Tim Marklein | The Innovator 25 North America 2022

Tim Marklein

Founder & CEO
Big Valley Marketing

Los Altos, CA

“Embrace the challenge to innovate faster, and bake it into your culture."

Silicon Valley marcomms veteran Tim Marklein developed the idea for a new agency model over several years, whilst witnessing the vulnerabilities in the traditional model while confronted with the specialised needs of tech clients. With Big Valley Marketing, he brought two foundational elements he believes are critical; depth of expertise and ability to focus.

With smart hires from agencies like Weber Shandwick and Silicon Valley regulars to make up his ‘team of experts’ and a focus on growth that has seen the agency add more than 25 clients and 14 employees in the last two years alone, he’s proven the value of his thinking. Clients include pioneering startups like Anomali, StarTree, Thought Industries and Vic.ai, hyper-growth unicorns like FourKites, Medable and PsiQuantun, and tech leaders including Broadcom Software and Hitachi Vantara. 

Before founding Big Valley Marketing, Marklein headed up W20 Group’s technology and analytics practice, and whilst executive VP measurement and strategy for Weber Shandwick, he served as one of the architects behind the Barcelona Principles, the industry’s first set of global standards for PR measurement. 
How do you define innovation?
Innovation is the act of creating something or changing something, whether that's a product, service, technology, business practice or operating process.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
The two biggest shifts I've seen in the last two years within B2B marketing and communications: 1) Increased adoption and prioritization of LinkedIn as a primary channel for corporate storytelling, brand engagement, demand generation and social selling; and 2) The shift to hybrid events, which has forced B2B marketers to re-think staid practices in how they engage audiences and package content.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
Salesforce is one of the most consistent marketing innovators within the technology world, fueled by a CEO who isn't afraid to be bold and marketing leadership that thinks well beyond the usual B2B boundaries.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
I always like to challenge conventional wisdom, but I haven't always backed it up with the necessary conviction. My best innovation "moment" that combined the two was starting Big Valley in 2014 with a focused and differentiated "team of experts" operating model, and a commitment to revive the spirit of Silicon Valley marketing.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
Steve Jobs -- big, bold thinking backed by clarity of vision.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
For me, it's all about problem solving. I just need to talk with a client about their business, marketing and/or communications challenges, and that gets my creativity flowing to help them solve the problem(s).

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Encourage your teams to take risks. Too many PR firms and PR teams are driven by fear more than opportunity. Embrace the challenge to innovate faster, and bake it into your culture.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
Marketing for the Green Bay Packers.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
I'm a huge music fan, so the Red Hot Chili Peppers revival (two new albums, high-energy tour, and return of guitarist John Frusciante) has been motivating -- the band started in the 1980s but they keep pushing themselves and creating new peaks.

How would you like to see work culture, and the role of the office, evolve?
The shift to remote work and hybrid work should unleash a new wave of creativity within marketing and communications -- and much more flexible, sustainable work options to suit every individual and family situation.

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
Hire for talent and initiative, not resume. I hear way too many stories about communications firms that won't hire someone who doesn't fit into a particular box of skills and experiences.