When I sat down with Jill Gregory, NASCAR’s first female CMO, and asked her what it’s like being a woman in a male-dominated industry, she said it “isn’t something that really occurs to me.” And it’s no wonder why, after hearing that NASCAR has the most diverse fanbase today than it’s ever had! Jill and her team are hyper-focused on embracing that diversity to continue to grow the more than 70-year-old brand.
“NASCAR's got female fans, we've got a driver core that is younger and more diverse than it's ever been before, our fans come from all walks of life… How do you take this great sport that has so many different fans, viewpoints and things to offer and bring it to more and more people every day?”
In this episode, we go behind the scenes of NASCAR sponsorships and how Jill’s team is pushing into non-traditional ways of reaching more fans. We also discuss the evolving role of the CMO and the expectation to set the tone and emotional connection with both consumers and employees.
Jill also shares how empowering your team means remembering why you hired them and allowing them to do their jobs. She also offers a wonderful reminder for all of us to be comfortable not having control over every little thing. A quote Jill recalls… “don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Don't miss Jill's motivating career advice and story of how to she got to where she is today.
Heard On This Episode: Jill's Playbook
Set the Tone – Both Internally and Externally
"CMO, it's not just marketing. It's marketing, media, communications, content, analytics and insights – and also a thought leader within the organization. Having all of those functions under one CMO is helpful, but it also puts that CMO into a position where you’re influencing internal behavior, culture, employee retention, the vision of the company. Because you've got a lot of the tools, you’ve got the consumer touchpoints, that's the expectation. That you are going to set the tone and the emotional connection to the fan and the consumer, so you need to be doing that internally as well."
Take an Untraditional Approach
"We know our fans had consumed the sport in a fairly traditional way. We have great media partners and we have a great live event experience, but not everybody could watch on television or come to a live event, so we had to bring NASCAR to fans… There are storylines and things happening throughout the entire event – not just about the cars on the race track, but the entire experience. So, we've got this treasure trove of content out there each weekend and we'd got more aggressive in collecting that content and publishing it in different ways so that we could put it in front of as many fans as possible."
Embrace Differences to Find Common Ground
"I love the sport. The things that we're doing right now to push the sport forward and reach more fans – it's one of the most energizing times to be a part of NASCAR. But NASCAR's got female fans, we've got a driver core that is younger and more diverse than it's ever been before, our fans come from all walks of life. So being the female CMO isn’t something that really occurs to me. It's just how do you take this great sport that has so many different fans and viewpoints and things to offer and bring it to more and more people every day."
Let Your Team’s Vision Shine Through
"I've always been a big believer in empowering my team. Whoever they are, we hire good, talented people for a reason and you need to allow them to do their job, show their experience, show diversity of thought, and challenge the status quo. I know personally for our organization that maybe always hasn't been the culture.. but we've really had to cultivate leaders that are willing to try new things, be more innovative – and that's a different type of empowerment. So, let them do their jobs, be there to support when needed, but don't micromanage and let the vision that your team has be incorporated into the vision that the company has."
Be Comfortable Letting Some Things Go
"I think that early on in my career I was very focused on perfection and getting everything right. And I think that there are a lot of driven people that are in the CMO world… there's a reason why people have risen to the top of their profession. We have to let some things go to get there, and that is sometimes out of your comfort zone. So, I don't know who said this to me, but it's been said before: don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You've got to let your people contribute and give them independence and the ability to fail."