When it comes to marketing that tells a story, Julie Roehm is a thought leader and trailblazer. With a career that spans multiple sectors, she demonstrates an ability to reposition brands for success while reducing advertising spend and increasing overall revenue. Companies turn to Roehm when things are broken or sub-optimized, when they want a customer-centric approach to their transformation efforts, especially brands that require revitalization and reengagement with their target buyers. Roehm’s unique aptitude for combining storytelling tactics with technological advances has kept her at the forefront of evolving trends throughout her evolution.
“The biggest mistake I often see is that [companies] don’t actually consider the customer first,” Roehm shared. “It’s human nature, it’s not because they’re stupid or because they’re ignorant. You’re facing a big problem, you face a problem like supply chain. You can’t get something in and you’re making a lot of decisions on how to get things quickly for the customers, but oftentimes you have to consider what the customer experience will be by solving for a different problem in the business. You’ve got to come at it from multiple angles is my answer, it’s not just one way.”
Engineering and Autos
Roehm initially found herself studying for an engineering degree. Upon graduation, she realized that the parts of the engineering world she liked most had to do with problem solving and analytics, the strategy and planning behind the business. This inspired her to pursue an MBA in strategy, negotiations, and marketing, which she received from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. After interning with American Airlines, Julie Roehm recalled, “I ended up with five different offers, including American, but I also had an offer from Ford Motor Company and chose that.”
“I just felt like it was a good fit for me because I ended up graduating my MBA program with a marketing, a strategy and a negotiations major.”
At Ford, Roehm was responsible for the launch of exports to foreign dealerships and the establishment of Ford Motor Co of Korea and, eventually, the launch of the Ford Focus brand in the United States. Roehm showcased her ability to deploy and oversee detailed, successful marketing plans across media, including film production and website development.
This experience led her to the next stage of her career, working for DaimlerChrysler. The decision to leave Ford was a difficult one, but Roehm found the challenge of helping to turn around the Dodge brand, which had declined in recent years, a welcome opportunity. Not only did she help the company revive Dodge, but she also improved productivity while reducing advertising costs and increasing overall total revenue, all in less than five years. Leading the entire marketing strategy, Roehm contributed to everything from new taglines to retail touch points that resonated with relevance in the customer journey.
Roehm clearly had a knack for results-oriented marketing and wanted to take her career beyond the automotive industry. She said, “It just felt like I’d been in auto for over a dozen years and I was only 35 years old but I didn’t want to get locked into any one industry. And at some point, it’s hard to get out of an industry when you’ve been in it so long. So, I started to look around.”
Julie Roehm Out on Her Own
Julie Roehm took on the role of chief storyteller for multinational software company SAP, a position created for her by then-CEO Bill McDermott, who recognized the need for his brand to demonstrate its value to a broader audience. Roehm led the company’s repositioning efforts to make it a brand that was more customer-centric and valued a customer conversion selling strategy. Part of this evolution was using digital tools that allowed teams to source customer stories and successes live and in person, helping to tell compelling stories to other prospective customers.
“Bill gave me the chief storyteller role and it was like, How do we connect what we do to a broader c-suite audience in a simpler way?” Roehm said. “How do we tell the story about what we do in a different, simpler way to connect with more people, to get more people to open their door to us so that we can walk in and share? And then how do we communicate and convert more effectively once we’re there? We’ve got to be able to talk about it in a different way than in a traditional white paper manner in the case of SAP.”
Julie Roehm Bringing the Party to Party City
Julie Roehm brings a unique outlook to the marketing projects she takes on, most recently as chief marketing officer and chief experience officer for Party City. Her innovative approach includes exploring how technologies can be leveraged to maximize customer engagement with a focus on the customer experience. She’s never afraid to embrace new challenges and often looks for the simplest way to tell a story to customers so that it can resonate clearly with them. She also prioritizes finding different ways to relate complex concepts to prospects in ways that are effective and distinctive.
“We came in, it was very highly levered, a lot of issues, and we started a hot second before the pandemic,” Roehm recalled. “Party and pandemic aren’t very synonymous and we pushed through anyway. We built omnichannels, we set up delivery, we set up curbside. I called my friends at Hertz during the pandemic. I was like, ‘We need somebody to deliver parties. You’ve got minivans that are sitting in a parking lot, and drivers, how would you like to be our delivery partner over the pandemic?’ And so that’s how we built it from that first phone call. It was eight days later we were delivering our first party.”
Omnichannel marketing is just one of the many ways Roehm demonstrated her innovative style in the industry. Applying numerous approaches to customer outreach, she understands that the customer journey isn’t always a linear one. Understanding the customer’s path and the many different decision-making points in their journey has been pivotal to Roehm’s success, as has incorporating trustworthy teams into a culture of creativity and inclusivity.
Roehm is currently “looking for the next venture of board opportunities or maybe going into another company or serving private equity firms as an operating partner; I’m not sure yet, but lots to look forward to.”
New opportunities present themselves when the time is right, and Julie Roehm is comfortable taking the reins of her destiny. Her podcast, The Conversational, serves as an outlet for her creativity and allows her to give other talents a chance to shine and share their stories. With her hyper-focused approach to marketing by using the latest technologies, the road ahead is promising for Julie Roehm.