Houston Marketing Moguls: Recognizing Suzan Sherburn

1-Suzan_Sherburn_12_20_04_v2On behalf of Cox Media Group Houston, I’m pleased to publish the inaugural interview for our Marketing Moguls feature section by highlighting a dear friend of mine – Suzan Sherburn – who also happens to be a rock star in the marketing world.

Suzan comes from a background steeped in corporate branding, marketing and sponsorship’s. Her views are always based on broad knowledge and experience – which makes her one of those credible experts you know has gone through it before. When Suzan talks – we listen. Enjoy.

Meet Suzan Sherburn – Associate Director, Global Branding and Sponsorship’s

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Maintains 25 years+ experience in marketing and communications positions within the financial, high-tech, transportation and health care industries.

CMG: How did you wind up in sales/marketing?

SS: I ended up in marketing because I couldn’t find a teaching job.  After grad school, I moved to Los Angeles to continue teaching English as a second language. I had previously taught ESL at the University of North Texas and at the American Cultural Center in Alexandria, Egypt.  When I landed in LA, I got a job at Glendale Federal Bank as an advertising copywriter just to pay the bills.  I realized I had a knack for business communications and so I never went back to teaching.

CMG: Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why? 

SS: I would not be where I am today in my career without the unconditional love and support from my family.  Whether it’s working late, travelling out of town on business, changing jobs, or relocating, my husband and son have always been my biggest cheerleaders.

CMG: What in your marketing experience are you most proud of? 

SS: I was on the core team that led the rebranding of UPS in 2001.  Getting to completely rebrand a company the size of UPS was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I learned so much about the business and the complexities of changing a logo on everything from airplanes and trucks to uniforms and packaging.  After working in secret for 18 months, the best part was when we finally revealed the brand strategy and seeing UPSers, customers and partners embrace the new direction. 

CMG: Where do you come up with your most creative ideas? 

SS: I usually do my best creative thinking when I’m reading about others’ ideas and innovations. It gets me thinking about how I could take that concept or product and apply it to what I’m doing.  I try to read a variety of web sites, blogs, novels, and magazines across multiple industries and topics.  Right now I’m reading several golf publications to get ideas for a golf sponsorship.  I also share what I’m reading and learning with my colleagues which often sparks creative conversations.

CMG: One word that describes you? 

SS: Purposeful

CMG: In the Houston business world – what do you want to be remembered for?

SS: Helping others succeed and make connections.  I love it when I can connect two colleagues and they end up collaborating on some level.  In fact, an associate at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo connected me with Cox Media.  And now I’m being featured in their marketing blog!

CMG: What is one hard lesson you’ve learned about marketing?

SS: You may have the greatest idea in the history of marketing, but if the decision makers aren’t buying it, it’s dead in the water.  So, be well prepared when pitching ideas.  The follow-up lesson is that if your idea is shot down, don’t waste time sulking.  Have a drink with a friend to mourn the loss and then move on to your next great idea.

CMG: How do you integrate your marketing efforts? Can you give us an example? 

SS: Marketing can be so specialized these days.  You’ve got one group doing traditional advertising, one doing social media and another doing sponsorships.  While everyone usually sees the value in integrating efforts, it’s still a challenge to get teams to work together and “open their borders.” 

One way I’ve been able to integrate our sponsorship efforts was to form a cross-functional team, made up from staffers from communications, development, corporate alliances, community relations and marketing. We meet regularly to brainstorm ideas, address third-party requests, and approve strategies.  Everyone is expected to participate and be accountable.  Once a sponsorship event has concluded, we publish an executive summary that highlights efforts of the entire team.  I think our team understands that our collective efforts make for a bigger story and certainly has more impact with our target audiences.

CMG: Do you have any tips or best practices for measuring ROI?

SS: Determine what you want to measure before you activate. Then create a process for capturing the data. For example, if you have a team, you might delegate one metric to each person to be responsible for and then give them a timeframe for reporting back to you for the final summary report.

CMG: What is your secret weapon?

SS: As one colleague recently said to me, “You take work seriously, but not yourself.”  Being approachable, keeping it real and injecting humor is my secret to developing great work relationships