CMO Spotlight: Jeremy Burton, President Products and Marketing at EMC Corp.

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Jeremy Burton, CMO, EMC“…We are all consumers at heart” – and that is the Highest Common Factor in B2B and B2C

We have been talking about the overlap between B2B and B2C marketing, the common challenges, the best practices that both types of companies can follow, etc. In today’s CMO Spotlight, we feature Jeremy Burton who is the President of Products and Marketing at EMC Corp. He hits the nail on the head reminding us that in the end, “…we are all consumers at heart.” And that is why, it doesn’t matter whether you are a B2B or a B2C brand, you have to connect and engage with a human audience in a human way.

Social media, says Jeremy, offers the greatest opportunity for marketers to humanize their brand. Marketing and branding today is more and more about personal relationships and less and less about selling a product or service. As the face of a global leader in the technology space, he cautions, however, that you cannot afford to ignore your product. Without a deep understanding of your product and how the technology applies to solving real problems for your users, your messaging will suffer from a lack of focus and may even risk missing the mark altogether. “If you understand what’s going on with the product side, you can understand the basis for your message to marketing and the sales team,” says Burton.

Here are some useful tips from Jeremy Burton on how organizations can redefine their marketing to focus on customer-centric marketing and communications.

5 Steps to Refine Your B2B Marketing Approach in a Digital World

1.  Know Your Product

“Understand fully how your product works, then figure out how to differentiate it from the competition.”

Starting his career as an engineer, Burton says he always felt a strong desire to understand a product. With a move into marketing, that desire became a vital need—“I can’t market something I don’t understand.” In the typical, siloed organizational structure at most mid-sized to large B2B organizations, teams get too narrowly focused on functions such as “products”, “sales”, “marketing”, “finance”, and so on. Information doesn’t flow freely and any desire to know more gets quelled before it even surfaces. On the buyer’s side, this differentiation doesn’t exist at all. A buyer couldn’t care less about talking to a product manager or a field sales representative or the helpdesk staff—the interaction is with the brand—and if it is anything but positive, it puts an extra few miles between touch point, engagement and conversion. So, in a nutshell, everyone needs to sing the same brand song from the same song sheet. That can only come from knowing the answer to this one question—“What problem does our product solve, and why and how much better is it than anyone else in the market?”

2.  Earn the Right to Win Audience Attention

“Marketing communication must add value; your content has to be high quality.”

Jeremy’s Twitter handle proclaims, “All Tweets authored by me”. He is very vocal about the need for executives to create their own content in their own voice. You should not worry about always being perfect, because you can’t be. “If you never say the wrong thing, your authenticity may come into question.” Audiences can very easily see through content and messaging that has been tweaked and massaged and refined so hard that it doesn’t even sound like a human any more. Yes, it is time consuming and you don’t have a lot of time to craft content, but what you say must be relevant, original and valuable to your audience. Buyers have to deal with enough noise already, so if you want to be heard by them, you have to earn the right and say the right things. Read 3 Ways to Feed Your Audience What They Are Craving

3.  Adopt A Scientific Approach to Marketing

“Marketing is no longer an art; it is a complex science and you need a scientific marketing system to be a successful brand.”

At EMC, Jeremy was instrumental in initiating the marketing data science lab. The goal of this lab is to achieve better target marketing through the development of propensity models; i.e. determining the elements that drive audiences to a higher propensity for engagement and purchase. Don’t discount the value of social interaction or social chatter, says Jeremy. It may only be one component and it may or may not indicate clearly about conversion potential, but it shows the type of behaviour through social conversation that may ultimately lead up to a purchase.

4.  Achieve “One Team, One Voice”

“Command and control is not the right approach; you need to achieve collaborative consolidation.”

When Jeremy Burton took over the marketing role as CMO of EMC, he says, the company was “optimizing for business units”. He implemented changes to ensure the company was “optimizing for EMC”. He consolidated and integrated business units to present the same brand message and image to customers. That took work and it was risky; most people don’t take kindly to sweeping changes of this nature. However, he was able to do this successfully by getting buy-in from the teams and individuals involved. “You have to explain the rationale behind the changes and get some quick wins to prove yourself to the team,” he says. How can your organization get some Quick Wins for Your B2B Lead Generation?

Social media, yet again, is a great equalizer and offers you the opportunity to connect and engage with your internal and external audiences. C-Suite executives who think social is a waste of time are making a mistake. “There’s no point trying to fight the trend; you have to find out what it can do for you and make it work.” The young generation today, says Jeremy, “has a healthy disrespect for authority”. How can you engage these young, brilliant minds to buy into your marketing strategy? You have to do that or you won’t be able to roll it out and see the results you want. Here are 10 Things About Social Media Every C-Suite Executive MUST Know.      

5.  Break the Barriers to Succeed in the Digital World

“Every company is going to be a software company.”

It’s a given. Whether you are a car manufacturer, an insurance carrier, a retailer, a bank or any other commercial organization, your audience is looking for faster, better, more convenient ways to interact with your brand and use your products and services. Mobile marketing, social media, mobile apps, video marketing, online TV and other forms of digital marketing offer exciting opportunities to marketers. Without close coordination and full support of IT, the marketing teams in these organizations will not be able to deliver on buyer expectations. CIOs and CMOs need to sit together with their teams and work very closely to figure out what customers want and how to deliver it through digital media.

And here is what I think is a great piece of advice for B2B marketers from Jeremy Burton: “Stop doing things for “religious” reasons.” That’s so important! Companies today are doing things simply because, “ we have always done it like this”, or “we can’t let this expensive system or software go to waste, so we’ll continue to use it…even if it does not deliver results.” These are what Jeremy calls “religious” reasons—they have no scientific basis. In fact, in most cases, the reason is because someone somewhere is praying very hard to keep his or her job!

How does your organization seek to drive change? What steps are you taking to resolve problems of scale? Jeremy Burton says you need to identify the right assets in your organization and bring them together, pointing them in the right direction. You need to rally a team that is flexible and will readily adopt and adapt to organizational change. For that to happen, you need to progress with a Growth Mindset.

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If you enjoy reading this CMO Spotlight series, please share with your friends. You can email or call me, Louis Foong, at (905) 709-3827.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Louis Foong
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc., one of North America's most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. With more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis is a thought leader on trends, best practices and issues concerning marketing and lead generation. