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93 | The art & science of marketing. Insights from a data-driven leader.

37 min listen

The best marketing is creative but deeply analytical. It speaks to known pains and challenges but does so in an unexpected way. 

In this episode, we’re joined by the fascinating Linda Brunner, an experienced chemist turned marketing leader. She offers a wealth of advice for marketers looking to develop themselves and their teams. 

Ready to discover more? Tune in to the rest of the Masters of B2B Marketing here!


View the full transcript here

93 | The art & science of marketing. Insights from a data-driven leader.

Jon Busby: Welcome to an episode of Tech Marketing podcast. I am really excited to be joined by a fellow scientist, actually, Linda, from Siemens Healthcare. So Linda you've been at Siemens and in the healthcare industry for an awful long time. I've, I'm also actually classically trained chemist that's moved into marketing.

So I am really excited to learn about how you've, how that, your story has really transitioned from becoming a scientist to a marketeer. So why don't you tell us how did. What's your memory of that transition when you look back on it now?

Linda Brunner: So if I look back at it now, it was nothing that was on my roadmap.

I was a chemist by training. Continued on in biochemistry, spent about almost 15 years in r and d Wow. In pharma. Yeah. But really driving always the topics of pharmacokinetics and what the body does with the. Drugs that we ingest and did through that, worked a lot with analytical instruments, with laboratory information management systems.

With robotics systems to try to automate some of it. And I'm going back at least. 30 years now, which was, this was like Perkin Elmer days. This was Perkin Elmer days. Yep. Xmark days. Yep. And through that, had a chance to do a lot of beta testing. I'm always one of the folks, I'm fine with a blank piece of paper, and I'm also perfectly fine with making mistakes.

But learning from that. And then I was approached by PerkinElmer actually. In the thought of, would you consider doing taking on a technical marketing role? And I'm like, I have not studied business. It was the furthest from my mind. I don't even know what marketeers do. But it was intriguing and serendipitous.

Lee, it was at a time where my husband was going in one direction. We were relocating and a houseboat in the East River would've been the ideal place for us to live. And that wasn't an option. So with that I said, why not? And they were really looking. They were all about widgets. And it was that time where people were embarking on the customer perspective on it.

And that's something with the 15 years that I spent in pharma that I could bring to that table. So I said, why not try it?

Jon Busby: And so that was your first role in marketing, was moving. I've got a random, that's my first really random question. When did you ever travel over to the UK with Perkin and Elmer?

I did. Yes. Did Could you ever go to their, I think we had a factory in a town called Beckons Field. Yes. Yeah. Yes. So that factory is actually where our first office was. Oh. So they knocked down that office, they knocked down that factory, which was down little road next to a couple of banks, and that's where my first office was with together.

Completely random point. No one else will ever get that reference.

Linda Brunner: It is just, and it's right that the degrees of freedom Yeah. That bring people together. Yeah. Is crazy. I could go on a totally different tangent, but I won't right now.

Jon Busby: We'll definitely come back to that. So you, so they just approached you and said, you've done all of this biochemistry, would you mind coming over to telemarketing?

So what's your first memory of a task in marketing? What was, what were you,

Linda Brunner: my first task was to bring together a brochure. Okay.

Jon Busby: They said, and we're talking paper brochure. Days

Linda Brunner: Paper brochure days, yep. But bringing it together across their portfolio that was aligned with the drug development process.

Yep. And so that was my right. They had 12 product lines and it was bringing them together. When are they used? Where along the drug development process do those different instruments and technologies come into play? And can we tell that? Cohesive story along that continuum. So that was my first big task and it was Wow.

A Herculean task. To bring together all of the product managers for all of those lines. Yep. That were really focused on, as always, they are p and l. Yep. And driving that for their product into whatever customer base is possible. But here it was. Flipping that story around, right? And looking at pharmaceutical and how can they deliver towards that pharmaceutical demand and need

Jon Busby: so, Almost very, if I think about modern marketing today, we talk about being customer centric.

