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Patti Girardi: Reforming the Marketing Craft through Consistency

Marketing is the bridge between a product and its target audience, and marketing leaders are the ropes strengthening it. A marketing leader is always focused on making his/her products and services more approachable, and for that he/she needs a set of skills and determined teamwork. Along with the many other qualities a marketing leader requires, a management competency for the performance assessment further helps in ensuring excellent teamwork. Management competency helps to understand the true capacity of employees and how to encourage them to perform at their best.
Patti Girardi, CMO of Valet Living, is one such leader who is known for motivating her team members to get the best results out of their performance. She has served in multiple companies where she has helped to increase sales and create a brand name. With her stellar leadership skills, she is setting benchmarks in sales and marketing.
Her interview with Insights Success exhibits her inspiring journey as a marketing leader and portrays her commitment to Valet Living.
Below are the highlights of her interview:
Kindly elaborate on your journey in becoming a marketing leader. 
As hard as it is to believe, I actually found marketing by accident. I joined Cox Communications, the 4th largest cable operator in the United States, directly from business school as Manager of Special Projects, which at the time, included launching all of the new cable offerings consumers have grown accustomed to today: digital cable, high-speed internet, and digital telephone service. But as these strategies developed into tangible product offerings, the need to market them was calling, and I transitioned into a brand management role, which I connected with in a way that I had never experienced professionally. Cox’s explosive growth afforded me the opportunity to move into a number of field and corporate positions, culminating into the opportunity to lead web strategy and e-commerce during a transformative time for the industry – during this period, we grew to surpass call center traffic as the company’s primary service channel, something naysayers said couldn’t be done.
From there, I moved over to the programming side of the cable television business as Vice President of Affiliate Sales and Marketing for Fox Cable Networks. This role brought not only the challenge of aligning sales and marketing initiatives to consistently outperform aggressive sales targets, but also heightened visibility throughout the media industry and access to best-in-class leadership programs like the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute for Women.
The opportunity to marry my life-long passion for the culinary arts and career goals arrived when Compass Group, the world’s largest foodservice provider, presented the opportunity to lead marketing for its domestic college foodservice division and the challenge of rebranding the business for Generation Z — the 8-23-year-old cohort emerging as the most coveted youth demographic — overtaking Millennials in both size and influence. This industry-leading rebrand infused “gathering” into traditional foodservice as a way to transform the college dining experience into a vehicle for promoting high-intensity relationships – much like the pre-technology experience of sitting down to a family meal.
And then, there was the offer I couldn’t refuse – the opportunity to fundamentally disrupt the multifamily housing industry through a major rebrand for amenity service provider Valet Living that puts multifamily residents front and center to make their lives easier than they could have ever imagined. As Chief Marketing Officer for this amazing brand, I’ve been able to expand the scope of my leadership across branding, creative services, lead generation, inside sales, marketing communications, database marketing, e-commerce, mobile marketing, product marketing, public relations, research, social media, event/trade show marketing, web strategy, artificial intelligence and sustainability.
How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to appeal to the target audience? 
Valet Living is the only full-service amenities provider to the multifamily housing industry. It arrived at its industry-leading position through a crystal-clear understanding of its competitive advantages and intimate knowledge of the apartment industry. Valet Living’s wide range of services include doorstep waste and recycling collection, apartment turns (preparing apartment homes for new residents), maintenance (supplementing onsite maintenance teams with additional labor or “porter hours”), pet solutions (pet parks, waste and wash stations) and its resident-facing amenity services offering called Valet Living Home™. Valet Living’s core competencies of its proven track record and pioneering edge in the multifamily space have allowed the brand to set the standard for residential living in each of these verticals. In particular, Valet Living Home’s resident-facing amenity service solution – offering home cleans, pet walks, package delivery, wellness classes, and laundry pick-up – is truly unique in that, although powered by technology, these amenities are delivered by the best people and processes in the business. As the above amenities include B2B, B2C and B2B2C services, the challenge for marketing is to approach each one with strategies that are most suitable for each respective audience.
What attributes are required to overcome the challenges faced in Marketing? 
Your job as a marketing leader is to elevate the discipline to an art and a science that is rooted in strategy, measurement and results. Since creative without strategy will almost never triumph over personal opinions; research, testing and fact-based analysis are truly the most effective ways to engage internally so that programs can succeed externally.
How do you strategize your game plans to tackle the competition in the market? 
I’m a big believer in classic frameworks like SWOT analyses and Porter’s Five Forces model. Once you’ve established a brand identity that is driven by strategy using these time-tested tools, it is then critical to stay loyal to the brand. If your brand truly promises differentiation in a way that others can’t, it’s not necessary to attempt to “one-up” the competition at every turn. But it is necessary to own your differences.
What are your insights on the implementation of technological advancements in Marketing? 
Technology is amazing – as long as it truly furthers a connection with your target audience. Amazon has done an incredible job of using technology to personalize the digital shopping experience – expressing both warmth and competence with every click in a way that even some of the most sophisticated call centers cannot. But technology gone wrong – the implementation of live chat applications with one-week response times, for example – only damages a brand’s relationship with consumers.
According to you, what are the key factors that a Marketing Leader should consider while deriving comprehensive marketing strategies? 
By far and away, the most important factor is having a crystal-clear understanding of the organization’s business objectives. From there, it’s about developing strategies that connect with your target audience to over-deliver on these goals and then applying marketing fundamentals like the classic 4P framework to reach your target audience. With the Valet Living portfolio comprised of B2B, B2C and B2B2C services, there is no one single approach that works for all. Before making any final decisions, I’ve found that there is also no substitute for gathering input from the leaders of each business line as well as field representatives on the front lines.
How do you keep up with volatile trends in the Marketing discipline, pertaining to your expertise? 
It’s easy to be distracted by the latest buzzwords and the temptation to treat all challenges with a tech-forward solution. But at the end of the day, marketing is really just about connecting with consumers. The classic marketing rules of effective design and the 4Ps of marketing live on today for good reason – they work! The question is, how can technology complement marketing fundamentals to further business goals?
What are your future endeavors/objectives, and where does Valet Living see itself in the near future? 
Valet Living is disrupting the resident amenity space, and it is truly exciting! Although there are other mobile applications in the amenity services arena, there is nothing like Valet Living Home. While powered by technology for the convenience of our residents, amenity services like home cleans, pet walks, and package management are delivered by W2, uniformed background-checked associates who are trained by hospitality experts. Valet Living Home is tech-enabled, not tech first. This ensures a consistent, high-quality experience that is unmatched by any other solution in the marketplace. As we continue to bring Valet Living Home to additional communities at a rapid clip, I will continue with relentless focus to bring Valet Living’s vision to life – driving resident usage of the platform and ensuring that residents choose to live at a Valet Living community above all others.
What is your advice for budding/upcoming Marketing Leaders? 
The most important mark you can leave on an organization is results. Drive results, and find ways to communicate them across the organization that aren’t overly self-promotional. And recognize that marketing is still very much a science that must be learned. It’s important to step out of the “flyer-making” mentality and learn from those who have invested decades in perfecting the marketing craft.