In earlier blog posts, David Coates, Director of Customer Marketing at Iron Mountain, outlined his company’s unique approach to engaging customers, along with a framework for effective customer marketing.
In his final post, David shares the ideal mix of experience and skills needed to build a successful customer marketing team.
1. Focus on the customer
The 2017 State of Customer Marketing Report found that the three main skills crucial to customer marketing success were relationship building, communication, and customer service. While the best make-up of your customer marketing team will depend on the organization’s approach and goals, Iron Mountain is keenly focused on driving engagement, advocacy and ultimately retention and loyalty.
With that in mind, David sought out colleagues and new hires obsessed with customer experience. “Fundamentally, these people need customer-centricity to be part of their DNA,” he explains.
As David found, people with that mindset can come from a range of backgrounds and areas of the business, including those in field marketing, communications, demand generation, customer care and account management.
2. Find team members who can embrace uncertainty
Being comfortable with little structure and clarity is another must-have for members of customer marketing team, which is widely viewed as a nascent industry and function. (If you want to learn more about the growth of customer marketing, read this eBook.)
As David puts it, “Those that succeed are the ones who are okay with ambiguity and the ‘white space.’ They need to put stakes in the ground and adjust on the fly.”
David also stresses the importance of team members being willing and able to connect numerous programs so that the parts contribute to a larger initiative. The reality is that a customer marketing program—and its goals and measures of success—will morph over time as the organization learns and grows.
To keep pace with this evolution, team members should be patient and agile so they can continually tweak processes over time. “In this environment the ability to collaborate and identify common, shared goals are also key to addressing the ambiguity and building individual and shared success,” says David.
3. Recruit a customer marketing mentor
Like any new initiative, spearheading a customer marketing program can feel like a lonely endeavour if you have a small team.
In fact, it may sometimes feel like your team is taking one step forward and two steps back as you try to prove the value of your programs and gain internal buy-in.
To keep things in perspective—and stay motivated—it helps to connect with internal and external mentors. “An internal mentor can help you overcome roadblocks and suggest how best to navigate within the organization, while an external mentor can serve as an unbiased sounding board,” says David.
Within Iron Mountain, David has found mentors in the company’s CMO and the executive sponsor of the Customer Advisory Board. Outside of the company, he turns to industry experts and thought leaders like Bob Peterson, Research Director at SiriusDecisions; Melissa Mahoney, Owner of Mahoney Strategic Commuications; Jane Hiscock, President and Founder of The Farland Group; and Eyal Danon, President and Founder of Ignite Advisory Group.
- Understand that allies for customer marketing can come from all areas of the company—but that customer focus is key.
- The best customer marketing team members are those that show a willingness to work within a loosely defined structure and accept the ever-evolving nature of the program.
- Support yourself and your program with internal and external allies as well as mentors who can provide perspective and guidance.
Useful customer marketing resources:
- The perfect customer marketer job description
- Learn how Marketo scaled their customer marketing program for near-perfect customer retention
This post was originally published on July 28th, 2015, and was updated on March 9th, 2017.