March 07, 2022

The Heroes Are Coming: Treating hockey like a blockbuster movie sold 525,000 tickets – Podcast Episode #7


I see this in the technology industry all the time – we get so complex communicating about our products. Do potential customers comprehend the value?

It’s true of many other products as well. In our latest podcast episode, we bring you an example from the world of sports illustrating how you can avoid complexity in your marketing strategy.

Listen in to hear stories filled with lessons from Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz, Director of Global Marketing for Consumer Gaming, EPOS (formerly Sennheiser Communications). Lessons about positioning marketing as a commercial discipline and mastering stakeholder management to get people to buy into your idea.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

The Heroes Are Coming: Treating hockey like a blockbuster movie sold 525,000 tickets – Podcast Episode #7

This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

Keep it simple. You are nothing without the people around you. If you have dreams, pursue them or let them go.

These are a few of the lessons from the stories Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz, Director of Global Marketing for Consumer Gaming, EPOS (formerly Sennheiser Communications) shared with me in Episode #7 of the How I Made It in Marketing podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Listen on Amazon Music

Stories (with lessons) about what she made in marketing

Some lessons from Sand-Grimnitz that emerged in our discussion:

Keep it simple…both in defining the problem/need of the consumer and developing the solution and communication to meet that need

Sand-Grimnitz led sales and marketing for Denmark’s hosting of the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship (which has an estimated global viewership of 1.3 billion people). But Danes don’t know ice hockey. Instead of a campaign explaining ice hockey, she kept it simple by focusing on the entertainment/leisure budgets of potential attendees, and focused on the entertainment aspect – adrenaline, action, competition. In the end, the campaign sold 525,000 tickets, generated more than 130 million Danish krone in revenue (116% of the target), and became fifth largest world championship ever hosted with 52 percent of tickets sold abroad and 48 percent sold in Denmark.

You are nothing without the people around you

When she lived in Singapore, Sand-Grimnitz was part of building the sports media brand, ONE Championship. She was in her hotel room working late to prepare for the mixed martial arts brand’s first Pan-Asian Summit. She rushed down to the first floor where she saw the entire team working on packing gift bags for the hundreds of guests. She went in, got what she needed and went back to her room thinking, “good, they are on that, and I am on the rest.” In her mind it all made sense, and in the end, the team executed an extremely successful industry summit. However, in the eyes of her team, they saw a leader that didn’t pitch in and wasn’t part of the team. That one incident came back to haunt her, but she eventually overcame it (which she explained in a story later in the podcast).

Positioning marketing as a commercial discipline

Going into her first budget meeting with C-level management at EPOS, Sand-Grimnitz thought it was enough to put the marketing plan, KPIs (key performance indicators) and needed budget in front of them. But that didn’t cut it. She went back and restructured the presentation to communicate a more holistic plan – showing how the campaign played into the broader go-to-market strategy. This approach was much more successful

Stories (with lessons) about the people she made it with

Sand-Grimnitz also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with in her career:

Keld Strudahl, Founder, BrandActivators & Sports Marketing Strategies: If you master stakeholder management and getting people to buy into your plan/idea, the sky is the limit.

While Strudahl and Sand-Grimnitz were at Carlsberg Group, she briefed the top three men and women from the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup about a brand activation. She got in there, used marketing industry terms, and just told them what to do. Strudahl gently pulled her aside and told her that these were human beings and if she needed something from them, even something they were on contract to do, she would need to speak to them in a “language” they would understand and acknowledge that they, not the brand, were the stars that day.

Victor Cui, President and CEO, Edmonton Elks: The power of being a humble leader when called for

This takes place after the gift bag incident (she told that story earlier in the podcast) when Cui and Sand-Grimnitz were at ONE Championship. Cui informed her that he would scold her publicly at the upcoming team meeting for not pitching in when the team needed her – basically telling her in front of the team that no one, regardless of title, was too good to pitch in when it was needed, be it prepping gift bags or something else. She trusted him in his judgement and at the next team meeting she took the beating, and suddenly the team went a bit easier on her and gave her a second chance.

Iris Isabella Engelund, CEO & Founder, “Play Your Talent”: If you have dreams, pursue them or let them go

Engelund has coached Sand-Grimnitz on and off for the past three years. She called Engelund once saying she was feeling restless and not motivated and didn’t understand why – her job was good and interesting, career path was moving in the right direction, etc. Engelund sat her down and talked through it all and within an hour, they had mapped out a five-year plan for professional ambitions, but also the dreams beyond that. They had, for example, taken “I want to do executive and advisory board work,” from a fluffy statement to an actionable plan spanning from getting started on the right executive board education to putting a focus on how to brand herself.

