MacKenzie Weldon, VP, Commercial Sales at Cambria

The Human Connection in a Digital World

True Talent Group's annual summit focused on how companies can achieve human connection in an ever-changing digital world

True Talent Group hosted their annual Marketing + Creative Leaders Summit with keynote speaker MacKenzie Weldon, VP, Commercial Sales at Cambria and a series of panels covering digital marketing to hiring and retaining top talent. A key theme that arose from the event centered around the human connection.

Weldon wrapped up her key note presentation on connecting sales and marketing by saying, “if you don’t have good people that are motivated and focused and know where the company is going you will fail. The human element is the most important.”

Jason Player, CMO & CIO at Innovative Office Solutions shared that he is a very digital person and reminded us that not everyone is, “to assume everyone else is a big mistake”. He also shared that, “digital is a tool that should add to experiences, not take away from it,” backing that statement up with a recent statistic from a PWC survey that found, “74% of people want more human interaction”.

When asked what the digital transformation means to her, Liane Hatch, Director Web & Mobile Experience at Health Partners said, “it’s not really about the technology, it’s about people. It’s a chance to rethink the way we do business”. She explained that at Health Partners they look at analytics but they are equally focused on the human experience. She noted that they are shifting how they deliver strategy to investing in “experiments” and how it might work with consumers. Her advice on technology, answer the calls and emails from vendors trying to sell you something, it’s a great way to learn.

Digital originated out of IT but it’s not where it belongs. Player noted, “IT is focused on how things work best, but that isn’t always how humans want to use the technology”.

Darin Lynch, President & CEO of Irish Titan believes that if digital lives in IT, it isn’t going to work as well as if marketing owns it. Everyone agreed however, that IT needs to be involved and it is good to include them in user feedback so they can better understand the human side of the tools being developed.

Mark Coronna, Partner & CMO of Chief Outsiders commented that, “digital has value in supporting business growth or enhancing business”. He went on to question, “why would anybody want anything to do with digital if they didn’t have to? It gets complicated fast”.

With over 6,000+ technologies to choose from you have to understand what you are trying to do and why you are trying to do it and then pick what is right for you. Once it is in place, Coronna advises having, “a constant recalibration of technology to make sure you’re getting the most return on your marketing dollar”.

Some other key takeaways from the digital portion of the summit:

  • Don’t rush to market with a digital product if it isn’t going to do anything significant for the consumer.
  • Users matter – even if you did a lot of work on a product it doesn’t matter if the user doesn’t like it. Start and end with the user.
  • Involve internal influencers in your digital transformation process for faster adoption.
  • Remember in digital you’re still dealing with humans.
  • Have a learning culture – find a customer to work all the bugs out with before rolling out a product
  • Look at other industries that are trying to solve the same problems you have. Hatch used the example that it is easier to book a dinner reservation than a dentist appointment-  saying you can’t benchmark yourself to your industry anymore when people are having better experiences outside your industry.
  • Don’t be afraid to pivot. Woodchuck pivoted a lot in the beginning learning from their mistakes. Ultimately, they got to their “why” and are now focused on delivering high quality products, making jobs in the USA, and putting nature back in people’s hands. They’ve already planted over 1 million trees on 6 continents.

Talent is a challenge across industries right now, especially in digital marketing. Brandy Ward, CEO of California Closets led a panel on attracting and retaining talent that included Lisa Hession, College Recruiter at Collegis, Ed Huerta-Margotta, Director of Talent Acquisition at Carmichael Lynch, and Jill Langevin, Senior Talent Recruiter at True Talent Group.

Key advice on talent acquisition from the panel includes:

  • Listen to your gut when interviewing people. If you don’t love them don’t force it.
  • Find the people you connect with and bring them in.
  • Be slow to hire and quick to fire.
  • Assume the candidate is interested in the role. Get to know who they are, not why they want the role.
  • When candidates talk about flexibility ask what that means to them – it is something different to everyone.
  • Ask a question out of the ordinary. This will help people show their authentic self since they won’t have a scripted answer.
  • Remember candidates are human beings – not just people filling a seat. Make a real connection.
  • Ignore the stereotypes of Millennials. They are talented and caring people.
  • Look for people that don’t just fit the culture but that enhance it by bringing new perspectives to the team.
  • Be mindful of your unconscious bias. Find about the human you are talking to.
  • Make resumes blind to find the best talent. Meaning remove photos and names or other identifiers so the hiring team can only select off of experience who to interview.
  • When people move, it’s not about the money. It’s about flexibility, culture and a great leader - allowing people to do what they are hired for. Connect with their want.
  • The gig economy can have benefits for both employees and employers – figure out how to embrace it.

True Talent Group is celebrating their 10-year anniversary this year. They host these summits and other events because they believe in building relationships and making connections and helping each other solve challenges. They recently added consulting services to their mix to help companies solve challenges faster. For more information visit