2021 Contributors of the Year: Steve Olenski


One school of writing advice tells you to write the way you speak. Steve Olenski clearly subscribes to this school. As a writer, as a marketer, as a human, Steve enjoys telling it like it is. His enthusiasm for the potential good (and let’s face it, the bad) in the marketing world jumps off the proverbial page in his regular columns for the site.  

When he’s not sharing tips for how marketers can level up their customer experience game, Steve serves as the director of CMO content and strategy at Oracle. 

What Matters Is What Consumers Think

What excites you about your field today?

One thing that excites me is the pending loss of Google third party cookies. While that may sound odd — being excited about something going away that so many marketers have relied on for years — as a former copywriter, I am very excited about the importance both the written word and design will play.

If people could use only one word to describe you, what word would you want them to use?

Rock-like 

What work-related trend will you be watching in the year(s) ahead?

The trend I will be watching is the story of brick and mortar locations. Pre-pandemic we heard and saw the great decline in brick and mortar locations. The pandemic exacerbated it for sure. We began to see a bit of a return post-vaccine and now it is shifting back the other way. Being the people person I am, combined with the marketer in me who has studied and written about customer experience, I am very hopeful that the trend of in-person experiences will never go away entirely. 

What’s one work-related trend that surprised you? (could be from any point in your career)

I don’t know if this is a trend but what has surprised and surprises me every time I read research to this effect is that marketers/brands/advertisers still don’t get the fact that they are no longer in control. It doesn’t matter what they think about a given product, service, etc. — what does matter is what consumers think. How many surveys do we need to read showing what marketers think consumers want and like? No one cares! 

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

As a follow up to the previous question, the best advice I ever got was to stop worrying about what others thought and said about me. To always be myself, stay true to who I am and those who matter to me will understand and those who don’t, won’t And you will quickly be able to make that distinction and what you find may surprise and disappoint you. 

If you could make one wish for your industry for 2022, what would it be?

My wish is this: To stop trying to sell we consumers at every single turn via every single communication. Years ago, rummaging through the basement of The Library of Congress I discovered, in an old tin can, The N.A.S. Doctrine. Penned on parchment paper, the Doctrine decreed that those peddling their products, services and wares need not try to sell said items all the time. OK, I really didn’t find it in the Library of Congress but there is such a doctrine. You can read about it here. But the point is, my wish is for brands of all sizes to stop the insanity. We know you’re in business to make money. We get it. But we will decide if/when we will buy your (insert name here). 



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