Revenue Rehab: It's like therapy, but for marketers
March 23, 2022

The Anti-Bias CMO: How pro-growth CMOs can help eliminate unconscious bias in marketing

In episode one of the Revenue Rehab podcast, The Anti-Bias CMO, Brandi Starr was joined by MK Getler to discuss the biases that exist in everyday life, and how these biases also permeate marketing in today’s world. MK and Brandi discussed humans’...


In episode one of the Revenue Rehab podcast, The Anti-Bias CMO, Brandi Starr was joined by MK Getler to discuss the biases that exist in everyday life, and how these biases also permeate marketing in today’s world. MK and Brandi discussed humans’ tendencies to put everything in boxes - to categorize gender, nationality, and ethnicity - and how we can overcome this, particularly when it comes to marketing. MK recommended a remedy to bias in the workplace: an anti-bias committee, consisting of people with varying backgrounds and life experience, who can help reduce bias in marketing collateral, as well as employment branding, such as job posts.

Next, MK discussed how today’s consumer is becoming more savvy about performative brands, and how companies that are not aligning their actions with their mission and values - will inevitably be caught out. Next, Brandi and MK discussed how this shift is becoming more evident with Gen-Z and millennial consumers, who want to align their purchases with companies that are doing good in the world.

What's Next? MK offers three steps that people can take to identify their biases:

  1. Acknowledge your bias
  2. Ask yourself, what do I do about these biases?
  3. Create a space in which teams, leaders, and organizations can build self-reflection and self-evaluation into their cultural DNA.

MK concluded the podcast by reflecting on how the unconscious bias journey is never finished - it requires continuous work. Identifying and owning up to your biases is a process that takes time - but the inclusivity, empathy, understanding, and learning you will gain from doing so is well worth the journey.

Bullet Points of Key Topics + Chapter Markers:

  • Topic #1 The Importance of Inclusive Language in Marketing Collateral [15:09]
    Organizations must take concrete steps to include inclusive language in their marketing collateral. This includes forming an anti-bias committee which can review materials, copywriting, and employment branding, such as job posts, that will not deter marginalized groups of people from applying to work at the organization.
  • Topic #2 Organizations’ Mission and Values Must Align with Their Actions [20:14]
    Consumers, particularly Gen-Zers and millennials, are becoming more savvy, and are more likely to see through performative brands and marketing. Companies that do not do what they say, or whose mission and values are not aligned with their actions, will inevitably lose out on this consumer base.
  • Topic #3 Identifying and Overcoming Biases is A Lifelong Journey [33:00]
    While people can take action by identifying and working to overcome their biases, this journey does not happen overnight. Therefore, individuals, teams, and organizations must continually look out for - and work on - their biases.

So, What's the One Thing You Can Do Today?

Use MK's three-steps listed above to start to identify your own unconscious bias

Buzzword Banishment:

‘’It won’t scale’’

MK shared how they would like to banish the phrase ‘it won't scale', which Brandi deemed a ‘’politically correct way of saying no’’. MK flipped the phrase on its head: encouraging listeners to instead, ‘’turn it into a question and say, how can it scale?’’

Links:

  • Get in touch with MK Gelter on Twitter
  • Follow MK Gelter on Instagram
  • Looking for elevated gifts that help your brand stand out? Check out Loop & Tie Website

Subscribe, listen, and rate/review Revenue Rehab Podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or Google Podcasts and find more episodes on our website RevenueRehab.live.

Transcript

Intro VO  0:04  

Welcome to revenue rehab, your one stop destination for collective solutions to the biggest challenges faced by marketing leaders today. Now head on over to the couch, make yourself comfortable and get ready to change the way you approach revenue. Leading your recovery is modern marketer, author, speaker and Chief Operating Officer at Tegrita Brandi Starr

Brandi  0:33  

Hello everyone and welcome to the very first episode of Revenue Rehab. I am your host brandy star. We have an amazing episode of Revenue Rehab for you today. I am joined by MK Gettler. They are the Chief Marketing Officer at Loop Tie, MK is a human to human marketing executive and public speaker. They are on a mission to bring Authenticity and empathy into B2B marketing organizations around the globe. With over a decade of experience building and leading marketing and business development teams, a keen ability to make meaningful marketing and a passion for bringing inclusion and equity to the conversation. MK thrives on empowering others to actualize their potential in an in and out of the workplace. When MK is not flipping tables in the marketing world, they are found either in the surf or the snow or perhaps off finding it ventures bigger small with their wife Natasha and pup Cody. MK Welcome to revenue rehab, your session begins now.

