Introducing Alan See, a seasoned marketing expert with a rich and diverse career spanning over 16 years. As a fractional CMO, he’s been instrumental in helping organizations boost their brand presence and generate valuable sales leads.
Alan’s impressive influence and innovative approaches in the marketing field have earned him well-deserved recognition, including being named in Forbes’ “Top 50 Most Influential CMOs on Social Media” and honored as the American Marketing Association’s “Marketer of the Year.”
His commitment to sharing knowledge is evident through numerous publications and his role as an associate professor of marketing and associate faculty at the University of Phoenix.
Alan’s current mission is to empower a diverse range of clients, from global brands to startups in the SaaS and eLearning sectors, to unleash their full potential and attain profitable growth. We’re thrilled to delve into his insights and experiences in this interview.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started in your field?
I was introduced to the world of sales and marketing in the 1970s thanks to my father’s Radio Shack franchise. As a teenager, I received front-line experience dealing with customers. And I can tell you, when you are working for your dad, you can’t afford to get the customer experience wrong! After completing my BBA and MBA it didn’t take long to realize that the old “Rolodex” system that I had become familiar with was losing ground rapidly. I was fortunate to be an early adapter of the LinkedIn platform in 2002, and Twitter shortly after it was first released. Social media and content marketing just took off for me from there.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career, and how did you overcome them?
Neither of my parents was able to complete their High School education. In fact, my father was a 17-year-old U.S. Marine during the Korean Conflict. So, the fact that I’ve been able to attend institutions like the United States Naval Academy, Grinnell College, and Abilene Christian University is a blessing. But I would encourage you to read “A Message to Garcia” by Elbert Hubbard. Yes, it was written in 1899, and many would say that in today’s world, the message is not relevant. But they are wrong. If you haven’t first learned to follow directions and be a good team player, you probably won’t be a good leader. Having said that, the proliferation of media and distribution channels, combined with consumers increasing demand for communications relevance, has created the perfect marketing storm for marketing leaders. As a result, the need for a more rigorous content marketing discipline and social media competency has never been greater.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned throughout your career, and how have they influenced your approach to leadership?
I can answer that question in just six words: “Old dog, new tricks, no problem!” In the long run, the only sustainable competitive advantage a person (leader) or company has is their ability to learn faster than their competition. Effective leaders realize that they cannot leave school as “A Manager-in-a-Box” and never look back. They need to be lifelong learners ready to engage in a lifetime of business challenges.
One thing that people don’t know about you?
My fourth great-grandfather was at Valley Forge with George Washington. So, I’m very patriotic, and active with the “Sons of the American Revolution.” In fact, I’m one of the SAR’s main social media voices at the local, state, and national levels.
What advice would you give to young professionals or entrepreneurs who are just starting out in your field?
The short answer is to build and nurture TRUST. I remember a story about a shoe repair shop as told by one of their long-time customers. It’s a heartwarming small business tale that I think you’ll enjoy. The sole proprietor is a cobbler at night; he holds down a delivery job during the day. His shoe repair business is built on a self-service model that depends on trust. Customers leave their shoes for repair in a converted newspaper vending machine located on his front porch. Shoes that are ready for pick-up as well as the money folder are also in the machine. Yes, I said the money folder. Customers pick up their shoes and leave their payment, and in over 25 years he did not lose money. Without trust, relationships will not move forward. In fact, I often think of building trust through the following formula:
Trust = (Rapport x Credibility) / Risk
In a global economy, we read plenty about earning customer trust. However, you don’t see much written about trusting the customer. Can you earn trust without giving it? I believe that trust is what really holds our economy together.
At the end of this interview, we want to express our deepest gratitude to Alan See for sharing his incredible journey and insights. His story, starting with his father’s Radio Shack franchise, his academic journey, and early adaptation to social media and content marketing, is truly inspiring.
Overcoming challenges like the increasing complexity of marketing channels and the demand for communication relevance with determination and rigor exemplifies his resilient spirit. His six-word lesson on learning continuously is a profound reminder of the value of adaptability.
Alan’s advice on building and nurturing trust, both earning it and giving it, resonates deeply. Trust, indeed, is the cornerstone of any successful relationship, be it personal or professional.
Thank you, Alan, for your time, knowledge, and the wisdom you’ve shared. Your journey is a testament to the power of learning, adaptability, and trust, which undoubtedly inspires us all.
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