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From no practices to best practices in 12 months

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Last week I was meeting with one of our emerging marketing technology partners at our headquarters in Falls Church, Va. My CMO and I were in the middle of describing for them our journey towards best practices in digital marketing at CSC, and how in the last 12 months we deployed a new global marketing database, a marketing automation platform, a new and significantly more powerful analytics engine, a completely redesigned (and very cool) 15,000-page website and two new social analytics engines, among a few other cutting-edge digital tools.

All these elements were tightly coupled together and also integrated with our CRM platform for a complete leads-to-cash closed-loop system. And, at the same time we refreshed the digital content management and programs team with an injection of brand-new talent that we needed to manage and enable this entire digital ecosystem.

And then it hit me! There is no way we would have achieved all of that in such a small amount of time without three key elements: executive air cover, a willingness to invest for the future and no legacy to worry about.

Executive support was in place well before we were “shovel ready” to begin this massive infrastructure buildout. Both our CMO and our global head of sales and marketing were not only in solid support but went out of their way to make digital marketing a strategic initiative at the highest levels in the corporation. Then they proceeded to give us the main stage, from the boardroom to the main tent at the sales conference, and strategic planning offsite. We asked for the spotlight so we could rally the troops and we got it in a big way.

Making a multimillion dollar investment in marketing while the marketplace is giving us all more than a few nervous moments is a testament to the executive team’s vision and willingness to have the tough conversations. It helps to have a CMO who gets it, and a leader of sales and marketing who has the ability to see beyond the headlights of the usual planning cadence. The money that was put on the table was sufficient to do this right, while keeping us very focused on balancing best-in-breed with fiscal responsibility.

Finally, and I would say most importantly, we were able to sit down with a clean slate and design the marketing technology platform of the future, without having to worry about ripping out existing sub-optimized platforms. This was one case where not being early adopters of digital marketing platforms actually helped us.

In the same way that developing nations bypass traditional telephony networks and leapfrog straight into the wireless world, we were able to bypass early versions of disjointed, sub-optimized digital marketing platforms and move straight into best practices.

It also helped to have a seasoned and super-smart technical team to ensure that all these multiple pieces were tightly integrated, to help realize a graceful, guided journey from our first marketing outreach to long-lasting customer relationships.

I am more convinced now than ever before that digital marketing, done correctly, can help build sustained competitive advantages for companies of all types. The time to act is now.

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