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Break Free B2B Marketing: Sruthi Kumar on Creating Memorable Experiences

This may be of some interest.

Break Free B2B with Sruthi Kumar

Break Free B2B with Sruthi Kumar

Marketers are in the business of attracting attention. All of our tactics, our strategies, our goals boil down to: Did we get someone’s attention and inspire them to take action?

The key to modern marketing is that we have to earn that attention. There will always be someone on who is louder, funnier, more talented, or just less shameless than your brand is willing to be. The only way to truly capture and sustain someone’s focus is to earn the right to their time. 

How do you earn attention? By providing remarkable experiences. By showing you care about your audience, you know who they are, and that your brand is here to help and to entertain them. 

For our latest Break Free video, we talked to a marketer who is helping marketers offer more memorable experiences. Sruthi Kumar is the Senior Marketing Manager at Sendoso, a platform that coordinates direct mail and gifting campaigns for personalization at scale.

Sruthi and I sat down to talk about experiential marketing in all its forms: Event marketing, direct mail, content and beyond. We also dig deeper into the philosophy of marketing. Should marketers specialize in a certain aspect of marketing, or should we be taking a more holistic approach? Can left-brained content folks and right-brained strategy folks get along… and really, is it that simple of a divide? Sruthi has some inspiring thoughts on all of the above.

Oh, and along the way, Sruthi shares how she built a marketing department from the ground up, taking Sendoso from a small start-up to competing with the big brands.

 [bctt tweet=”I think what we’re really trying to do is bridge that online and offline experience. @sruthikkumar” username=”toprank”]

 

Highlights:

1:00: Direct mail plus digital marketing for unforgettable experiences

5:45: Marketing to delight your audience

7:40: Building a marketing department from the ground up

11:05: Tactics for earning attention at marketing events

18:15: Marketing requires creative and analytical thinking 

 

Josh:

So tell me a little bit about Sendoso. What is it? What do you do?

Sruthi:

We’re a sending platform, so we really help our customers reach their customers and prospects in a meaningful way by sending company swag, direct mail, sweets and treats, handwritten notes, the whole nine yards, in order to make really human connections with their prospects and customers.

Josh: 

Do you feel like this going back to a more simpler form of marketing compared to digital marketing? Do you feel like that’s more effective as our world gets more digital?

Sruthi:

So I actually think they go hand in hand. What we’re trying to do is really bridge that online and offline experience. So not to say that digital marketing does not work. I’m a marketer. I run our field marketing team, we use digital heavily, but it’s just about bringing all the channels together to create that seamless experience for the end user, and that person that you want to book a meeting with or have a signed contract with or whatever else you need from them.

[bctt tweet=”It’s about bringing all the channels together to create that seamless experience for the end user, that person who you want to book a meeting with or have a signed contract with. @sruthikkumar” username=”toprank”]

We are moving to an ABM approach when we are doing our events, because sometimes you get to large audiences and it’s hard to really get in contact with anyone. The beautiful thing about our product is that anyone can use it in any vertical. It’s direct mail: If you’re selling, you can use it. If you’re trying to reach an audience, you can use it. 

We do the double funnel approach at Sendoso. We do have demand gen tactics while we also have ABM tactics as well. 

I had an interview that was my first internship as a marketer. The CMO asked me, ‘Are you analytical? Or are you creative?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know, I feel like I’m a little bit of both.’ 

And she said, ‘You can’t be both.’ And I just want to call her now, because you have to be both. I may not be the most analytical person on my team. But I get to work with this marketing ops manager. We built our team together, and she’s very analytical. I get to learn from her and understand how would my MOPS person do this. And that’s the cool stuff that you get to take with you. 

As a marketer, you should be well rounded — you’re a content marketer, but you could put a demand gen campaign together.

Josh:

 We just love this binary of left brain versus right brain. But then you get this idea that oh, well, the creative types are just sitting up there in their beanbag chairs with the lava lamps going, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if we did this?’ And then on the other hand is a bunch of robots who are crunching numbers. For some people, those things are going to overlap into a circle and some are somewhere on the continuum, but you can’t be just one or the other. 

[bctt tweet=”People ask, ‘Are you analytical or are you creative?’ But you have to be both… As a marketer, you should be well rounded: You’re a #contentmarketer, but you could put a demand gen campaign together. You’re not just writing. @sruthikkumar” username=”toprank”]

Sruthi:

With all those marketing activities that we’re supposed to do, some people are just doing the check-boxes. That’s totally fine, but I think you should bring your personality into it. I think so many of us are so scared. Like having our corporate voice, but I think our personal voice should be in there too. 

I think the only reason why Sendoso did stand out in the early days is because we got to incorporate so many of our early founders’ and members’ own personalities into the brand. And even the way we pitch our product today is by the voices of our sales team and our marketing team, our co-founders and c-suite. So I think it’s just about being okay with being yourself and incorporating that into your whole corporate brand.

