Intro: Congratulations. You’ve joined the Show Runner, a network of accomplished businesswomen who are running the show, where you’ll find the inspiration and the inside information you need to take your marketing expertise to the next level. Bringing her 25 years of experience as an agency owner and her thirst for continued learning, here’s your host, Kathy Cunningham.
Kathy C.: Hi everybody, and welcome to the Show Runner Network. It’s Kathy, and today we’re talking with Cathy Palochko. She’s a senior vice president at GP Strategies Corporation. Cathy joined GP in 2007, where she supported training delivery for Toyota and Lexus. Before that she served as director of training and development for a large southern California automotive dealership group. All told, Cathy has over 30 years of experience in the field of human performance and process improvement. Cathy, welcome to the show.
Cathy Palochko: Thank you Kathy.
Kathy C.: Cathy, you’ve worked with some of the nation’s premier brands. Can you tell us a little bit more about your background and your journey to GP?
Cathy Palochko: Happy to. I came to automotive via tech at the time laptops were introduced to OEM field travelers. I spent 10 years on various training project for a tier one brand, culminating in their culture change initiative. It was through this initiative that I met the CEO of a dealer group that was considering converting to a one price, one person model.
In 1987 I joined that dealer group to support the development launch and sustainment of a customer centric approach to car buying. After about 10 years of experience in just about every facet of automotive retail I decided to move back to the professional services side of the business and landed at GP. GP feels like the perfect fit. Every day my team helps people develop their knowledge and skills in an industry that is exciting and ever-changing and rife with opportunities that are bound only by one’s self-imposing limits.
Kathy C.: Wow, that’s very interesting. I like the part about the customer centric buying process, very popular today.
Cathy Palochko: Yes. It’s all coming back, isn’t it? Indeed.
Kathy C.: Uh-huh (affirmative). Talk a little bit about how training and marketing are related.
Cathy Palochko: The purpose of training is really to equip people with the knowledge and skills they need to produce outcomes that have value in the marketplace. The purpose of marketing is to attract attention and create interest. Marketing sets an expectation that well-trained people fulfill, and it’s the alignment between the expectations that are created by marketing and the capabilities developed through training that are key to sales and customer satisfaction.
Kathy C.: Wow, that’s so interesting the way that you explained how they’re interrelated. Marketing sets up what the training helps deliver?
Cathy Palochko: Exactly.
Kathy C.: Got it. Can you describe the types of responsibilities you have in the marketing of the nation’s automobiles?
Cathy Palochko: It’s certainly a fun place to be. Most of my roles have been aligned with performance consulting and training, but I’ve always had a knack for translating complex subjects into terms that lay people can comprehend, relate to, and ultimately restate and explain to others.
I’m also a shopper at heart. As a young adult I spent hours at the mall, not with my friends. I worked retail while going to school and when I shopped it was usually with my mom, and it was not only a fun outing, but also a purpose driven one.
When I came upon the automotive industry what I realized quickly is that the root cause of many things was a failure to communicate. Engineers speak in what most of us consider technobabble. Salespeople commonly list features, it’s got this, it’s got that, it’s got this too, but most customers want to understand how a product or service addresses their wants and needs.
Automobiles are a means to an end. They provide transportation. A former colleague of mine used to say when the value of a product or a service outweighs the value of money spent people buy. In every role I’ve had, my responsibility is ultimately to help businesses and the people that work there establish and communicate the value proposition and share the information with consumers that is needed to make an informed buying decision. It’s as simple as that.
Kathy C.: Wow, that didn’t sound very simple. It’s really about helping people?
Cathy Palochko: Yes. Right.
Kathy C.: What you’re saying is that big challenge at the point of sale is the failure to communicate and that salespeople are so busy talking about features that they forget to talk about benefits?
Cathy Palochko: Exactly. And features are what it does, what it has. Benefits are what that means to me. By educating salespeople how to take time to engage in a conversation with consumers about what they want, what they need, what transportation solution they’re looking for, we can then present the vehicle in that context and help them make a better buying decision.
