, is the deciding factor here

Guy Powell:

when you're all using an iPhone? And, and you know, so to your

Guy Powell:

point, there is that mix of price and emotions. Now that

Guy Powell:

what they did say, in their own defense, they said, Well, you

Guy Powell:

know, I selected the iPhone, but then I shopped all over to get

Guy Powell:

the best price.

Tia Cummings:

They will, like you said, they will use whatever

Tia Cummings:

they can to justify that brand.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, absolutely. That is so true. So yeah. And,

Guy Powell:

you know, and I love in what I do, I love talking to people

Guy Powell:

about brand, and what drives the brand and stuff like that. But

Guy Powell:

let's switch over to another topic. And that is the great

Guy Powell:

resignation. How has that hit you guys very strongly or not at

Guy Powell:

all? Or tell us about that?

Tia Cummings:

I would say I wouldn't say it's hit as

Tia Cummings:

strongly. You know, are there people who you've seen leave,

Tia Cummings:

and hey, I'm gonna go start my own business or something like

Tia Cummings:

that? Sure, right. COVID just made people reconsider a lot of

Tia Cummings:

their priorities, a lot of people left, not even for other

Tia Cummings:

jobs. But you know, I want to focus on my family, I want to do

Tia Cummings:

things that allow me to, you know, spend more time there. So

Tia Cummings:

I fully understand that, I think why we've been in a pretty good

Tia Cummings:

position at squares, we really stand for something. And people

Tia Cummings:

really believe in our purpose and our mission at the company,

Tia Cummings:

people stay a long time, they're really passionate about the work

Tia Cummings:

that we do. And so, you know, sure, we've had people leave

Tia Cummings:

just like everywhere else. But we also have a whole lot of

Tia Cummings:

people stay because they're like, I believe in what this

Tia Cummings:

company is doing. And that's important. And that feels good

Tia Cummings:

to work for a company that has such a strong purpose, you know,

Tia Cummings:

economic empowerment, and really supporting business owners with

Tia Cummings:

those who want to become business owners. So that's,

Tia Cummings:

that's what I'd say what we're seeing on our end.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, and I think you're right, though, but you

Guy Powell:

know, what's interesting is how important marketing to employees

Guy Powell:

has become, to drive growth. So you have the, the great

Guy Powell:

resignation, for example. And, and the reason may, and one of

Guy Powell:

the probable reasons why you haven't had a problem with that

Guy Powell:

is because you have such a strong brand. And so, you know,

Guy Powell:

just like we were talking on the consumer side, you have to have

Guy Powell:

the brand there, well, even on the employee side, if you have a

Guy Powell:

strong brand you're going to be able to retain, and also the

Guy Powell:

higher, better and keep them retained for longer.

Tia Cummings:

Exactly. That's 100%, I would agree with that.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, I was taught, we were talking to a company

Guy Powell:

that's a trucking company, and, you know, and their growth as

Guy Powell:

much as they want to do more marketing, and they they've

Guy Powell:

built their brand. And so their brand allows them to to grow as

Guy Powell:

fast as they can, but they can't hire truck drivers. And so right

Guy Powell:

now, they're best marketing effectiveness for the most

Guy Powell:

effective advertising is to advertise to hiring truck

Guy Powell:

drivers. Because if he can't drive the truck, you can't get

Guy Powell:

the revenue. They want to hire 1000s and 1000s of truck

Guy Powell:

drivers. And yet, you know, they, they have to market to be

Guy Powell:

able to do that. And it's really fascinating to see how important

Guy Powell:

marketing is and building the brand on the employee side as it

Guy Powell:

is on the as it is on the consumer side.

Tia Cummings:

It really is Employer Branding is the thing,

Tia Cummings:

you know it because if you can't bring in the right people, if

Tia Cummings:

you can't run your business, then you can't make money. So if

Tia Cummings:

you're if you're not strong on that, and you've got a really

Tia Cummings:

big problem. Yeah. And so companies that realize that are

Tia Cummings:

the ones who are going to make those smart decisions.

Guy Powell:

Well, absolutely. And they're going to grow faster

Guy Powell:

and and then be able to meet their, you know, meet the

Guy Powell:

objectives of the shareholders and everything because that, you

Guy Powell:

know, if you can't hire or if you got a lot of turnover, I

Guy Powell:

mean, turnover is so painful, you lose one person, and it just

Guy Powell:

slows you down. And it makes your life as the manager, you

Guy Powell:

know, of the teams, you know, you've got to end up you know,

Guy Powell:

jumping in or whatever it is and then slowing down and then you

Guy Powell:

don't make your bonus. It's really really tough.

