the human touch in marketing

In this Future of Marketing series, we have covered topics such as Agile MarketingBig DataCustomer ExperienceThought LeadershipCultureContent, and so much more.

Despite all the change in the world and the impact of these changes on our marketing strategy, one thing has never changed. And that is the importance of relationships, and the ability to communicate with people. And so today’s Future of Marketing interview will focus on the importance of the human touch.

I am honored to introduce you to another SAP marketing leader, Dave Hutchison. Dave is the Head of our North American Marketing team.  I invite you to continue the conversation with Dave on Twitter (@dave_hutchison) or LinkedIn.

Tell us about yourself?

Dave Hutchison on the human touch in MarketingThis is my first, pure marketing job in my career. I graduated college with a marketing degree and spent the next 10 years at IBM in direct sales and channel management. I joined Siebel Systems and helped build the reseller channel there. After Siebel I spent 2 years running sales and marketing for a relatively small ERP and BI system integration firm but soon realized that I enjoyed the dynamic environment of a large company. Given this, I joined SAP in 2004 and haven’t looked back. In my time here, I have been responsible for strategic business development, 3rd-party solution sales and sales operations.  Most recently I was Chief of Staff for SAP’s President of Global Sales and Services.

At the end of 2011 I decided to make a change. I had visibility and connections into a lot of areas in the company and decided that running marketing for our North American business would really help me round out my passions and experience. I knew how to manage a P&L, run a large team and I felt like there was a real opportunity to help the marketing organization with a different perspective, a different personality and help people to feel that they are a valuable part of the business. So I become the North American Head of Marketing.

What Is The Biggest Marketing Challenge?

The biggest challenge is how to scale a marketing organization to meet the needs of a growing business, and doing so on a flat or reduced budget year after year. Like almost every large enterprise, we have a relatively finite list of contacts and we hit them pretty hard with traditional marketing. So we need to focus on building new contacts, reaching new audiences. I spent more than 6 months – almost a whole year – thinking about how to organize my team to meet this challenge. We were getting the job done, but we weren’t as efficient as we needed to be. The idea was to build a model that would be sustainable through different management regimes, go to market strategies and external changes.

We also looked at re-defining the relationship with sales because their expectations were keeping us entrenched in old behaviors. This made change difficult. I spent a lot of time with the sales leadership. And what I found was that in the end, most of them agreed with our vision for change. They agreed we could add more value for them. They wanted us to be more strategic but we also needed to feed them the services they have come to rely on such as flawless event execution and creative, relevant demand generation programs.

So what did we do to address that? First we needed to specialize. So we put all the program “build” into one Programs team – Industry, LoB and Market category.  our regional teams have become more like Account Directors, gathering strategic requirements from their field stakeholders and bringing those back to the Programs team for build. Then we defined a group called “Growth Marketing” focussed on Digital and Social Marketing, Innovation Portfolio messaging and Events & Sponsorships. Ensuring that these teams work well together and quickly identifying gaps and resolutions is the responsibility of a new role on the team – Head of Strategy.

What is your prediction for the future of marketing?

Marketing will become more traditional before it becomes more transformational.  As marketers focus more and more on improving customer experience, human nature will drive us to use conventional methods of communication to create true intimacy. The phone isn’t going away any time soon.  People want to do business with people.  We need to break through the clutter, establish a connection, build trust and credibility and maintain a relationship over time.  I believe this is a lost art that is not gone but rather sleeping.  Time to wake up!

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Now it’s your turn: Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Google+ or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Head of Strategy for the leading content marketing platform, NewsCred. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

5 Comments

  1. Achim Klor said…

    Terrific post, Michael

    The human touch is paramount. I believe the thing that separates companies like SAP from traditional B2Bs is that customer engagement is at the core of the content ecosystem. European B2Bs seem to get this right more than we do in North America.

    If you’re not familiar with Maersk Line’s recent B2B social success story, I highly recommend reading it. It’s another perfect example of a “boring” B2B company taking customer engagement to a whole new level.

    More here: http://bit.ly/WJpq4j

    You’re right, the phone will never go away, but neither will high touch content channels like social and mobile. Maersk believes that social media is no different than the phone if used as communication rather than marketing or advertising. What do you think?

    Cheers!

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks Achim, i appreciate the support, the comment and the link. I’m not familiar with the Maersk example but will check it out.

  2. shahzaib Khatri said…

    Michael, Understanding human is much desirable than anything.I recently read an article over the internet which focused to gather a database from each of the four doors through which a customer can enter into communication. Besides sales, marketing & customer service, finance was also included in the list and that is what i call it a total customer interest. Think about the ways you can make things easy for them, understand them, educate them how are you going to help them.

    Marketing strategies like resources utilization on new contact list creation as mentioned by Mr. David in his interview can really help you in new customer prospects . Repeated communications can help them understand the products, build trust & improve on low-resistance.

    I didn’t get the logic why phones will get importance on future marketing. whereas majority of consumers are busy with their smartphones. Is it something about credibility & trust?

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