MTM Ep#7: Amazing user experience starts with authenticity with Suzanne Coblentz

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Today, I interviewSuzanne Coblentz, the head of marketing at Go Ape.She has over 18 years of experience in marketing. She navigated the dynamic advertising landscape by challenging assumptions, staying on top of emerging technology, and putting the right process in place to fully leverage and replicate success. She is results oriented and an eternal optimist.


– [Suzanne] There’s facets of marketing that, you know, are a piece of your retention. So, you know, you do need to think when we talk about our funnel, you know, our funnel doesn’t end at that first step conversion. Your funnel is extensive.

– Welcome back to another episode of More Than Marketing. I am your host, Arsham Mirshah, and I am joined by the lovely Suzanne Coblems?

– Coblentz.

– Coblentz.

– I married into it.

– Sorry. Cline is the maiden.

– Yes.

– I’m putting it all out there. Suzanne, we’ve known each other for a while and I saw, I looked at your LinkedIn, you’ve been– It’s like you go in-house to agency to in-house to agency and now you’re in-house again.

– Yes.

– You’ve seen it all.

– I’ve seen it all.

– Seen it all.

– Worked both sides of the fence as they say.

– Yep, exactly. And I think that’s really interesting for all our viewership ’cause it’s like, you know, you’re in your role now and in other roles you’ve used agencies but you’ve also been in agencies. You kind of know the hustle and bustle that is on that side.

– I think it has advantages if you have agency experience. I also think it’s advantageous on the agency’s side to have brand experience. You better understand the pressures of your clients. You better understand the changes in budgets and how things can shift on a dime.

– Yeah.

– Which I think allow you to be a little more responsive to your client needs.

– Right.

– From the flip side–

– I was gonna say as a client then, how–

– Yeah, as a client you understand agency competency, you know what you’re going after.

– Right, that makes sense.

– You also have an eye on how to evaluate what you’re getting out of the relationship.

– Sure.

– I think there’s less subterfuge if you will.

– ‘Kay.

– You know what’s going on behind the scenes. You know a lot of things.

– Yeah, that’s a good point.

– Amazing things were done. But maybe within the last, I don’t know, 17 hours.

– Right, right, exactly, it’s like, “Hey!” You know, nothing was done and then pop, you know. But I, and also you probably know that like the communication is key between client and agency because, you know, from the agency’s side, it’s like all this stuff is happening at the client but we may not know about it.

– 100% I am publicly unusually transparent with my agency partners but I think it builds trust and again I think the operative word there is it’s a partnership or it should be a partnership.

– I would agree.

– And you have nothing to be gained if you put up barriers.

– Sure.

– They need to understand what your challenges are. They need to understand even what the unique pressures are for your team.

– Yep.

– Resource constraints, changes, turnover, all of those things. I advocate that you share these challenges with your agency partner because their goal is to help you mitigate or whether those kinds of challenges are ultimately the– If your successful, your agency’s successful.

– That’s definitely true and vice versa and you brought up a very interesting point, the resource changes on your side of it, that’s, you know, you’re head of marketing. You’re trying to build a team that’s competent for the current business and then also supplement that with agency help.

– Correct, that’s a tough dance.

– I was gonna say, it’s a challenge. It’s a challenge.

– It’s a tough dance and from the business side of that, your challenges, they change.

– I was gonna say budget for one, like I feel bad for some CMO’s who are head of marketing. I said this on LinkedIn, it’s like you know what it takes to do something right.

– Correct.

– But then you only have budget from finance or CEO or whatever to do it half-right.

– Yeah.

– That sucks. It’s hard to be in that spot.

– It’s tough but I always, and this is one thing I love about working with you guys. You know I just had a meeting and I call it hyper prioritization.

– M’kay.

– And it’s something that I go–

– Different from prioritization how?

– It’s hyper.

– It’s hyper, like me on caffeine.

– Because I’m seriously prioritizing at all moments.

– You’re not unlike other, you know, clients and even within these walls, it’s how it happens. You gotta get used to it.

– But you do, but it’s wonderful if we go back to the communication point. If you are very open with your agency partner, your team, and they know what you have just been through or what your challenges are, you all of the sudden turn to them and say hey, I am allocating an additional 10K ’cause I wanna boost my awareness budget, they’re prepared for that. They know, they’re not caught off guard and they can be as responsive as you need them to. And for most businesses, that responsiveness is crucial.

– It’s crucial, ’cause that’s what’s gonna happen, especially in like good growing companies.

– Yes.