Cause it sounds like you were being, it was very customer driven back then, as opposed to, Hey Mark, just go out and market this product.

Linda Brunner: Correct. But that was a mind shift. It's still a mind shift. Even my current role or in digital customer experience within the IT organization.

At Siemens Health Anders. And we are still on a journey. It's. By far. Not delivered yet.

Jon Busby: Yeah. Yeah. I always say, so I've been at together for 15 years. Not, not as long as I'm sure you've been in healthcare, but I will say I'll stick around until I stop learning. And that hasn't happened yet.

And it's, cuz we just keep, there's a new technology, there's a new, there's ai, there's marketing automation, there's something else that comes out that you just go, I've gotta dig into this and understand it more.

Linda Brunner: Yeah. And I think it's that. Aspects of curiosity, right? Continuously learning and continuously being curious of what can be applied in which situations. That also keeps me intrigued and hopely is what I can provide as a leader in my organization to get people to rally around some of these new things. Yeah. That's great.

Sonia David: Wow. So I have a question for you as a scientist, and as you start to evolve, as B2B marketing starts to evolve, are you using your science?

Are you using anything that you learned from, the data or the, even the approach, because the just the way of looking at marketing How has that applied over the years?

Linda Brunner: So I'm gonna say the one thing that has been core and has been part of my compass throughout is really around data-driven decision making.

Yes. Really? Yes. And that has just been Right as a researcher. You try things and then you learn from what didn't work. And I still remember back to the very first person that I worked for. Yeah. And he has just. Been instrumental in molding the way that I approach things. And every afternoon we would get together, and of course I'd be trying something at the bench and I'd go in and say this didn't work, and what should I do next?

And his was always if I weren't here right now, what would you think to do next? And with that, it instilled in me this. Thinking one or two or even three steps ahead, only changing one thing at a time so that you knew what impact interesting, different things had. Okay. And I was able to carry that into marketing then, because market research and product marketing and developing a product, putting some rigor and robustness, yes.

Around trying certain things before you put together. A tech sheet. Oh, it worked once. Okay, let's publish it. Wait a minute here. And I know it's being a little flippant, but it's those things. So that to me, it's that data driven decision making and delving into and researching things and really trying to get at the core of what it is that you're trying to impact.

And. Before you go having the target of what the outcome is. I often find in marketing, and this is not again to be disrespectful for to anyone yet, it's all right, we're gonna try this and then we're gonna see what happens. But if you don't have a goal in mind, then. For me, I don't know if I was successful or not.

And if you talk about it after the fact I always say to my team, you can torture numbers long enough. They'll confess to anything however you, you wanna see. All right. And if I didn't make that mark, okay, what can we do to make it? Or is that even a realistic goal or objective that I may have?

That's great.

Jon Busby: Yeah. As a, you, there's so much there that I want to unpack. So as a chemist, I liked I did chemistry as well because you had an exact answer. Like you'd go into something, you we're probably gonna have a debate about inorganic chemistry here, but the, you could go into something and go.

This is the outcome that I want to achieve. And you could apply a formula and normally come out with something that was more exact. While marketing, it's much more vague. Like how did you reconcile those two worlds? Was that a, an a mountain to climb as a scientist or

Linda Brunner: What I like about it is the combination of the art and the science, right?

I've never considered myself as a STEM student, as a real science major. Never considered myself being creative, and yet I think the marketing piece, Allows you to bring forth creativity that's still driving to some sort of an outcome. And I think the bringing those things together, I, I love that aspect of it when you talk about the art and science of marketing. Because there is a science behind it. Everyone is trying to understand their. Approach to customer centricity? You're gonna wanna know what it is that is going to give that customer that wow factor, and they may not even know it yet. And I think that's where the art and the creativity piece and the, and what you can bring to that with technology is innovation.