A podcast episode and a free toolkit mentioned in this episode:

How to Model Your Customer’s Mind

500 Mangled, Stretchy Rubber Guys: Make sure you have the right marketing partner for your super creative plan – Podcast Episode #3


Not ready for a listen just yet? Interested in searching the content? No problem. Below is a rough transcript of our conversation.

Daniel Burstein: I see this in the tech world all the time, we get so complex talking about our products, right, the feeds and speeds and all these great technologies, but does anyone understand the benefit to them? Hey, I'm sure that's true in many other products as well.

We've got a great example from the world of sports today, how keeping it simple led to 525,000 tickets sold to the Ice Hockey World Championship. Our guest is also going to share other lessons from what she's made. You are nothing without the people around you and positioning marketing as a commercial discipline, something we all need to learn how to do. Plus, she's going to share stories from the people she collaborated with, illustrating lessons like if you master stakeholder management and getting people to buy into your plan or idea, the sky is the limit. The power of being a humble leader when called for, and if you have dreams, pursue them or let them go.

Joining me today is Maya Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz, the Director of Global Marketing for consumer gaming at EPOS. Thanks for joining us, Maja.

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: Well, thank you for having me.

Daniel Burstein: That's great. And so I'm just going to do a quick rundown of your LinkedIn. Some interesting things that jumped out at me so that people can understand your background, I see you were a marketing consultant at MasterCard. You were the Senior Director of Commercial Development at One Championship where you worked with brand partners like Disney, L'Oreal, LG and many more. You were the Head of Global Marketing for Consumer Gaming at Sennheiser Communications, and now you are the Director of Global Marketing for Consumer Gaming at EPOS. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you're working on right now?

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz:  Yeah, absolutely. Well, EPOS is actually the, how should I say, new brand for the old Sennheiser Communication. We were joint venture and at one point our owners, the Demant Group, decided to kind of move ahead with Sennheiser in a different direction. And out of that came a new company.

So, we are this weird hybrid of a company that's been around for 15 years, but a completely new brand in a highly competitive market. And my role I came on board just when we did the merger was simply, that's not the right word to use, but was to roll out the brand in the in the gaming space. So, headset's, audio peripherals for gamers, content creators and streamers. So that little task of making a new brand to work in in that very, very competitive market, and that's when I go to job, I work every day to do.

Daniel Burstein: Great and you have some pretty cool looking headphones right now that I can say those are those EPOS headphones.

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: They are EPOS headphones. Yes. And then I also have my streaming mic. We launched the whole new portfolio last year with our new brand EPOS. We're moving from a open folio that Sennheiser branded it into the EPOS branded portfolio.

So, it's been quite the ride and I've been part of building the whole global marketing team that's making this brand come to life out in the world.

Daniel Burstein: OK, very cool. We're going to learn a lesson from your time at EPOS in just a minute. But first, let’s look at some of your previous roles. So, your first lesson from one of the things you made in your marketing career was to keep it simple. Tell us about this lesson when you were the CMO at Carlsberg HQ.

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: Well, I joined a Carlsberg as my first job, actually, so I wasn't. I wasn't the CMO at Carlsberg. I was the CMO at the Ice Hockey World Championship. But at Carlsberg was my very first job right out of my master’s degree, which by the way, was in finance. I was heading for the bank and investment world and then I got into this job and my heart was, you know, won over by marketing my, my mentor and my first manager.  He's had one mantra and he was like, keep it simple, the moment you start to overcomplicate marketing and start to think you know that you can foresee every little thing and get every little detail right from the start, you're going to overcomplicate it. It is going to take too long to get to market with what you want to do. And you're going to forget what was that one thing you actually wanted to happen with what you're doing?

When I joined many years later as a CMO of the Ice Hockey World Championship which was taking place in Denmark. The first thing I thought was, well I'm selling tickets. We had one way of revenue and that was ticket sales, and I'm selling tickets to a sport that isn't big in this market. It's also a world championship that happens every year. So, I also needed to sell to foreigners. But why should they come to Denmark? These ice hockey fans would wait for next year, where it's taking place in, say, Russia or Sweden, like a true ice hockey nation.