Kathy C.: Yeah, that sounds so much more customer centric. I mean that’s what we were talking about. I’m really getting a feel for how marketing and sales trainings are connected. It’s so important. It’s an important relationship. That’s really great. Thank you for taking us through that.
Cathy Palochko: Sure.
Kathy C.: Let’s talk about … You were instrumental in the development of a local automotive brand and I’m real curious to hear a little bit more about that. What are the unique marketing and training aspects for a local brand?
Cathy Palochko: For our local brand … I’ll talk about my experience. The focus of our branding effort was actually not on the vehicles. Rather it was about the way to buy the vehicles, so our training had to focus on three key things, and I think this is common to a lot of businesses.
One, our training has to help people communicate the value proposition of the brand, why and how we’re different from other businesses that are like us or in the same space, and the benefits of how we do business to the consumer.
Second, we have to train people how to understand the customer’s wants and needs. That may seem like an obvious first step, but most salespeople are not skilled in conducting a need analysis and they’re not comfortable doing so, so they tend to skip it, shortcut it, basically do anything they can to avoid it. But it’s that first interaction with the consumer when learning about what you want and need that’s going to allow me to position my product in the right light and create that value proposition that ultimately leads to the sale. That was the second thing, understanding the customer’s wants and needs.
The third is building value in our products and services. Again, this may seem like an obvious element, but most salespeople today fall to the price of their product or service to create value in the transaction. When you have a model like we did, where the price was established up front and not negotiable, they had to have something else to talk about, and therefore we had to teach them how to build value in their products and services.
From a training standpoint, that’s really what our unique approach was. From a marketing perspective, we knew that our approach really needed to be experienced to be believed, and that’s where we took a different turn in the marketing. At the outset, we invited our initial wave of customers to speak about their experience. We actually got real people who had an experience with our brand to come on camera and talk about that experience. Who better to believe than the people that have already gone through this?
Then we engaged an atypical spokesperson, someone who had credibility among shoppers, but not necessarily for our brand, and we focused our messages on challenging the typical car buying process. Perhaps most importantly was insuring that our marketing messages were reinforced once the consumer actually landed in the dealership.
This was for me a key differentiator. There was a true partnership in this experience between marketing and training. There was complete alignment between the expectations that marketing was setting and the training that was equipping the salespeople to deliver on that expectation. It was really a great partnership.
Kathy C.: Wow, that is such a great case study. My goodness. So I wrote some notes down. Let me play this back to you and tell me if I got this right. The first thing that you’re doing is you’re talking about what’s differentiating this service from the competition. Then the second thing is a needs analysis. We have to find out what the customer wants. We have to ask them. Then the third thing is we have to build a value proposition. So those are the three things?
Cathy Palochko: Those are the three things.
Kathy C.: Then the way you went to market was actually having the customers tell you about their experience? So that’s really cool, customer testimonials. Then using a spokesperson. Then I think this whole thing is really back to how to deliver this so that you satisfy the customer’s needs, and you’re using all this training and the marketing, and so it all comes together at the point of sale.
That’s the important part to me, because so often you look inside any company, the marketing function is very separate from the training function. Marketing is over here on the left creating all of these customer expectations and messages and training is over here equipping salespeople or frontline associates of any kind to deliver on something, but the two aren’t often connected. Why do you think that is?
Cathy Palochko: Tradition.
Kathy C.: I mean it seems … I mean the way you walked us through that, it seems like such a no brainer that training and marketing and sales all have to be on the same page, and in this particular example they were.
Cathy Palochko: They were, and it worked beautifully. It created an organic brand in the marketplace that was loved by the community and led to great sales success. In fact, that brand is still going gangbusters today.
Kathy C.: Thanks for sharing that story. That’s great. Cathy, what do you think are the most significant misconceptions regarding sales and marketing?