To enable. And so it's that circle from Linda's perspective,

Jon Busby: the why do I, where do I even think go this? I wanna definitely wanna come into innovation in a second, because that's one, again, a personal passion of mine and how you enable that in a business. But I wanna delve into this mixing art and creativity, cuz we talk about it a lot with, we have a mar marketing technology team here it together and our logo for, it's literally the two sides of a brain because you need to be able to take the technology and apply it in a way that.

Demonstrates results or links, different data sources together, but also apply the creativity in all of your, in your years of marketing and especially digital marketing at Siemens Healthcare, like which, could you find an example where you were said like, that was the best piece of creative we ever did.

That was the best melding of those two sides of the brain?

Linda Brunner: I'm gonna come up with the most recent. And this is by no means Linda's outcome. It's on behalf of the organization is really our current mission. It's about pioneering innovations in healthcare for everyone, everywhere.

It's nine words that, first of all, if I look at it from the inside, unites over 70,000 individuals. And when I look at it from the outside, we have both a corporate social responsibility and we've got commercial outcomes to our shareholders and it brings those things together. So that innovation piece.

So for me, that is where I. We finally brought all of it to bear and everything that we are doing now, external ties back to that. It gives talking points to our C-suite to go out and talk about it. It gives talking points to our marketing colleagues across all of the different business areas and business lines.

And it ties that together. So it's not. Really one piece, but it's core.

Jon Busby: Having a vision or a purpose, we would call it if I use good. If you've read Good To Great or Built To Last, that element of having a purpose that will exist forever, I think everyone can rally behind it.

That's incredibly important. And to hear that you, that everyone at Siemens is so passionate about it. That's incredible. It's absolutely incredible

Linda Brunner: and it's really it has. Yeah. I would say given us that and combined with our core values and we've got five core values, it just, it ties it together and it's no longer whatever you wanna call it.

White washing pink, washing green, white hair. Yeah, your pick your right. It really ties it together. And now Siemens has always been. Engineering focused, right? That's their, that's our, not their, our dna, and I'm proud of that. And this now gives it that. Connection, that human connection. And we're continuing to drive that through.

Jon Busby: That's great.

Sonia David: And How did Siemens come up with that? What was the process? You spoke so eloquently about the steps that you take when you're thinking about your marketing. How did that purpose coalesce it?

Linda Brunner: It really was representation across. Be it the functions across the regions, across the business areas, and there was impetus to that when we were acquiring Darien.

So we did that acqui acquisition to years ago, and it was really trying to understand what is it that's uniting all of us, because we've done. A lot of acquisitions and mergers and also partnerships and we had a longstanding partnership with Varian and so it brought Varian colleagues together with Siemens Healthineers colleagues and they worked over the course of six months and continued to fine tune that and see how it resonated.

And did it resonate with each and everyone that was involved and then continued to. Roll that out as our new ambition.

Jon Busby: The I, it reminds me of a quote and I'm gonna ha have to remember, I'll have to look it up afterwards. Actually, Linda, but it was talking about. Essentially what is television?

And it, it's exactly the same thing. And this is why I love tech marketing so much, by the way. When you look at everything that we have around us and we're surrounded by technology right now, sat at this desk, they are really just wise and lights in a box. But it's what we do with it and how it inspires others.

That really matters. And I think that purpose, I always got goosebumps. Just you reading it. It's amazing. So marketing and science have a lot in common, especially over the last few years, right? They are moving incredibly fast. We look at vaccine development in healthcare. Like we, we've gone from taking years down to months.

And now we look at marketing where we have our artificial intelligence. We're seeing the same disruption, like what's having held leadership positions on both side, having also helped off the papers and and other work. What in your, what advice can you give? From your career on your leadership philosophy and how you've built kind of high performing teams to evolve.

Linda Brunner: First, it's bringing people together with all different kinds of backgrounds and that. Ties in, right? In a research environment, there were no boundaries. So we worked across the world and I've always had the opportunity to work with people from all different kinds of cultures in backgrounds. It also ties in to the second hat that I wear within Siemens Healthineers, at least in the Americas.

