#StandApart Marketer Profile: Ashleah Wilson

#StandApart Marketer Profile: Ashleah Wilson, Vice President of Marketing, DominionGrand Financial Group

We’re excited to introduce a new series on our blog where we’ll be profiling Q+A’s with #StandApart individuals from Vancouver’s’ marketing, sales and communications community.

First up: Ashleah Wilson. Smart Savvy helped connect Ashleah from his Marketing Manager role at SPORG (now Active Network) to a Director of Marketing position at Richmond’s, Top Producer Systems (a subsidiary of LA-based, Move, Inc). He’s now Vice President, Marketing at DominionGrand Financial Group. Here’s a recap of our sit down with Ashleah.

So you were born…then what? (i.e. where were you born, where did you study, first jobs, memorable adventures).

I grew up in North Vancouver (and Squamish for a short time). I went to UBC for Political Science and then completed post-graduate studies in business and marketing at SFU. In university, I worked as an assistant manager at tourist attraction in North Vancouver. One summer, I made a staff tribute video, stitching together short clips from various departments into a Matrix-inspired compilation video (keep in mind, this was before YouTube and camera phones). The VP Marketing essentially hired me on the spot to join her team, and there’s been no looking back since. I’ve been fortunate to lead marketing in verticals ranging from SaaS to media to financial services to tech. As for memorable adventures: all band-camp jokes aside, a 30-city singing tour through Europe. Any place I’ve gone with my wife. And being a dad (x’s 2).

Describe your current role in 140 characters or less

Client acquisition and satisfaction, social and social gaming, viral distribution and monetization strategies. Performance marketing.

Who are your marketing heroes?

1. William Gibson. An untraditional choice but his 2003 dystopian novel,Pattern Recognition, turned my marketing world upside down. Gibson’s book speaks to the human propensity to search for meaning. He helped me define my role as a marketer and to understand its purpose: Influencer.

2. Al and Laura Reis. The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PRis a truly seminal work. Their main argument almost seems quaint in today’s ‘content marketing’ world: advertising lacks credibility with its audience, and without credibility, no brand can achieve lasting success. But their message, the power of telling an authentic story over and over again, still speaks to me. That idea of the ‘drawing out’ of a corporate story rather than big-bang advertising was a decade ahead of its time.

3. Frederick Herot, VP Marketing for Move, Inc. Frederick was my boss and mentor for four years at Move. Frederick had this ability to refine a message so you couldn’t miss the point: “Ashleah, that ad is beautiful, but how many calls did we get?” Response matters. Lesson learned, thanks Frederick.

How complete is your LinkedIn Profile?

100%. I think I’m classified an “All Star,” whatever that means. My profile picture could definitely use an upgrade.

Daily Reads? And what device/app are you reading them on?

I’m admittedly panicky without my iPhone. Daily, I read the Economist, the Daily Beast, Huffington Post, news via Zite, and then check in on a dozen or so writers in my vertical. Daily listens include a half-dozen podcasts, mostly on politics and current events. Thank goodness for Stitcher.

Biggest career accomplishment?

I led the trade-marketing program at a Move subsidiary in 2008 in the midst of the US housing collapse. Given that our primary purchasers worked in residential real estate, this was our 100-year storm. It was also a massive opportunity. I developed a recession pricing program that highlighted a lower-value product line that met the needs of price-sensitive customers, while also being very careful not to drop prices of our primary offering. This campaign generated $12mm in incremental new sales, on a product that previously was considered for end of life, while also provided a halo that held the line on sales of our primary product.

What aspect of marketing currently has you fired up?

At some level, marketers are losing control over what’s said about their products, while still being held accountable for their success or failure. I couldn’t be more excited about this, because if you really do have a great product or program, or provide outstanding customer experience, it can catch fire in the marketplace. Holy smokes, that’s exciting.

What makes you #StandApart?

I’m crisp about my performance-marketing program. Marketing is not a cost center, it’s a driver of ROI, and I have a consistent track record of delivering real business on a tight timeline and within tight budgets