It’s possible to accelerate the sales pipeline when your marketing team is structured with the right mix of solution-focused, unique, and resourceful professionals.
Quartz Network Executive Correspondent Britt Erler sat down with Lynn Teo, VP of Global Marketing and Customer Experience at Wolters Kluwer, to discuss ways to rebuild and transform your marketing teams.
Lynn offers insight into:
- Marketing areas are ripe for change
- How to build transformed marketing teams
- Traditional marketing methods that are relevant
Quartz Network: Can you share a bit about yourself and your professional background?
Lynn Teo: I run a Marketing team in the health business unit at Wolters Kluwer. We’re a global company. I have a team that spans about 270 people across all regions, and our predominant market is in the US. The functional areas that I lead cut across all aspects of marketing, including the Business Intelligence team, PR and Comms, Marketing Strategy, Digital. It’s a broader remit than most CMOs, but I think it’s been great to be able to exercise all the levers to achieve business goals.
I also run the Customer Experience team, which is defined by team members who run customer support. We have a 24/7 support function, what we call Customer Success, Sales Enablement, by way of training and bringing the best solutions to people who are already our customers, so Acquisition and Customer Retention.
Quartz Network: Why is marketing as a discipline in need of transformation?
Lynn Teo: The key driver here is that organization. So waking up to the fact of the potential of marketing in driving the business. There was a time in the evolution of marketing where it was hard to measure the impact of marketing. I think now as we move to more digital channels, it’s inherently part of that channel, when you can actually measure things like impressions. You can measure click throughs. I think businesses are embracing marketing as a growth driver and a revenue generator, because you can now point very specifically to lists and business KPIs.
Quartz Network: Are there certain areas of marketing that are really prime candidates for change?
Lynn Teo: I do think marketing strategy is an area that’s primed for change, in the sense that you now have so many other channels you can orchestrate as you’re building out the flow or the journey. Whereas, previously, it might be more single touch. Now, you have to think multiple steps ahead.
In addition to that, an area that people tend to not talk about as much, which I think is critical, is marketing operations. That is the hub of marketing. It’s where a lot of the measurement takes place. It’s also where the execution of marketing takes place.
In complex organizations with very broad portfolios, at any one time, you could be having tens of campaigns happening simultaneously. When I look at my team, last year, it was about 300 multi-touch, omni channel campaigns, in addition to 1600 to 2000 marketing tactic. It’s all a function of your portfolio, so I would say marketing operations is the second one.
The third one is digital, because there is a whole different way of reaching people on social, on digital platforms, on all of the digital assets that you have. Those three areas, in my opinion, are primed for change.
Quartz Network: Can you share some stories about rebuilding marketing teams?
Lynn Teo: In terms of new areas of marketing, I think data, analytics, and business intelligence is definitely an area of growth. A lot of times we think about data as a means to report something happened. We launched a couple of campaigns and these are the results that we received or achieved.
That’s well and good because it helps you understand the effectiveness of what you did, but where that’s limited is, your ability to predict. What might happen if you run the same campaign, maybe against a similar segment, or maybe a different segment. The trend now is more in the realm of predictive analytics, and that points me to a team that I created since 2019.
We built this BI capability, where we are actually hiring data scientists. When I look at the lead of that function and my team, he comes to the table with a data science background, machine learning, AI, and those skills are transferable. You don’t have to come on currently in health, but those skills don’t have to match up with the industry. You could come from retail, you could come from defense—doesn’t matter, but it’s that discipline.
Where we saw that really deliver value for the business was, in the pandemic year we had a 15-fold increase in the number of opportunities that were created. As an industry, I’m in health—we’re trying to do the right thing to be sure that we are equipping clinicians, medical professionals, healthcare professionals with the right information they need.
To that end, we did a lot of trials. We gave out trials to people that we felt could really benefit from our products, but that led to a 10-fold, 15-fold increase in the number of people requesting trials. We needed to figure out a way to work through those leads, in a manner where the more prime opportunities rose to the top, and that there was a stratified way of working through them, because our sales team did not multiply as a result of the multiplication of opportunities. I thought that was a very real example. Applying data analytics and prediction, and grading the opportunities based on historical trends that we’ve seen, combined with the intel that our sales reps tell us about certain color commentary about accounts such as time of the year when the likely to renew.
I thought that that was just a fabulous way to bring data to the fore and have that empower the ability of a business to close on the right deals more quickly. We saw also in that scenario, an acceleration of the funnel—the sales funnel. Typically, we would have leads that would take anything from 150 to 170 days, post scoring. We found that the acceleration happened. We were seeing leads convert in 115 days. All very tangible KPIs. I think it’s opportunities like that that happen, kind of in the world that really challenged marketers to be solution-focused, unique, and resourceful.
Quartz Network: What traditional marketing roles are key areas that don’t need transforming?
Lynn Teo: The two that come to mind for me would be storytelling and brand building. It is an art, and it is a level of proficiency and communication that is still very important. How do you tell a compelling story that resonates? You don’t have 10 minutes to tell someone about the value of a product. How do you crystallize the value proposition in a very succinct way, so that in the 30 seconds that someone is interacting with the brand, particularly at the awareness stage, that they walk away with a crystallized understanding of what you do and what’s in it for them? I think that’s critical. Then there’s a craft in how you tell the story. I think that’s where the balance between emotional benefit and functional benefit both have to be addressed, because you have to hit the core of how we all make decisions.
The secondary, that I think continues to be critical, is the power of direct mail. The key here is not branding any channel as being an ineffective channel, but it’s all about increasing the efficiency of the channel or reducing waste of certain channels that haven’t worked in the past.
What we’ve done is, again, overlaying data on top of it. Who are the segments that will actually react in a positive way based on a direct mail piece that they receive? There might be some people, some segments, where that has zero impact. They love your product, they have showed enough signs about their level of engagement, maybe something about the usage that tells you that they’re unlikely to face attrition. The key now is about if I had to send a million pieces of direct mail versus 5 million, who are the right people, and then you can bring it down to another level of abstraction when those direct mail pieces get to them. How do you weave that in with your digital touch points?
We found, for example, that when someone receives a direct mail in about that same week that they receive an email—that has a multiplier effect. It’s that kind of surround sound. I think those are two areas that I would say, don’t discount them too quickly.
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