The Great Divide Between Corp Comms & Marketing, with Grace Williams, BLASTmedia

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Gone are the days of internal-only communications. Every internal message is now at the risk of being shared externally, creating more pressure for communications professionals to skillfully craft statements surrounding economic, societal or company impact events (RIFs, outages, data breaches, etc.). As a result, Corporate Communications roles have never been more in demand or vital to a company’s long-term reputation.

So, why does this function still report to marketing, a department typically focused on short-term ROI? In this episode, Grace Williams, SVP of PR at BLASTmedia, makes a case for why Chief Communications Officers and other high-level corporate comms leaders should report directly to the CEO.

Marketing and comms deserve an amicable breakup

As the SVP of BLASTmedia, Grace has plenty of experience working with marketers who report to the CEO. She’s noticed a few concerning patterns with this structure.

“[Marketers squeezed by CEOs] are saying, ‘Why [comms and PR support]? What’s this going to do for me? How’s it going to drive demand?'” said Grace. “I spend a lot of time helping to educate our clients on why certain media opportunities are worthwhile and… what they will accomplish eventually.”

The fact is, communications and PR fulfill a distinctly different role from marketing — so much so that many CMOs wish they could lose their comms responsibilities.

“It’s more difficult for those CMOs because they’re constantly having to fight for the brand budget, justify their brand budget,” said Grace. “Often we’re in a situation where, even if we’re working with an SVP of marketing or CMO who believes in brand, they’re having to communicate that up the chain to maybe a CEO or founder who does not.”

“Doing more with less”

Does that heading ring a bell? If you’re a marketer, the answer is almost certainly “yes.” Over the past three years, many marketing leaders have been forced to transition from a growth-at-all-costs mindset to a demand gen and ROI-oriented approach that prioritizes results, results, results (all with fewer resources, resources, resources).

Accordingly, Grace said strategic and long-term initiatives like communications often go ignored, especially if these roles are in the marketing department.

“[In the] heyday of 2020, 2021, there was a lot of time and resources to invest into different parts of the business. And now [marketing leaders are] like, ‘okay, let’s make sure that we have our pipeline stable and we’re growing at a steady rate,” said Grace. “It’s a little bit like, ‘let’s not deal with that comms stuff over there that’s not gonna give us the results we wanna see right away.'”

According to Grace, the problem with sidelining corporate communications strategy is that it’s an excellent way to lose sight of vital long-term initiatives like crisis communications and brand perception.

The solution? Give communications leaders a little more autonomy.

CCOs wear plenty of hats

Contrary to popular belief, according to Grace, CCOs and their corresponding team can easily support all functions of the business, much like the marketing, sales and finance departments.

For example, a communications team could work with HR to craft an internal note celebrating the company’s recent wins; they could partner with marketing to highlight customer stories and draft newsletters; and they could work closely with the CEO to provide them with talking points for conferences, internal gatherings and even analyst meetings.

In the context of real estate marketing, the communications team’s versatility shines through. Teaming up with the marketing department, they can weave engaging narratives around customer success stories, creating content that not only captures the essence of successful property deals but also amplifies the brand’s credibility. Crafting newsletters that highlight key market trends, investment opportunities, and company milestones can become a powerful tool in maintaining client engagement. For a comprehensive experience of how such collaborations can manifest, one can explore the vibrant real estate landscape in Georgia at https://exprealty.com/us/ga/.

Moreover, the CEO’s communication requirements in the real estate finance sector are intricate and multifaceted. A communications team, aligning closely with the CEO, can provide invaluable support by offering well-researched talking points for conferences, internal gatherings, and analyst meetings. This ensures that the leadership is equipped with articulate and compelling messaging, fostering confidence and trust among stakeholders. Navigating the complex intersections of real estate finance and effective communication, CCOs and their teams emerge as indispensable assets in driving the success of a real estate enterprise.

“The external communications piece and the executive communications piece are certainly growing in importance to an organization. People — whether that be your investors, your partners, and specifically your employees — want to hear from the leaders of your organization.

