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Meet E Gilliam. Our recognized Marketer To Watch and Director of Brand and Creative at Equinix, the world’s largest interconnected data center. E has been client-side in tech for the last 15 years and spent her formative years on the agency side, heavily in branding firms. With an uncommon education in languages, culture, and history, E’s eye for design is rooted in clarity, relatability, and storytelling. In her words, she has gone from being a “pixel-pushing perfectionist to a creative director of a sizable team in one long, curvy line.” Recognized as an MTM Marketer to Watch, E is more than her title. She is an advocate for inclusive marketing, a thought leader, and one of the most innovative creatives out there. Here’s her story. 

What gives me energy outside of work

The San Francisco Bay Area just got its own professional Women’s Soccer team, Bay FC, and I am absolutely stoked.” 

A book every marketer should read

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown.” She approaches what I think are the hardest topics for anyone to overcome: vulnerability, shame, and embarrassment–not only to connect with people better but also how to use those as strengths in leadership. 

Future of Marketing

Q: What is one thing coming down the pike for marketing you are most excited about?

I’m most energized about AI’s promises—and potential pitfalls. If you’re like me and grew up with that retro-futuristic belief that robots would come and take up all the drudge-work tasks that bogged us down, there’s an exciting expanse of tools to do that for us. From tools to auto-tag videos for potential SEO, automating tasks between disparate systems, and, of course, helping you get started with content. But one of the pitfalls I am very concerned about is copyright infringement for writing and imagery. I like how some major companies like Adobe and Getty are headed, for instance, where they only generate content based on art from artists they compensate. We aren’t there with content, though, and I’m not sure how we could ever be. AI for content is still largely plagiarism. 

Q: What’s your prediction or something you see evolving in the creative space over the next few years? 

This may seem like a non-sequitur answer, but it is color accessibility. Traditional print has dealt with this for a long time, and designers know simple rules around the colors you don’t use that make most peoples’ eyes vibrate. But unless you’re only doing package design, you need to think first, second, fifth, and fifteenth of color accessibility for RGB/web. This is very close to my heart, as my dad was both colorblind and, toward the end of his life, became visually impaired. There are some amazingly simple tools out there for free you can drop colors into, and they’ll give you a simple reading back as to whether they’re visually accessible and to what degree. The world is online now and never not going to be. There’s no excuse for not making every single design fully accessible to all at all times. 

Marketing at Equinix

Q: What’s something exciting you’re currently working on?  

We’re soon launching a comprehensive brand refresh, the first we’ve done on this scale in over 15 years. A brand refresh is always an interesting venture: it’s an easy choice when your company has lost its way or has a terrible reputation. But what about when you’re doing well and a recognized leader? We did some deep research to validate that we have a lot of good, solid, well-renown bones to maintain, and yet still a great space available to us to address new market priorities, to better reflect who we’ve evolved to become and to embrace a more future-forward look.     

Q: What’s the most pressing business challenge you’ve faced within the last year, and how have you tried to solve it?  

Something we’ve been facing is the age-old issue of random acts of content. Everyone has a target to meet, but how do you go about it? Do you create e-books, white papers, infographics, nurture emails, videos, go to events, host webinars, buy radio ads, various web ads, out-of-home? It’s endless, but your budget isn’t. Are you truly measuring how your content is doing? Are you not over-indexing any part of your funnel? And are you truly measuring it at every step? It’s these last parts we’re working hard to thread together and create true, solid data. We’ve solidified campaigns, and content must match up to them and hit specific funnel and audience targets. The biggest one I know many struggle with is creating content without a complete marketing plan. You can’t just make something and expect someone will know it exists.   

Career and Leadership Advice

Q: What leadership muscle is most important for marketers to exercise?

Empathy, but coming at it both personally and from underneath. Let me explain. I say “personally” because it’s so easy to think about “target audience, target market, customers, prospects, users, users, users” and forget that they’re also us. When you make a video, remember that you also watch videos. So do your spouse, your neighbors, and your friends. Do you want to watch a 20-minute video with two people just talking at each other? Or, when you sit down with your phone, do you prefer to scroll through cool 30-second videos? I say to “come at it from underneath” because remember that while it might seem like it makes sense to target the audience who fits the majority view, they’re just that: the majority is always targeted. There is a whole group of people who rarely, if ever, see themselves reflected in ads, and let me assure you, speaking as a queer, masculine-of-center woman, I can guarantee you we both notice and become devoted fans faster at a much faster pace when you include us. 

Q: What’s the most game-changing career advice youve received?

A VP once told me his approach was recognizing that his daily actions mattered. Every day, each of his employees will go home and be asked, “How was your day?” He understood his actions as a leader could affect the quality of that conversation. I try to keep that in mind every single day, not only for my employees but anyone I work with. 

Marketers to Watch is a recognition series to spotlight highly innovative and forward-thinking marketing leaders in the community. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for the series, apply here.