[bctt tweet=”I think the reason Sendoso did stand out in the early days is we got to incorporate so many of our early founders’ own personalities. It’s about being okay with being yourself and incorporating that into your corporate brand. @sruthikkumar” username=”toprank”]

 

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel and podcast for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few to whet your appetite:

The post Break Free B2B Marketing: Sruthi Kumar on Creating Memorable Experiences appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Thank you for reading.

Break Free B2B Series: Maliha Aqeel on How to Ace B2B Company Culture

This may be of some interest.

Maliha Aqeel Break Free B2B Interview

Maliha Aqeel, Assistant Director of Brand, Marketing and Communications at Ernst & Young, is known for being a staunch advocate of the three C’s that drive brands: content, customer, and culture.

But when Maliha sat down with TopRank Marketing’s Joshua Nite for a Break Free B2B interview at Content Marketing World this past fall, she had one “C” at the top of her mind: culture, and its role as a driver for both employee and customer satisfaction. 

“Whether we’re working for someone, or we’re actively purchasing their products, or just engaging with their brand, it matters to us what others think,” she says.

While many employees still see corporate culture as solely a function of HR, Maliha says this is not the case. She believes that all employees have a responsibility to help propagate and model a company’s values, both inside and outside the organization.

In particular, Maliha believes that marketers are key in cultivating and communicating corporate culture. “Marketers and communicators within organizations have to take the charge … Our job is to take all of those values and say, ‘Here’s how it could look. Here’s how the intangible becomes tangible,'” she asserts.

[bctt tweet=”Marketers and communicators within organizations have to take the charge … Our job is to take all of those values and say, ‘Here’s how it could look. Here’s how the intangible becomes tangible.’ @MalihaQ on #CorporateCulture #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

Learn how to score an A in building your (B)rand’s (C)ulture by watching Maliha’s interview, which also touches on important topics such as employee journey maps, the purported death of email, and an unlikely upside of social media.

Break Free B2B Interview with Maliha Aqeel

Use the following time markers to skip between topics. We’ve also included some valuable excerpts from the conversation below. 

  • 00:24 – The three C’s that drive your brand
  • 00:39 – Company culture isn’t just an HR initiative
  • 01:54 – B2B companies are starting to embrace culture
  • 03:13 – You company must be considered before it can be preferred
  • 04:24 – Who leads the charge towards a cultural change?
  • 05:21 – Identifying the foundational values for your corporate culture
  • 06:25 – Customers prefer to work with companies that share their values
  • 09:40 – The rise of culture in the age of abundance
  • 11:37 – Culture’s role in the fight for talent 
  • 13:22 – Marketing’s role in influencing culture
  • 14:58 – Email is not dead (but we need to be smarter about how we use it)
  • 16:25 – Segmenting your internal audiences
  • 17:50 – Employee journey maps
  • 19:17 – Building brands by breaking down silos
  • 20:42 – Breaking free in B2B

Josh: Your presentation is on the three C’s that drive your B (or your brand), and that’s putting the focus on content, customer, and culture. What do you think we’re missing in that equation right now?

Maliha: Focus on culture. There’s still a misconception that culture is about only HR. But culture is something that’s pervasive throughout the organization, and why we choose to work somewhere, why we choose to engage with the brand. 

It’s something that we can’t always see. It’s what I call the intangible because it’s aligned to our values. If your values are that you prefer a certain type of lifestyle, and a certain type of philanthropy or social causes, you automatically start to look for brands that align with those values because you believe that there’s something is common with them. And that applies in B2B as well, not just B2C. 

I feel like that’s something marketers don’t always understand because we focus on knowing the customer, making sure our content is what they want, but we miss the values piece, and that’s where the gap can occur. 

[bctt tweet=”Culture is something that’s pervasive throughout the organization, and why we choose to work somewhere, why we choose to engage with the brand. @MalihaQ on #CorporateCulture #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

Josh: Do you think there are B2B companies that are effectively developing culture?

Maliha: I think they are starting to. I’m not sure that all of them have quite cracked it yet. I certainly do see it at EY … When I joined, what I noticed was, there was a huge emphasis on our purpose, which is building a better working world. And everything that we were doing, we always remind ourselves that we were doing it for that purpose. The fact that the clients that choose to work with us … they believe that it’s important for companies to be part of building a better working world. 

Josh: Who leads the charge towards better culture?

Maliha: I think that the charge is really led by the senior leadership. They have to set the tone from the top. The culture comes, in many organizations, it’s still top-down, and I think it’s going to take time for that to change. Because, just the way organizations are structured, the top-down approach works. So I think they have to set the tone. 

