Around two thousand and twenty years ago, at about this time, three wise men were gearing up for a battle with the festive traffic. Their camels had been fed and watered, gifts and crowns packed safely and they were ready to take a leap into the unknown. All they were missing was an idea of where they were going. In the absence of anything more definitive, they were having to put their trust in a star to get them to their goal.
Thankfully, the predictions game has become a bit more straightforward these days. We’ve bribed three marketing experts with gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to share some insights that just might help shape your own PR and marketing focus for 2017.
Where do you see your market going?
Cheryl Ragland VP of Corporate Marketing at Broadsoft Inc. : Businesses are taking a “wait and see” approach to their PBX replacements. Collaboration vendors like Slack have muddied the waters and mobile integration is becoming even more important. There’s no doubt the implementation of Apple’s call kit has been a major milestone this year. Contact Centre as a Service is also developing quickly and integrated propositions with Unified Communications as a Service will be important for main adoption in the mid-market. I think we can expect to see increasing integration of communications services in the business applications market, as businesses look for complete solutions.
Darshna Kamani, EMEA Communications Director, Barracuda: Cloud remains front of mind for many businesses, as they continue to focus on better managing their resources. This, in turn, has led to a greater awareness of the need to integrate security and data storage. Whilst security fears about cloud have certainly reduced we’ve seen an emergence of ransomware as a genuine threat to businesses, in most cases giving them no option but to pay whatever it takes to resolve the situation. As a result, business are seeking to put continuity plans in place to protect themselves in case they’re the victim of a data breach and can respond in a timely fashion to avoid disruption to their customers.
Joanne Ayres, EMEA Marketing Manager, Rubrik: With the exponential increase of data that businesses have to manage, it will become increasingly impractical to try to scale on-premise storage in an effort to accommodate backup growth. Instead, I believe organisations will increasingly look to move backup to the public cloud. As a result, vendors will need to offer deeper integration with both hypervisor and virtualisation management tools, as well as more automation and data analytics. There is a prime opportunity for innovative and disruptive vendors to make a big impact – taking backup and data management to a whole new level.
What are your key priorities for 2017?
Cheryl: Increasing our brand awareness among end users by providing additional support to our channel partners and utilising social and digital channels to educate end users about the services we, and our partners, provide.
Darshna: As the perceived value of marketing and PR changes across every industry there’s a greater need to measure its impact on sales. We’re certainly no different, and one of our biggest priorities next year is to integrate our PR & Comms strategy in order to better drive sales in our organisation. Linked to this is a need to better align PR with our sales and marketing objectives, and ensuring that we’re measuring the right things to enable better strategic decisions to impact the business. We also want to make our social channels work harder when it comes to supporting sales and develop key social selling objectives and use internal comms to make our employees our biggest ambassadors.
Joanne: We launched Rubrik in EMEA in 2016, and 2017 will be all about building our brand, both in region and globally. To achieve this, we are dedicated to empowering our channel with the expertise and assets they need to generate an exceptional pipeline of opportunities and customers. And we intend to have a lot of fun doing it!
Where are you going to focus your spend?
Cheryl: As mentioned we are really focused on providing support to our partners in the form of digital marketing, targeted content, media and advocacy and training. This way we’ll be able to continue creating brand value around “Powered by BroadSoft”.
Darshna: To achieve our stated ambition of sales enablement, we’ll be ensuring that we have the right tools and processes in place to measure the impact of our campaigns. Being in the right places with the right type of content at the right time is key and we can only understand that by truly measuring the impact we are having. Outside that, we’ll be investing in agencies that have the capabilities to support us with that mission – namely, those with an ability to look beyond traditional media relations and influence the people that our customers listen to.
“We’ll be investing in agencies that have the capabilities to support us with that mission” – Darshna Kamani
Joanne: Part of building the Rubrik brand is about telling our story – through our own people, our channel partners and our end users. In 2017 we’ll be ramping up our content campaigns, influencer programmes and attendance at events to do just this.
Are there any new emerging areas of marketing that you think will be big for 2017?
Cheryl: There’s a few areas for me. Firstly, customer support. We must truly understand a customer’s pain points to make sure we are giving them solutions that meet their needs and this means giving them the right content along their buying journey. Secondly, the use of predictive analytics and lead scoring will be critical in the mid-market and enterprise segments to better target and personalize messages and content. And thirdly, video will become an even more important part of the content mix.
Darshna: For me, digital is likely to emerge as an even greater influence on everything we do. Marketing and comms have always had to follow cultural trends, and today that means utilising the platforms people are using. With the fast pace world we live in it is key to understand what or whom influences our audience and ensure we are aligned to these areas. Data is another ongoing area that I think will have even greater impact in 2017. Using data to make better decisions is certainly going to be crucial for us, as we seek to shift our focus towards aligning ourselves more to sales.
Joanne: This is an interesting question – marketing will need to balance the change in customer demands with the restrictions of new data protection regulations – particularly the EU General Data Protection Regulation coming into force in early 2018. Yes, the use of digital platforms and tools will increase, but due to the ‘opt in’ rather than ‘opt out’ rule for email marketing, marketeers can no longer rely on this as their main form of outreach. I believe we will see a revert back to direct mailers as a result, but with a solid amount of creativity thrown in.
What would be your professional new year resolution?
Cheryl: The tech space can be very demanding and it’s easy to get caught up in the dynamics of the business. I want to make sure my team have the opportunity to continue learning, both by listening to our customers (and their customers) and by keeping up with the latest marketing trends and solutions. And more importantly, we need to make sure we ‘eat our own dog food’ – and by that I mean making sure that my team and I are employing and benefiting from the sophisticated collaboration tools that our company is bringing to the market.
“we need to make sure we ‘eat our own dog food'” – Cheryl Ragland
Darshna: I want to make the time to be more focussed on the bigger picture, and not get caught up in day to day concerns. That means going beyond brand awareness metrics such as share of voice, and looking at quality and other key measurements that actually impact the business. This should enable us to build a better understanding of just what it is we need to know to be able to truly say that we’ve achieved our ambition of influencing the sales cycle.
Joanne: For me, it’s about personal growth, continual learning and developing my own expertise. The world of cloud backup and data management is changing at a rapid rate and, as a result, so are the needs of our channel partners and end users. To meet these changing needs and ensure we continue to do an exceedingly good job, both myself and my team must continue to build our knowledge and develop our skills.
A huge thank you to our three wise women for their contributions, and if you have something you’d like to add… drop us a comment below.