And I was like, well, I need to then start educating people about ice hockey and the sport, and it's the project grew bigger and bigger. And suddenly, it just hit me, we got to keep it simple. We have one-and-a-half-year to make these sales. We can't educate a whole population about a new sport. We can’t make Denmark into the new ice hockey nation towards the big group of ice hockey fans abroad. And so, I turned it around and said, OK, what is it actually, we're selling here. Let's get back to the root of what we're selling here. We're selling entertainment. You go to a sport to get into the team to have fun with your friends, to enjoy yourself.

And if you can go to the sport you want to go to, then you go to the movie or you go out for dinner or you do something else for entertainment. And then we made that one simple line that what we were selling here was like a blockbuster movie. It was ice hockey, yes. But really, we wanted people to be thinking, I don't care if I know ice hockey or not, but this is the event I can't miss because it's the blockbuster of the year, so I got to go.

And that that simple little tweak suddenly meant that we could go out to a much broader audience. It became so clear for us what it was we wanted to do. We wanted to entertain people and we wanted them to come in and have fun, and we wanted them years from the event taking place to be talking about that time when they went with a few friends or family to the ice hockey world championship. It was a completely different take. It took a lot of convincing of a lot of our stakeholders. But yeah, in the end, we managed to sell 525,000 tickets, so we did something right on that one.

Daniel Burstein: Well, done, well, I think there's a lot of lessons there for any marketer with any product. I mean, one lesson for me. I live in Florida, so I was shocked to hear ice hockey wasn't big and like every place north of here.

But you know, that's probably true for sports, like you didn't want to try to sell the technicalities of ice hockey to a group that didn't understand ice hockey. But like I said, I've worked in technology for many years, and technology companies have that problem very frequently where, you know, if you have like a very technical oriented marketing team or technical oriented sales team, they're focused on these speeds and feeds and all these things. And you understand where in the organization that might fit, you know, in like a CTO role that might make sense.

But when you're selling into the business and we're going to get a great into a great example and a bit about you having to communicate business level when you were marketing level. But if you're tech and you're selling into the business and then you're talking about all these deep technology things, you know, it's kind of like talking about the deep, you know, different rules and stuff of ice hockey. People don't care. Right? So what matters to them, right? Their business goals and in the case of what you did was beautiful. What matters to them is, well, even if you don't know about ice hockey and you don't want to learn all the rules, you know everyone loves being entertained. So, I think it was the heroes are coming right that that was your line.

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: It goes back to that blockbuster idea, right? What do you do in sport? What do you love? You love to cheer for your for your fellow countrymen, whether or not you know what they are competing in. In Denmark we got up one year during the Olympics in the middle of the night. It was happening in Japan that year to watch curling. No one knew what curling was then. For some reason we were doing well all of a sudden, and people all over the country will get up in the middle of the night to watch the sport they had no clue on.

But why? Because they were entertained and because they were cheering for their countrymen. And I think to your point, right? It's  we tend to get a little bit into our own bubble. I see it also in the world. I mean, today we are so into our products and so proud of them as we rightly should be. But we tend to make the mistake that everyone else is as much into them.

And you should never forget the core, like the core ice hockey fans or the core audio files. If you're selling headsets who where you need to show that you have the expertise, you can't come across as not having the expertise to go on that detail level . But for a broad part of your audience, you got to find out what is that one thing they're are looking for and it's not always what you find the most interesting, necessarily.

Daniel Burstein: So, it’s not what we care about, it's what they care about. That's what we've got to focus on. Yeah. But some other numbers, too. Just to mention, I think it was over 130 million Danish kroners in sales that was 116% of the target became the fifth largest world championship ever hosted, 52% of tickets were sold abroad and 40% of tickets were sold in Denmark. So just one last question, you mentioned having to sell Denmark to the world. What did you do with the campaign there of getting more than half the tickets from outside of Denmark.

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: We actually we went a bit in the same direction and just said, Look, look, we know you can go every year to watch your favorite sport and you could probably go to a country where they are a lot more like a, true, to be fair, ice hockey nation. We're more of a soccer nation.

But look, if you come to our place, we're going to give you the best party of the year. Combine that with the sport that you love. And then, by the way, we partnered with all the tourist organizations in Denmark because there was, of course, a great interest in them in using this to promote all the things you can do in Denmark so that you could make a trip out of it. And we partnered with like the hotel business and restaurant business so that, you know, the whole city became an attraction on their own.

Daniel Burstein: You know, there is a great lesson there, too, for all conference marketers, we had  the MarketingSherpa Summit for many years. And I would be excited like, “oh, well, people come to the thing because, you know, I would do interviews on stage would do these very detailed case studies.” So that's why people come to the summit. And, you know, I'm sure some people did, but we talked to a lot of them, and you know, we had it at the ARIA in Las Vegas and they're like. “Well, yeah, not to put you down, but you know, it's between this or Indianapolis. And we're like, hey, we like to come to the ARIA in Las Vegas in February, when it's like -20 degrees in our hometown.” So, anyone, anyone hosting a conference, I think there's a great lesson there from Maja as well.

Well, let's talk about your next lesson. You said you are nothing without the people around you, and this is a great lesson for anyone in leadership. So, this was in your time in Singapore I think so tell us what happened here.

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: Yeah. So, I lived in Singapore for eight years and five of those I were part of building and launching a new sport media brand called One Championship. It was our version of the UFC, which I guess is the well-known one more globally.

And I came in when we were five people just starting this company. Today, it's a global company that has TV production and you name it. But I was part of the beginning. I was brought in to sit like next to the CEO and kind of be his right hand to get things moving and to make sure that, you know, we have a project. This is what we need to get done, get it done, move people in the right direction, and I happen to be very good at that.

But what then happens sometimes is that you forget that getting people to follow you if you really want to do it in a good way, is not just saying this is what I need, go do it, but it's actually to get them to buy into your vision for what you are delivering and have that team feel and team ownership. So, we were hosting the very first summit for the industry, which was mixed martial arts. We had VIPs from the industry flying in from all over the world. We had the corporate partners, the television networks, everyone coming to Singapore. This was where we were to position our new company and brand as the leader out of the APAC (Asia Pacific) region.

And of course, I was very focused on that. I had some great people with me. And one night, just before we have our opening day, I'm in my room at the hotel where we are hosting it. And I'm sitting and I'm getting the rundowns and itineraries, and everything done. And I remember I forgot something in the main conference hall, and I go down there and my whole team is there and they are packing gift bags. And in my head, I'm just thinking great. They are on it, gift bags will be ready. All is good and I walk in, I get my stuff and leave again.

What I didn't think about was for all of them, they saw a leader, a senior person in the company coming in, not recognizing that they were sitting at 2:00 a.m. in the night packing gift bags, which, by the way, wasn't the job of half of them, right? They were Marketers and salespeople. And what have you?  And then leaving again, not even offering acknowledgment or a hand to pitch in. And that is probably one of the toughest lessons I've learned, because that really humbled me in learning the hard way that, you know, if you don't have your team buying into your vision and feeling ownership and feel that you're lifting together, then then you lose them. And afterwards, yes, we delivered a hell of a conference. But I also had to do a lot of damage control afterwards for them to respect me again as a senior person in the company because I lost respect on that.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. Well, first of all, thank you for conveying that story and we're going to get into in the podcast a little later how Maja overcame that. But I think there's a great lesson there, not just for business leadership, but for marketing as well, because when we don't give people an understanding and a reason behind things, then they're just going to come to their own conclusions and their own conclusions may have nefarious aims behind them, whatever they might not think well of us or our brand. And there's something I thought of when you told that story was Jacksonville, Florida here where I live, is a very fast growing city. And so, there's a lot of dump trucks on the road and these big dump trucks, they have a sign, and it says like, keep back 300 feet and they're all over the highway and the road. And when I'm driving, I think, you know, you're not going to tell me what to do. I'll drive wherever I want. I'm not going to keep back 300 feet.

Then I was behind this one truck, and it said, keep back 300 feet, not responsible for broken windshields. And that was a huge difference for me is like, OK, you gave me a reason and a justification for why I should keep back 300 feet and I will now keep back. And so I think it's the same in that situation and in many other situations, you're probably working your butt off in that hotel room upstairs, but they didn't realize that, all they see is someone coming down, doing whatever and leaving, you know, they don't see someone pitching in. And I'm sure that little thing, in hindsight, if you'd said, Hey, here's what I'm working on now. Thanks for doing this, guys. Here's what I'm working on. We're going to have an awesome conference that little, you know, two sentence conversation might have made a huge difference.

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: That little acknowledgment. And maybe also, you know. You said put like a meaning into what you're doing saying, you know, guys, that you guys are pegging, this means that all the corporate sponsors, we have to get what we have promised them when we sold them this as part of the marketing package.  You know, so so your job, even though you're packing gift bags, it's actually incredibly important for the funding for next year's event.

Daniel Burstein: That is such a good point in leadership putting meaning into the work. So, I've read this article once it's great about the production of iPads in a factory in China, and the reporter had brought one of the factory workers over. I mean, they were working, I don't know, seven days a week, twelve hours a day. Incredibly hard workers and her job, all she did every day, all day was she took a microchip and she like, glued it to a motherboard. That’s it, microchip motherboard. And so the reporter showed her the iPad, and she actually had no idea what she was making. She just saw, you know, microchip-motherboard. And she actually burst into tears when she saw the iPad she was making because she didn't realize she was part of creating such a beautiful thing.

And so I think that's another great leadership example when everyone understands the role they're playing in the organization of what they're building. They are a lot more motivated than if you just say, here's the task go do it. It might be more efficient.

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: Exactly, it doesn't matter what level you are on in an organization, right? That'll always you just have to put yourself in people's shoes. Well, I also want to know from my managers or peers, why am I doing this, right? Does it make value?

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. Well, so let's talk about putting yourself in people's shoes in kind of the opposite direction in the C-level leaders in an organization. So, you mentioned another lesson here, positioning marketing as a commercial discipline. So how did you learn this lesson?

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: Well, it's something that, first of all, has always really interested me. As I might have mentioned, I did a master’s in finance and thought I was heading into investment banking, and then I found out that that's no fun. And I ended up in marketing. But, you know, I'm a very numbers and data person, so that need to link marketing to the commercial part of the business has always been really something I was interested in.

And then I came into the role I'm in now, which is a company that has been very much a B2B company. If you can still say that I know it's today we're human to human, but using that old fashioned term. And suddenly I discovered that, you know, they spoke a very different language. And also, when you go into C-level managers who are not into the marketing day-to-day, they speak a completely different language, right, they speak a language around business impact numbers and monitoring day to day the stock of the company.

And suddenly you come in and you talk about like great creative solutions. And look isn't this amazing and look how creative this is, and it's it easily then becomes so has always been the pitfall of marketing, right? The fun and gimmick departments to be if I'm really to be extreme, right? So. In the role, I mean, now it was simply just a requirement that I were able to go in and explain, we have this new brand, we have rolling it out in a consumer space. What does that mean? What does that require of resources? Because, you know, I needed to ensure I had the resources and the budget to set us up for success. But to explain that I had to go a completely different route of linking everything to what business impact will we have. And that's tough, right? I think we often still trying to solve that in marketing. How do you measure what a sponsorship will do for you at the bottom line of the company?

But really, what we do in our company, we always work with the marketing funnel. And then, you know, on one side, I have here are the marketing metrics and the inputs that goes into the machine at each level of the funnel. And then here are the business impact inputs that come out to the degree possible. But then tracking through the funnel how they kind of link, so from getting people into the top line of the funnel and getting more and more people into to the EPOS funnel, so to speak, and then pushing them through all the way through point of sale, what is the input which is marketing that goes in and what's the business impact that comes out?

And I think that's an ongoing challenge. And I think it's something that, you know, we have a tendency in marketing to sometimes complain that we don't have a position that at the board levels and so on. But that's also because we've got to learn to speak this language. We've got to learn to speak the business, impact language of marketing. And maybe sometimes we also have to develop new terminologies to speak it, because I'm not certain it's always completely there, how we think the whole funnel to what impact it has.

Daniel Burstein: Did you go into the meeting earlier? You presented it one way and then you came back and you presented in other way and had a bigger impact or?

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: Yeah. Exactly. I went in first and also, you know, I thought, well, you asked me to come with a plan for how to roll out the brand. And here, here it is, here’s the grand plan. I will do this campaign; it will cost this much. I will do this place and these stores, it'll cost that much, you know, and they sat there and were like, OK, so you sold us a lot of nice images and mockups, and then you gave us a really large number. But yeah.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah the large number was the cost, right!

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz:  Yeah, yeah, exactly the budget, right? But how does it all track back to the world that we live in, which is which is top line and bottom-line management on a day to day level, right?

Daniel Burstein: And then you came back with those numbers and had a much better plan.