Tia Cummings:

Absolutely, people are the heart of every business.

Tia Cummings:

And, and companies who you know, remember that, to your point are

Tia Cummings:

the ones who are going to be more successful. So what are you

Tia Cummings:

doing to hire great talent, retain that talent, develop that

Tia Cummings:

talent? Right, keep them motivated and engaged?

Guy Powell:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And then that kind

Guy Powell:

of brings up the topic of dei and, you know, diversity equity

Guy Powell:

inclusion and and how do you think companies are doing with

Guy Powell:

that? And how do you see that as as a component of that of the

Guy Powell:

brand?

Tia Cummings:

I obviously think it's very important. I think

Tia Cummings:

some companies do it very well. I think the majority do not. I

Tia Cummings:

think there's a lot of companies who, you know, proclaim to play

Tia Cummings:

well in that space. But it's mostly it's posturing, right,

Tia Cummings:

it's not sincere. And if you peel back the layers, you would

Tia Cummings:

see that, but the the companies who really are investing in this

Tia Cummings:

space, and I would argue that square and really block our

Tia Cummings:

parent company as a whole does really well in this space, are

Tia Cummings:

the ones that are winning, it's so important that you that your

Tia Cummings:

talent base reflects the broad, diverse customer base that

Tia Cummings:

you're serving, it just makes sense. And if you do not realize

Tia Cummings:

that by now, I don't know what to tell you. Because there's

Tia Cummings:

been far too much research done to validate that companies that

Tia Cummings:

are more diverse, and that put a focus on D and AI are more

Tia Cummings:

successful, they're more profitable, more revenue, like

Tia Cummings:

all of the positive things. And so that's been studied at

Tia Cummings:

nauseam. So there's nothing I can say to convince people if

Tia Cummings:

they don't already believe it. But it's so important. And you

Tia Cummings:

see people talking about it more and more definitely over the

Tia Cummings:

last two years, I would say you've seen it's like all of a

Tia Cummings:

sudden, this wake of like, oh, we need to focus more, which is

Tia Cummings:

great. But I would just like to see more people do it sincerely.

Tia Cummings:

Because when you if you were to look back at 2020, and a lot of

Tia Cummings:

companies made a lot of commitments and promises in the

Tia Cummings:

DNI space. But if you were to go back and do an audit, and and

Tia Cummings:

there's some places who have who is a nonprofit that I'm part of,

Tia Cummings:

and they did a study trying to audit all of these companies who

Tia Cummings:

said that they were going to do something, how many actually

Tia Cummings:

follow through the majority of them did, right? And so DNI is

Tia Cummings:

effective, if you are sincere, if you are committed to actually

Tia Cummings:

doing the work and investing in it, and not just kind of using

Tia Cummings:

it for posturing?

Guy Powell:

Well, you know, one thing that's at least for public

Guy Powell:

companies to is, the SEC is, is, I don't know if it's, if it's

Guy Powell:

Ford mandating it yet, or whether it's suggesting it, but

Guy Powell:

they're suggesting to put, you know, their their color, what

Guy Powell:

they're doing for climate control and sustainable

Guy Powell:

business. That, you know, it'd be interesting to see if they

Guy Powell:

start to do the same thing for dei on their financial

Guy Powell:

statements. So that, you know, you know, so that it can just

Guy Powell:

be, you know, further inculcated into these into the, into the

Guy Powell:

companies.

Tia Cummings:

And you know, what I always say, if you're not

Tia Cummings:

measuring it, then you're not serious about it, right? Because

Tia Cummings:

things that get measured are the ones that get acted upon, right.

Tia Cummings:

So as a leader within a company, if you're measured on something,

Tia Cummings:

then you best believe you're going to work on it. But if

Tia Cummings:

you're not, there's really nothing to hold you accountable.

Tia Cummings:

So I love that idea. I think a lot of companies who you see are

Tia Cummings:

really invested in the space are ones that are actually measuring

Tia Cummings:

it and are very transparent. They're reporting on what

Tia Cummings:

they're doing and what they're seeing and what their numbers

Tia Cummings:

are. And that's good. We need more of that.

