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Interview With Michael Leander, Multi Award Winning Speaker And Judge For Digital, Direct And Loyalty Marketing Awards

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???????????????????????Michael’s early career involved lawn mowing and taking care of horses in his native country- Denmark. Later, while in USA, he had his hand-full learning on how to sell subscriptions and vacuum cleaners through phone & door-to-door in the USA, which taught him a few good lessons.

His professional marketing career started in publishing and quickly into advertising, which took him to positions as CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and CEO (Chief Executive Officer). Michael has been fortunate enough to be entrusted with managing marketing consulting and IT software companies – specifically for CRM and Email Marketing.

Since 2009 he has primarily been involved in speaking, training and consulting. This part of his career has been very rewarding as it brought him in front of tens of thousands of marketers in over 40 countries on 5 continents. Also, Michael’s speaking and training services were what that brought him to India the first time.

Learn more about Michael Leander here.

Digital Vidya: How did you get into Digital Marketing?

Michael: While a CMO in the IT industry, I was part of launching what we believe was the first B2B ecommerce portal in Europe in 1996. As a CMO and later CEO, I quickly embraced digital marketing and got my hands dirty as much as possible. Due to the nature of the industry in which I was in, I’ve always viewed digital marketing as an extension to the direct marketing mix. I was a multichannel practitioner and remain an advocate of multi-channel marketing.

But even so, I still remember my excitement of publishing a new animated banner or preparing integrated campaigns. Back in 2000-2001, these integrated campaigns would start with a direct mail leading responses to a campaign website with sequential auto-responders nurturing prospects.

I think I took a liking to the digital channels because I quickly realized that as a direct marketing practitioner, I had an advantage.

Digital Vidya: Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?

Michael: Well, it is important to learn marketing. The foundation of marketing has not changed, so that is where anyone should start and learn the basics. This is so because if all you know is how to blast irrelevant emails, then you do not know much. If you don’t understand your audience and their (purchase) behaviour, then you are no safer than a blind person driving.

To become good at anything in life, you must study and study continuously. What we know is that the most successful marketers in the world are people who have studied more than others, tested and experimented more than others. Guess what, they continue to study long after they have become rich and famous, so to speak.

But, it is important to have a plan for what you study. Too many folks are merely following the latest fads that will not suffice. You must fully master the basics if you want a chance of getting leverage from whatever fad is “it” right now.

Digital Vidya: According to you, what are the top mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Michael: One mistake is that organizations do not put enough emphasis on training their employees. This is especially true in India. My own experience is that many organizations are cheapskates. They want cheap labour and neglect to invest in building the skills of their staff. It is a fatal short-term approach. In India, employees are often faced with this problem. Subsequently, many employees pay their own way. In my opinion, that is wrong! But sadly, this type of behaviour is going on in many emerging markets. Smart organizations will change that and will come to realize that when you invest in people, people reciprocate in so many ways.

Besides, many HR departments operate within an outdated methodology for training the staff. Given the pace at which marketing and other areas move, it is necessary to revise the approach to training. We all need a big chunk of new knowledge once in a while. But more importantly, we also require little pieces of new information that adds useful and relevant knowledge frequently; preferably related to whatever current projects are ongoing. HR departments need to understand this and act on this change. I wish more professionals would understand that the keyword here is the training content in context.

Another mistake is the failure to focus a significant proportion of marketing resources on existing customers. Again this is true for India as well. It seems that the proverbial hunter in any marketer dominates. The average marketers’ disposition seems to almost always favour customer acquisition activities over customer nurturing and retention activities. It is cheaper, easier and more rewarding to sell to an existing customer.

Finally, let me mention the most embarrassing truth; there is too much talk in digital marketing and not enough action. For instance: Let us say about A/B split testing. People talk about testing all the time, but the number of businesses whom do it is minuscule. This is yet another reason to hire people with a direct marketing background as opposed to somewhere whom knows his way around Facebook an Twitter.

Digital Vidya: You led ‘Making Digital Work: 5 Easy Ways to Transform Your Online Marketing Results’ Webinar for Digital Vidya’s community. How was your experience in leading the Webinar?

Michael: Yes, I did and the experience was good. I received quite a few emails from attendees after the webinar. People were very eager to get specific information, which is a good sign.

Digital Vidya: Please share top 5-7 takeaways from the Webinar you would like to share with our community.

Michael: Sure, but I’d rather refer to the webinar recording

Digital Vidya: Do you have any suggestions for us to further increase the value of our Digital Marketing Webinars for our community?

Michael: There are two types of knowledge; useful and useless. Any learning experience must be useful and the folks sharing their knowledge anywhere must be 100% certain that they are relaying on correct information. So, a focus on quality, ensuring that the presenters have a lot of experience and are adamant about fact-checking etc. is important.

Digital Vidya: Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?

Michael: Seeing that I know the founders of Digital Vidya, I am biased. But I will say that any entity that provides knowledge and information to an audience of marketers deserves credit.

Our country is suffering from overwhelming changes which is more than difficult to keep-up. Due to this reason, we all need go-to-places where we can learn either as a part of a certified, perhaps longer programme or by obtaining little nuggets of quality and useful information once in a while.

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