MK Getler  1:50  

Ooh, hello, and thank you so much for having me what an introduction and that opening video such hype, like so much hype. I'm so excited to be here.

Brandi  2:01  

Thank you, I am excited to have you. And you know, when coming into Revenue Rehab, I always like to break the ice with a little woosah moment that I call buzzword. banishment. So what I want to hear from you is what buzzword would you like to get rid of for ever?

MK Getler  2:23  

Okay, so I know in advance of the session, you had me prep a little bit for this question. I do have my buzzword that I do want to banish. But I do like is there an unbuzz word like a word that we can like encourage people to say more often? 

Brandi  2:38  

Oh, we put so many in the box. What we're saying is now we should take something out of the box.

MK Getler  2:45  

Yes, 100%. And its own it is so self serving. It's because this cracks me up so much. And it's that tick tock trend on cat jobs. At the time of this recording, there is a tick tock train going around with a very hilarious, Tom. So that's the one that I would encourage people not to banish, and perhaps to use in excess, because it just cracks me up so much, so much.

Brandi  3:09  

We'll see if we can pull out some uncut gems from today.

MK Getler  3:16  

But the thing that I would banish, especially as it pertains to Revenue Rehab is 'it won't scale'. That's more of a phrase than it is a buzzword. But I oftentimes, you know, have people trying to solve for scale and put the no but into processes that with just a bit of refinement and a bit more understanding could actually scale. But we've shut it down with a foam scale.

Brandi  3:43  

Yeah, it does seem like that's almost a politically correct way of saying no, or objecting to something is like instead of just saying I don't like it, people say oh, it won't scale. I can't do that. Because I'm afraid it won't scale like.

MK Getler  4:01  

Yeah, well, and especially as you're thinking about how you want to grow revenue streams, I most more often than not, the things that don't scale are the important investments for you to make to understand why it works, and then how you can build economies of scale into it. But to go in with such a closed mind to say it won't scale, you removed all ability to test and validate or invalidate, that an idea or concept you have is the right one for your business. 

Brandi  4:32  

So we're gonna take 'it won't scale', we're gonna put it in the box, we're gonna lock the box. And instead, we will turn it into a question and say, how can it scale? Because that opens the possibilities of saying scale is important. Mm hmm. And instead of just closing the door and saying that long scale, how do we take that idea and make it so that it will scale?

MK Getler  4:57  

Chef's kit, I love it. 