Cathy Palochko: I think the fact that you said sales and marketing. Right there there’s a … It’s a catchall phrase. We think of those two things together. We think that … It leads us to believe that marketing is exclusively linked to sales. While certainly marketing and advertising serves to influence sales, the core purpose of marketing is really to create awareness, awareness of a brand, its products or services, and, as I spoke about earlier, to set that expectation that the sales team then needs to fulfill.
Marketers need to take care that the expectation that they’re creating in the mind of the consumer can and is being fulfilled when the rubber meets the road. That to me is the key misconception. Marketing is all about creating brand promise that then has to be fulfilled by sales. It’s not that marketing is creating sales.
Kathy C.: Got you. Got you.
Cathy Palochko: Marketing is developing the promise and the mission and the message and then sales has to deliver that. They have to deliver on it, and sales has to be aware of what marketing is creating. So often marketing is created in this beautiful creative bubble so to speak, it’s very aspirational, and we forget to look at the realities, that is the capabilities. Is sales capable on delivering on that expectation?
Kathy C.: Yeah. Is there anybody out there that’s doing this right right now?
Cathy Palochko: I think there are a lot of companies that are starting to really get this connection. I think if you look at automotive brands, a lot of people don’t think fondly of Tesla, but they’re truly creating an experience in their sales outlets that is appropriately set up by their marketing efforts.
They’re getting that automotive retail is not different than any other kind of retail today. For a a long time automotive companies and dealerships have got their special. That’s now how we do things here. We’re different. What’s happening in the marketplace today is consumers are saying I don’t want to tolerate an automotive retail experience that is different from any other way that I buy anything. I think Tesla is getting that and they’re appropriately selling customer expectation and delivering on them in their retail outlets.
Kathy C.: What a great example, Tesla. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us on that, because I can really see what you’re saying. I can see how they’re developing a different … Well, it’s not even a difference. It’s the same. You’re saying that customers are demanding the same kind of experience that they get anywhere else, and that’s what Tesla is delivering.
Cathy Palochko: That’s exactly what they’re doing.
Kathy C.: Wow, what a great marketing lesson you just gave us.
Cathy Palochko: Thank you.
Kathy C.: Cathy, let’s talk about a marketing challenge. Is there a challenge that you faced that you can share with us, and tell us how you overcame it.
Cathy Palochko: I’d love to tell you how I overcame a challenge, but I’m actually right now in the midst of facing a challenge that I haven’t quite overcome yet, so I’d love to hear from your listeners on any ideas that they have. Here’s the challenge that I’m facing.
Kathy C.: Okay. Great.
Cathy Palochko: That is my customers generally don’t understand the field of human performance, and that’s the field that I’m really in. Human performance is a complex system of first and foremost communication, do people know what to do? Then it’s training, do people know how to do it? Third, it’s incentive, are people motivated to perform? Whenever I announce what I do and I say I’m in the field of human performance, people say, “What’s that?” The easiest way for people to relate to what I do is to say training. “Oh, training?” That’s telling people what to do, but human performance is more complex than that. I can tell you all day long what to do, but until I’ve created a value proposition for you, until I’ve given you what’s in it for you, and until I’ve created an environment that removes all the obstacles to you performing correctly, my training means nothing. I think we’re starting with the emphasis on human capital management that’s creating a buzzword in business today. People are starting to open up to the idea of human performance. But again, to all your listeners out there, if you can come up with an easy way for me to overcome this marketing challenge and build value in what we do, I’d love to hear it.
Kathy C.: Well, you know, to hear you explain it and to give some examples of really how this human performance is connected to marketing and how marketing is connected to sales, it makes so much sense. But I think you’re right. I think that most people don’t understand that. I’ve never heard anybody talking about it in the way that you are, so it’s so interesting to hear you talk about that. Human performance, again, is communicating what, how and why?
Cathy Palochko: Exactly. Communication, training and incentive. What to do, how to do it, why I should do it, that’s human performance.
Kathy C.: Wow, such a great lesson. I’m learning so much today, and how important it is to marketing. It’s funny, when people talk about marketing … You say when people ask you what you do, even marketing is a word that people don’t understand. That’s one reason I think this podcast is so important, is there’s so many different levels of marketing and how they interact.