– Change is the constant. I mean, change is always the constant but it’s like really– I’m experiencing that here too, it’s just, you know, always reprioritizing in a hyper fashion.

– In a hyper fashion! It’s gonna catch on.

– It’s gonna catch on, watch. I can institute that vernacular around here So I wanna talk about, why don’t you tell listeners where you are now and, you know, Gawape and what is Gawape.

– Sure, oh yeah. So Gawape is a treetop adventure and zip lining company, outdoor recreation, we have 15 locations across United States. It’s an amazing, fun thing to be a part of.

– Yep.

– We like to think that we are doing some real good in the world because we’re mission driven, so our mission is to inspire everyone to live life adventurously.

– Yes.

– I think another way to look at it is living with intention and really experiencing things.

– I love that.

– Yep, that’s what we’re all about.

– Big movement right now and that’s cool, that’s part of it and it’s infused in the culture at Gawape as well.

– It really, it’s a fantastic place to work.

– Yeah.

– Really great people, we’re super lucky, have really great people, even better guests that come through the treetop doors and everybody leaves smiling. It’s hard to get stressed out in an environment like that.

– That’s nice when you have a product like that as opposed to, well, not to rag on industries, but like, I don’t know, Health and Wellness which I know you’ve had like a, you know, had a stint in.

– Funny that you mention that, yes.

– You may leave not so happy with your results, I don’t know but no, that’s cool, so Gawape, I mean I imagine that that provides it’s own or maybe has it’s own challenges as it pertains to marketing ’cause one of my things for marketing is that it’s not a) marketing doesn’t live in a vacuum, it’s not just, you know, digital, and then it’s not just digital, traditional.

– Prepped.

– I think marketing really is telling the story of the entire brand at all touchpoints, not just, you know, when someone’s interacting with you online or offline, in your case, you guys have, you know, people come to your place and they live adventurously, you know, and marketing has a role there too, I imagine.

– It does, you’re absolutely right. I couldn’t agree with you more. There’s facets of marketing that, you know, are a piece of your retention, so, you know, you do need to think when we talk about our funnel, you know, our funnel doesn’t end at that first step conversion, your funnel is extensive and you need to be thinking about, you know, I know we use customer journey or whatever but, you know, that the lifetime of the guest and what that means and even if that should go so far as to say the referral value of that guest.

– Yes, thank you, Suzanne, yes. If you didn’t, I would have.

– Oh, okay.

– But you got–

– We’re like this.

– I’ll leave anytime, you just talk. That’s fine.

– But ultimately, yeah, I could not agree with you more but you’re right, every marketer has challenges. For us, for what we do, it’s highly experiential.

– Yes.

– It’s definitely something that when people go and they have this experience, they can’t stop talking about it, they wanna share it with everybody, but how to convey this to people. So that’s been, you know, my number one challenge since I joined the Gawape team. I’m very lucky to have an extremely talented team. I have Jessie Sue who works with me. She actually was an instructor at one of our courses, that’s how she got her start.

– That’s awesome.

– And she is also an extremely talented and gifted videographer.

– Brilliant, just perfect, how do you tell that story?

– Video.

– Video, it’s gotta be.

– Video is everything. I understand video is everything for most brands these days but even more so for us.

– For you it makes lots of sense. All I know is some people are doing video which, like, maybe they don’t necessarily need to or maybe there’s things that they should prioritize before that.

– Correct.

– But with you guys, totally makes sense, I mean, that’s the medium that’s gonna tell the story best.

– It tells the story and it shortcuts it and we can do it in a really quick fashion and it’s engaging and it helps to also set the tone for what you’re going to, you know what I mean, we can really help them convey that energy and that elation and overcoming challenge.

– That emotion, you can get them to feel the emotion before they even come there, right? And then they come there and then, and I completely agree with you with the valuable customers, not just financial. It is measured– That’s only maybe half of it or even less.

– Couldn’t agree with you more.

– ‘Cause they’re gonna come back so, you know, financial’s not just the first time, it’s many times but in your case, and in many businesses’ cases, it’s that referral.

– Oh, it’s everything.

– It’s huge.

– It’s everything.

– You know, word of mouth, if they have a really good time, okay, they’ll come back or maybe they’ll bring their friends or they’ll do birthday parties there or something like that.

– And we definitely see that. You know, we definitely see that. And, I mean, that’s true for agencies too though.

– Oh, big time.

– You know.

– And you measure that, I imagine, right? Like you guys like know your– Or if you don’t, you’re going to now.

– You know, we measure as much as we can but we’re always striving, always striving to connect the dots and to make sure that we have that 360 degree view because, you know, you’re always missing something.

