Marketing Monster

May 1, 2004


Carole Johnson has something both George Bush and John Kerry are fighting over: jobs. And Johnson has thousands and thousands of them.

As senior vice president of marketing for Maynard, Mass.-based, this year’s presidential elections could be a boon for Johnson, provided politics leads to policies that stimulate more hiring.

Politics aside, Johnson has one of the most exciting and challenging marketing jobs in a modern technology company. Her blend of packaged goods discipline garnered at General Foods and Gillette Co., combined with her online marketing know-how, appear to be a powerful and winning combination.

“I feel like I’ve been training for this job my entire life,” says Johnson, who celebrates her first anniversary with 10 year-old Monster this month.

Johnson joined Monster following 22 years at Gillette where she worked in marketing, sales and marketing services management. “I have a traditional consumer packaged goods background,” Johnson says. “I launched and Gillette’s e-commerce site. That gave me the online experience to bridge from packaged goods into Monster,” she adds.

“Three-fourths of what we do at Monster is packaged goods marketing. A quarter of it is online marketing,” Johnson says. “It really helps having experience doing advertising, media, promotions, event marketing and trade show tie-ins.” Johnson credits her four years running the personal care sales force at Gillette with giving her the skills and empathy to work with Monster’s sales organization. “That experience has been fantastic for building bridges at Monster,” she adds.

While Johnson may have the right mix of skills for the Monster job, the position holds some serious challenges and opportunities. According to a report by UBS analyst Kelly Flynn, based in New York, following the Super Bowl, “Monster's traffic share (of the top 10 job sites) was 34.5%.” Flynn’s main concern is competition. “The jump in unique visitors to the CareerBuilder Web site since the beginning of the year could hurt Monster as it competes for new and existing contracts,” she says.

Not if Johnson can help it.

The Northwestern MBA had a great debut at the Super Bowl sponsoring the halftime report and running one spot in the pregame and two spots during the game. The effect was powerful, adding 1 million additional visitors, according to the UBS report.

“We were thrilled with the results,” Johnson adds. “Viewership was so large. There were 44.9 million households watching. We did extremely well,” she says. Johnson did have to remind a number of irate letter-writers that Monster sponsored the halftime <it>report<mn> not the halftime<it>show<mn>. “We’ve had to do a bit of quick PR because we got caught up in the confusion,” Johnson says.

Will Monster be back in next year’s Super Bowl? “Yes,” says Johnson adding a quick caveat that, “it’s not in the formal plans,” which should help her agency’s negotiating position. The timing of the Super Bowl and the breadth of the audience are “a glove fit for Monster,” Johnson says. “Our target audience is men and women 18-to-49, and we can get really quick reach and frequency against that audience with the Super Bowl buy.”

“January is a significant month for people who post their résumés on Monster,” she goes on. “At the beginning of the year over 75% of people think about changing jobs. It’s a wonderful month to link the brand with job-seekers and employers who have new fiscal year money.”

Johnson thinks big: “Our database has 33 million résumés in it. On a typical day we get 40,000 to 67,000 new résumés. You can do the math. Pretty soon Monster will have everyone who works in the résumé database. That’s my dream.”

Beyond her vision, Johnson is putting some marketing pragmatism into the mix. “Initially, my group was not as familiar with analytic approaches. It was more qualitatively based. We’re doing a lot more testing now to fine-tune our spending,” says Johnson, who oversees a $116 million annual budget.

She’s evaluating her online advertising buying to understand the most efficient sources of quality traffic. “We’re very proud of the fact that our page views are higher than our competitors’,” says Johnson, who credits the quality of job postings for this metric.

“We are testing local marketing to see if there are certain markets that will have a higher ROI than others. We’re doing segmentation testing right now to try to figure out if there are different messages we should take to employers and seekers. We do testing on the site to make sure it works intuitively.

“The beauty of this kind of product,” Johnson says, “is that you get the results fast. It took six to eight months in packaged goods to know if you had traction. With Monster, we know quickly. It’s fabulous for someone who’s used to delayed gratification,” she adds.

Since Johnson works for a career site, I asked her what advice she has for young marketers just starting out.

“Figure out what you love to do and have a flexible career plan to get you there,” she says. “Initially, start with a larger company because a large company has a brand which will open doors for the rest of your life,” she adds. “People who start in little companies are not as well-off because they don’t have all the experience. After you get the training and knowledge, it’s important to diversify,” she adds.

I wondered if Johnson had any other secret marketing weapons up her sleeve. Then she said, “People love the Monster Trumpasaurus.”

Maybe the presidential campaigns can license it from Johnson.


 ©2004 Marion Consulting Partners