CenturyLink drives traffic with multiple channels

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Cindy Humphrey is VP-product and marketing at telecom company CenturyLink Business. Last month she was named by the Direct Marketing Association as its b-to-b marketer of the year, with DMA citing her work in developing a demandcentric marketing model. BtoB recently asked Humphrey about her successes at her division, formerly telecom carrier Qwest Communications International, which was acquired by CenturyLink in April. BtoB: To what do you attribute this recognition from DMA? Cindy Humphrey: One of the things that's different about my background is that I've worked in a lot of different areas, including the network and operations side. I was product manager for a long time, a channel manager and worked in sales. In moving into the marketing organization from sales, I wanted to make sure the marketing team focused on how to help sales get their jobs done more easily. This helped a lot in asking the tough questions, such as whether to run an idea by the salespeople. And we literally let sales pick which customers they really wanted to approach. So we have their buy-in. We're focusing on opening doors, not just common marketing metrics such as clicks. Yes, you can drive more revenue with more clicks, but sometimes all you're doing is aiding brand awareness. We want to impact revenue and to help sales see how marketing can help. BtoB: DMA cited, in particular, your work in transforming your marketing efforts from traditional to digital. Can you explain? - Humphrey: What's important to remember is that multiple touches and capabilities are what drive success. We're not talking either-or when it comes to traditional versus digital, but having a great integrated combination. Traditional direct marketing has a place in the world if you can use it to drive prospects to a personalized URL (PURL). From there, you can watch what they look at and send them an email that drives them to another website. It's this combination that provides a stronger marketing program. BtoB: Can you provide an example? Humphrey: We created a campaign designed to reach customers [whom] sales was having a hard time reaching. We started with a direct mail piece that included a brownie. Most people love receiving something they can use, and food is an item that is easily used. Here we notified recipients to be on the lookout for the next piece, which was a large tube containing a rolled-up map of their network data communications. The message here said, “If we could provide this detailed, data-only public information, imagine what we could do if we could talk to you in person?” This, in turn, directed them to PURLs for more information. Finally, a sales rep followed up. As a result of the campaign, more than 50% of these targeted prospects set up a meeting. BtoB: And the key was multiple, differentiated touches? Humphrey: Yes. It's a more natural relationship with the customer. For me, it's irritating to receive the same type of email from a provider over and over again. But if I'm approached in different manners showing me different things, I'd be intrigued. It shows creativity. BtoB: What is CenturyLink doing with social and mobile marketing? Humphrey: We have done quite a bit with our sales team, making sure they know how to use social media appropriately. We don't want to bombard prospects. We want to show them our value proposition and share information that could be valuable. We're also sponsors of two technology-driven telecom web- logs, ReadWriteWeb and Giga- OM. What we've found is [that] by us sponsoring these sites with ads, we are able to stay connected to the organizations that we might not otherwise be able to by tapping into the conversations. And we have a staffer who monitors the sites and occasionally contributes a blog that's relevant to the conversation. But only if it's relevant. It's important to be seen as a useful, trusted adviser.
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