Brandi  4:58  

I'm with you on that. So, now that we've gotten that off our chest, I, you know, and because this is the first episode, I'm like, switch it up a little bit different. And instead of asking you why you're here, I'm actually going to tell you why I asked you to be here. So if we rewind three ish years ago, you know, time is so real relative right now. I took my son, you know, to his orientation at University at Buffalo. And, you know, they have the formal presentation, and they have students speaking, they have faculty, you know, all the whole rigmarole. And every person that got up said, Hi, my name is such and such, my role is whatever, and my pronouns are. And I was confused, like, after probably the sixth person, because every person that got up there, their pronouns matched what they presented as, so the people who said, my pronouns, are she her, you know, outwardly look like women, the ones that said, he, him, they outwardly look like men. And so I asked my son, I was like, why do they keep saying that, like, obviously, that's a woman, like, you know, I was really ignorant and confused. And, you know, my son's in musical theater, and the musical theater community, you have a lot of different gender presentations, you have a lot of different preferences. And so him being his generation, and in that industry, he was very well aware, and it was kind of like, okay, like, Give me a minute, you know, almost like how I used to do the kids after church, like after this session, I'll explain it to you. And I was just like, oh, like, apparently, this is the thing. And so he educated me, and even pointed out a couple of his friends that I knew of, and he was like, you know, such and such, they are they them. And I was like, oh, and he's like, even though, you know, the person who was referring to presents very much as a male, he was non or they were non binary. And so it was a whole new world for me. And in that moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks, all the bias that exists in marketing, and even places where I had personally reinforced a lot of gender bias with some of my clients with some of the campaigns. And then I was really having this like, Oh, crap, like, this is actually problematic, like, not, you know, it was never intentional to exclude anyone or to, you know, stereotype or put people in boxes. It was just really that unconscious bias that I didn't even realize I had. And I was like, I need to talk about this. And at the time, I was like, I don't know where I'm going to talk about this. But I need to talk about this. Fast forward three years. And I finally have a place Revenue Rehab to talk about this. And so it was really important to me that this be the first topic of the show, because these are the kinds of things like that I really want to be able to support CMOs and the head of marketing, like this is a hard job. And there's a lot more that we have to think about. Other than what's our demand gen strategy. And do we need ABM, like, you know, there's the obvious things. But there's these more nuanced things that are so important for us as the head of marketing to really be able to trickle down. And so I know that this is something that you speak on, I've heard you talk on this subject before. And so I really want to get your take. And you know, you as a CMO experience the same things. And I want to really start that dialogue around how we, as marketing leaders start to remove some of this bias and be more inclusive and offer more representation in what we're doing.

MK Getler  9:18  

I'm so honored and so so excited to share this space with you and to have this conversation because it's one that I don't think the executive level is having often enough. I also I think it's because we can't have this conversation without fully understanding and contextualizing why it's important. And so I often start the conversation with with why, like why should we be thinking about putting representation at the forefront of all of the aspects of our company structure, our marketing, as well as just our way of living and existing and navigating the world. I also think to like, I love the fact that you sat back and you reflected on your journey with understanding your unconscious bias. And I oftentimes acknowledge that like, even at a young age, during our formative years, we were taught to categorize things, right? Like, you can remember probably sitting on the floor and playing with your toys and saying, like, what this one is blue, and this one is red, and the shape is circular. And this place with the shape is triangular. And you were already working on your categorizations before you probably even could spell or like, operate pretty mostly autonomously, you know?

Brandi  10:45  

Yeah, so true. And I can think about, you know, even kind of bringing that childhood experience back to the topic. You know, as I had more and more conversations with my son, I realized that I have this strong need to categorize people. And so were, you know, where I was having conflict with not being able to put someone in a bucket. That was where it was tough for me to deal with, not that I had any thoughts or, you know, feelings about anyone's personal choices or lifestyle, like, none of that matters to me. But for me, it was just like, I don't care what it is, as long as I can put it in a bucket. And, you know, my son was like, Well, why, like, Why didn't? Why do buckets have to exist? Like, why do things have to be clearly categorized? And, you know, like, I didn't have an answer, and it really is, because that's all I've like, that's what I've known, like, we've been taught, this is how you do it, like sorting is a key lesson in kindergarten. And you know, that, like, it's understanding that it's like, once you kind of get that you can let it go. And now I'm like, Oh, I might not understand that. But, you know, whatever like that, that doesn't impact my life, because I don't understand or because categorize. 

MK Getler  12:19  

Yeah, and I think that's such an astute point. I think one of the reasons we do that, when we've been conditioned to think in a binary, right, like the binary, it runs the full spectrum of everything from gender to gender expression to, you know, size, and shape and color. And even, you know, like nationality, ethnicity, like our job in the world is to put things in as clear of a binary as possible. In the reason that is so easy for us is because we don't have to work through the mental capacity of trying to find a place for these things. You know, once you've put that thing in its place, you don't have to think about it anymore, it's done. And you may start to realize that after you have maybe put someone in a category, for example, gender expression, oftentimes people just make assumptions around my pronouns. And so because of that initial bucket, they put me in with like she and her, it's really hard time for them to come back into they them and be really intentional with it, it's so easy to categorize something and then put it on autopilot. So you don't have to think about it. It's just a time saver that we've like a life hack that we've learned and we're conditioned to operate in, in the long run. So you're right, that the work is really just done in the intentionality of separating out why it's important to not be thinking in such a binary categorization framework. And why thinking more in the abstract, like your son, is so much more valuable for people's way of living, their ability to thrive, and also for our society's progress to this next phase and iteration of who we are and how we operate together.

