Veritas CMO Lynn Lucas on branding in the B2B sphere and the importance of keeping things simple
Veritas is a brand on a mission, having just separated from Symantec after 11 long years recently in 2015; it aims to go beyond its original remit of data backup and recovery.
The importance of people, branding and simplicity in the b2b sphere
Getting the word out to its customers has been a process of firing on all channels according to Lynn Lucas, chief marketing officer, Veritas.
“I believe that in B2B (business to business) that you have all the channels as you do in consumer [sector]. It’s online, so we’re investing heavily in online and digital in APJ (Asia Pacific and Japan), because the first thing anyone does today is Google, you search,” Lucas told The Drum.
“It is SEM, SEO, ads, a lot of content syndication, we have very specific research that tells us how our consumers in b2b looking to consume information in Singapore, versus Korea versus Australia, so that we can target our digital in the right way for those markets,” she added.
Beyond those channels, Lucas believes that human interaction plays a big role in reaching customers in the b2b sphere.
“It’s a major purchase in the case of our solutions and they [customers] want to have eye to eye contact. Just like when you are buying a major purchase like a car, you probably want to look the dealer in the eye,” said Lucas.
Branding and people
Branding in the b2b space is not as different from the b2c space as you might imagine according to Lucas.
“It’s the same principle, you’re trying to create that positive association in your customer’s mind. I think of it holistically, it’s not advertising, it’s the customer experience we are generating, it’s how our employees interact with the customer when they call for help or the support desk, it’s the website experience, it’s the experience at an event,” said Lucas.
“We are constantly talking about brand and what it means inside of the company to the employees, because all the employees are part of the Veritas brand,” she added.
Coupled with a major brand refresh with a slick tagline “The Truth in Information,” as well as modern visual design, Lucas hopes that these will reinforce customers’ perceptions of the brand.
“That’s helping reinforce with customers that Veritas is new, modern and working on today’s toughest problems and helping them with it,” said Lucas.
“I look at how our brand is being perceived, we do classic things like measure brand awareness, and how recognisable the brand is, clearly that’s one aspect of it. We also look at the intangibles about our customer satisfaction scores, because that’s part of our brand. I don’t look at it clinically, it’s really about the people and how our customer feel about their whole interaction with Veritas,” she added.
The importance of looking at sales people as part the brand is something that the b2b space doesn’t talk much about, but yet is still a critical role for the marketing team, according to Lucas.
“We play a super important indirect role in the biggest piece of brand awareness in b2b, our sales team, that’s what b2c doesn’t have. They don’t have armies of people selling lipstick. In b2b, the brand is about the people,” said Lucas.
“You can look at study after study for years from many different organisations, CIO’s (chief information officer) most trusted advisor is typically a sales person from one of their trusted partners. That is the advantage that b2b have, that direct human connection, and the role marketing plays is so critical because we are equipping the sales organisations or partners, giving them the ability to have that relevant conversation to a senior level topic,” she added.
This is often overlooked about the role marketing plays in this facet due to its indirect nature according to Lucas.
“Without marketing crafting those messages and integrating them with the trends, the sales team will not be able to create those connections,” she added.
Keep it simple and think long-term
Selling complex products requires more than just flashy visuals and catchy tag lines, it ultimately requires simplicity according to Lucas.
“That highest level is simplicity, at the end of the day with marketing, if you don’t start with a simple attention grabbing story, you never get the opportunity to tell the rest of the story,” said Lucas.
“That’s what is really grabbing the attention of our customer right now, it’s the story of 360 data protection, it’s very easy for them to understand, ear catching, and we can tell that story very simply and differentiate Veritas. That’s a big part on how we’re changing brand perception,” she added.
While the sales team might just look at the marketing team as a lead generator, Lucas noted that there has to be a constant education that marketing is beyond just generating leads.
“That is the primary responsibility that I have, is that we have to educate our sales team that not everything we do turns into a lead. There is a long process, and the core part of our job is beginning those conversations two to three quarters ahead to make sure the customer when they have a project or initiative go, ‘oh I have to talk to Veritas,’” said Lucas.
“I feel very strongly that there is a lack of education in sales organisations about that, we’re making that effort here in APJ to help educate,” she added.
The most effective analogy according to Lucas has been to point out the sales teams’ own buying habits with large ticket items.
“When you put it in that context on how they themselves make that large purchase decisions, that really turn on the light bulb. That’s exactly how your colleague in IT is making those purchase decisions, he’s thinking ahead, doing the same type of activities. If marketing isn’t there providing him with information it will never turn into a lead,” said Lucas.
“We spend a lot of time educating our sales teams about it, if you only have us focus on this quarter, you’re going to be in trouble two quarters out. You need us to be focusing two to three quarters ahead so you’ll have this quarter,” she added.
As Veritas moves into new markets, the sales team is beginning to appreciate the value that marketing brings.
“We’re looking to help them bring new customers in the cloud, new customers in compliance and legal that they don’t have context for. So I think they understand the value marketing brings because they don’t have the relationships, and that’s where we are using all the techniques from PR (public relations), social, content syndication and advertising to get customers talking to us,” said Lucas.
“We are using marketing tools to measure which conversations are having the most impact, refining those techniques and bringing them those leads as they become ready,” she added.