For Lynn Teo, vice president of digital marketing at software company CA Technologies, change is not a scary concept. “When I see change, I don’t run away,” she says. “I embrace change as an opportunity to do things better, to push the boundaries of a discipline, and ultimately to deliver greater value.” Since joining CA in 2014, Teo has made considerable changes in the organization, combining search engine optimization, content marketing, and web data collection to create a user-centric approach to digital marketing.
The core of Teo’s approach is the concept of unmarketing —providing a CA.com visitor with value-driven solutions rather than simply selling them a product. “Buyers are extremely savvy, and they don’t want the marketing spiel,” she says. “They want to know you’re meeting them where they are in their journey.”
The Beginning of a Buyer’s Journey
Often, a buyer’s journey starts with a natural language search—keyword terms that are familiar to them. Prospects, while savvy, aren’t always informed about what products are available. So, Teo and her team have to anticipate the search terms a potential buyer is likely to use. “They might not know what product they’re looking for, but they can articulate the problem that they’re looking to solve,” she explains. In their search strategy, Teo determines the human language concepts that potential CA buyers will search to find the solutions they need, such as “payment security,” a core need articulated by security specialists in many industry verticals, or “API development,” a term used frequently by software developers. By identifying users’ questions and optimizing the results accordingly, Teo connects their problems with the solutions CA provides.
Other common touch points in a user’s journey include industry blogs, websites, and online communities. “These are natural watering holes,” Teo says. This makes them high-engagement target destinations for content marketing. To create value-driven content for these sites, Teo promotes white papers capturing industry best practices, e-books, executive or industry leader point-of-view pieces, and community discussions as opportunities for authentic conversations to occur where products take a back seat.
Lessons from B2C
Before joining CA, Teo worked in B2C marketing, where the product is often more tangible than the digital products she markets now. In order to sell
software to enterprise customers with complex buying committees, Teo quantifies a product’s results in terms that are meaningful to each buyer. She then connects a product’s story to the current state of business. “We’re all digitizing, and our conduit to the world is these apps,” she says. For these apps to function, users need to purchase software and tools—like those that CA provides and supports. Connecting the dots between what a B2B software company is selling and an industry trend is the primary challenge for B2B software. “If you can crack that, you can crack any B2C digital sales story,” Teo says.
Explaining a product isn’t the only challenge of B2B marketing. Long sales cycles and networks of buyers make tracking consumer behavior difficult. While an individual consumer may choose to purchase a product within minutes, a business might spend eighteen months deciding whether to invest in enterprise software. What’s more, a committee of people might reach that decision together. This makes tracking consumer touch points more complex. “If you share an article with someone internally in the company as part of your decision-making process, can we capture that distribution and be able to thread it through to understand the buying journeys of the other ten people connected to the enterprise-level decision?” Teo asks.
The Transition to B2B
While following individual consumers in B2B sales is a challenge, data that illustrates patterns can drive further marketing investments. Teo’s team analyzes and interprets the data, develops a hypothesis based on that interpretation, and adjusts its marketing strategy accordingly. “As digital marketers, we have to be part science, part art at the core,” she says. By collecting and tracking consumer touch points, Teo maximizes the value of CA’s marketing for both the customer and the company.
Customers, too, track these touch points. These touch points illustrate the relationship between end users, customers, prospects, and a brand. “There is an undercurrent of digital experiences that you’re collecting every time you interact with a brand,” Teo says. This extends beyond marketing and into customer service, website design, and product satisfaction. Customers might have an impression of a company formed from historical interactions. They might be at the beginning of their relationship with a brand. “Either way, the onus is on me to earn that trust, to earn that respect of that prospective customer,” Teo says.
Telling the Cross-Functional Story
In addition to formulating the digital engagement strategies that the company deploys today, she developed a cross-functional approach among marketing departments and emphasized soft skills within her team. “You need to know how to persuade, influence, and listen,” Teo explains. “I elevated the people in my team that I felt had stellar skills in those areas.”
These cross-functional relationships strengthen both organizational and marketing efficiency and breadth. But instilling this cultural shift at CA hasn’t been easy. “It’s a tough job when you’re not just up-leveling skills. But you’re also setting a new benchmark for how a highly matrixed organization collaborates and solves problems. With that, you need new behaviors and a host of soft skills,” Teo says.