Mark Gold is making unprecedented waves in the marketing industry. Check out our Q and A session to learn more about his Microsoft keynote speaking engagement, as well as his insider tips for successful marketing.
- Q: What inspired you to get started in your profession?
A: I love the diversity and creativity of marketing. To me, marketing seemed like a gateway to all other industries. I needed a field or skill where I can work across multiple industries and not feel boxed in or bored. Marketing allowed me to work in a lot of industries; food, fashion, tech, real estate, health, entertainment, retail, non-profit etc. I’d like to think what differentiates my expertise from others, is that I am familiar with details across numerous industries, giving me a unique competitive advantage.
- Q: Recently, you were featured as a keynote speaker at Microsoft (super cool). Can you tell us more about that experience?
A: It was obviously super cool and a major milestone for me. I’m really grateful to Laura Bucko from Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, for providing me with such an opportunity, as well as TOTO IMAGES for giving me the room to grow. I opened by saying I was not presenting on PowerPoint since I believed in speaking from the heart – especially since my topic was authentic marketing. Right there I had 80 eyeballs locked on me like a targeted cruise missile. It was a bit intimidating.
I gave my thesis on how we are living in an automated age and how I believe consumers require an authentic “human” approach from marketers, to differentiate from the automated digital cookie-cutter one.
So in the middle of my speech, to demonstrate my point, I turned the tables on the crowd. I invited everyone to interview me. To ask me specific questions on how I could help them right there on the spot.
You should of seen it (laughing out loud), It was like the room woke up. Why was my approach so powerful? Simply because I stopped talking to, the audience like everyone else and started talking, with the audience. I went from monologue to dialogue and that was exactly my point. Marketers are so used to speaking to their audience, they forget why they’re talking to them in the first place. Marketers forget to listen because they’re always pitching. We were so engaged in the conversation across the room that the moderator didn’t notice I ran overtime. It was like the clock stopped and for me, that was like a home run.
After the presentation, there was a line of people waiting to meet me. I spent time with each person going over their marketing challenges and giving them ideas on how to approach authentic solutions. It was a great experience, especially knowing that people connected with me and valued my approach.
- Q: You speak a lot about “authentic marketing”. What exactly is authentic marketing, and why is it important?
A: There are two types of businesses out there; those who prioritize profit and those who prioritize solving a universal need or problem. If your focus is on profit, then ultimately you will do anything in your power, including deceiving your audience or cutting corners to suit your goals. We just saw this with Volkswagen, as an example. However if your goal is solution-based rather than profit based, it’s more likely that you will focus on making the best product possible, giving the world an Apple or a Google. Still profitable, but different mindset.
Authentic marketing – to me – is the uninhibited conversation that marketers have with their audience. It’s based on open dialogue in order to assist and solve real needs or challenges. It’s solution-based and not profit based. No marketing gimmicks, no fancy advertisements, just a real unadulterated –one on one – conversation. That one on one approach is really important too. Because, if I can really solve one persons problem, for good, I’m betting there are more people out there who can use the same solution. People really connect to this idea and most important they begin to trust you. Marketing to me has always been to connect people to a product or service that they actually need in their life. I personally can’t market something I don’t believe in.
- Q: How do you stay ahead of the curve in your industry?
A: I do what any person does when they want to stay ahead. I continuously educate myself. I used to be full of myself and think I knew it all, but in this industry, you can’t know it all, you have to constantly be acquiring new information. You always have to be on you’re A-game. I believe that in an industry as fast-paced and multi-faceted as ours, it’s no longer possible to succeed by being passive. If you’re data is outdated, so is your marketing plan. The trick is to learn how to separate the noise from the real deal. Every day I read industry articles, advice columns, research reports, news, etc. I also attend at least 1 major conference a month. This isn’t something you do for 8 hours a day; this is something you devote your entire life to.
- Q: Do you have any advice for new marketing graduates?
A: Yes, don’t waste time doing something you don’t love or fully understand. Besides marketing, what do you absolutely love? Is it fashion, food, tech, health, animals, travel etc. Find your passion and choose based on what you absolutely love, because you’ll spend your entire life marketing it. Marketing is applied to every industry, so choose a sub-industry where you can see yourself being happy. The CMO of a food franchise experiences a different work day than the CMO of a tech company or healthcare company. In order for you to find what you truly want to do you have to explore. Marketing is like a mansion with many doors. I encourage graduates to explore before they commit to one. Think long term. Attend different industry conferences. Invest in a personal brand. Intern on press worthy projects or with big firms. Go to industry conferences and networking events. Begin to build a network of high-level contacts. These days’ companies are searching for proactive candidates who are resourceful, creative, committed and have experience collaborating on large scale projects.
Another thing, get to know the latest industry buzz words, terms, thought-leaders, campaigns and be proactive. Go to an event and interview a decision maker. Be bold. Why not? Go directly to the source. Most importantly, build a valuable track record for yourself; don’t waste time on projects no one will remember. Separate yourself from the crowd. Get to know how c-level executives think and learn to speak their language!
- Q: One book that changed your life?
A: One of the best books I’ve ever read, that changed my life both personally and professionally was The Path Of The Just by Moshe Luzzato. He was a spiritual guru in the 1700’s who wrote about the purpose of man. His in-depth descriptions of how to achieve success both in the spiritual and non-spiritual context, have given me tremendous insight on how to refine my character traits, acquire better habits, friends, goals and how to acquire the methodology to succeed in life. I highly recommend it.
- Q: Three goals you’d like to accomplish?
A: I have many, many goals. It’s important to have goals. I’d love to do something that Marc Zuckerberg and Bill Gates never did, one day, I hope to earn a degree from Harvard. I’d also love to learn more languages. I’m a big fan of communication, and I’d like to connect to more people around the world. Also, same principle as in working in multiple industries, I feel knowing many languages and cultures ultimately is a competitive advantage not only in business, but in life. Another big goal of mine is to travel and work with different companies around the world.