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CMO Spotlight: Q&A with Phononic’s Mick Wilcox

Megan Kessler

Megan Kessler, Senior Vice President at PAN Communications, recently sat down with CMO of Phononic, Mick Wilcox. Phononic is reimagining cooling and heating in ways never thought possible. Its innovative, breakthrough cooling technology makes a profound impact on how people live their lives around the world, creating new markets with solid-state solutions that make compressors obsolete. Together, they discuss the challenges and opportunities that come with targeting diverse personas, building and deploying a robust integrated marketing and PR program and his professional views on failing fast and moving forward with a higher success rate.

Kessler: Let’s start with a little bit about Phononic. What makes you excited to be part of the organization and lead the marketing team?

Wilcox: The great thing about Phononic is the opportunity ahead of us.  Never in my career have I had the chance to work in an agile growth company with so much potential to change the way we live. The markets we are addressing with solid-state cooling innovation are substantial – optoelectronics, life sciences, healthcare, food and beverage – and that is just the start. We are also attacking our product strategy at the component, system and finished goods levels. Our team must be able to deliver a component sale to an optoelectronics design engineer one day, and an undercounter refrigerator to a pharmacist the next.   That is not a trivial task, but it is one that makes working in the marketing organization both challenging and rewarding.   

Kessler: Phononic targets several vertical markets – healthcare, optoelectronics and food and beverage. How do you go about targeting personas across these industries, while maintaining a consistent brand image?

Wilcox: For me, success has hinged on hiring a great team, great agencies and relying on process to keep us all aligned. At Phononic, we have product managers who know their target industries and personas inside and out, who can integrate with demand generation, marketing communications and our agencies to produce aligned messaging and branding. We are also relentless in following processes that ensure adherence throughout the company and with our partners. Without a great team and agencies, you can never have good enough processes to ensure this will work. But, with a great team and good enough processes, it is possible. 

Kessler: How are you leveraging digital marketing efforts to target prospective clients? What do you think have been the most exciting recent advancements in terms of integrated marketing strategies?

Wilcox: Our entire demand generation operation is built around our digital marketing function and the marketing technology stack we have built and implemented. One of the great things about Phononic is that we were able to start with a clean slate with respect to the Martech stack.  So, we were able to optimize around what we knew we would need as opposed to build off of what we had. This has allowed us to have a very clean, effective and efficient system. 

I can think of two very exciting advancements I have seen in the area of integrated marketing strategy. We use account-based marketing almost exclusively. Because of this, we can leverage our entire marketing mix more efficiently and target more precisely. With ABM, we can target exactly who we want, when we want, where we want, as well as pivot more easily. The second thing I would call out is our ability to fully leverage resources and dollars spent. We’ve built a system in marketing that leverages our technology stack and partners with full efficiency, so we can run 24/7 with partners around the world. While we are sleeping, one of our partners is finishing up an infographic for an email campaign and launching it all through our integrated system.  We wake up and can immediately start looking at results and tweaking. I like to think of Phononic’s marketing operation as a factory, there is no sense in building an amazing factory just to let it sit idle half the time.  Efficiency is only achieved when we run at full speed all the time.

Kessler: As a seasoned marketer, what’s one marketing mistake you’d never make again? And one strategy or tactic you’d recommend to every marketer?

Wilcox: Well, as a ‘seasoned marketer’ I’ve made a lot of mistakes.  But, for the most part, I am fine with those mistakes.  As a marketing organization, we give ourselves permission to fail fast. I am of the belief that if you want to increase your rate of success, you should double your rate of failure. I am not afraid of failing, but I will say that the mistakes I don’t like are the ones I make regarding people. I believe strongly in building a great team, so any mistake I make that hurts an individual or the team I take very personally. 

As for one strategy or tactic I would recommend, I’d suggest two. From a strategic perspective, take the time to not only hire well, but to fully define the role to ensure the hire is correct. Nothing takes longer or has a more positive or negative effect on your team, your strategy or your company.  So take the time and do it right. 

From a tactical perspective, just do it. Too many times we wait around for the perfect moment, the perfect situation or complete consensus when, in reality, you just need to get moving and try something.

Kessler: What are your must-read news sources (or your favorite marketing/branding book)?

Wilcox: I have read a lot of marketing and branding books over the years, but now I spend a lot more time on sites reading about a variety of areas that I think will help me not only in marketing and branding, but in management, product and leadership.  One of my favorite sites is www.firstround.com.  It may apply more to me than others, given the stage of our company, but its full of great articles. 

Wilcox and team have succesfuly accomplished an efficient system when it comes to integrated marketing and PR. What have your recent accomplishments or mistakes entailed? Reach out to us @PANcomm to share your story!  #CMOSpotlight

growth marketing

Topics: Customer Experience

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