Guest Article: Valerie R Wagoner: Sheryl Sandberg Taught Me to Differentiate My Career in Marketing

By Valerie R Wagoner , ZipDial, New Delhi | In Digital
Last updated : July 21, 2014
The CEO of ZipDial writes about her meeting with the COO of Facebook.

A week ago, Sheryl Sandberg visited India and I got to meet her just before the announcement of the launch of a new Facebook "Missed Call Ad" , developed with ZipDial. Sheryl said two things that really stuck with me. I learned a lot from these insights and thus want to share them with the rest of the marketing community.

Valerie R Wagoner

Marketing has evolved from personal to mass to personal

Sheryl shared personal anecdotes about her experiences with kirana shops and their "marketing" from the year she spent in India back in 1981 . Even I, as a transplant in India, have a personal connection with the kirana shop next to my house in Bangalore. If I don't have cash with me, he says, "adjust maadi", and I pay him next time. It's that personal touch that builds trust. He knows my tastes, so if he recommends a vegetable or fruit, I buy it. That is personalized marketing. Over time, radio and then television enabled the mass reach of media and that revolution was incredibly important. But it also meant that personalized marketing was replaced by mass marketing.

Digital and mobile engagement has brought back personalized marketing. This enables more personalized marketing that can bring the right message to the right consumer at the right time - just like the kirana shop on the corner.

The beauty is that we don't have to choose between mass and personal. In many emerging markets like India, the mobile phone has greater reach than toilets, television, or even electricity! Africa is an extreme case where only 10 per cent of the continent's households are on the electricity grid , yet depending on the country, between 70-100% of people have a mobile phone . Facebook recognizes this fundamental reality, and they are catering their strategy to emerging markets accordingly . The mobile offers the perfect opportunity to achieve Mass reach with a compelling Personal touch.

The surest way to "Lean In" and succeed is by being the champion of mobile marketing

Sheryl's "Lean In" movement is for all of us who want to make the most of our careers. When we spoke, she shared a valuable tip.

The fastest way to differentiate yourself and accelerate your career is by taking calculated risks. Those who sit back and wait to be told what to do will never move up as fast, even if they execute well on their responsibilities. When you stick your neck out for something you believe will help your company, even in the face of resistance, and then see it through to success, you are sure to be recognized as a leader.

Now the question is - As a marketer, what can I do to differentiate myself and accelerate my career? The answer lies being the champion of taking calculated risks. So let's calculate!

We know that:

The mobile is ubiquitous.

The results of high impact and ROI of using the mobile in marketing are proven.


Currently, in Asia, digital marketing is less than 15 per cent of marketing spend and mobile is less than 2 per cent (according to data from eMarketer In India, mobile is only 0.16 per cent of spend.

Compare this to the UK, which has nearly 40 per cent on digital and 13 per cent on mobile. India is a multiple of 10x behind the UK, even though the mobile has greater reach in India than television.

What's the takeaway? We have a huge gap in the market in mobile - an area that will inevitably boom and have a massive future impact on all businesses. This, my friends, is a calculated risk that lies strongly in favour of any willing champion.

Seize the opportunity for yourself! Someone within your organization will become the champion of mobile marketing, and it may as well be you.

(The writer is the co-founder and CEO of mobile marketing firm ZipDial)

First Published : July 21, 2014
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