But marketers and communicators within the organizations have to take the charge. And, they have to say, “Okay, we hear you, here’s how we think you should do it. And here’s how we can visualize that for you in the marketplace.” Whether it’s visualizing to the campaigns that we run or visualizing it through the internal communications that we work on, our job is to take all of those values and say, “Here’s how it could look. Here’s how the intangible becomes tangible.”

Josh: Where do you think that corporate culture is going in the next five years? What do you think we’re going to see with brands?

Maliha: I think we’re going to start to see that there’s almost an integration of … marketing, HR, communications — there’s going to be an integration between them so that you don’t have silos, working on different things, in their own little nation. But, rather, it’s likely going to be a broader function within a brand. And each of them will be expected to partner and they will be held to account for partnering in the right way. Because no one department owns a brand experience. It’s owned by everyone.

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite:

The post Break Free B2B Series: Maliha Aqeel on How to Ace B2B Company Culture appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Thank you for reading.

Break Free B2B Series: Amisha Gandhi on Global B2B Influencer Marketing

This may be of some interest.

Break Free B2B Interview with Amisha Gandhi

Break Free B2B Interview with Amisha Gandhi

Amisha Gandhi is the VP of Influencer Marketing & Communications for SAP Ariba & SAP Fieldglass. She is a sought-after speaker, and in this video — fresh off of a workshop presentation at MarketingProfs B2B Forum that absolutely rocked — she shares fascinating ideas about how to make an ongoing B2B influencer content marketing program not only work but drive organizational change and success. With that said, check out the full interview below.

Below are some of our favorite insights from the chat between Amisha and our president and co-founder Susan Misukanis.

Sue: I’ll always get calls from B2B marketers who say they want to deploy the Kardashian model for their long-tale, B2B influencer program that is still in its infancy, and I feel like I need to redirect. What are your thoughts on that?

Amisha: I think a lot of people, when they think about influencer marketing, they think it’s all celebrity, but in reality, when you’re looking at it, they are brand ambassadors. We have brand ambassadors because that really helps with awareness. It gives us a sense of credibility and a voice that everybody knows. Then you can build on technology influencers or software developers, depending on what you’re trying to do. You can have a whole soup-to-nuts program.

So maybe you’re working with the team that’s been a brand ambassadorship and then you’re seeing what the message is there and how can you work with other kinds of influencers that are practitioners, executives, or even CEOs. That really speaks to your audience in a more authentic way. But you still have the brand ambassador, you have these influencers, and you may even have some analysts and programmers, bringing it all together.

Sue: Okay, so for someone who’s thinking of doing a pilot a B2B pilot, maybe give us the worst-case scenario.

Amisha: Do not just start calling influencers and say, “I’m doing this campaign, do you want to be a part of it?” and be very prescriptive. If you come up with a campaign or there’s a big marketing campaign coming out, have a concept and then start talking to influencers because they will help you move your program. If you have a very hard defined program, then people will either want to be in it or not. That’s not a good way to make a relationship with an influencer.

You want to invite people to be in your program first and then do some brainstorming with them and see what they like, how they like to interact or what they like to do for companies. Versus being very prescriptive, be a little bit flexible. I think control — that’s one of the biggest things that I hear back in people starting out. They are like, “We have this great white-paper, we have this great program, you should come in and amplify it,”  but people aren’t looking to amplify your company content. They’re looking to help you reach their audience. So you need to work with them to see what’s going to be interesting for their audience.

[bctt tweet=”“Invite people to be in your program first and then do some brainstorming with them and see what they like, how they like to interact or what they like to do for companies.” @AmishaGandhi” username=”toprank”]

Sue: How can B2B marketers break free from boring B2B?

Amisha: We know people say, “Oh, B2B is boring.” It doesn’t have to be boring, but you have to know your audience and what they’re looking for. Most of the time, they’re really looking for straightforward information because they don’t have time. But you do have some capacity to be found on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and other places that serve as community watering holes or trade association sites. People are looking for content there. You can add sizzle by making a very interesting or provocative headline, have a play on words, and things like that, that you don’t normally see in B2B.

One thing that I use for inspiration is Taco Bell. Many years back they had this idea of, when the space shuttle comes back in, if it hit a certain spot then everybody in the world would get a free taco. It turned out to be this amazing communications program. It just went everywhere — it was viral. I always think about what can we do to make things viral in a B2B world. Sometimes we end up with outrageous ideas we don’t ever use or could never use, but it can inspire something real to happen. It informs creative and fun ways to reach people and touch people in a different way than you would normally think of in B2B. Plus, it can be a real success.

 

The entire interview is full of B2B-boundary-defying insights. Check out the full video above.

The post Break Free B2B Series: Amisha Gandhi on Global B2B Influencer Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Thank you for reading.