Yeah, it's a volunteer role, but I have I'm chairing their diversity, equity and Inclusion council. For me, the power in that, it ties back to the innovation. It ties back to my approach to leadership. I wanna bring the best, I don't want to bring a lot of people together that are like Linda.

Because to me it's important. To get all of those different perspectives and then I give them the autonomy as well as the accountability. And I use that term versus responsibility because there's a nuance, okay. Being responsible for something, but then being accountable takes it to another level.

I am fine with learning and making mistakes. I openly admit that to my team, right? That I learn something new every day, even if it's, I will never do that again because it's a learning. So it's that constant curiosity. It's that. Safe haven to try things. And it's the autonomy to provide a strategy or an aspiration of where we want to go.

Yet my expectation from the team is that we're going to go there together and Linda's not going to be the one that's going to tell each and every one of us how to do it. It creates, in some cases, opportunities for us to challenge each other. And I say that all the time. I continue to try to challenge myself, but I also have some blind spots and I want others to continue to challenge.

I will when I have to make a decision. And I think last night I was talking to someone about that and I say there's a democracy, but every now and again you lose by one vote. But that I have to, as a leader in the organization, I am corporate corporately responsible to delivering to some of these topics.

But I find I. You really get a working team together. Yep. When you pull out that essence, I'll give you one concrete example. We had, or I brought someone in for email marketing within the organization, and this person had a background in linguistic linguistics and sociology. And everyone was like, but they don't have any healthcare background.

And I said, I don't need somebody with healthcare background for email or marketing. I want them to know what makes people tick. And why they're going to open and read this email from us versus from the other 120 people that they get that from. And so it was just a different way of looking at it. Now, I was taking a risk,

Jon Busby: but that's the scientist.

And you take, but that making experiment, right?

Linda Brunner: I was, I did my research and I'm doing an experiment and I'm pretty close to the outcome that I'm expecting, and then we just work through it.

Jon Busby: Wow. That's, that is I. Probably one of the best answers I've ever heard for that question. That was incredible.

Linda what advice, you had this fantastic mentor that kind of asked, you asked you these kind of leading questions, so you had to do your own thought, and it sounds like you're doing that now as part of your diverse teams and this, and your d EI council. What advice would you give other aspiring professionals as they come into this field?

Linda Brunner: Without being redundant, I'm gonna say continue to question. Continue to question your own thought process, continue to look forward and almost have a decision tree and you. We will never be able to predict everything in the future yet. If you can think maybe two or three steps ahead. On if I do this could be the impact, or if I confront this could be the reaction.

First and foremost, you never wind up as a deer in headlights. And you are somewhat prepared. And then take a moment to think through it. But always take action. The worst you can do is sit back and let other people or other things happen to you. So that's the other piece of advice that I give to folks that I mentor and coach, is just continue to do something.

Because from that doing, you will gain additional skills, additional experiences. And you'll be able to make more informed decisions as you move forward.

Jon Busby: And I think that is also true for, we said we were gonna come back to innovation. I think that's also true for innovation. Having the idea is one thing, but if you don't try and execute on it or move it forward.

Sonia David: One question I do have for you, Linda, and you and I have known each other for almost five years. What are you looking forward to in B2B marketing?

Linda Brunner: Good question. What I'm looking forward to is that B2B marketers continue to take the learnings that can be applied from B2C and yet really target those to their specific audience.

And it's a not a one to many. And hoping it sticks. It's really, that's where the research part comes in. Again, it's really understanding those customers and understanding what it is that keeps them up at night. And that is a nuance. And then apply that creativity in a very structured, outcome driven approach.

Sonia David: That sounds very left brain and right brain,

Linda Brunner: art and science. Yeah. I mean it really is and there's been some great things that have come forth with that as we see it. I think it's also where we as Siemens health and Ears are trying to get to. Humanizing. And yet in a business to business environment, yes.

Jon Busby: You keep referring to Healthineers. Is this a Siemens term of how you, everyone refers to themselves.