Brandi  14:01  

So let's let's shift a little bit and connect this to the work. So it is a little easier when we are talking one to one, when I am talking to you, it's very easy for me to you know, have the conversation to ask, what are your pronouns to be able to address you as an individual correctly, but when we're marketing, we are one to many and in you know, for a lot of companies, many, many like our audiences big and even just thinking about a buying committee, you know, so making one sale in a B2B environment. We're talking to, you know, sometimes 5, 6, 7 different people. And so making this connection around, you know, removing the unconscious bias, giving more representation in marketing, how do we connect the two How do we speak broadly and in many cases, anonymously because we're putting out stuff that people are gonna see. So how do we do that effectively, and also not be biased?

MK Getler  15:09  

Yeah, it's a, it's a tough one to solve. And I will say if anybody's in the position right now trying to figure this out for their company. This is this is not an easy problem to solve, right? It's, but it's one of the most important problems to solve just as much as you can be thinking about re engineering your funnel. This is the kind of problem solving that you should be introducing into your organization. For companies that are thinking about this, there are a couple of tactics I think, are valuable to start implementing. One is a bias committee, it's a really tactical thing that you can start to introduce into your organization, where you can select folks who are from around your organization with varying degrees and background and experience and life experience, do not just professional experience, to serve as a gut check on your materials, both in the written and visual formats as well, this committee's responsibilities to look out for things like unconscious bias in the faces that you have in all of your marketing collateral, are you representing the user base of your customer base, in all of your imagery in terms of race and ethnicity in terms of gender in terms of gender expression, as well to to put that at the forefront of your your marketing strategies and make that a very present piece of your cultural dynamics. The other part that a bias committee can help you with an anti bias committees, I should say, is copywriting. We've seen a lot of studies emerged recently, especially in the era of the great resignation, about how to write job descriptions that reduce bias and reduce the the language that would actually impede people from who are highly qualified for this opportunity from applying at your organization, using terms like Ninja and guru, and, you know, like word terms like that, that are meant to sound really cool, and really energizing and revitalizing, oftentimes dissuade candidates from applying to your organization, because they're off putting, and they speak to a very specific community of folks that are very, very self possessed and confident in their skills. And it oftentimes presents challenges for people to see themselves as a guru, as a ninja. Specifically, we see minority groups such as women not applying to jobs that have those job descriptions as well attached to it. So this anti bias committee helps to keep you accountable to not putting content or collateral out into the world around things that can are avoidable. And are painting a wrong message about your organization, and who your organization culturally wants to be, or currently is.

Brandi  18:12  

That is an awesome point. Because I think, you know, I see certain advertising, and it's kind of like, how did that make it out into the world, like, you went through multiple layers of review and approval, and, you know, printing or design, and nobody picked up on the fact that this is highly offensive. So I really like the idea of having, you know, this subjective anti bias committee, where that's their sole role, because I do see sometimes, especially in marketing, it's like, you know, at a certain point, like, we just got to get it out. And so I do think some of that subjectivity can, you know, go away as a result of timelines, whereas having that as a checkpoint, it's almost like it can't go out until it has met this review. And even having that beyond marketing, I really like the direction you went in and talking about hiring, because that is another key component. Even, you know, thinking about like hiring for marketing teams, even if it's just the CMO who makes the effort to remove the bias out of the marketing job postings, it is generally marketing that also owns brands and brands largely, you know, influences the company culture. So it's like, think about the trickle down effect that you can have on an entire organization even, you know, at the you know, fortune 100 You know, global companies by just changing that component. Like it's, you know, my mind is like blown because it's like, that's an aspect that I hadn't really thought directly tied to this conversation. But it really does have a key potential impact.

