For more than 20 years, I was a client facing marketing services provider, helping my clients get their product/business/information to market using the best data, the best channels and the best marketing strategy. At MeritDirect, I had access to best-in class tools and great minds to help make an impact for my clients and I was proud of my work. Last year, I officially shifted my marketing role from “client facing” to “company facing” and started running all of the marketing for my biggest client, the mothership, MeritDirect.
Taskwise, this was not an enormous shift in responsibility as I had been very hands-on in corporate marketing initiatives during my tenure at Merit: collaborated on the integration of our marketing automation plan, managed the re-design of website and was heavily involved in our corporate events. Our marketing was pretty solid, consistent and working(!) as evidenced by the success and growth of the company thus far – but it was still thin, always playing catch-up with the sales initiative and needed some steering and attention.
Armed with a great team and a clear directive from leadership, I got to work. I was excited about the role, the opportunity and really making a difference from the ground up. The idea and responsibility of building something excited me (and woke me up in the middle of the night with ideas!) but it was indeed a challenge. I affectionately refer to the first six months in this role as “triage” as I tried to make sense of our data, understand the pain points of our sales teams, find a voice for the department in the company as well as establish the outward facing image of our company.
Eventually, when the smoke cleared, I recognized that same tools and strategies that I recommended to my clients in my past role involved the very same tact that I needed to employ in my corporate role and the strategy started coming together. It looked something like this:
Clean it Up! Your existing customer data is one of your greatest assets. These are the contacts and companies that your sales people have worked hard to nurture! We had a large contact file that needed work so we dug in and did the work to identify what we had: who was a customer, who was a prospect? Who was a live lead vs a dead end? What sales person were they connected to? We did the hard work to create a cleaner and more contactable file that aligned with sales.
Append and Optimize. Once we established a clean data set and identified our true leads, we relied on our own internal data tools to optimize the data. We appended SIC and NAICS, company size and behavioral data so that we could create robust segments for our own demand gen strategies. We were able to execute campaigns to a more targeted and qualified audience. The process is easy and the ROI is significant.
Integrate and Update. Make sure that your contact data remains aligned with your sales teams so that a constant feed is in place to recognize new contacts, as well as existing contacts that migrate from leads to opportunities to customers. The hygiene and optimization is not a one-time event: data changes and needs regular attention. This is an ongoing application and requires a system to manage it, it’s key to integrate your MAP and CRM so the data migration is accounted for.
Create a Relevant Content Strategy. Once the data has attributes worthy of segmentation, define your personas and speak to those segments. It’s important to manage the content that you deliver and ensure that it is valuable to that audience. For example, while an IT decision maker needs to understand the technical requirements to engage with some services, it’s the financial decision maker that signs the check, and will respond to value, true cost of ownership, etc. Take the time to edit your content, small tweaks will make a difference for each persona.
Invest in an Account Based Marketing Strategy. Now there’s the gift that keeps on giving. Once you have cleaned up the data and defined your personas and built the content, the stage is set for a powerful ABM initiative. Align with sales to identify the companies that they are trying to reach and begin implementation. Start with your own data and supplement from there with high quality data sources that fill the gaps.
Sounds easy enough, right? Well, when I add in some other huge marketing tasks (SEO, writing content, managing the web, organizing events) it definitely requires some juggling as these pieces are all in play at the same time, regularly shifting and strategies are different for each sales team but putting this foundation in place has helped our team immensely in a very big part of our marketing voice.
Sometimes looking inward really does promote growth. At the end of year one in this role, I can say that it definitely worked for me. Looking forward to year two.
Vice President, Marketing