Tara Sharp, Head of Marketing and Chief Marketing Officer at Sonic, discussed "fearless marketing" and what it means for today's marketers during her keynote address. Sharp offered details about Sonic, its mission, and how the company deploys fearless marketing to stir up interest from businesses and consumers.
According to Sharp, the internet is broken. Fortunately, Sonic is committed to helping businesses and consumers reap the benefits of fast, efficient internet.
Sonic is one of the fastest-growing internet service providers, thanks in part to its commitment to fearless marketing. The business has implemented a forward-thinking approach that focuses on driving innovation and empowering customers with some of the fastest internet speeds in the world.
Although Sonic offers top-of-the-line internet services, the company faced an uphill climb to compete against industry-leading brands. Thus, Sonic needed to find a way to generate interest from businesses and consumers in a highly competitive global marketplace.
"Technologies are changing, and if you don't adapt, you'll be left behind in the dust."
To accomplish its goals, Sonic needed to differentiate itself from Comcast, AT&T and other globally recognized internet service providers. Sonic discovered a unique voice, and by doing so, has been able to distinguish itself from its rivals.
"At Sonic, we were totally fearless. We said DSL is done. Cable is done. And that was what we based our business on," Sharp pointed out. "We knew we were going to do something new, stop talking like Comcast and AT&T and make a totally new voice."
Ultimately, Sonic fosters collaboration and innovation across its marketing team. The business wants its marketing team to embrace new technologies and explore ways to integrate these technologies into their everyday operations.
"Technologies are changing, and if you don't adapt, you'll be left behind in the dust," Sharp stated. "We had to do something totally different. And in order to do that, we had to be fearless."
Marketers who continue to stick with the status quo may actually do more harm than good for their businesses. These marketers risk deploying technologies that deliver consistent results but fail to help a business stand out from the competition.
"In order to grow, we need to make mistakes and figure things out."
Instead, marketers must be willing to try new technologies and test and evaluate these technologies. If marketers are willing to experiment with new technologies, these professionals could drive unparalleled innovation.
As part of its fearless marketing approach, Sonic encouraged its marketing team to step outside of its comfort zone and innovate. The approach led the company to discover innovative ways to differentiate itself from the competition, leading to significant results.
"We knew that if we stayed the same, we would die," Sharp said. "We had to dig deep and just go for it … and be fearless."
Sonic also promoted a mission that its customers could support. The mission was far different from that of other internet service providers, and as such, helped Sonic make a bold impression on consumers and businesses.
"We are an internet service company that represents the people, not profits," Sharp noted. "It was a huge risk for us. It was really scary for us, and it paid off. But it could have been a colossal mistake."
Today, Sonic continues to encourage its marketing team to explore new ideas. The company is unafraid of mistakes and wants its marketers to experiment, even if new initiatives sometimes fail.
"We need to encourage our team to try new things," Sharp indicated. "Some of the people who work for me have the greatest ideas … and they know I will approve their ideas and give anything a try ... We strive for perfection all the time, and a lot of people on your team probably aren't comfortable with making mistakes," Sharp said. "In order to grow, we need to make mistakes and figure things out."
Going forward, marketing teams should consider the benefits of implementing a fearless approach to marketing. This approach generally requires trial and error, resulting in the occasional mistake. However, marketers who act fearlessly may be better equipped to help a company drive innovation like never before.
"The marketing world so quickly, and we don't know exactly what we're doing," Sharp pointed out. "In order to get the greatest hits, you have to act like an entrepreneur. You have to try new things, and you have to make mistakes."
Tara Sharp is the Head of Marketing for Sonic, the Internet + Telephone company that is recognized for building innovative Gigabit Fiber Internet infrastructures in the US. Tara is responsible for branding, communications, marketing and public relations at Sonic. A graduate of Sonoma State University and an International Ambassadorial Scholar graduate from the International Business program at Murdoch University, Tara is an adjunct professor at Sonoma State and teaches marketing, entrepreneurship and international business to undergraduate and MBA students. Tara spent nearly 20 years in the wine industry prior to Sonic, working for Kendall-Jackson, Jackson Family Wines and Paul Hobbs Winery, and launching and later selling an internationally heralded wine brand, Capture Wines. Outside of the wine industry, Tara co-founded 18 Rabbits Granola and Granola Bars. Tara has been featured on CNN International, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Yahoo!, NBC, The Press Democrat and other news sources. She lives in Mill Valley with her husband and two children.