Erika Jolly Brookes on 2022 Community Predictions & Top Skills for Marketers

HL News // Erika Jolly Brookes joined Higher Logic as Chief Marketing Officer in fall of 2021, and over the holidays we had an opportunity to capture her community predictions for 2022, the top skills for modern marketers, and more.

Elizabeth Bell
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We welcomed Erika Jolly Brookes to the Higher Logic marketing team late Q3, and it’s been an awesome few months. We got a chance to sit down with Erika and ask her a few questions about her decision to join the team, her perspective on modern marketing, and her thoughts on the community industry.

HL: Erika, what brought you to Higher Logic?

Erika: I’m enjoying so much about Higher Logic, but the three big things that make Higher Logic a great place to continue my career are:

  • The focus on customer experience. Higher Logic has a 15-year history in helping its customers connect with their members and customers. My teammates are deeply committed to understanding the customer and customer experiences. These are just a few examples of how we put the customer at the center of what we do: customer listening tours, our very own customer community, called the Higher Logic Users Group (HUG), as well as our 12th annual Super Forum, hosted virtually over 3 days in the fall with 2,500+ attendees.
  • Higher Logic’s culture and people. Our company values speak to me: Casual Approachability, Conscious Inclusivity, Energetic Excellence, and Authentic Character. And our team infuses the values in our culture in all the ways that make for a very positive, productive, and engaging workplace.
  • The market. We are solving a large market opportunity and creating tangible value for our customers. As a marketer, I appreciate how valuable and important engagement tools are to help our association, B2B, and B2C marketing teams to connect and understand their customers to serve them better. Online communities are now more than ever a tremendously important aspect of helping people connect to one another, efficiently resolve questions, and engage customers to drive better solutions and service.

HL: From a marketer’s perspective, how do you think the community landscape will change in 2022?

Erika:

  • Community is a destination, not another broadcast channel. Businesspeople often talk about community as a vague, general idea – for example, you need to build “community” by posting on LinkedIn or starting a podcast. Social platforms and broadcast channels are fantastic paid and earned media marketing channels, but the opportunity for a community is about building a dedicated online space for your customers, your employees, and your brand to gather.
  • The recognized value of community is expanding inside the C-suite. The business value of community, including KPIs from community engagement across the lifecycle of a customer, from new customer acquisition, retention, and satisfaction to growth and expansion are being recognized more broadly, expanding to encompass CX and customer experience – this means stakeholders in customer support, account management, marketing, sales, partnerships, and more are getting involved.
  • Importance of connections. As we enter the 22nd or so month of a global pandemic, we are realizing how much we are changed forever. Connections are more important than ever. People need a way to connect meaningfully with others, and community will be a big part of that answer. We have also become accustomed now to connecting at a time and place that is most convenient to each of us. We are more individualized in our work, shifting time to manage home and work priorities, and a community enables engaging when, where, and how our customers and members want and need.

HL: As a marketer yourself, what do you think are the biggest challenges facing any of our customers who work in marketing?

Erika: There have been so many trends over the years that have stress-tested the marketer, like the introduction of social media, where we realized the power of the consumer as well as the importance of content. A global pandemic has only emphasized the need for connection, and more importantly, community. It’s like we’re living in a hybrid of a hybrid. And everything keeps changing under our feet. We have lacked a tried-and-true framework for how to make decisions during this time. Now more than ever, the ability to effectively connect with others over common interests in a virtual or a hybrid world is paramount.

HL: What skills do you think are essential for the modern marketer?

Erika: Here are five skills that I have seen benefit today’s modern marketer:

  • Critical thinking. This is where creativity meets analytical thinking to solve problems. Underlying this skill is communication and self-awareness about how what you’re doing connects back to the larger organizational strategy and goals.
  • Focused on results. To be results focused, your marketing decisions will need to be driven by the connection between the objective and the performance. Killing it on a blog or a tweet is fun, but how does that connect to a larger objective or goal? It is critical to tie back to the results for the business – are you achieving what your organization needs you to achieve?
  • Being curious, not satisfied with the easy answer, and maintaining a particular focus on consumer and market insights will set you apart. A modern marketer should be in tune with current events globally and in your industry, as well as with your member or customer. Macro- and micro-trends can make or break resonance.
  • Great ideas never happen in a vacuum and requires more than just you to execute! Work on those relationships both within your team and with other departments and think of your counterparts as an internal customer.
  • Empathy is a superpower and using this skill in marketing doesn’t necessarily mean just applying a “feel good” technique in campaigns. Step into the shoes of your target audience and your customer and try to hear your message like they would hear it. This has always been important as it drives great positioning and effective messaging, and in our current environment, it’s as important as ever.

HL: Earlier, you mentioned the Higher Logic Users Group (HUG), Higher Logic’s customer community. How has HUG helped Higher Logic? How can a community help other SaaS companies?

Erika: I am a big believer in being a user or consumer of what you market and sell. Building an online community like HUG where our customers can participate and interact with other customers, helping them become more successful, is an essential part of learning, advocacy and supporting our customers. With an average of 2,000 customers logging every month, we like to think of HUG as an engagement ladder that gets people involved with Higher Logic right from the start. Each rung of that ladder is a personalized engagement touchpoint that helps them grow from new to advanced to leader.

HL: Are you part of any communities yourself, online or offline?

Erika: Yes! I’m passionate about marketing, so that’s the focus of one of the communities I’m in: Marketing & Communications Women of Atlanta. I’m also part of a community called Onboard, which is a community focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion for boards of directors at publicly traded companies. I’m also an avid runner, and I am on the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Track Club, which is the second largest running club in the U.S. This is a member organization and community with a shared interest in running and walking for health. And lastly, I am also a member the RIDC (Running Industry Diversity Coalition), focused on making the running industry more accessible, equitable, and inclusive.

HL: When you’re not working, what are you doing for fun?

Erika: I am happiest spending quality time with my husband and our two dogs, Birdie & Charlie. In terms of activities, sports and running will take the top spot! I love to run and participate in up to ten road races a year. There is something special about the community at the start line, along the course, and at the finish line from fellow runners, volunteers, and spectators cheering on racers. Aside from that, you’ll probably find me cooking, or rooting on the 2021 College Football National Champions Georgia Bulldogs #GoDawgs!

We’re so glad we had to chance to get to know Erika better and share her perspective with you. You can follow her on LinkedIn or Twitter at @ebrookes.

Elizabeth Bell

Content Marketing Manager

Elizabeth Bell is the Content Marketing Manager at Higher Logic. She’s passionate about communities, tech, and communicating about both effectively. When she’s not writing, you’ll probably find her cooking, reading, gardening, or playing volleyball.

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