Connecting Marketers Need to Talk Less Listen More and Stop Selling

Wendi Caplan-Carroll understands the power of digital marketing. She has more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing marketing strategies for businesses and organizations in a variety of industries. She speaks regularly about ways small businesses can benefit from tools like email and social media marketing.

Since 2008, she has worked at Constant Contact, a provider of on-demand engagement marketing tools, including e-mail marketing, social media marketing, event marketing and online survey products. In late 2012, she was promoted from senior regional development director for the New York metro area to an area director with responsibility for a multi-state area across the Northeastern US.

More than half a million small businesses, nonprofits and associations worldwide use Constant Contact's online marketing tools to generate new customers, repeat business and referrals.

Measure, Share and Support

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Let's hear how Caplan-Carroll thinks small businesses can maximize their marketing efforts.

Sobel: You spent a number of years working in the marketing departments at radio stations, including New York City's first all-news radio station, 1010 WINS. What inspired you to move away from radio?

Caplan-Carroll: In my last few years in radio, I worked on a lot of programs for large corporate sponsors that wanted to reach the small business world. We set up events, created radio spots that addressed small business needs and did a lot of networking with other small business influencers. I loved it. My big dream was to work full-time in some capacity with small business owners. So in 2007, I left radio to become a business coach/marketing consultant. A year later, I accepted a job at Constant Contact.

I get a lot of satisfaction working directly with small business owners, so working at Constant Contact is definitely a dream job for me. The digital marketing space is so hot and exciting right now. It's awesome to be a part of that and to also have an opportunity to work with small business owners on a daily basis.

Sobel: What are some ways Constant Contact makes email marketing easier for small business owners?

Caplan-Carroll: We offer a one stop tool to help time-strapped small business owners stay in touch with their customers. We have analytics that help our customers understand the influence they generate with their own customers, social media tools to help them spread the word about their businesses and customer support and education to help then master the world of email marketing.

Sobel: How does your approach to business development differ from the competition and how do you separate yourself and/or your products and services?

Caplan-Carroll: My team is all about educating first. If our customers don't understand best practices about the tools we offer, they won't be successful. We want them to succeed, and many, many do. We deliver exceptional service and support, and have teams of solution providers and authorized local experts throughout North America and the UK.

Sobel: What are some ways managers can help shift their employees from being satisfied to engaged?

Caplan-Carroll: Listen first and then talk. Don't be afraid to admit a mistake or admit that you don't understand something. Be human. The more authentic we are as leaders, the more our employees want to engage and be part of the team. Let your employees know their feedback matters — not just by saying it, but by responding to it.

Sobel: Recently I talked with your friend Mardy Sitzer. One of the questions I and asked her was this: "Thirty years ago, the Apple Mac was the driver of change. What drives change in 2014?" How would you answer the same question?

Caplan-Carroll: Wow, great question. I think "we" drive change. "We" have a voice now like we have never had before. Social media allows us to be as loud as we want about matters that mean the most to us. The fact that a company can gain feedback about what it is doing right or wrong in a few seconds is truly remarkable. It truly changes how businesses approach the decisions they make and the customer support they offer.

Sobel: Education is a big part of your work. Can you share some of the most popular or important things people ask you?

Caplan-Carroll: They ask about content…what to write about. That's the biggest question I get. The simple answer is to deliver content that matters most to the people you are trying to influence. I always share the story of a gal and guy on a first date. The guy looks great on paper, sharply dressed and holds a good job. My Jewish mother would have loved him! But during that first date that sharp dressed man never asks a question or allows the gal to talk. She is two hours into the date and he knows nothing about her. Unless that first date is George Clooney, I can promise you the gal will not go on a second date with him. As marketers, if we keep talking about ourselves and forget to listen and ask for feedback, then our customers will tune us out. Aim for content that is interesting, shows you care and is focused and well targeted. Stop selling — and I promise you'll get a second and third date.