Marketing Gets Real Episode #5: ‘There’s Nothing More Fun Than…’

Sitting down with Ray Kemper and Paula Sansburn is like rubbing elbows with Julianne and Derek Hough, or Jason and Justine Bateman. OK, so Ray and Paula aren’t technically brother and sister like those other pairs, but it sure feels that way.

Ray is a rockstar marketing leader with a track record of driving growth, innovation, and revenue for global brands. Paula is a marketing and operations whiz with a passion for life and a get-shit-done attitude. Their professional paths keep crossing, first at Microsoft, and now at Axway, where Ray is the VP of Marketing and Paula is the Global Director of Campaign Marketing.

They joined our own Dynamic Duo—Cari and Dana—to share the good, the bad, and the ugly about customer experience, go-to-market strategies, and transitioning from global to local marketing strategies. Let’s catch up on the “family drama” they spilled in Episode #5 of the Marketing Gets Real podcast.

“It was panic, literally. How am I going to turn this around?”

Paula kicks things off with a semi-horrifying tale from her early days at Microsoft. She was charged with creating a global-to-local marketing strategy for what was then a brand-new product—the search engine Bing. “I thought if we literally translated the documents and the emails that it would be perfect,” she says.

Only, it wasn’t. Some website pages were translated properly; others weren’t translated at all. Some CTAs went to the wrong websites. The campaign flat-out didn’t work on platforms in certain regions. “The teams globally hated me,” she says. Thankfully, Paula is scrappy. She salvaged the campaign with a lesson she carries forward to this day. “The best thing I can say is to get your butt over there, sit in a room with them, talk to them, and listen to them,” she says.

“There’s nothing more fun than going into an executive presentation at Microsoft and being called out.”

Ray is an eternal optimist and an exceptional team player. So, when he went to a meeting with Microsoft execs early in his career, he made it a point to talk up his team and accentuate the positive. “I was giving an update on where we were with several different projects,” he says. He told corporate leadership all the good news.

Then came the harsh rebuttal. “OK. Is that all I’m gonna get?” Turns out, his executive team wanted the bad news, too. As one exec told him: “I want to know what’s going good and not so good, because that’s how you build credibility in this company.” That awkward moment taught Ray a valuable lesson about balance, which he shares in this clip from Episode #5:

“It’s like you’re in a whole different company.”

That’s how Paula explains the chasm that can exist between marketing and onboarding when it comes to executing customer lifecycle marketing. She and Ray have both seen companies that try to set up a lifecycle but don’t think it through from beginning to end. “Onboarding has to pick it up and continue the same message and tone,” Paula says. When they don’t, “The engineering team or customer service team doesn’t even talk to the customer like they’re a customer,” she says.

How do you close the gap? “The key in setting up lifecycles is that the team has to be really close,” Paula says. To make that happen, Ray recommends putting a senior marketer in front of each stage to champion the customer experience across stakeholders. “They’re calling out what’s wrong with the product at that stage, what do we need from a customer service standpoint that we’re not delivering,” he says. “ obsesses about that stage and metrics aligned with that stage.”

Paula and Ray continued their entertaining banter throughout the entire podcast. Listen to all of Episode #5 and you’ll hear them riff about the opportunities and pitfalls of working for companies large and small, the advice they’d give their 20-year-old selves, and the cool things they’re working on now. Listen closely and you’ll also hear Ray’s marriage advice! Don’t miss Episode #5. And subscribe now so you don’t miss a single oh-shit moment.