Peers on Point: Q&A with Brother International's Mary Howard

March 5, 2016

Just like a snowflake, we know that every tech marketer is unique. From the type of technology you market (hardware to software and everything in between) to your role (be it in content, lead gen, events), you’re faced with new curveballs daily. But at the end of the day, the challenges, industry changes and opportunity for solutions is what brings the tech marketing world together. In our new LinkedIn Tech Peers on Point series we get up close and personal with tech marketers to get some perspective: How has your audience changed? How do you measure marketing success? How do you collaborate and support sales? What does the future state of your strategy look like?

Dive in to our latest post with Mary Howard of Brother Mobile Solutions to get her take. And to see our other posts in the series, check out our conversation with Julia Mason-Ochinero of HP and Glen Nelson of Capgemini.

Q&A with Mary Howard – Senior Manager of Marketing & Communications, Brother Mobile Solutions, a division of Brother International

Mary focuses on content marketing and targeting campaigns to help Brother reach customers and prospects, supporting the company in achieving its business objectives.

Brother Mobility products help today's on-the-go workforce meet their mobile printing challenges. Whether you need a portable printer for your warehouse operation or an invoice printer for your field service applications, Brother offers a range of high performance mobile printers designed to improve efficiency, boost productivity, and enhance customer satisfaction.

How do you and your organization measure marketing program success?

While success is ultimately measured on ROI - today we’re using a wider variety of metrics to back up how we define ROI. We give more weight to mid-point benchmarks like our ability to move the market; to gain ears, gain eyes, improve brand recognition, inform and advance preference for our products.  And while still we must feed the sales funnel or die, we know that gaining mindshare and building on that is equally important to the process.      

How has your organization kept pace with the changes in marketing technology?

I can’t say I have kept pace with the changes – the landscape is evolving too quickly.  News of robust new platforms, automated tools and smart new ways to track or measure stuff hits my mailbox every day - but obviously I can’t have it all, or even handle it all. My goal is to understand what advantage a new marketing platform, tool or strategy represents and if it applies to our business, we learn how to use it with the team and resources we’ve got.

Can you bring your content marketing and segmentation strategies to light for our readers?         

One of the most profound and impactful shifts has been in the way marketers create, optimize and disseminate content. Diverse new platforms like LinkedIn, Ion, Percolate, Uberflip and other smart content aggregation vehicles are redefining how we market. Where in the past a marketer had to purchase and segment lists, today’s marketer has tools to reach out broadly and let stakeholders consume at will. To self-segment. These tools allow us to inform and move audiences we couldn’t previously find, and in ways we hadn’t envisioned just a short time ago. While we must still segment and target specific verticals– it’s now also possible to put content out there for line-of-business buying committees and technology audiences to find when they search for ways to solve problems. That fosters long-term connections that pay off.

What is a logical content deployment strategy and how do you measure it?

Develop campaigns that follow the buyer and influencer through their lifecycle and create content to add value - while providing a one-click path to sale. Best practices dictate re-purposing whitepapers, application briefs and editorial into smaller (snackable) snippets for ongoing use, and digitally optimizing these assets with relevant keyword terms for exponentially greater impact over time. Content is increasingly important in driving and supplementing a website SEO strategy.  Content is a major driver to achieve stronger SEO.       

How do you define and target emerging audience personas? How has your target tech audience changed?

IT decision makers may be the buyer persona but end users of our technology have influence on the purchase decision.  We can’t discount the fact that multiple personas influence the buying journey.  So when we write, create, reach out - we must appeal to those who are most profoundly impacted by our technology – and that’s rarely the purchaser.  So we align our discussions and our content to enlighten and inform the end-user even though the decision maker may be the CTO. For instance, speaking directly to the challenges of the retail sales floor associate and operations manager can be more impactful than speaking directly to the retail IT or purchasing executives about their challenges. And addressing the mobile office challenges of home health clinicians can be as critical as speaking to hospital CIO, CTO or VP of Purchasing…and on and on.

How is marketing for a technology solution different than the transactional direct product sale?

It’s a longer process, that requires educating, building credibility and proving you can solve the problem – oftentimes as a one-sided dialog. Our challenge is to elicit response that gives us, as marketers, insight into what a prospect’s problems, issues or needs are – and create drip campaigns that take them through the relationship process as if we were speaking.  If we can engage prospects or even existing customers the way they need to be – it translates to better lead quality and sales results.

What is your take on social platforms, retargeting solutions and social selling in your marketing mix?

We’re really just beginning to understand social media - investing in training and learning from B2B marketers who have had some success. LinkedIn by far is the primary platform for us.  We’re a B2B organization.  We use Twitter spontaneously to tie to shows and real-time events, but we’re not using it as our primary platform.  LinkedIn goes deeper and provides some insights into what our B2B targets need to be moved. We’ve also gotten our sales people involved with LinkedIn Sales Navigator.  The way to look at it is that marketing has to do 75 percent of the purchase journey for prospects and sales has to carry the remaining 25 percent to execute the sale.  We are more integrated than ever before.

What does the marketing organization of the future look like?

The marketing organization of the future will have incredible accuracy in giving people the information they need when they need it, and better predictability of when they will buy.                  

Looking for other resources to help you better understand today’s tech buyers? Check out LinkedIn's latest research on the new technology purchase path. It includes detailed learnings on the full scope of decision makers, evolving end users and influencers and the content-centric post-sale support needed to build long-lasting relationships with hardware and software consumers.