Linda Brunner: So we are now Siemens Healthineers. That's, and that's, that is our company corporate name.

Jon Busby: Okay. Yes. Okay. I thought it was like a badge. Like we're, we are not just pioneers. We're healths. I thought I was that's a good one.

That's what I was thinking that's a fantastic way of describing yourself. Yeah. So

Linda Brunner: if you see, if you look at the logo for, so we actually we are still significantly owned by Siemens. Part of the Siemens family, yet we. Did our I P O several years back. And that is, we are listed as Siemens Healthineers.

Jon Busby: Just I just have a, I have an amazing vision of someone pioneering with a piece of medical equipment or something along those lines. What's, you've been a here. For the AANAs for the last three years. Is that right?

Linda Brunner: The top one of the top jurors? Yes.

Jon Busby: What's excited you most this year?

Linda Brunner: I was, it's the breadth and depth of the entries and it really ties back to the comments that I made, the, really coming in with that creativity.

That's like an aha. Wow. And yet targeted to the customer or their respective customers. And that is, I'm going to say, and it's very biased, a harder way to do it than to the masses. And I think making that combination and really tying that together. So that has been great over the course.

Of the last three years, this part. And I'm gonna say the morphing of that jury as well, because there are CMOs across huge organizations, multinational organizations. That are involved and the discussions that we have, and we continue to challenge each other on our thought processes of how we're judging.

I think that has been a. For me, it's continued the passion and why I'm so supportive of doing it. Do you find, oh no,

Sonia David: go ahead. Sorry. Oh no. I was gonna say that you know that there's so much thought and precision when you listen in on the top jury. The discussions as they look at these entries, The actual precision and, looking at the history and looking at the evolution of B2B and where that real target is and I always feel so much smarter when I listen to everybody talking about that.

Linda Brunner: And what's been great is just the candid and the candid open exchange that we've had. There's never a question. Of course, we're all under nda. We're not going out and sharing that yet. We're Right. Continuing to challenge.

That's right. That's right.

Sonia David: Yeah. Yeah. And sometimes it's very easy to be Attracted to the high production values of some of the entries, and they look great and sleek and well done. But at the end of the day, I love hearing that one juror say, but what did

Linda Brunner: that really do? And that everybody thinks of it.

Jon Busby: Would you say judging them has made you a better marketeer?

Linda Brunner: Yes, for sure. Think that's the one opportunity and that's something that. I don't think you would hear from me in an isolated situation. I think you'd hear that from all of them first. You get a chance to see what's out there and what are some of the new breakthrough approaches that people are taking, and you start thinking, wow, if I could.

Right on behalf of my organization, or if we could deliver something like that. What would that look like in our industry? Because it's not right. You can't, it's not cookie cutter. You can't take it from here and just. Apply it over there. I think that is what continues to drive both the, being a juror and then continuing to drive the topic of marketing within the organization.

Jon Busby: Wow. Have you taken anything from an previ and a previous entry and a try to apply it to Siemens yet?

Linda Brunner: I think the pieces where you're, we have always been more, I. Scientifically focused. It's just as I'm gonna go back to, it's our dna. It's that engineering, it's the technology. Now that I'm in the IT organization, it's often where my colleagues are going right into the details because they are the subject matter experts.

Yet, how do you lift that out and explain it in a more. Understandable means. In a very short, articulate way to keep everyone's attention. So are there some things that I've applied or we've applied? I think it's the connecting it to the individuals. Telling the stories through our employees.

That was something that, I'm gonna go back three to five years. We never did. Not on the outside. We may have done it more on the inside. And now we bring those stories to life, even in our social channels. Bringing things. Just recently there was a story about one of our colleagues who was colorblind.

Okay. And he's developing and servicing. Some of our equipment and yet bringing those things in and understanding right, it's nuances, yet hearing the story through his eyes. Literally and figuratively just brings a whole different dimension to it.

Sonia David: Wow. So you're a marketer that reports into the IT department.