I’m just so curious to talk to people specifically like you about little pieces of marketing, and you’ve got to put that all together. They all have to go together.
Cathy Palochko: I think that goes back to your earlier question about sales and marketing, right? People tend to think of marketing as synonymous with advertising. Well advertising is a tool that you use for marketing. It’s not the only tool that you use for marketing. The same is true in human performance. Training is a tool that you use to drive human performance, but it’s not the only item in our toolkit. There’s a lot of tools in that toolkit.
Kathy C.: There is. Let’s talk a little bit more about training, because I’m so intrigued about this. What’s the most important lesson that you cover in your training?
Cathy Palochko: Most of our projects that we’re engaged for are about sales enablement. That’s how do I sell cars, trucks? How do I sell maintenance and repair services? How do I sell parts and accessories, any kind of widget? It’s all sales enablement.
In this digital age it’s less important today that we create walking and talking encyclopedias and more important that we deliver just enough information, just in time, and in a manner that’s just right for each individual. When you think about what’s happening in the learning space in general, we are consuming information in much smaller chunks. We’re consuming more video than any other medium, and we’re curating our own learning experience.
You have to repair something, you go to YouTube and watch the video. You want to cook a special dinner, you go to a variety of food sites and you compile a menu that’s to your own liking. You want to have a trip, you don’t necessarily call a travel agent anymore. You go on Facebook and Twitter and ask your community how can I put together this ideal trip? We’re curating our own experiences, and so is true of learning. Our aim is really to convince frontline associates that they don’t need to know it all and to teach them how to effectively consult with their customers and how to make the best use of their resources. That’s a key element of our training and how training is shifting.
Another important lesson that we teach is that facts tell and stories sell. That’s one of my favorite axioms, facts tell and stories sell. Today consumers have access to a wealth of data. They’re spending more than 80% of their shopping time online. They’re visiting on average less than two dealerships before making the buying decision. That means when they do engage a salesperson they’re looking to make sense of something they already know, or they’re looking for expert knowledge beyond what they can find online. What consumers really want is an expert guide to help them make an informed decision. So with the complexity of vehicles, with the wide variety of vehicles that are available and configurations that are available, it’s impossible these days for everyone to know it all, so we really have to teach them how to fish. That’s the key, how to make best use of their resources.
Kathy C.: Wow, that was a fascinating explanation. Those are really important lessons that you’re covering in training. It’s really … It all stems from what you said, that we are all curating our own learning. I love that sentence, and that’s what we’re all doing. So the salesperson has a different role these days because we’ve already started curating our information by the time we come in, so what you’re training the salespeople to do is to learn just enough about their product, but then to learn more about their customer so that they can curate the information with their resources to present a compelling presentation?
Cathy Palochko: Uh-huh (affirmative). Uh-huh (affirmative). And as every product has a variety of features … Cars have an insane amount of features, right? So it’s not enough anymore to say it’s got these hundred features. It’s more important to pick the two or three that have meaning to Kathy Cunningham and drill into those and help you understand how this is going to make driving this vehicle, your daily commute, taking the kids to soccer, driving clients around … How this is going to help make your life better in those contexts, so everything becomes contextual.
That’s where the stories come into play. If I don’t know anything about you and how you’re going to use this vehicle or this widget or any product or service I might be selling, I can’t position myself uniquely to solve your problems.
Kathy C.: Wow, that sounds like the salesperson has a lot to do.
Cathy Palochko: They have a lot to do, but if they listen and they connect what they’re hearing to what their solution can offer, that’s the magic. It’s so customized.
Kathy C.: It is, and I love this phrase … So facts sell-
Cathy Palochko: No, facts tell and stories sell.
Kathy C.: Facts tell-
Cathy Palochko: Stories sell. Storytelling is really big right now in advertising and you put that in a context that makes so much sense. Here’s the facts, but how do I turn these facts into a story that’s compelling and it means something to Cathy Palochko?
