TMA Event Recap - Hear From Your Peers!

I was excited to attend my first TMA (The Marketing Alliance) meeting last Friday and hear from J Rollins from Optoro and Susan Ganeshanfrom Clarabridge about driving their organizations’ strategic marketing initiatives. J is the chief revenue officer and executive vice president of field operations at Optoro, a cloud-based technology company that helps retailers and manufacturers increase their revenue from returned and excess inventory. Susan is chief marketing officer at Clarabridge, the leading provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions for the world’s top brands.

This program was set up as a “Hear From Your Peers” session in which REQ's EVP of Public Relations Elizabeth Shea moderated a discussion with J, Susan, and other attendees.

J and Susan both have extensive marketing backgrounds. In J’s case, Optoro just closed $50 million of Series C funding and plans to shift its focus in 2015 to hyper-growth within its existing customer base, rather than placing attention solely on acquiring new customers. This shift will require completely new website messaging to better focus on existing customers, how they target and track site visitors, and how they can make online experiences more suited for returning users.

When asked about leadership style, J said he believes sales and marketing should be united, under one leader.

Anyone who has worked in either sales or marketing is familiar with the age-old tensions that arise between the two departments. J feels that by uniting the two teams under a common leader, it helps them support each other’s objectives and goals. But finding the right leader to oversee both sales and marketing is an arduous task. Not every marketer has a head for sales, nor does every salesperson have a knack for marketing.

Meanwhile, Susan addressed the topic of account-based marketing, also known as key account marketing, wherein organizations treat discrete prospects and customers as their own unique market segments. It’s not exactly a new concept, but it’s been steadily gaining popularity as companies like DemandBase promote services to help businesses focus on single points of sales, rather than marketing to the masses. Susan was somewhat surprised to find that very few attendees were pursuing this strategy.

Later, the discussion transitioned to sales and marketing best practices. At Optoro, sales decks are hosted online, which ensures that sales teams are using the most current assets and that activity within the deck can be measured (e.g., who receives links to which information, how much time is spent on each page, etc.).

Susan then posed a question about where product marketing should fall within a company’s organization. For some attendees, their product marketers work closely with the sales team to make sure they understand end user preferences and pain points. For other attendees, that position falls under product/technology/engineering teams.

The discussion ended on another interesting subject – managing up. It wasn’t so much about reining in the CEO or board members, but rather finding the right balance for a CMO to provide strategic advice from a marketing perspective.

All in all, it was a great session, and I hope to see you at the next TMA event!