MarTech Interview with Sharon Harris, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Jellyfish

Sharon Harris, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Jellyfish talks about some core marketing and martech best practices in this MarTech Series interview:


Tell us a little about yourself Sharon, why did you venture into a marketing/sales role and what have been your greatest experiences in this line so far?

Early on in my career, I grew to understand the power storytelling has in connecting people and inspiring action. Marketing is essentially storytelling in one of its most powerful forms, in that it impacts every aspect of our lives. The ability to take on a role that enables me to be an influential part of that process – of shifting perception through impactful storytelling – that’s where I belong.

The past year highlighted the imperative that businesses recognize not just the needs of their customers but also the struggles they face day-to-day. I am fortunate to have had the experience of witnessing industries respond to those challenges on a human level; a process that is still evolving and hopefully will continue. Everyone is now listening and working through how to effectively take action, and what the impact of those efforts will be for their teams and the larger world.

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Take us through the Jellyfish product/platform…

Jellyfish is a global digital-first marketing partner that specializes in guiding our clients through the full trajectory of their digital transformation. To do this, we are continually expanding our own expertise within the digital spectrum and the platforms that support it. Jellyfish works with clients to advance their digital maturity, combining agency services with consultancy, training and cutting-edge technologies to meet today’s unique challenges around driving growth and sustainability.

We’d love to hear about some of Jellyfish’s key marketing initiatives since the pandemic began, and key takeaways from this phase as marketing plans have evolved.

There’s no question the pandemic accelerated the need for digital transformation, as every aspect of our lives moved online. To keep pace and remain a leader in navigating the business challenges for our clients, Jellyfish rapidly added valuable expertise to our arsenal in the form of global acquisitions. Five digital specialist companies were brought on board, bringing key talent to the table and fortifying our services portfolio in the areas of data analytics, e-commerce, content creation and localization. As we evolve our business, we see this as a differentiator in helping our clients become effective, agile players advancing their digital maturity within the new digital marketplace.

What are some of the marketing technologies you have always relied on in your marketing roles and can you take us through your Martech stack at Jellyfish?

Jellyfish is platform agnostic and serves all of the marketing technologies that have been my go-to’s over time. Our unique ability to draw upon varied expertise, blending creativity with technology on a global scale, is what enables our role as a true digital partner. 

Tech aside, however, we start with people. Brands need to have the right talent in place and, just as importantly, those teams need to be equipped with the best tools to advance digital maturation. 

Next, we focus on infrastructure. Specifically, is the client’s current set-up conducive to delivering on a digital transformation strategy? And how is their business framed around that infrastructure? Optimizing and building on what is in place is key to supporting a successful evolution.  

Data, and its ability to inform strategy, is another critical evaluation point. In an ever-evolving media ecosystem, consumer data collection is moving away from platforms; brands are now seeking ownership of their user experience. This requires proficiency in gathering, interpreting and utilizing data in ways brands may not have had to up to this point. We work with clients to educate and train in those areas, enabling the best use of that data.

Then there is my sweet spot – language and storytelling. With so many new and exciting ways for consumers to engage with brands digitally, maintaining and building upon that communication means speaking the language, and using it to tell stories through new channels on a global scale that are relevant and representative of all people.

What are some of the core marketing fundamentals that you feel brands in tech need to be relying on more now, seeing the current business environment and global trends?

At its core, successful marketing is about knowing your audience and delivering messages that are relevant and valuable to the user. The stories marketers tell must resonate with their audience’s needs and concerns, and the channels they use for those conversations must reflect our current environment. In today’s highly collaborative and connected world, tech brands need to provide the most advanced digital capabilities and refine them to deliver marketing messages that are compelling and accretive to the experience. Whether that message is business-focused, socially pertinent or put out there to delight an audience, the why behind it needs to be as strongly considered as the how

A few predictions that you have for the growth of the B2B software marketplace in general and how you see the marketing technology space shaping up?

It’s clear the growth in the MarTech space has moved front and center in the new digital landscape, with no signs of leveling off. To keep up, brands need to closely track digital advancements that can give them an advantage, and they need to position themselves with the right partners to help them succeed. When you combine tech advancements with leaders who embrace them and partners who strengthen them within a brand’s ecosystem, there is no limit to what can be achieved.

Some takeaways for marketing leaders in 2021: top factors they should keep in mind as they plan for the rest of the year?

As we push ahead, collaboration and communication will be the keys to successful leadership. Aligning with the right strategic partners will be paramount to reading the ever-changing digital landscape while becoming agile enough to navigate it quickly and effectively. That includes maximizing technology, business systems and human resources as well – everything across the board needs to be in sync. 

Internal communications will also continue to be critical. A CMO is not always given a seat at the senior-most table; if that’s the case, marketing leaders need to pull up their own chair. It’s critical that the entire C-suite understands complex, multifaceted digital marketing goals and directives, and vice versa. CMOs need to be the glue within the C-Suite to unite all areas of the business to drive growth. Fueling business growth and meeting the challenges of the marketplace are key performance indicators shared by all members of the C-Suite, with the CMO being front and center in navigating the communications, brand positioning and marketplace presence. Add to that the remit of leveraging technology to deliver impactful and innovative solutions to the targeted audiences, and it’s clear the role of the CMO is more critical than ever before. Support and collaborative leadership are paramount to ensuring that the CMO’s goals and outcomes are prioritized. If the CMO succeeds, the entire business reaps the rewards. 

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Jellyfish is at the forefront of the global digital economy, working with brands including Uber, eBay, Nike, Samsung, Google, Spotify, Ford, Aviva Investors and ASOS. Jellyfish represents a new kind of digital business partner, where agency services are combined with consultancy, training and cutting-edge technologies to deliver the best possible outcomes for clients. Employing 2,000+ people across 40 offices globally, and with further expansion on the horizon, Jellyfish aims to be the first-choice global partner for any brand’s digital requirements. Launched in 2005, Jellyfish has achieved 45% compound growth over the last eight years and has grown to become one of a select few globally managed Google marketing Partners.

Sharon Harris is the Chief Marketing Officer at Jellyfish, a digital partner to some of the world’s leading brands, including Uber, eBay, Disney, Spotify, Nestlé, Ford, Aviva and ASOS. As Jellyfish continues to expand its global footprint, Sharon oversees international marketing strategy across 30 offices. In her role, a key focus area is positioning Jellyfish as a true global partner in digital marketing and transformation. Her extensive experience leading teams and pioneering advertising innovation will help to accelerate the company’s global expansion.

A passionate champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion, Sharon is involved in several professional mentorship organizations and is a frequent speaker on the topics of representation in tech, inclusion, and allyship. She served as chair of the advisory board for the Marcus Graham Project where she continues to promote diversity in the advertising industry. She is the board chair for Seattle’s Be Bold Now annual International Women’s Day celebration, and is also the Vice Chair of IGNITE National, a nonpartisan organization that encourages young women to actively engage in the political process.

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