When you think about some of the automotive advertising that the brands are doing, they’re not listing features. They’re showing the person driving down the dark highway at night and the deer jumps out in the road. That’s a story, and it’s a compelling story. It’s a safety story and it’s connecting to emotions. Salespeople need to do that same thing at the point of sale.
Kathy C.: Wow, that was a great story. Thank you. Your story is selling me. Let’s talk about branding.
Cathy Palochko: Okay.
Kathy C.: Let’s talk about the role of branding in the automotive industry. That’s your specialty, so tell us what is the role of branding?
Cathy Palochko: Branding is more important than ever. It’s really the differentiator today. All OEMs are designing and manufacturing solid, safe, feature rich vehicles. Today the differentiator is the experience. As much as OEMs would like to own and define the experience, the reality is the experience is owned by the dealership and the people that work in the dealership that are delivering that experience person by person.
The OEM’s brand creates an expectation of what it means to be part of their family. It’s an aspirational, emotional message. The dealer is supposed to create an expression of that brand in the marketplace, but they too have a unique brand. They can be family oriented. They can be the low price leader. They can be value oriented. It’s a relational and a rational message that says I’m moving from the emotional now to the rational. I’m moving towards a buying decision. I’m starting to think about my wallet and other real tangible things that are important to me.
Each of us as individuals, we also have personal brands. What I have found in my studies is that when the OEM’s emotional brand and the dealership’s rational brand live in harmony and are well-represented consistently by that salesperson, when those three brands are aligned, that’s nirvana. That’s when brands can really accelerate. It’s when I as a consumer have the greatest level of comfort.
I’ve got an expectation of the brand. I’ve got an expectation of the dealership I’ve chosen. And now I’ve come to work with a salesperson and they are true expressions of those brands, I have a higher level of confidence and comfort with the brand.
Kathy C.: The trinity.
Cathy Palochko: The trinity. The brand, the dealership, and the salesperson. Yes. Bringing it all together.
Kathy C.: Gosh, it’s so complicated.
Cathy Palochko: It is, but it’s so simple. I mean think about … Well, let’s think about Subaru. They’re a hot brand right now, very hot, a very hot brand. What’s the Subaru brand? It’s fun. It’s also lasting. It’s safe. It’s reliable. There’s a lot of real steadiness that that brand image is creating.
Now I go into a dealership, I’m looking for those same brand attributes. If I’m attracted to the Subaru brand I’m also going to be attracted to a dealership that represents those same attributes, and even more so as I work with the salesperson, if I come across a salesperson who is completely disconnected with that brand I’m going to be confused and I’m going to be more likely to go off and look someplace else for that continuity. So it really becomes important … Now we go back to human performance, that I’m not only treating my salespeople right, but I’m selecting the right salespeople to represent my brand.
Kathy C.: Right. So for Toyota and Lexus, is that what you’re helping them do? Are you helping the OEM tie that all together with the dealership and the sales experience?
Cathy Palochko: I’m working with really all of the brands. When I first joined GP, I was working with Toyota and Lexus, but now I’m working with all of the brands. What we’re trying to help all of these brands do is elevate the customer experience.
The other thing that we’re trying to help dealerships do … So when a manufacturer decides to build a new car, they’re switching from a car platform to a truck platform in their manufacturing line, they stop that manufacturing line to retool. They change out some [inaudible 00:27:11]. They’re bringing in different skills and abilities, because they’ve got different things that are going on this car, so they’re retooling the manufacturing line to produce a different car.
Dealerships need to do that same thing, but they can’t. They can’t stop the line even for a minute to retool to deliver something different, yet consumers today are begging for a different kind of buying experience at a dealership. So what we’re hoping OEMs and dealerships do is to examine how they operate today and in effect retool to transform into a kind of retail outlet that consumers want.
Kathy C.: Got it. Wow, I’m really getting a full picture now of how training and marketing and sales are all related.
Cathy Palochko: It all has to be aligned because it’s all creating, it’s establishing, it’s delivering customer expectation.