MK Getler  20:14  

I think there, there is a debate going around right now, that where does employment branding live? Does it live in marketing? Does it live in HR. And I think that with or without who owns the KPI of employment branding, marketing still owns an aspect of your employment branding, your external facing brand is an extension of your internal facing brand. It's very rare to see an organization that has that mismatch, where your internal brand is very progressive, very thoughtful, very intentional with your hiring practices with your promotional practices, your career pathing. And how you think about inclusivity, and how you think about belonging. It's rare that that type of a culture isn't mapped to your external facing culture and collateral. And vice versa. When a company starts to be performative, with their marketing, where their external image does not match their internal image, there is a friction, not just with the employee base, but also with all of your processes, like your sales process starts to reveal your true identity. If your external facing image in brand is performative, you start to see it in the people that you interact with in the way that they think and the way that they organize your business's processes around your customer journey. It does all start to come out in the wash and consumers are super, super well informed today. There are massive organizations now who are taking the charge to set the tone and the precedent that we only want to partner with vendors with organizations who are thoughtful and intentional about their societal impact in some of that expresses itself through economic sort through environmental impact. And other times, it also focuses on helping to bring upper underrepresented minority groups to the forefront of the conversation. And so consumers are are educated, they're smart, they understand the bigger picture. And they understand that their buying power is not just the power of the initial transaction at the point of sale, the buying power is in the long term in the bigger picture of wanting to partner with an organization whose ethos whose mission and values are aligned with theirs, and they want to start Foster and fueling that person's success.

Brandi  22:53  

And that's a great point. And I think as we start to see this shift as well, I know there's like, you know, this whole boomers versus Millennials versus what's the current is it Gen Z that I mix them all up? But as you are seeing, because if you do think about older workers, that was not I mean, you think about the bias and representation, these were not conversations. I mean, you know, I mean, my parents lived through a lot of like segregation, and the, you know, impacts of those things. So those are things that are not too far in our history. So as that generation is kind of aging out of the workforce, and you are getting more of the Gen Zs that are coming in and actually in roles that have, you know, the the authority, like they are the decision maker, I think that also plays a role in the importance of this shift as well. Because, you know, I look at like my son's 21. And I look at him and his friends, they make very different decisions when it comes to who they support, and where they spend their money. Like they are far more conscious of things than even, you know, my generation and I'm in my early 40s. And it's like some of the things I'm like, oh, I should really pay attention to that. Let me look up this about the company. So it's like that. I think that shift also plays a role why companies have gotta, you know, if they're not focusing on this now, it's like you're already kind of behind the curve. Because you are right, it is going to impact revenue when you are clearly you know, not nice people as an organization. It's going to start to impact who's willing to buy from you.

MK Getler  24:51  

Yeah, I love that point that you just made to that, you know, as we look and reflect on our our generation We grew up in the boom of convenience. And so we were conditioned to think about what's the fastest, cheapest, cost effective, most convenient for me, way for me to spend my money. And as younger generations are having economic power in our world, they recognize that the convenience is not the most important variable here that they can see that there is a crash course that we are headed on, into how our society operates, how our environment operates in how our world operates, and they want to be more intentional and thoughtful with their economic spending power. And you're right, they are the emerging workforce, right? They are the future decision makers in not too far of a future for us, that are going to be deciding based on their morals and based on their values, how they want to spend their company's finances and budgets.

Brandi  26:03  

Yeah, I think the age of the unethical Doggy Dog corporate kind of world is going to sooner than most probably expect, run its course.

MK Getler  26:18  

It's a sum Zero game, right? Like people have now come to the realization that it benefits the few and leaves behind the many. And they're the generations that are coming through are disrupting that thought pattern and saying like, there is a much better way to be doing this, that benefits the collective of us, instead of just the few.

Brandi  26:41  

Yeah. And so I want to I want to talk about what do we do here, because I know we could talk about this subject all day. Yeah, but talking about our challenges is only the first step and nothing changes, if nothing changes. So it's like, we got to do the work in order to make it work. And, you know, our listeners have are of all different company sizes. And so you know, if you think about in traditional therapy, the therapist gives the client homework, but I like to flip that on its head and Revenue Rehab, and ask you to give us the homework. So MK if you could first summarize your key takeaways, and then give us that one thing, what is the next one thing that our listeners can do to help to you know, their marketing organizations to be more anti biased.

