Starting a business is one thing, scaling it is another. To build a lasting company, entrepreneurs need to know how to harness their growing success. When you reach that pinnacle point, you’re going to want Robin by your side.
Our Scale Up programs are designed to help tackle rapid-growth issues and promote future success through customized action and a curated team of mentors and experts who have the industry and business experience.
What makes our mentors so qualified? They’ve been there. They’ve lived the challenges, thrived in success and, most importantly, learned from both.
We recently caught up with one of our Scale Up mentors, Robin Jones, to find out more about what makes her so uniquely qualified.
I’ve always enjoyed business but I wanted to be on the creative side. To me, marketing was that creative side. I started in writing, it’s what I loved to do. When you start with something that you’re good at, it just keeps snowballing. You usually hail from one discipline and eventually spread your wings into other areas in marketing.
I have a passion for brand development—helping organizations understand their brand, their value propositions, why it matters, who their customer profiles are, and really building out their go-to-market strategy before starting their business. Branding to some companies is just a logo, a colour palette, or a tagline. If you haven’t established your brand and understood your audience, you can waste an enormous amount of money.
I worked for Creo, this small company out of Vancouver. We were one of the first in the print industry to be using computer-to-plate (CTP) technology. During a print conference, there was a panel on CTP. The panellist showcasing our product introduced it as “my Creo”. It wasn’t the name of the product, but our customers identified so much with our brand that they referred to all our products as “my Creo”. The brand essence had taken over.
In my early days, I made mistakes around hiring. I wasn’t taking the time to find the right people for the right roles. I would look exclusively at skills and not team fit, not doing the due diligence on reference checks. Tech moves so fast that sometimes you feel like all you need is two feet and a heartbeat. A marketing department is so interdependent on each other, everyone needs to be able to rely on the person next to them.
Sometimes people can’t see their own strengths or weaknesses. As a leader, you really need to guide them. You need to be able to recognize when their skills are being overlooked or underutilized and find a position that plays off of those strengths. If you foster talent well enough, there will always be a clear line of succession whenever someone leaves a company.
I learned very early that hiring good people was the most critical skill for a leader. Nobody wants people around them who can’t be relied on to do their work. I’ve always handpicked teams that I could trust. That’s where I think some leaders can fall short, they hire good people but they can’t let go and trust them to do what they hired them to do. Trust is very critical in leadership.
If I can share any advice, it’d be to let data make your decisions. I had always gone with my gut when making marketing decisions, and we had no idea how our campaigns were really doing. I got a new boss who pushed our marketing team to create an analytics dashboard. I pulled the most operationally savvy person out of my team and put them in marketing operations. It was a big pivot that really helped to shape our marketing decisions for the better.
People that I mentor getting to a pinnacle point in the career, to a position of strength, is how I measure success. I could tell revenue success or acquisition stories but, for me, it’s all about the people. The woman running the marketing team for Clio, a company believed to have the largest growth-stage investment in Canada with a cash infusion of about $330 million, is the same one that I put in marketing operations. Those are the stories that stay with me.
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