Kathy C.: Wow, thanks for breaking that down for us Cathy. That’s so fascinating. I’m learning a lot today, and I hope our listeners are too.
Cathy Palochko: Good.
Kathy C.: Let’s keep talking about brands, but let’s talk about Cathy Palochko. Can you describe your personal brand?
Cathy Palochko: Let me start with my vision. My vision and my mission is to have automotive sales be recognized as a highly desired career. I want to bring back or restore professionalism in automotive sales. I think it has huge potential.
For me, my brand is … It’s not tricks and tactics. It’s fundamental blocking and tackling. It’s how to be your best self. I want to exemplify that in everything that I do. I want people to discover and be motivated to take their skills and abilities to the next level. That’s really what my brand is all about, is helping people become their best selves by being my best self.
Kathy C.: Wow, I love that. That sounds great. Cathy, let’s talk about daily habits. Do you have a daily habit or two that contributes to your success?
Cathy Palochko: I have a couple. The first one is finding quiet time to think. In this day and age where our smartphones and our calendars seem to rule our lives, I’ve taken to creating some quiet time each and every day just to sit and think, to look out the window or take a walk and just be with my thoughts, have some quiet space, so that’s one habit. What I found in doing so is that I’m able to connect with some of the things and work through some of the things that are in my head versus just constantly being bombarded with messages. I think it’s really important to find quiet space in every day, so that’s one.
The second one is I’m pretty religious about scheduling almost every moment of my day. What I find is that if I don’t control my day, my day will control me, so I’ve taken to periods of time turning off my email, scheduling a period of time where I’m going to go look at email. Sometimes even turning off my wifi so that I actually can’t go out to the internet and get distracted by social media.
I have to be much more disciplined about my day to make sure that when I get to the end of the day I have a sense of accomplishment, because I find when I don’t do that I get to the end and I don’t know what’s happened. So two things, finding quiet space and controlling my calendar and not letting it control me.
Kathy C.: Those are great tips, and it leads to this sense of accomplishment.
Cathy Palochko: There’s nothing like getting to the end of the day and saying what the heck did I just do?
Kathy C.: Right. Exactly. I think that’s a good tip. Really you’re scheduling every minute of your time, so you’re scheduling when you’re going to look at emails and when you’re not going to look at emails?
Cathy Palochko: I’m scheduling my drive time between meetings so that people don’t try and throw a conference call into this 15 minutes that I have between getting from here to there. I’m making sure that I’m taking time to have a good lunch, to take care of me, because in taking care of me, when I’m nourished and I’m rested I can take better care of my clients.
Kathy C.: Good tips. Thanks for sharing. Marketing innovation. There’s so much going on these days in marketing, I mean we’re being bombarded by new things happening every day. It’s a very exciting time to be around in marketing. Can you tell us about your favorite marketing innovation and how you’re using it?
Cathy Palochko: For me it’s all about social media. I think that we are not doing a good enough job of leveraging online reviews. To me, any business, if you have an online presence, and you should, everyone should have an online presence, your customers are writing things about you. The analogy here is that if your customers were standing in your showroom or in your store and they were toe-to-toe with you and they were telling you how wonderful you are and great their experience is, you would not for a moment think to turn your back and walk away without saying anything.
You would say, “Thank you.” You would appreciate their compliments. Why don’t we do that in social media? Conversely, if our customer is standing in our showroom or standing in front of us and screaming and yelling at us because we’ve done something horrible, again we wouldn’t simply turn and walk away. We would do something to remediate that situation.
So we’re not actively participating in social media, and I think by simply expressing appreciation for a compliment or effectively handling a disgruntled customer, we can take that low-cost/no-cost marketing tool and turn it into a powerful means for promoting and maintaining our brand.
Kathy C.: Spectacular advice. And you know, it’s right there in front of us, isn’t it?
Cathy Palochko: Uh-huh (affirmative). It is. And yet we don’t say anything. Someone writes wonderful things about us online, we read it and think oh, gee, that’s nice, and we turn and go about our business, versus taking 30 seconds to say, “Thank you for your kind words.” How hard is that?
