CMO Close-Up with Jennifer Langer

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Jennifer Langer officially joined Ancile Solutions, a developer of learning and performance software for businesses, as VP-product management and marketing in May. She has more than 25 years of experience in the technology sector, including stints at Lawson Software, PeopleSoft, Computer Associates and Xerox Corp. Ancile Solutions is a 2-year-old spinoff from consulting firm RWD Technologies. In the following conversation with CMO Close-Up, Langer discusses the specific benefits and unique challenges the spinoff opportunity gives Ancile Solutions. CMO Close-Up: How did your previous experience prepare you for this job? Jennifer Langer: I'm a software gal. I grew up in the software industry—all the way from starting off in customer service and then helping customers implement software. I had quite a few stints in sales and product management and strategy and product marketing. I've kind of worked my way through the various roles until I reached this point now, where I own marketing and product management. First, that has allowed me to understand the customers' perspective, because I've spent almost my entire career working directly with customers and making sure they understand how to use the software. That's given me a really good angle on how to put together positioning and messaging, and ensure that we're targeted on the customers' needs. The second part of it is to ensure that marketing is supporting our sales and services organization so that we're enabling those teams to be highly productive. CMO Close-Up: What are you focused on in the first few weeks on the job? Langer: We have an interesting challenge. This is a hybrid of an organization. It's a start-up for sales and, for marketing, it's a real start-up. But yet we're starting up with a history and with a stellar customer base. I've worked at start-ups and I've worked at Fortune 50 companies, but never have I been somewhere that's quite the hybrid like this. You have customers like Pepsi and Colgate, and yet you realize we didn't have a marketing department until a few months ago. It's a very interesting scenario to come in to create a marketing organization relatively from scratch and yet have a wonderful set of assets in the form of customers and partners to work with. Our products have been around for 14 years. We started as a consulting company (RWD Technologies), but we actually split into two different entities two years ago: the consulting company and the software company. Out of that process, Ancile had to create a new name, a new brand, because we didn't take the (RWD Technologies) name. When I joined the company, the focus that I was given right off the bat was to make us better known, help us build our brand—but not in an empty way, but by focusing on reaching out to potential partners as well as customers to ensure they know who we are. That we've got a proven product with 3,500 customers in 88 countries, and yet no one knows who we are. That's the focus today: To begin to get the word out about who we are. CMO Close-Up: And how are you making Ancile Solutions better known? Langer: First, we want to reach out to customers to make sure that (they know) their world hasn't changed. Our company name has changed, but we're still here to support them along the way. There's lots of customer outreach going on. We've continued our user group process and focused on establishing a really high level of customer care with our end customers. In fact, we just rolled out a new policy support plan with a lifetime support commitment to them, ensuring that they know who we are and that we're here and we're standing behind our products. No. 2 is to really expand our partner program. We go to market today with OEMs—such as Hewlett-Packard and SAP—to resell our product on our behalf. We have a very minimal direct sales organization, qualifying leads that we might turn over to our partners. Our goal is to really enable our partners with some of the best sales enablement out there in the market. CMO Close-Up: How are you communicating with your partners? Langer: The good news for us is we can focus our partner conversations down to a finite audience in which we can do high-touch type campaigns with them. A lot of that is centered around direct contact with our partners' channel teams. But it is also enabled with marketing campaigns that are directly touching each of them. We have a social outreach as well. We do like LinkedIn. We believe that working with this b-to-b setting with the OEM community is real ripe for LinkedIn, as opposed to, say, Facebook, which is a more b-to-c kind of play. We also use trade shows because a lot of our targets are other exhibitors at the trade shows. We don't believe we'd get a lot of leverage out of advertising, unless we find a very targeted approach. CMO Close-Up: What is your approach to content marketing? Langer: We believe that case studies are real meaningful to both the end customer audience as well as the partner audience. We'll do (case studies) with webinars and then, from there, we can reuse or repurpose those webinars. We recently just published a white paper on five or six of our case studies pulling them all together to weave a story between a number of them. CMO Close-Up: Do you handle the webinars yourself or do you use a media partner? Langer: Most of them we do ourselves. I'm a big believer in using media partners for a larger outreach, but today we've been using our mailing lists and our own nurturing campaigns with prospects and customers. We do have some webinars scheduled for the fall where we'll be using other media outreach; but we'll also be using our OEM partners, so we'll work with them to provide the content for webinars that they will put on. Not only do they white-label our products, but they can white-label our marketing campaigns and collateral as well. Jennifer Langer is VP-product management and marketing at Ancile Solutions She can be reached at [email protected]
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