Foursquare appoints Michele Morelli as new SVP of Marketing

Morelli is the first major hire under new CEO Gary Little

Michele Morelli
Michele Morelli

Foursquare is excited to announce the appointment of its new SVP of Marketing and Executive Team member, Michele Morelli. With over 20 years of experience across numerous industries – including technology, finance, and media – Michele is a bonafide marketing and communications expert.

In her new role, Michele will oversee Foursquare’s efforts and strategy across product marketing, corporate communications, public relations, partner marketing, design, and more to bring the vision of ‘Foursquare Everywhere’ to life.

To learn more about Michele and her thoughts on the opportunities ahead for Foursquare and the businesses and industries it supports, check out the below Q&A:

Tell us about your career path and background.

I’ve always been interested in organizations that were disrupting the industry and actively using technology in new and interesting ways. This has allowed me to obtain a breadth of experience in various sectors that have unlocked technology to benefit consumers or customers. I’ve run consumer marketing programs at Prudential, Citibank, and AOL as well as business marketing and communications at both AOL and Toluna. While heading up the AOL global marketing team, I spent two years in London.

Having worked on both the platform and client sides of the industry – in other words, I’ve been the buyer and the seller – I’ve learned a few key lessons that I think will be extremely useful in my new role at Foursquare, which operates in such a unique space within the marketing industry itself. First, I deeply understand the problems that our clients are facing today because I’ve been on the receiving end of marketing messages, sales pitches, and cold calls. This gives me a distinct POV on how we should interact with Foursquare’s customers and helps me make more informed choices when in the driver’s seat of a company’s decision-maker. Second, I’ve experienced the different types of in-house marketing and business challenges that our client base faces. Having this experience gives me a better understanding of the needs of those that come to Foursquare looking for solutions. Finally, I’ve learned how critical it is to have a deep understanding of the technology that makes the world go round. This is important as I work with Foursquare to further its position as the undisputed location technology leader.

What excites you most about where Foursquare is headed?

I’m excited to be part of Foursquare’s momentum – I feel like I’m joining at exactly the right moment where the opportunity is tremendous. Unlike a lot of companies that have undergone drastic evolutions, Foursquare has always held onto its strong sense of culture and personality. With the recent rebrand, Foursquare has made its intended trajectory – ‘Foursquare Everywhere’ – clear. Combine this with a new CEO who has a clear and ambitious vision, and you have both the foundation and the path forward that’s needed to take a company to the next level. All you need now is the boots on the ground to make that happen – and I’m excited to be a part of the team and lead on that front.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges businesses and brands face in today’s world?

In addition to evergreen challenges – shrinking budgets and the need to provide ROI – businesses now face obstacles of previously unseen magnitude: dealing with the fallout of COVID-19 and the radical changes the pandemic is bringing to consumer behavior.

The pandemic has upended what was previously (somewhat) predictable consumer attitudes, behaviors, and overarching trends. If you take a look at the marketing industry, for example, for the first time in most marketers’ careers, we can’t rely on past behavior to predict the future efficacy of marketing. What’s more, the production halts have impacted traditionally reliable media and marketing tactics – such as brands that had sports or concerts as tentpoles – now find themselves looking for alternatives that still ladder up to brand values.

Because the situation changes on an almost daily basis – and changes state by state, and certainly country by country – business leaders need to be flexible, ready to adapt business plans, customer messaging, offers and even new product development needs at the drop of a hat.

As an outsider coming in, what do you see as the biggest opportunities Foursquare can help with?

There are many. At this moment in time, with the pandemic, Foursquare’s location platform will be paramount to global brands resetting business opportunities. I see a few immediate areas of opportunity:

  • Driving innovation for enterprises – even in the next era of identity/privacy: Foursquare has a fairly unique ability to be consumer-centric while simultaneously helping enterprises succeed. Indeed, location technology and data teaches businesses how to understand their users better and to design user experiences that are not only more enjoyable, but provide real value to consumers. With the entire identity/privacy landscape about to change, Foursquare is ready to be the much-needed leader in the movement to re-shape the digital economy.
  • Putting the consumer at the center of marketing: Foursquare can help brands truly understand consumer behavior in ways other data sets cannot. When I worked at Yahoo!, we would ask users what they cared the most about. Most would say something like “international politics” – and yet everyone was clicking on squirrel videos. What people say and what they do may be very different. Finding this source of truth is vital in marketing, and Foursquare’s location data can bring more clarity to how consumers are engaging with brands, which can impact everything from a brand’s media planning to physical location staffing.
  • Efficacy, attribution, and the impact of media: Department store mogul John Wanamaker famously said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Foursquare has the key to help solve that problem. For example, offline interactions can be a black hole and that has ramifications for media and (frankly) ROI. Foursquare can make it easier for marketers to make the right decisions for their businesses.

In the digital age, what skills and tools do you think are most important for an effective marketer?

I think the first thing to level set is – there is no marketing unless there is digital marketing. I just did an interview for Business Chief about digital brands, and I find it so interesting that people still carve out digital as something separate from “regular” marketing. Today, digital is marketing. As such, curiosity has to be the most important thing for a marketer. You need to really understand a customer and have the curiosity to find out how and why they do things. Curiosity is key to being customer-centric. Then there’s flexibility — if the pandemic has shown us anything, it is that our marketing plans and strategies need to be fluid and flexible.

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