Tech multimedia marketer drives B2B and B2C growth by keeping it personal
Big lessons in a career can come unexpectedly. For Melissa Puls, now CMO of Avid, such a moment was during a leadership retreat after the merging of two companies in 2006. Not everyone present would survive the reorganization but, rather than focus on herself, she recalls “going in as open-minded as possible, thinking about opportunities for everyone, not just my team.” Recognizing “that change is inevitable, especially in high tech,” and by committing to the greater good, Puls not only survived—she was promoted.
Carrying her open-mindedness to Avid in July 2018, Puls found a company in transition, moving from purchased equipment to cloud-based software-as-a-service solutions. She also had the daunting task of engaging both business buyers and consumers. After an extensive “listening tour,” she focused the company on its role “powering greater creators,” a purpose-driven B2B and B2C campaign with a strong emphasis on human-to-human interactions. Puls is more than willing to pay it forward, adding her own lessons to the insight pool.
You've been at Avid over a year now. What attracted you to this role?
A few things. I had always had a passion for media, and then went more of a big tech route—so seeing those worlds collide was exciting. However, one big thing is the leadership team. Working with a leadership team that is all in it together. We're in it to win it together. There are no agendas, no set notions. It's like everyone working together to make it happen. It just seemed like a perfect fit for my next step in my career, and having a supportive, collaborative leadership team is so crucial.
How do you approach your first 100 days?
First, you have to seek to understand, and then to be understood. That's the first principle. Always be looking out for measurements and metrics to see how marketing can really impact performance. I've got to be able to look in the eyes of my CFO and tell them that we're getting a return on investment. So, you’ve got to start there. Then, really understanding how to build the talent that you need in a team to be hugely successful.
Avid services both B2B and B2C markets. How does this impact your approach to marketing?
It's a really interesting. Some of the largest media enterprises in the world use Avid for their end-to-end workflows, and then we have up-and-coming individual artists that want to buy a single license. And they do that via our web store. There are two common denominators. The first is that all our buyers are serious creatives. They're people that want to make their career with serious tools that help them differentiate themselves from everybody else. The second is that, whether you're an enterprise buyer or you're an individual creative, you're a person. You're an individual. And we all have our own likes and our own dislikes. And we all have our own perspective on how it is that we want to buy. I think some of the tactics or the strategies that we use for our B2C buyers, which are very personalized, based on their behavior as an individual, can be applied also to our larger enterprise, B2B-type buyers.
What’s your content strategy?
What we have is consistent outreach to our customers at different stages in the renewal process. We have nurture streams that we put in place within certain periods of time. We're serving up content to them that shows the value of our offerings and the new features and new functions. We're not just doing, 30 days before they're ready to renew, but ongoing touch points to engage with them. One important area in which we’re just scratching the surface is educational videos. We want to give our customers the tools through e-learning to make sure they're maximizing Avid to its fullest. It’s a journey, but we're starting to deliver a lot more tutorials and a lot more content that helps users.
Do you track customer satisfaction?
We do. But I think we can do a much better job of that. The ultimate view of measurement in our world right now, especially as people are moving from purchases to subscription, is that they continue to renew. They have options. Customers have options today. Even the big enterprises have options. And it's our job collectively as an organization to make sure those renewal rates stay at the highest level. And that should really fuel every customer engagement that we have is to make sure that they stay with us. I think there are lots of different measurements that could be made. But at the end of the day, if a customer maintains being a customer with you, they see the value of what you're doing. They are having a great experience and that's the priority. Avid has more work to do in that area. There's no doubt about that. Every company does. But I think there is a road to that. There's a roadmap from an Avid perspective on making sure that we keep those renewal rates where we want them to be.
How have you approached attribution?
Always a challenge and opportunity for a marketing team. Especially when you're doing a more face-to-face, event-type of approach. With that, you can't necessarily show the pure ROI. How you get the ROI is to show that in addition to influencing business, you are attracting net new customers through a lead to revenue model. I need to be able to look straight into our CFO eyes and say, ‘You give me another hundred bucks, I'm going to get you another $5,000.’ This first year has really been about putting that infrastructure in place to ensure that I can get the increased budget.