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: Yeah. And then, you know, it's today we live in a very digital world. We can track every spend at all levels. But we still have an upper funnel level, which is the more difficult things to track in terms of ... I'm running a billboard, for example, or, you know, I'm doing a sponsorship. How does that impact directly to the bottom line? But we got to do our best in demonstrating that and we got to talk. We have a tendency to talk input, you know, opening rates, number of emails. We send out, number of people we reach. We got to get to talking business impact. OK, but what did those number of people, how many then went in and actually spent time on our page or bought something, right? So, I think we tend to forget there’s input and there is business impact.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. You know, the biggest thing, the biggest goal we have as marketers, hopefully are things like empathy and curiosity, and so you talked about being a marketing leader, you know as a market leader, you are usually somewhere in the middle of an organization. So, there's the people that report to us. We kind of have to understand what they're going through, but I’ll tell you something that opened my eyes earlier in my career about what business leaders are going through. I thought the people leading the company well, they're just making all the decisions. They're not reporting to everyone, they're doing what they want.

And then I had a chance to be on earnings calls so I would help with the communications for earnings calls. And it really opened my eyes and checked my eyes earlier in my career because this was a software company that was growing pretty fast. It was like double digit growth. But if let's say, you know, if it grew 11% that quarter, but if analysts predicted, you know, 14% or 12%, you know, that was going to be a tough call because analysts were hitting them hard about getting into all these detailed numbers.

And then if you get into an international organization, too, there's all the exchange rates and all these things. And so, it just kind of opened my eyes when I, you know, working with these, you know, leaders of the organization because I was in executive communications, I thought, well, they're just calling these shots and they're doing what they want to do. And then I realized, we really all at the end of the day, have to communicate to someone and whoever you're communicating with, if you can help understand who are they going to have to go to next? And that includes, you know, the CEO, whoever you know, C-level people in your organization, like you said, are they going to the board? Are you going to be at the board? Who is the board going to have to communicate with shareholders, analysts, you know, or if the private company, you know that maybe a family that owns it, you know, really understanding that? And what I found is positioning those people for success. If you can position those people for this success, for that next conversation they have to have, then you'll be successful.

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, and I think that's we just got to remember, that's also part of our job as marketers. If we want marketing to truly be what it can be within a commercial discipline, right? Something that the company rests on and that will carry the company's success. But then we need to be able to talk this language and exactly help our stakeholders explain it to the next level and the next level.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, and I think the other thing is, can you talk about, you know, making sure marketing has a seat at the table? I think what marketing can own in the organization better than anyone is an understanding of the customer.

So, like one thing we've produced is how to model your customer’s mind. It's an easy tool to help you understand how to like, OK, get an understanding of what customers are doing and thinking. And with things like A/B testing or, you know, there's other ways you can actually get some data and metrics behind, you know, some revenue behind these things. But if you come to the table too and you're able to say, hey, here's some proof that I understand the customer, you have a reason for being there because as Peter Drucker said, the only reason that organization exists is to serve a customer.

And when it serves a customer, other good things happen, profit, and you know, shareholders are happy, but serving your customers, and that's I think really another key thing is getting that understanding of the customer. I mean, that play and all when you were kind of rolling out EPOS to try to, you know, get customers more

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: one of the first thing I did when I came into the organization was, we had done, initially, that was just before I joined. They’d done a study on we have a part of the business that's gaming audio peripherals, which is what I work on, and we have the part that is enterprise solution. We were looking into; can you have the same brand across that? And through that, we identified customers purchase decision at a very functional level. Right. So, like, I look for ANC (automatic noise canceling) in my headsets or a microphone that can do this or that.  One of the first things I did when I came in was, I added a layer to that study and I looked into what are the emotional purchase drivers and specifically when I then did research where we mapped the marketplace, but from the consumer's point of view.

So, we had them place all our competitive brands within a marketplace. We had them applying emotional purchase drivers for each brand. And I think that's exactly to your point. That's what we need to own in marketing that expertise. Because, and it really should be what we naturally owned, right? Because if we do our job the right way, then we have the pulse on the finger for our consumers and the marketplace at the various levels. So that was very much part of how we started to get the whole organization to think in this more consumer centric and B2C way.

Daniel Burstein: Great, and that really kind of ties back to your ice hockey example. Don't just get into all the technical aspects to the customer, understand that the emotions that drive us. So that's great. OK, so we talked about some of the things that Maja made in her marketing career. That's a great thing we have as marketers, you know, and a lot of other industries, a lot of other professions, you know, you don't really walk away saying, I made this thing. I think another key thing of marketing is we collaborate with people and all these teams we get to work with, like Maja was saying earlier.