Guy Powell:

Yeah. And you're so right, of course, I'm the

Guy Powell:

measurement guy. So I'm the one that's supposed to have said

Guy Powell:

that first. But, but yeah, absolutely, if you don't measure

Guy Powell:

it, it doesn't get done. And so often, you know that companies

Guy Powell:

don't do it. And I will admit, a lot of companies also measure

Guy Powell:

the wrong things, too. You know, we've been, we just did a

Guy Powell:

project where, and I won't go into details, but nevertheless,

Guy Powell:

we just did a project where the company was absolutely measuring

Guy Powell:

the wrong thing and cost them you know, 10s of millions of

Guy Powell:

dollars, it's, it's huge. When you get the measurement wrong.

Guy Powell:

And in this case, now, your brand, because dei is part of

Guy Powell:

your employee brand. When you get that wrong, it'll cost you

Guy Powell:

not only in the short term, but also in the long term.

Tia Cummings:

Absolutely. could not agree more.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, yeah. So let's talk about some of the

Guy Powell:

challenges that you've otherwise had in marketing, either at, you

Guy Powell:

know, here at square or if you want to not, I know you haven't

Guy Powell:

had any challenges at square. So if you want to go back to some

Guy Powell:

of the challenges you had,

Tia Cummings:

everything's great. It's clear, what

Tia Cummings:

challenge is no such thing? No. I mean, the biggest challenge

Tia Cummings:

that I've had as a marketer for the last couple of years is

Tia Cummings:

COVID. Because it's just kind of disrupted, how everything works.

Tia Cummings:

You know, as a marketer, you think of marketing. It's almost

Tia Cummings:

a machine. We know the process. We know how consumers think, how

Tia Cummings:

they behave and act, and all of that got blown up with COVID.

Tia Cummings:

Right. So everything has changed into how consumers are acting

Tia Cummings:

even at Square how our customers or businesses have been impacted

Tia Cummings:

significantly, right when they had to close down and how do

Tia Cummings:

they pivot and, and so that's obviously the biggest challenge

Tia Cummings:

I think on every marketers mind for the past two years is it was

Tia Cummings:

one figuring out how to navigate throughout COVID and continue to

Tia Cummings:

grow your brand and continue to have consumers and customers

Tia Cummings:

interested in a brand They had a whole lot of other big things to

Tia Cummings:

worry about. And now that we're sort of hopefully moving on the

Tia Cummings:

other side of it, this new normal, okay, and what does that

Tia Cummings:

look like? Right? It's, it's not going back to the way it was. So

Tia Cummings:

you can't just automatically default to the way you did

Tia Cummings:

marketing in 2019, because people have fundamentally

Tia Cummings:

changed. And so it's understanding those behavioral

Tia Cummings:

shifts and attitudinal shifts, and what does that mean for me

Tia Cummings:

and my brand? And what do I need to do to you know, learn those

Tia Cummings:

those changes and shifts and optimize my marketing approach?

Tia Cummings:

So that's the biggest challenge, you know, in my last role, which

Tia Cummings:

I started right before COVID, I build out a whole marketing plan

Tia Cummings:

is that walking somebody in call it November, December, like,

Tia Cummings:

here's what we're going to do in 2020. And it was a brand that

Tia Cummings:

had lower awareness. I was like, we're going on the road, we're

Tia Cummings:

gonna do experiential activations, we're going to be

Tia Cummings:

everywhere in 2020. Yes, you're laughing and that you're away,

Tia Cummings:

right? Because like, this was the plant. We did one event. In

Tia Cummings:

February, we went to NBA All Star Weekend, and it was great,

Tia Cummings:

right? See, this is success. We're gonna keep doing this. And

Tia Cummings:

then two weeks later, the world shut down. And we were we had to

Tia Cummings:

pivot, we're like, Well, what are we going to do? How long is

Tia Cummings:

this going to, you know, last? Guess we need to cancel all of

Tia Cummings:

these experiential activation plans that we had, and how do we

Tia Cummings:

now engage, you know, with consumers? And how do we build

Tia Cummings:

awareness, when we can't go talk to people, we can't let them

Tia Cummings:

touch and feel and see this, these products, if they're not

Tia Cummings:

familiar with it to get creative, right and really

Tia Cummings:

scrappy. And so in that case, we really leaned heavily into brand

Tia Cummings:

purpose. Okay. Consumers, they're having a really tough

Tia Cummings:

time right now with mental health. COVID is closing

Tia Cummings:

people's businesses, and it's hurting their, you know,

Tia Cummings:

economic livelihoods. What can we do to help? And so we shifted

Tia Cummings:

our whole marketing approach to be about purpose, how do we

Tia Cummings:

help? How do we help people, it was really successful for us,

Tia Cummings:

you know, we got tons of media coverage, the business grew,

Tia Cummings:

because everyone appreciated the Hey, they're not just talking

Tia Cummings:

about themselves, they're trying to help. And so that was really

Tia Cummings:

successful throughout, you know, 2020. And now in my new role,

Tia Cummings:

right, with we're working on on small businesses who are still

Tia Cummings:

feeling the effects of COVID. Right, especially globally, the

Tia Cummings:

global brand, and some markets are still being hit hard with

Tia Cummings:

COVID, in some places are still being shut down. And even if

Tia Cummings:

they're not shut down, a lot of people can't get staff hiring,

Tia Cummings:

you know, for a lot of small businesses, you know, we just

Tia Cummings:

talked about the great resignation. So then there's

Tia Cummings:

some times they're having to close because they don't have

Tia Cummings:

enough workers. And so what can we as a company do to support

Tia Cummings:

these businesses and help them in this, you know, this crazy

Tia Cummings:

world that we're in right now. And so that's the challenge, I

Tia Cummings:

think we are in a very interesting time, I look forward

Tia Cummings:

to reading about it in the history books one day, but like

Tia Cummings:

really being able to pivot and shift because the world is

Tia Cummings:

changing really fast and have them ever since 2020. And so

Tia Cummings:

we've just got to stay on top of it and keep trying to figure out

Tia Cummings:

what we can do to help what we can do to understand where

Tia Cummings:

people's heads are at where their mindsets are at and how we

Tia Cummings:

as a brand can support them. Well, and

Guy Powell:

you were at Square anyway. And I guess also at

Guy Powell:

bevel, you know, you're hitting both in both ways. On the one

Guy Powell:

hand, you're hit because all of a sudden, you're marketing, your

Guy Powell:

experiential marketing. You can't you know, that nobody

Guy Powell:

wants to experience or they're not allowed to experience it

Guy Powell:

anymore. But then as with square being in retail, and

Guy Powell:

restaurants, man oh, man, just a double whammy there. And, and

Guy Powell:

now even yesterday, I was having lunch with a friend of mine, and

Guy Powell:

we went to a Ruby Tuesday. And they and we were talking to the

Guy Powell:

waitress, she said, We cannot hire enough people, half, half

Guy Powell:

of the restaurant was empty. And because they just didn't have

Guy Powell:

enough people to be able to man the tables, it was incredible.

Tia Cummings:

That is a broad challenge that we are hearing,

Tia Cummings:

right from business owners of restaurants and retail apps. And

Tia Cummings:

so that makes us think, as a company, well, what can we do to

Tia Cummings:

support? How do our tools enable you to still be able to run your

Tia Cummings:

restaurant even with, you know, fewer people working? Right?

Tia Cummings:

What can we what we can do to help you there? So that's what I

Tia Cummings:

mean like constantly thinking, innovation from, you know,

Tia Cummings:

product standpoint, but also messaging standpoint and those

Tia Cummings:

types of things to make sure that we're able to help them

Tia Cummings:

through these challenges.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And, alright, so

Guy Powell:

tell us a little bit about some successes that you've had then.

Guy Powell:

What was your biggest success that you're most proud of in

Guy Powell:

your career?

Tia Cummings:

Oh, my gosh, in my career, that is a that's such a

Tia Cummings:

tough one. There's a lot of things that I'm really, really

Tia Cummings:

proud of. A lot of things I'm fortunate. I think the one of

Tia Cummings:

the biggest ones would probably have to be at Walker. You're at

Tia Cummings:

the start of the endemic, and no one knew what was going on. And

Tia Cummings:

really having to pivot was really scary, right, throwing

Tia Cummings:

out the whole marketing plan. And trying to come up with a new

Tia Cummings:

one in the year was was scary. But the decision to really pivot

Tia Cummings:

and focus on purpose driven marketing and focus on

Tia Cummings:

supporting our consumers, we did a lot of things that I've never

Tia Cummings:

done elsewhere, right, and you just wouldn't even think about

Tia Cummings:

so give examples. You know, right, the beginning epidemic,

Tia Cummings:

barbershops, salons all had to close, right, every all these

Tia Cummings:

businesses were closing down. And because we were a grooming

Tia Cummings:

brand, and we worked with a lot of professionals, so barbers and

Tia Cummings:

beauticians and we decided to contribute to at the time Mayor

Tia Cummings:

Keisha Lance bottoms had established this fund for all of

Tia Cummings:

these, you know, people barbers, and beauticians who had to close

Tia Cummings:

their, their their stores that needed money to keep living. And

Tia Cummings:

so we were the first company to say we're going to donate, we're

Tia Cummings:

going to make a, you know, a significant donation to help

Tia Cummings:

contribute towards this, we did a partnership with an all boys

Tia Cummings:

school in Chicago, primarily African American, because this

Tia Cummings:

my brand double was targeting African American men. And when

Tia Cummings:

they had to close their doors, it was a low income area, they

Tia Cummings:

didn't have access to computers, you know, at home to continue

Tia Cummings:

learning and there was concern that they were going to fall

Tia Cummings:

behind. We're going to donate computers, laptops for every

Tia Cummings:

single student, so they can continue learning from home and

Tia Cummings:

not fall behind in their studies. Right. These are types

Tia Cummings:

of things we did, we did a partnership with headspace,

Tia Cummings:

because there was tons of articles at the time. And I

Tia Cummings:

remember reading one I can't remember, I think it was the New

Tia Cummings:

York Times, that was saying how the mental health of black

Tia Cummings:

Americans was at an all time lows, the worst that it had been

Tia Cummings:

because of COVID. Because of the fight for racial justice, you

Tia Cummings:

know, this is right after George Floyd. And so like, no one's

Tia Cummings:

talking about mental health. And I said, we're going to talk

Tia Cummings:

about mental health, we're going to be, you know, the first

Tia Cummings:

company to stand up and do something. And so we gave out

Tia Cummings:

free subscriptions to headspace to anyone, and we didn't use it

Tia Cummings:

as a marketing tool, there was no give us your name and your

Tia Cummings:

email address, sign up for our newsletter. And then, you know,

Tia Cummings:

anyone who wants this can get it. And it was, as I said, it

Tia Cummings:

was all about helping people. And I remember, we would get all

Tia Cummings:

this press coverage, and I would be doing these interviews as a

Tia Cummings:

spokesperson for the company, and you're doing all these

Tia Cummings:

things, you're you're giving things away, you're really

Tia Cummings:

helping people's like, because this is what they need right

Tia Cummings:

now. You know, and we say that we are a brand that supports

Tia Cummings:

black men look and feel their best, because those are the

Tia Cummings:

products we sell, but helping them look and feel their best

Tia Cummings:

and go beyond the products and really helping them as

Tia Cummings:

individuals. And so like I said, we got so much press coverage,

Tia Cummings:

billions of impressions that this small little brand had

Tia Cummings:

never seen. And our business just, you know, we benefit by

Tia Cummings:

helping people. And so that's what I'm really proud of, in my

Tia Cummings:

career that I was able to use my position leading marketing at

Tia Cummings:

this company, to have a meaningful impact on people's

Tia Cummings:

lives, and simultaneously have a business impact.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, that is, that is a really good story. And it

Guy Powell:

really gets to, you know, certainly the pivot of the of

Guy Powell:

the company, but also the the emphasis all of a sudden, on,

Guy Powell:

you know, what is our mission? And how can we then deliver on

Guy Powell:

our mission. And, and I'd like to your point, as well, as, you

Guy Powell:

know, the even though you did get press coverage, but you

Guy Powell:

know, you didn't actually, you know, go out and just actively

Guy Powell:

advertise it, it was kind of like below the radar, but it

Guy Powell:

obviously, you know, bubbled up to be something of real value.

Guy Powell:

Exactly. And I think there's a handful of brands, not all

Guy Powell:

brands are very good at it, but there's a handful of brands that

Guy Powell:

are really excellent. And, and I don't, you know, I don't mean

Guy Powell:

that in a in kind of a, you know, taking advantage, but they

Guy Powell:

just do the mission. And they really help out, you know,

Guy Powell:

whatever their mission is, and they and, and they're not, you

Guy Powell:

know, driving the brand and really advertising that, but

Guy Powell:

nevertheless, they do get the kudos for it. And and I think it

Guy Powell:

makes a difference overall. And it certainly makes a difference.