Yet if people were seen as claiming those good experiences, how much more would they be willing to work with us? And conversely, if they see us effectively handle a problem, most problem resolution training resolution will tell you it’s not the fact that you handled the problem, it’s how you handled the problem. So be visible in resolving customer complaints. Customers readily accept we all make mistakes. It’s how we fix the mistake or address the mistake that is a differentiator.
Kathy C.: That was a brilliant way to describe to us how we’re ignoring some of this feedback. The way you said if I was standing in front of a consumer and they were telling me how great they love my product or how much they didn’t, I would never just not say anything.
Cathy Palochko: No, you wouldn’t.
Kathy C.: That’s a great way to put it.
Cathy Palochko: It’s really smart to think about that innovation. I mean social media is there. They’re talking to us. We need to figure out how to talk back, and it’s simple. We talk back to each other all the time, but yet we get on social media and we think we have to do it differently. No, we have to do it exactly the same way. We just have to be human and talk to each other. Sometimes they say the best way to accept a compliment or if someone says something nice is just to say, “Thank you.” How hard is that?
Kathy C.: That’s pretty darn easy.
Cathy Palochko: I don’t need a big fancy system or a CRM or expense resources. I just need to say, “Thank you.”
Kathy C.: Wow, that was a powerful lesson. I’m going to use that one. I’ve got some clients I’m going to use that one with. That was great. Let’s talk about 2018. We’re all working on our plans and our business plans and our marketing plans for 2018. What are some marketing challenges that you’re seeing in 2018 that we need to keep our eye out for and how can you help us to prepare for that?
Cathy Palochko: From a marketing standpoint, I’ll go back to some of the things that I’ve said, and that is that I think we need to recognize that marketing sets an expectation. Marketing is a brand management tool, but we need to make sure that what marketing does can be executed on. Again, I think too often marketing sets expectations too high or not correctly, and then sales unknowingly executes process, but it doesn’t meet the expectations, and we fail. So I think to me that’s one of the keys that we need to focus on, is greater communication across all departments in the organization all focused on the end customer and what it is they want and how we can best serve them.
Kathy C.: I’m starting to see this more clearly too. In everything that you say I’m seeing how training is really affecting marketing. It starts with the expectations of marketing, making sure that those expectations can be delivered at the point of sale, and then communicating that. So you have to communicate those expectations. That’s pretty fascinating.
Cathy Palochko: As a marketing professional, if I were in your shoes I’d be asking my clients what can you do? What do you want to do, but what can you do? Because if I create an expectation for more than you can do, then my marketing dollars are wasted because my consumer will be disappointed and they’ll go on and consider a different brand.
Kathy C.: So maybe start with what can we deliver at point of sale? What are you able to do?
Cathy Palochko: Right. Right. And if it’s not good enough, then what can we do to raise the skills and abilities of our frontline?
Kathy C.: Yeah. Yeah. Wow, wonderful lessons that you’re sharing with us today. Thank you so much for bringing your wisdom to our podcast.
Cathy Palochko: Thank you for inviting me.
Kathy C.: I want to segue into mentoring, because you’ve been a great mentor for us, and that’s really what this podcast is all about. I’d like to hear your thoughts on mentoring, what it’s meant to you in your career, and if there’s any lessons that you’ve learned through mentoring that you can share with us today?
Cathy Palochko: I think for me the biggest lesson that I’ve learned in mentoring is that every individual is highly capable and has within them their greatest potential. The role of a mentor is to bring that out. I believe in the magic of asking questions. It’s through asking questions that you can cause people to introspect. If my mentoring is all about telling you what you need to do, then I own the knowledge, you don’t.
But if I ask you what could you have done differently that time? Were you pleased with the outcome? If not, why? If yes, why? Anything that I can do to cause you to introspect or allow you to not only develop new skills, new knowledge, it’s exercising that muscle and you end up owning your own personal development.
Kathy C.: Now you just mentored us on how to be a good mentor.