And so, let's see what we can learn from the people that Maja has collaborated with. So, the first person and feel free to correct any mispronunciations I have is, Keld Strudahl and is currently the Founder of Brand Activators and Sports Marketing Strategies. And from Keld, you learned if you master stakeholder management and getting people to buy into your plan or idea, the sky is the limit. So, how did you learn this from Keld?

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: Yeah Keld, he gave me a lot of things. He was actually also my manager at Carlsberg, so he was also the one with keep it simple. So, I have a lot to thank this guy for. No, we sat in the sports marketing department of Carlsberg and sponsorships was a huge pillar within the marketing mix, still is, of that brand in the company. And one of my roles were to do the activation of the global sponsorships we did. So Keld would get the sponsorships, he would lay out the plan and I was then the one executing on it.

And we were at an event that Carlsberg has built where we invite the top three male and female skiers within the Alpine World Cup. So, you have some of the best athletes from the discipline present here. And in my head, they were, well, you're here to help me promote my brand, right? That's what we're paying you for. That's why you're here. And we have the grand marketing plan for what I need to get out of you guys to promote Carlsberg towards the consumer. And I was briefing them, and we had to go to this bar to do an event. And I, you know, I was in my marketing and business terminology. We have off trade and on trade and bars they are on trade. And I was like and when we hit the on trade, this is how I want you to act and you know I could just feel like blank space face, right?

But you know, I was young, and I had my eyes on the target. So, I was like, Yes, let's get going. And they. Like, Oh. You could hear them, sigh. And then you OK, another marketer, you're telling us what to do, but we have to. And they walked off and Keld. the very good mentor who was, he pulled me aside and he was like, you know, you got to remember that you need get people to buy into your idea. You need to manage them, speak their language, get them to buy into what you're doing. So yes, for you, they're going through this off trade event and doing something for a brand. But for them, it's like, oh, another sponsor engagement that we have to do.

Or you could turn it around. They are actually having that very few times of the year where they can relax with friends because they're all friends at that level. And they are not here to compete. They've been given the time to go and do this, and they're going to a bar. It could actually be quite fun for them. But you've got to sell it in like that. So, it was all about that stakeholder management and how to get people again to buy into to what it is like your vision, but on their terms.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, it's funny. Sometimes as marketers, we could do a good job of marketing to the customer, but then others, like people inside our own organization or in that case, you know, brand spokespeople. We forget, hey, you've kind of got to treat everyone that same way. Understand where they're coming from. Understand really the value proposition to them. So that's a great example. So, moving on to another story from Victor Cui, he is currently, he's currently the President and CEO of the Edmonton Elks. The power of being a humble leader when called for.

So, if we go back to the gift bag story where you were in the hotel, you came back, people were stuffing the gift bags, you went up, Victor had a great way to solve that, to kind of patch that with the team for you, right? How did you go about that?

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: So, he heard what had happened and he saw how it also affected having me as a senior person. He needed someone that the team respected and wanted to listen to, right? And he said, look I need to get it back to where you are at the rest of the team’s level now you acted in a way that kind of looked like you were elevated above them.

So, what I'm going to do in the team meeting when we evaluate after this summit is I'm basically going to tell you off for that behavior. I was like, whoa, I just delivered like this kick ass business summit that will help our business and you're going to tell me off. But you know, I've had the log of having some really strong managers and mentors in my life, Victor being one of them, and I trusted his judgment call on this one. So, I said, OK, let's do it. And he did that and it worked. It worked the way he said, you know, afterwards it was like, OK to the rest of the team was like, OK, so it's not accepted that we act like that in this company, and no one is this elevated above someone else independent of what their title is. And for me, the lesson was I just sometimes you just got you got it like just bend your head and say, OK, I'll take this one, I might think that's so unfair, and I didn't mean it that way, but you know, sometimes you just gotta say OK, but that was how it came across, and this is how I can best make good on that again.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. You know that humility lesson that it's something that comes up in the podcast over and over and over because we marketers, I mean, I've got an ego. You know, if we're if you're going to go out and create things to be a marketer, you're kind of that type of person that kind of has to have an ego. But leadership lessons are so important, to swallow it up. I remember talking to Michelle Burrows, it was episode three of the podcast, and she was talking about someone she'd worked with earlier in her career, who is now the CMO of Snowflake one of the biggest IPOs ever. And she said the thing that really struck her about this person wasn't that she was so brilliant and smart or creative or such a driver or any of these other things we would think.