– Yeah, of course.

– And what you don’t wanna do, particularly in any business where your customer-focused, is miss the boat on what they actually want and need from you.

– Yeah, the customer needs, wants and needs. Yeah, I would agree. Okay, cool, yeah, so, and that’s another kind of challenge I find is that people, when it comes to marketing, they wanna try a bunch of stuff, and they don’t hyper prioritize and maybe they should look to prioritize but I think also some channels, ’cause I think you need a medium mix.

– Yeah, always.

– Right?

– Yes. 100%

– And you can’t judge one channel the same way you judge another channel.

– Well, not only that but the channels are centergistic. I mean, there’s a piece of one channel that feeds another channel.

– Okay.

– You know, they’re not necessarily like little silos.

– Right.

– I think that’s a mistake a lot of marketers make as well. I think that, you know, there’s a lot of talk about the funnel but I think it’s more like people are just kind of immersed now and when you’re talking about brand immersion, you kind of need to have some profile on all of the primary channels where people are interacting with brands. That’s everywhere.

– Let’s talk about an example, like so, PR for example. I’m finding that, well, I’m kind of big on PR within these walls right now because I’m finding that it greases the funnel so to speak when you have a referral and they’ve heard of you or they’ve seen something from you, you know, it just makes it so much easier as opposed to, you know, a case where it’s, “I don’t know your brand.” “I don’t know what you stand for.” “I don’t know what you do.” “What do you wanna sell me again?”

– Exactly, and it’s remaining top of mind.

– Yeah, yeah, remarketing’s great for that.

– Well, that too but I look at all of these things as touchpoints because there’s no law– It’s very very hard to qualify the first impression with your brand.

– But it is, yeah, it’s true.

– It’s multiple impressions and these are all touchpoints. These are all opportunities to tell aspects of your story.

– Yeah, aspects of your story, ’cause you’re not gonna, with today’s day and age and of attention, you’re not gonna get it all down in one, right?

– No, if I see you, so I had a friend and they told me, “Hey, have you checked out Web Mechanix? They’re great.” No, I’m gonna tuck that away. Then maybe I’m gonna run across something that somebody shared on LinkedIn and it’s gonna be this podcast, let’s just say.

– Hypothetically.

– Hypothetically speaking. And then I’m gonna like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.” I remember that guy or that agency, and I might, you know, spend a few minutes checking it out.

– Right.

– Then at some point I’m gonna be further down and I’m gonna be looking for you on Google or I’m gonna be looking for you on social to feel out what your culture’s like.

– That’s right.

– I mean, that’s how I look at it, I just, what do I do?

– Right, no, I love it. And that right there, you just described our funnel in a way, right, that’s what happens. You hear about it once and you hear about it again and then I think timing is also very important so you said top of mind. You know, I think every business has this, like there’s a certain timing where in our agency life, it’s other agencies either, you know, messing up or maybe there’s a push from the top that says, “Hey, we need to invest in the marketing.”

– Or there’s been turnover.

– Or there’s been turnover, yeah, so, yeah, so timing is key, that’s why staying at top of mind.

– Yeah.

– And I think remarketing does good there, I think email does really good there, yeah.

– Yeah.

– That’s good. We can talk about a million and one things.

– We could.

– Time is probably running short, I’m not sure.

– I need to get back to my home base.

– Yeah, home base. You wanna beat traffic.

– I wanna try.

– Is there anything else that you wanna share with the world? I got a list of questions here, building a marketing team, motivating your people, I don’t know.

– I just, I like what you said earlier about communication. I think it has inputs to your whole list here.

– Sure, I would agree.

– I think when you’re looking to either engage with a brand or looking to engage with an agency.

– Or with an employee.

– Everybody’s looking for authenticity. Everybody’s looking for something real and I think everybody needs to get to a measure of comfort and maybe just thinking more about being accessible.

– That’s good, especially with a leader.

– Yeah.

– I buy that.

– Okay.

– Suzanne, thank you so much for your time.

– Thank you. Thanks for having me.

– Yeah, hope everyone enjoyed Suzanne. Pronounce it again.

– Coblentz.

– Coblentz. I’m sorry, I don’t wanna butcher it, that’s all.

– It’s okay.

– But I also know, Arsham Mirshah.

– Fair enough.

– Alright, like, subscribe, thank you all. Cheers.

Suzanne Coblentz

Suzanne CoblentzHead of Marketing at Go Ape

Arsham Mirshah

Arsham MirshahCEO & Co-Founder

Podcasts Info:
Creative + UX
News + Business

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