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success or failure looks like,” he adds.
“You also need everyone to buy in and
make sure you can accept failure as an
outcome. Test, fail, iterate. While that
makes sense to anyone who’s done direct
marketing on any level, it’s not some-
thing that’s necessarily permeated across
any corporation’s entire culture. Failure
is a possible outcome, and that must be
Cole’s second key to launching a cam-
paign? “You must have the infrastructure
of data analytics to properly track your
desired success metrics. Most single brand
retailers still don’t have the access to the
tools they need,” he contends.
Last but not least, Cole says that understanding “where to nibble vs. where
to take a big bite” is crucial. “Where do
you decide to take those big swings at a
campaign that could be a game changer?”
he asks. “You have to keep that first challenge in mind — what is success? With
our expanded corporate structure, we’re
still learning. We’ve gotten better at
mitigating risks, and we’re starting to feel
comfortable taking that bigger swing. It’s
a natural progression.”
Mutual Respect, Cultural Fabric
As the digital and e-commerce leader
for Tumi and Samsonite, a huge key to
Cole’s success is how well he partners
with cohorts inside the company — think
of IT, or the offline marketing team —
and outside vendors. With so many different groups having a say in the success of
Cole’s work, it can be a hard line to walk.
“As a digital guy, you have to embrace
education across the organization, and
always know what’s needed to be best
in class digitally,” Cole says. “It’s about
creating a cultural fabric where the brand
marketer is asking you for more attribu-
tion. If you have an analytical fabric to
tie together the story of success or failure,
you’ll build a cultural fabric across the
Cole recalls a recent conversation
with one of his fellow Tumi leaders.
“Just last week, I was speaking to our
head of IT for North America, Bill Morrison, and I said, ‘Let’s make a new rule:
let’s never say “no” to each other,’” Cole
says. “And what I’m getting at is creat-
ing a more conversational relationship.
I can come with a challenge to the IT
team and if they ask what we’re trying to
accomplish then follow up with a better
idea of how to do it, that’s far preferable
that starting at ‘no.’”
He continues, “It’s our job to come to
IT with challenges, not questions. Don’t
treat IT as an order taker. ‘Can you install
this tool for me?’ is not helpful. At the
same time, IT needs to understand that
— just as digital is at service to the brand
— it is a service organization. That can
be a hard pill to swallow. They are there
to solve problems for the larger business.