Marketing Visionary: Sarah Lopez of Yokogawa

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Modern marketers wear many hats: part creative, part analyst, part brand builder. Sarah Lopez, a longtime marketing manager at Yokogawa and our latest Marketing Visionary, balances all these duties with a mix of rigorous data analysis, high-level strategic planning and out of the box creative thinking. Here’s how Sarah manages to drive results, meet deadlines and grow brand awareness, in her own words.

SketchDeck: Sarah, what’s the first thing you do when you come into work?

Sarah: Occasionally I dive in early and try to wrestle my email inbox before others are in the office. Otherwise the first thing I do is check in with my team and our production schedule.

SketchDeck: In your role as Marketing Manager at Yokogawa, what’s the most challenging part of your role? And what’s the most rewarding?

Sarah: Managing people and projects are probably both the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of my role.  For each you can have some basic guidelines, some ‘go-to’ methodology, but every person is unique as is nearly every project we encounter.  

Being able to discover those unique aspects that will drive or keep a person or project moving forward takes time, analysis and even a great deal of introspection.  

Especially when it comes to managing people, I don’t think many of those that are in supervisory roles are trained to do that, and it’s the ‘uncomfortable road less traveled.’ All that said, the most challenging aspects become the most rewarding when it clicks, and teams flourish and projects are expertly executed.    

SketchDeck: What tools do you find indispensable for marketing and communications?

Sarah: Your question is interesting because it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish and there are so many tools in the MarTech stack. Primarily I find Marketo to be pretty indispensable for the majority of our marketing and communication efforts.        

SketchDeck: What marketing campaign (internal or external) are you most proud of? Can you share the creative and explain the thinking behind it?

Sarah: A concept development that is now used in many campaign for our Total Insight concept that was being introduced in one product line. I sketched out the creative graphic to start to explain the messaging behind the new features and it was a near-instant win (I still have the original easel paper).

Due to its success, it is being incorporated into other products and I received a Value Award from our global headquarters for my contribution.

SketchDeck: How does SketchDeck help you and your team at Yokogawa?

Sarah: SketchDeck has helped bring our PowerPoint presentations up to new and better standards of design. My in-house designers have never “taken” to PowerPoint and we had thus previously been unsuccessful in bringing some ‘wow’ without overly complicated slides.

SketchDeck is now working on several other types of projects for us and while they are a bit more challenging from a content point of view, SketchDeck has done an amazing job thus far in presenting the content as beautifully as possible.  

SketchDeck: Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most?

Sarah: I really admire Kathy Button Bell (she works for one of our largest competitors), I also have been influenced by Ardath Albee, Michaela Alexis, Kim Scott, Matt Heinz, and of course Joe Pulizzi.   

SketchDeck: Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?

Sarah: The individual who hired me actually is why I’m here.  I wasn’t looking for a position, but was headhunted to fulfill a role as Marketing Analyst.  Data analysis still is a primary interest to me and I honestly took the position only because of the vision of the Director.  I was intrigued by the challenge of working for a larger Global company.  I moved into management of the team within about 9 months and have been here just over 6 years.  

SketchDeck: How do you find a work/life balance?

Sarah: It’s not always easy!  As the Marketing Manager for North America, part of my role is to also be part of the Global Marketing Team, so the conversations are running through my inbox and project boards 24/7/365.  

As a manager I have a certain level of responsibility also to my team and the North American leadership team in case of emergencies.  So it’s hard to turn away or stop checking, but I set aside time and decide, from x to x, I’m not looking at work items.

Occasionally I have to go completely ‘screen-less’ in order to keep my mind from thinking about it.  So I just try to observe ‘protected time’ with family or friends.  Listening to music or being outdoors also helps.  

SketchDeck: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Sarah: There are two things really – one which applies almost universally to everything I do for work, but also fits in some areas of my personal life – I just never thought of it for marketing before, which is “Think Globally, Act Locally.” With the internet, information is flat, so for example, you can’t assume that a product press release is just going to stay in the country where you are releasing that product.

So you have to set the expectations about where it’s available; not that long ago it really was not an issue, but today it can cause all kinds of headaches if you make the wrong assumptions about who is receiving your content.

I think this is a challenge for a lot of companies these days and it is important to think about the message and its impact on a broader scale. The other advice is “to always try to see the opportunity in every challenge” – this has served me well and allows me to think outside the box when it is most important.

SketchDeck: How do you deal – and keep up with – the rapid changes in marketing?

Sarah: I think that the only way to do that is to have a good team with the right mix of specialties.  The explosion of the MarTech Stack is impossible for one person to keep up with and you will drive yourself crazy if you attempt to do so. There are several of us who post things about new ideas, new tech and then there is typically one person who will explore it a bit further and see if and how it can be applicable for our group or our business.  

SketchDeck:  How do you manage resource constraints?

Sarah: Well, now that there is an ever-growing ‘gig economy,’ there are a lot of things I can send to be outsourced. I spend time every so often cultivating some freelance designers, copy editors, etc. to help me with some overflow here and there, but for brand consistency and dependability I partner with companies like SketchDeck, which has been a fairly significant load lift.

SketchDeck: What’s the last thing you do before you leave work?

Sarah: Scan email quickly to be sure nothing urgent has come in, tidy up my desk and decide what I’m taking with me to work on at home.

SketchDeck: How many unread emails do you currently have?

Sarah: At this moment, I have 642 unread emails

SketchDeck: What are 3 apps you recommend to friends?

Sarah: Dashlane, Slack, and Basecamp

SketchDeck: What is a product or company you think is really well marketed (ideally not in tech) Why do you think their marketing is great?

Sarah: Three that stick out are:

-Budwiser’s Wassup – they created something silly but that captured the world quickly and became iconic.

-Old Spice – a serious company also poking some fun at itself and breaking out to appeal to a younger generation and to both sexes

-There are lots of other beauty / self-care products that are breaking some molds, like Dove for example.  Also a lot of the social justice campaigns from Amnesty International are heavy hitting, but people are tending to remember them, speak about them.  

SketchDeck: Yokogawa is an international company based in Japan. How do you effectively communicate and collaborate with colleagues in different time zones and cultures?

Sarah: It takes some flexibility and effort. We speak digitally on project boards and emails frequently and then we have live WebEx meetings either in the early morning or later evening.  Sometimes I have been on a call with people from Japan as late as 11pm or midnight EST, but typically I would be done by 10 pm at the latest.

It is important to recognize where things can get lost in translation and address those as quickly as possible. Many people in every one of our regional offices speaks English fairly well, but there are different degrees of understanding what they read or hear.  

SketchDeck: What does your workspace setup look like? 

Sarah: This is Slightly embarrassing but also fun!

A big thanks and congratulations to Sarah Lopez – you’re a marketing visionary!

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