MK Getler  27:35  

So if you haven't noticed, I'm pretty verbose. So doing just one thing is not always my jam. So I'll do my very best to try to keep it into as consolidated of an answer as possible. So my recap in this conversation is the buying power in in a shifting dynamic right now. And marketers who are thinking myopically about those who are making the buying decisions for their organizations today, are the ones who are going to end up losing in the long term, those that are thinking about the generations that are coming through with their economic spending power, are going to be setting their sights on evolving the space and landscape of marketing, and ultimately benefiting their revenue streams and their revenue efficiency, because they're not so focused on the short term, they're focused on the big to the long term and the bigger picture with their investments in their marketing. Things that I think are so important to aid and assist in this journey, really depend on the journey and your phase in relation to that journey. For you, about three years ago, when you took your son to college, that journey was just starting to begin, right, you were just coming into the realization that understanding the your unconscious bias was phase one, and many people are still in phase one. And so it's okay that you're in phase one. First step is acknowledging it acknowledging that I have all these biases, then phase two is what do I do about these biases? And how do I surround myself with people that make sure that my biases are curved, and that we are making really good decisions for the collective not just me, but for the We. And then phase three is building the infrastructure whereby you can constantly come back through that journey, because you will uncover more biases as you start to explore your own biases. So especially as leaders creating a space where that self reflection and self evaluation is part of your cultural DNA, that becomes the most important piece of this whole cyclical route. For you leveling up how you want to represent your brand and also be the cultural ambassador for how your brand will express itself for the employees at your organization.

Brandi  30:00

Ok so what I take away from that is step 1 the first thing that we can all do today is start to acknowledge our unconscious bias, that is the easy take away that every single person can do and from me as I start to go through my day I should start to think about the words that I choose, my word choice. You know there is a lot of word I learned that have learned like I used to use the word ‘gypt’ not even realizing that the term is offensive. That the term gypt is often used to refer to Jewish people who stereotypically have been deemed as stingy,  don’t want to spend money and also gypsies who were shady or stereotypically shady and always trying to get over. So the term is actually offensive to two different communities and I never knew that. Not until my son brought it up. 

MK Getler  32:00  

We need him on this podcast.

Brandi  32:05

I learned so much from him. I’m sure he’d come. So he is telling you are trying to do better but that’s an offensive word. So even just little slang terms and starting to google them and know where they came from and talk to people who are from different communities different form your own and just have an open dialogue. So that’s our lesson one to everybody, start to identify where you cave unconscious bias. 

MK Getler  33:00  

And I will say, I had an unconscious bias about that term too. it never ends, this cycle is always ongoing and the more you become comfortable you are becoming with being unformattable and vulnerable the better this journey is for everyone involved.

Brandi  32:10

Yes. MK I have enjoyed our discussion but that is our time for today. Thank you so much for joining me.

MK Getler  33:14

Thank you so much for sharing this faith with me and for inviting me on your show. I’m so excited.

Brandi  32:20

Me too! so thanks everyone for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed our conversation with MK. If you are not familiar with Loop & Tie, they are an amazing company gifting platform. And given that it’s women’s history month, be sure to check out their Women Own Business collection at loopandtie.com I can’t believe we are at the end already. Thank you everyone for joining us. We will see you next time!

Outro 33:09

You've been listening to Revenue Rehab with your host Brandi Starr. Your session is now over, but the learning has just begun. Join our mailing list and catch up on all our shows at revenuerehab.live. We're also on Twitter and Instagram @revenuerehab. This concludes this week's session. We'll see you next week!

MK Getler Profile Photo

MK Getler

CMO

Human to human marketing executive and public speaker, MK Getler, is on a mission to bring authenticity and empathy into B2B organizations around the globe. With over a decade of experience building and leading marketing and business development teams, a keen ability to make meaningful marketing, and a passion for bringing inclusion and equity to the conversation, MK thrives on empowering others to actualize their potential in and out of the workplace.

When MK is not flipping tables in the marketing world, they’re found either in the surf or snow. Or perhaps off finding adventures big or small with their wife, Natasha, and pup, Kody.