Cathy Palochko: And I’ve been mentored by so many good people along the way. The hardest mentor that I ever had was a woman in the ’80s. This is when … The ladies out there that are of a certain age will remember when it was all about the suit that we wore, and we were trying to look like men by wearing these very structured suits and even some bow ties.
This particular mentor of mine was very precise, very persnickety, very smart, and it was in an age where we had time to review things multiple times in order to get them right because everything was going by snail mail. There was no email. There was no instant overnight FedEx deadline.
She would send me back to the drawing board five, six, seven times on business letters and documents that I had to write, and she would never give me the answer. She wouldn’t just do a rewrite. She’d give me feedback, send me back to rewrite the draft, bring it back again, get more feedback, and it was … That’s how I learned. When we just give the answers, next time do this, next time do that, we’re not learning anything. We’re just being robots. But when I ask you, “Gee, it doesn’t look like that turned out the way you wanted it. What could it look like if you did something different? How could it be better next time?” That’s what I do, and the best mentors that I’ve had in my career didn’t tell me what to do. They helped me discover what to do.
Kathy C.: Wow, that’s a fantastic lesson. Oh, my gosh, the magic of asking questions?
Cathy Palochko: Uh-huh (affirmative).
Kathy C.: And really challenging introspection? Don’t give me the answer. Ask me the question. Give me feedback and let me figure it out?
Cathy Palochko: Yes.
Kathy C.: Really a powerful lesson. Thank you for sharing that. Do you have any advice for women that want to get into marketing?
Cathy Palochko: I go back to the little story that I shared with you at the top of this, and that is that I spent a lot of hours at the mall with my mom. My mom taught me how to be a savvy shopper. Today when I go out into the world, I’ve really learned that my gut, the way that I want to buy, the way that I want to interact at retail, is the way that most people want to interact at retail, and it’s not that hard.
So I’d say for any woman that’s coming into marketing, just relate back to how you want to do things and trust that most of your constituents, most of your clients, your customers, will want to do it that same way, and just create a really simple message that resonates with them.
So find that from in yourself. It’s not out there somewhere. It’s in here. We’ve all been consumers all our lives. We know how we want to do things, right? So let’s just try and recreate that experience for our clients, our customers.
Kathy C.: It makes a lot of sense.
Cathy Palochko: Yeah.
Kathy C.: Well Cathy, we’re getting ready to wrap this up and I so want to thank you for your time.
Cathy Palochko: This has been fun.
Kathy C.: I know that you’re busy. This has been really great. You’ve shared some great lessons with us, and such wisdom and just the way that you brought the marketing and the training and the sales together all in one. I’m thankful to you for bringing that information to us. I’m just curious to know … My last question for you is if you have any marketing resources, any books or podcasts that you want to recommend to our listeners?
Cathy Palochko: I don’t know if you’d consider this a marketing resource, but I have recently picked up again The 7 Habits by Stephen Covey. From a personal development standpoint, putting first things first, beginning with the end in mind, those are great lessons no matter marketing, sales, training, human resources, whatever. If we begin with a vision of what it is that we want to create, what we want the future to look like, and then we work backwards the journey is so much easier, so that would be my one piece of advice, begin with the end in mind. Go back and read Stephen Covey.
I think that’s great advice too, because you know there’s books like that, The 7 Habits, that have made such differences in our lives. Pull it back off the shelf and re-read it, and you’d be amazed at the little notes that you’ve written in the margins or the things that you’ve highlighted. It’s like that V-8 moment. You slap yourself on the head and go, “Yeah, I knew that.” You just need to be reminded.
Kathy C.: Yeah, and I’m sure that you learned something differently now that you’re reading it now at this point in your career than you did when you first read it too?
Cathy Palochko: Yeah. We have decades of experience upon which to hang those lessons.
Kathy C.: Correct. Fantastic. Cathy, thanks again for joining us on the podcast. It’s been a wonderful conversation.
Cathy Palochko: I hope I get to do it again.
Kathy C.: All right. Thank you.
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