Guy Powell:

You know, we were talking about the square and employees, it

Guy Powell:

certainly makes a difference for on the employee side as well as

Guy Powell:

on the sales side.

Tia Cummings:

Exactly. Right. And it's what it goes back to

Tia Cummings:

this whole idea of authenticity, right? Do I feel like you're

Tia Cummings:

doing this? Like you're trying to get attention and you're

Tia Cummings:

doing it, you know, under false pretenses or No, I get the

Tia Cummings:

feeling that you genuinely care and the companies that show that

Tia Cummings:

they're doing this because they genuinely care benefit. Yes,

Tia Cummings:

you're there's always what you want there to be some business

Tia Cummings:

impact on the other side of it, but you know, are you coming

Tia Cummings:

across as genuine in your efforts, right when we gave away

Tia Cummings:

because other people could have done a partnership with

Tia Cummings:

headspace and take we're gonna give you a free subscription but

Tia Cummings:

buy two bottles of our product first. or give us your name and

Tia Cummings:

email address. So we can mark it to you later, you know, and then

Tia Cummings:

you can, can get access to this. But by removing the gates and

Tia Cummings:

keeping it open, it's like, no, no, we really just want to help

Tia Cummings:

that I think it's all the difference.

Guy Powell:

Well, and then to your point, the same thing on

Guy Powell:

the mission mindedness, the same thing that you said about Dei,

Guy Powell:

in terms of some people kind of like, you know, they're really

Guy Powell:

doing it and succeeding at it and doing it well, as opposed to

Guy Powell:

other ones that are really just kind of doing it for the for the

Guy Powell:

messaging or something else? And not really, they don't really

Guy Powell:

have their heart into it, so to speak.

Tia Cummings:

Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, absolutely. And,

Guy Powell:

well, I've got a ton more questions, but I, I'm gonna

Guy Powell:

have to close it out. I know, you have to get back to getting

Guy Powell:

some real work done, so to speak. But is there anything

Guy Powell:

otherwise that you'd like to say in closing or any comments?

Tia Cummings:

No, I really enjoyed chatting with you guys.

Tia Cummings:

I get excited talking about marketing, and especially as the

Tia Cummings:

marketing landscape is continually evolving. It's so so

Tia Cummings:

interesting. So just thanks for having me on today.

Guy Powell:

Yeah, absolutely. And really appreciate you coming

Guy Powell:

on. And so thank you so much. And really, again, appreciate

Guy Powell:

you participating and, and also, by the way, helping on on my

Guy Powell:

book, my upcoming book. Absolutely, we're really, really

Guy Powell:

close, you know, it's, it's like it takes, you know, the 99.9%.

Guy Powell:

It goes just as fast as that 0.1% and I'm in the 0.1%. And I

Guy Powell:

just, it's so close. But anyway, it's coming. It's within we're

Guy Powell:

within about two weeks. And so, but with that, you know, anyway,

Guy Powell:

to everybody out there, please stay tuned for many of the other

Guy Powell:

videos in this series of the backstory on marketing, please

Guy Powell:

visit marketing machine dot pro relevant.com and download the

Guy Powell:

first chapter of my book and other valuable excerpts. And

Guy Powell:

otherwise, if you really liked this podcast, please rate it

Guy Powell:

with five stars. Tia, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Tia Cummings:

Thank you God. Thank you

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About the Podcast

The Backstory on Marketing and AI
with Guy Powell
Immerse yourself in the evolving marketing world with The Backstory on Marketing and AI, where host Guy Powell, President of ProRelevant Marketing Solutions, guides you through the complex dance of data-driven marketing and AI innovation.

Each episode features candid interviews with industry leaders and analytics gurus who share their insights on navigating the rapidly changing marketing landscape. With this podcast, you will:
-Uncover the latest trends
-Learn how to harness the power of AI for your brand
-Gain the knowledge to craft strategies that deliver tangible ROI

Whether you're an executive overseeing a hefty advertising budget or a marketer at the forefront of a growing brand, this podcast is your resource for staying ahead in the competitive marketing world.

Join us on Apple Podcasts and participate in the conversation shaping the future of marketing.

Subscribe now and transform the way you think about marketing and AI. Head over to www.prorelevant.com to find out more.