And those leaders certainly need help in making sure their messages are on point,” said Grace.
Listen to Episode 345 of SaaS Half Full for more of Grace’s insights.

Why Hidden Pricing is Enemy #1, with Allyson Havener, TrustRadius

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Despite data supporting the case for creating a more self-serve buying process, many SaaS revenue teams still operate in a way that is legit the opposite of what today’s buyer wants. New report data from more than 2,000 B2B tech buyers reveals what self-serve looks like in practice — and it’s transparent pricing, free demos and no freakin’ cold calls.  

Listen as Lindsey speaks with Allyson Havener, VP of Marketing at TrustRadius, about the report’s results and how it’s changing the course for SaaS go-to-market teams.

B2B buyers want the royal treatment (AKA, a B2C experience)

TrustRadius’ 2022 B2B buying trends report has an intriguing title: “The Age of the Self-Serve Buyer.” The report suggests B2B buyers crave consumer experiences, even when shopping for organizational expenditures like software.

In other words, according to Allyson and TrustRadius data, buyers want B2B brands to court them in a different (albeit familiar) way. They want to feel like they’re sitting at home in their pajamas and impulse-buying a Stanley cup. But why is that, exactly?

“More and more millennials and Gen Z are joining the buying committee. They’re coming into places of leadership, and they’re digital natives,” said Allyson. “In B2C [interactions], you have all this product information and customer feedback at your fingertips. You don’t have to interact with people to interact with a brand. And so that’s transcending into B2B.”

In fact, Allyson said 100% of respondents indicated that they prefer self-service B2B buying platforms (up from 80% last year). And that’s not the only wild stat Allyson and Lindsey discussed…

Hidden fees are out, transparency is in

In other instances, it may be wise for marketers to act as not-so-mysterious shoppers themselves. After all, to sell like a B2B pro, marketers must first buy like a B2B pro. And when marketers put themselves in the buyer’s seat, they’re more likely to keep pace with rapidly changing consumer standards.

“We can pretend, and we can research, but you have to feel the pain, and you have to feel what it’s like to have a deadline and jump through the hoops to get these demos and make a business case internally,” said Gracey. “You need real skin in the game to feel what your buyers are feeling.”

Allyson’s trick to getting organizational buy-in for direct, pricing-first structures? Discuss the approach’s benefits with your entire go-to-market team, including sales and customer success.

“It’s not fun to be sold to”

TrustRadius’ report detailed the top five resources buyers rely on through the sales funnel — and for the first time in seven years, vendor sales representatives weren’t one of them. Allyson said this is a significant trend away from traditional sales tactics like the dreaded cold call.

“As a marketer, everybody’s dodging calls and emails all day. So… if you think about the sales role in that perspective, and you think about your end customer… and what they really want, well, they want someone that really understands their problem and their use case,” said Allyson. “So, I think it’s much more of this consultative [relationship] versus trying to shove a product down someone’s throat, right?”

Listen to Episode 344 of SaaS Half Full for more of Allyson’s insights.

What Does Agile Marketing Mean for PR?

The term “agile” likely isn’t new to you, especially if you work at a tech company that relies on agile software development. Agile marketing is, as a HuffPost article defines it, “a measure of the speed at which marketing gets done and a philosophy about ‘how’ marketing gets done.” (For a much more complicated but colorful definition of agile methodology, this clip from HBO’s Silicon Valley, a BLASTmedia favorite, is worth a watch.) Continue reading “What Does Agile Marketing Mean for PR?”

3 Marketing Technology Trends to Watch for In 2018

One of the hallmarks of a successful thought leader is the ability to use his or her base of knowledge to formulate commentary around events and trends that are still in progress or haven’t fully come to fruition. This skillset can be what turns your CEO or CMO from a company spokesperson who can speak to your company’s impact on the industry, to a thought leader who can speak to the industry at large and is looked to as an expert source by journalists. Continue reading “3 Marketing Technology Trends to Watch for In 2018”