Editor’s note: We recently had an excellent opportunity to interview Jonathan Moran, Global Director of Product Marketing at SAS, and an Experienced B2B Product Marketing Professional.
His experience comes directly from his competence in tactical execution, excellent communication, and organizational skills. So, his opinion and advice can help you be a step ahead of competitors.
Trujay: In your opinion, how important is a client’s level of interaction with their project? We see many clients who want a hands-off approach, but wonder if this approach lessens their project results?
Jonathan: I would divide a typical software or CRM installation into three phases. The requirements phase, the implementation phase, and the testing/results/handoff phase. It’s very important that clients are involved in phases 1 and 3. Here’s why:
Requirements Phase: This is when a solution definition is completed – which includes mapping business data and configuring the software’s look and feel. It is imperative that clients are involved at this stage, in order to ensure the final product matches their expectations. There must be an individual on the client-side that has a great working knowledge of both business and IT data – and can translate those data definitions to the CRM implementation team for phase 2.
Testing/Results/Handoff: This phase is where the project is finalized, the agreed-upon campaigns are run by the business (with the CRM installation team closely monitoring), and the system is handed over to the client. At this point, the client needs to be intimately involved in learning and making sure they know how to “drive the car”.
Trujay: Why is it worthwhile to provide self-management and make predictions for daily/monthly/yearly business activity?
Jonathan: The capability to manage, plan, and predict activities at regular intervals is a very important capability to maintain. This capability, known as marketing resource management (MRM) is important to have integrated with CRM, Sales Force Automation, and Marketing Automation applications. Setting a plan and strategy at the beginning of the year or other time interval and then working to meet that strategy and plan, all while tracking resources, financials, and timelines is what MRM does best.
Trujay: In your opinion, which is the best marketing automation tool of 2020, and why?
Jonathan: My answer here is – it depends. It depends on the size of the business (small company vs. enterprise), the use case (simple direct marketing vs. inbound real-time personalization), the volumes/scale (10k sends a month vs. 10 million +), and the budget. There are literally hundreds of solutions available based on need.
Working for an organization (SAS) that sells a marketing automation product (SAS Customer Intelligence 360 Engage), my bias is naturally towards this solution. Check out the recent evaluations of this product here. We are built for analytically advanced use cases and primarily larger enterprises where omnichannel real-time personalization is needed.
Trujay: According to your LinkedIn, you make a software marketing career that presents an enterprise with new ideas on how to best drive business. Could you explain the importance of personalized marketing and customer experience concerning this skill?
Jonathan: Elevating customer experience is a noble and continuous goal for many organizations. It’s an ongoing process that doesn’t happen automatically and really requires organizations to carefully evaluate their operations from a people, process, and technology perspective. I have always been of the belief that data-driven insights, via the use of analytics, help marketers like myself not only elevate the customer experience but allow them to do so by accelerating customer insight, performing personalized marketing, and scaling customer decisioning across the business. If you elevate the experience your customer is given, business growth will be a natural result.
Trujay: What useful tips could you give startups as a strategic marketer?
Jonathan: Having worked for both large and small startup software companies in a marketing function, there are both similarities and differences in the needs of each organization.
- Gain buy-in on your marketing message – both internally and externally. A lot of startups “don’t know who they want to be when they grow up”. My recommendation is to work with the core team to try and determine and solidify that message – and stick with it until a change is necessary. A lot of startups continue to change their go to market (GTM) message – which creates confusion both amongst employees and in the market.
- Focus on the strategic, and not the tactical. Startups are often strapped for resources, including people. Get agreement on what matters most in the marketing organization, develop a strategic plan, and work to meet that plan over time. I see lots of startups that treat the marketing function as tactical order takers – developing account-specific content or other low-level marketing content that doesn’t have as much value as instituting and working against a long-term strategic marketing plan.
- Know your user and customer well. In order to market effectively, marketers have to have a seat at the table when talking to customers and prospects. And that’s not just sales calls – but events, workshops, consulting days, win/loss interviews, and other marketing activities. It can’t just be leadership and sales, but marketers as well. Understanding the voice of the customer sounds trite, but it’s very important when developing a message that resonates.
Trujay: In your opinion, is it necessary to use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to achieve both business and personal goals?
Jonathan: I think they are critical for business success – knowing how and when to engage with your customers and in what context over what marketing channel. Managing customer relationships – understanding propensities, and preferences, and other data variables is vital to business success and growing your customer base. From a personal perspective, I don’t think it as important what software solutions you use, but how you leverage technology to achieve your ends goals and build your personal and professional brand.
Trujay: What other platforms would you recommend for a marketing agency or freelancer, if any?
Jonathan: Back in 2017, I wrote an article here on this very topic – and included systems like Customer Relationship Management, Campaign Management, and Marketing Automation, Email Service Providers, Content Management Systems, and Digital Asset Management Repositories, Social Listening, and Monitoring Platforms – and others.
Since then solutions that have entered the fray include Customer Data Platforms, Open Source Analytical Modeling Technologies like Python, Data Management Platforms, and Demand Side Platforms.
All of these solutions work best when organizations take a “hybrid” approach to marketing – which I outline here.
From a marketing agency or freelance perspective, this often only involves 1-10 people working together. For their needs, smaller cloud-based SaaS programs should work just fine.