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Brandwatch CMO, Carrie Parker, on brand impact, value and empathy
January 16, 2023
Carrie Parker (chief marketing officer, Brandwatch) shares her views on how brands shape conversations all the way along the buyer journey.
If you wanted a front row seat to observe how the role of brands is changing, then you could do a lot worse than taking a role as chief marketing officer for Brandwatch, the suite of social monitoring, creative and management tools that provides real-time insight on engagement trends, hot content topics – and brand health. That’s the move that Carrie Parker has made. She stepped into her role at Brandwatch in September 2022 and she’s keenly aware of how changing engagement with brands feeds into her business’s proposition.
“I think the role of brands in people’s lives has been changing as they engage with social media in different ways – and find different ways to express their identities,” she says. “Each generation brings new sensibilities around what brand means to them and we can see that in the insights that we generate. They point our customers towards the conversations and moments they need to be a part of – and help them understand the opportunities.”
Following brand impact through the funnel
For a marketing leader such as Parker, the value of social monitoring isn’t just in highlighting opportunities. She’s also able to use Brandwatch’s own tools to monitor the impact of Brandwatch’s own marketing efforts – and bring a new perspective to her company’s brand value.
“We’re definitely a company that drinks its own champagne,” she says. “We’re able to benchmark ourselves against our entire industry, see the impact of earned and owned campaigns and how they’ve influenced our share of voice. We can also see how brand flows through into creating sales opportunities, because social media is often where our buyers turn to crowdsource ideas and ask about the best SaaS solutions.”
That insight on brand impact is a key priority for Parker. She’s joined at a critical moment in Brandwatch’s development, when the company has grown strongly both organically and through acquisition and is focused on building awareness and salience across a wide range of global markets. It’s a brand with a lot to say – and a lot of people to say it to.
“We’re at a really exciting part in our history and it’s a great time to come in as a leader,” she says. “We’re evolving our position to reflect the full social and intelligence suite that we now offer, which involves pivoting views of Brandwatch in markets where we were already established – and building from the ground up in others. That has to involve more than just our visual, designed brand elements. One of our most critical brand assets is our narrative: our unique story and position in the market. That’s what really sets our business apart.”
Creating business value through empathy
At a time when marketing departments across sectors face growing financial pressures, Parker is committed to bringing that brand narrative to life by focusing on the end-benefits to customers. “In this type of economic situation, we have to think empathetically about the buyer on the other end,” she says. “We have to ask ourselves how we can help them do their job better and how we can help them have more of a bottom-line impact. Our clients and prospects work in companies of all sizes and verticals, but in every case what we have to offer can be an essential part of their go-to-market approach. We have to anchor our messaging in the value that we can provide – and do that across every tactic and every stage of the buying process.”
That interest in every stage of the buying process doesn’t just mean every stage leading to a customer signing up. Parker believes that SaaS businesses such as Brandwatch can benefit from broadening their view of how marketing contributes to growth – and looking beyond customer acquisition.
“Many SaaS companies are just maniacally focused on growth so that they prioritize leads and inbound volume over everything else,” she says. “The trouble is, if you only prioritize leads without also focusing on things like conversion, deal size and lifetime value, you risk running a really inefficient business and driving up churn. You need to illuminate what’s going on at a lower level to help you optimize your business impact. That’s why partnering with finance early on is so important for a marketing leader. The two functions have a common goal around making the business money and driving revenue. It’s a critical relationship for making sure the business is moving in the direction everyone wants – and with the right return.”
The ‘art of the possible’ in marketing
Whether it’s aligning with sales on short-term tactics to address a changing market, or partnering with finance on a wider revenue strategy for the business, Parker is clear that marketing’s contribution ultimately depends on its ability to cut through. Having a real-time view of the social media environment further emphasizes the value of creative thinking that can command attention across channels and platforms.
“We talk a lot about ‘the art of the possible’ at Brandwatch,” she says. “It’s a big part of our culture and it embeds creative thinking in who we are and what we do. For me, that has to mean creating space for risk-taking and encouraging people to feel comfortable raising ideas. Creativity’s always been valuable – but that value is increasing because people have so many choices of media and messages to absorb. Ideas that come from outside the box are your opportunity to stand out, cut through the clutter and land in more powerful ways.”