Can you talk a little bit about that and how like so many marketers and CMOs are now in charge of it? Or they have to know so much about it. How is this for you and what are you doing there?

Linda Brunner: And so I, for me, it's brought full circle, like the scientist piece, right? Then the marketing and on the business side, and now back into the IT piece and.

I had a conversation this morning over breakfast with someone that I just met here, and they're and a lot of people say going into it, it's like the dark side. Yet there is nothing the, that we do anymore in any discipline, in any function that doesn't have an aspect of it and technology that's related to it.

And bringing. So it's twofold for me, which keeps it interesting and every day is a new and exciting experience is bringing from our IT colleagues, the understanding that they are actively contributing to everything that we are doing right out to the customer. Even those that are the furthest back from an infrastructure perspective.

I think is one piece of it. And then sitting at the table with our colleagues from the business, right? We, our CFO talks about there is no IT project, every project in our organization is a business project. Yet the business cannot deliver that without partnering very closely with it. So I find I. It's been interesting for me. I don't consider myself as a function. I consider myself as an active contributor to our business outcomes. And bringing the organization along on that journey.

Sonia David: And did your experience being a marketer and being so close to conscious about the customer, did that help you as you're,

Linda Brunner: I'm gonna say a hundred percent and many of the technologies that we are using now that we are scaling to an enterprise level, I brought in as trying them out.

You mentioned marketing automation earlier. That was something that didn't make any sense to our. Most of the marketing organization yet I saw real value in that if we were connecting those dots appropriately. As I said, it's not working a hundred percent across the entire thing and we're on a journey, but it definitely, I think, brought in, I was always sitting on that fence between those two.

Yep. And I could. I have feet grounded on both sides, which for me is an opportunity. And the reason that I specifically took this on, because I'm also always curious to continue to grow. I was never directly involved in our C R M landscape prior to that. And so that for me was a huge learning into a space, but that I could bring the things that I knew.

From both my background in r and d and my background in product marketing and being responsible for a p and l at one point in my past for a product line with my marketing and communications into the IT.

Jon Busby: Cause I'm just curious. Anyway, we see this, we see a variety of different marketing organization structures you report about being in part of it.

Does IT report to the CMO for Siemens, or does it, is it a separate function?

Linda Brunner: So IT reports into the finance into our cfo. Yeah. So my, the CIO reports into the cfo.

Jon Busby: Wow. So how do you reconcile. The I could carry on talking for another hour on this topic, but like, how do you reconcile the CFO wants out of it compared to what the CMO wants out marketing?

Linda Brunner: I'm gonna say that our board is only four members and they are pretty closely aligned with what it is that we're trying to get done as an organization. Yep. Of course, you get further into the organization and I'm not in any way saying that there aren't organizational constructs and silos that you need to overcome yet?

There is. We need to move into this space. If there's anything Covid has shown us is that we need a very robust, rigorous, hybrid go to market. Okay. It's not one or the other. In our space, right? We won't most likely won't be selling the next MRI online yet. We need to have those relationships ready to go and we need to fill that right pipeline.

And how do we make sure, because we know that. Yeah. Many people have done their research. Yep. As scientists. They're all clinicians, radiologists, they're all scientists, but they've done their research and we need to know what they've done and how do we combine what's out there before we have those discussions.

Jon Busby: Wow. Linda, it's been an absolute pleasure to have you on the podcast. This I think we could have another hour here easily. Yeah. Couldn't we, Sonia? But is there anything will we see you at the ANA's next year? Let's ask that question

Linda Brunner: for sure. I love being involved. Course.

I've been in, involved, I was The chair for our B2B committee. On a national level. I stepped back because of some personal health reasons, but I'm in this space and I continue to be curious and I'll see what comes around the corner next year.

Jon Busby: I can't wait to see what see what you've learned next year.

So thank you very much for joining myself and Sonia on today's podcast. And yeah,

Linda Brunner: It was a pleasure. So much. Thanks for having me.

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