It’s that she was humble, like she really understood, like, Hey, here's the piece that I'm good at. Here's the piece that I can really do well, and I need to surround myself with these other people that can do these other pieces, and I need to make them shine. And that was the biggest lesson.

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: Exactly, I think like to your point, also, sometimes we marketers, we need to believe in things 100% and believe we can do it because we set ourselves in the most impossible tasks at times, right? I mean, that's part of the role. But there's also you know that remembering that you can always learn and listen to others. And if you forget that you also risk that you know, yes, I'm right, 90% of the time, that 10% when I'm not right or I could get even better by listening to input or remembering to bring the team around on the journey. That's actually where we make the magic, right?

Daniel Burstein: Oh yeah. Biggest leaps in our own career. Right? So, let's talk about when Iris Isabella Engelund, CEO & Founder, “Play Your Talent” and from Iris, you learned if you have dreams, pursue them or let them go. How did you learn that?

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz:  I came back from Singapore spending eight years out there, being part of building a new company, so that anyone who's done that knows that that's a crazy journey. And then I went straight into this two-and-a-half-year project with Ice Hockey World Championship, which was light and then thinking that and suddenly I was done and I was OK. But then what? And for the first time in my career, I decided to talk to a coach. And one of the things that quickly came up was, you know, I have so many ideas and one day I would write this book and one day I will make this business network and one day I will be in this kind of position.

But I'm also so caught up in everyday life as everyone else and my career right here and now. And she was like, OK, but then let's start to actually get concrete about these things because you need to start today where you want to end up in five or ten years. You need to start that work today. And if you don't do that, then it constantly will consist of to be this one day I will do in the back of your head. But it'll just stress you out, right? So, either take action on it or move on to something else.

I was like, oh, wow, OK, so it's not enough for me to have grieved, you actually demand of me that I have thought through how I'm going to reach it, and then I'll start doing something already now. And that was a nice wake up call, but also, you know, so much energy once you start to get concrete because, you know, the worst thing that can happen is that you won't succeed with it, but then you try it right? And yeah.

Daniel Burstein: You know, I'm not really a fan of the word personal branding and stuff, right? But I think there is a good idea behind it that, you know, we as marketers, we look at organization and we don't just say, like, oh, I hope we'll get 525,000 ticket sales, right?

We actually have a plan, a very specific plan, a media plan and, you know, all these different things. But when it comes to our own selves and our own careers, it's so much easier to have, like you said, just an intention, right? Just an idea what we want to do and not get very specific about how we're going to hit that. That's great philosophy. Hey, thank you for all the stories. I just want to ask one final question for the audience that we could leave them on.

What are the key qualities of an effective marketer, in your opinion?

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: I think the effective marketer is one that stays curious, you know, constantly wants to learn. And as I said, have that finger on the pulse, what's happening out there? And then as one who is able to, as I constantly talk to my team about, get out of their own bubble, right?

You know, put yourself in your consumer's point of view or place yourself in your brand's shoes, but to get out of your little bubble where we're you know, that's how we are as human beings, right? We get caught up in everyday work and then suddenly we only see things from our point of view. And then it’s the marketer who can actually also understand the commercial side of the business and relate the two.

And that's not to say that you are to be the numbers person who can only talk, you know, lower funnel metrics conversion rates and so on. But it's to say that you understand the overall business and commercial strategy, and you can relate your marketing strategy directly to that, and you can speak the language that combines those two. You become that bridge between the creative part of marketing and then the business.

Daniel Burstein: That’s great, that’s another way another way to get out of your own bubble and I mean, really in this conversation, this sprawling conversation. We've talked about getting out of your own bubble not only to understand customers who may not even understand your product, like the ice hockey example, but you know the people that report to you, the people you report to, the leaders in your organization. You know, people are sponsoring, spokespeople for your brand. So, I think a lot of great examples from this podcast about what you just mentioned, Maja. Well, thanks for joining us. It was such a fun conversation all the way up there from Denmark.

Maja Frølunde Sand-Grimnitz: Well, thank you for having me. It was great to get to talk about all these things.

Daniel Burstein: Great and thank you to everyone for listening.

Improve Your Marketing

Join our thousands of weekly case study readers.

Enter your email below to receive MarketingSherpa news, updates, and promotions:

Note: Already a subscriber? Want to add a subscription?
Click Here to Manage Subscriptions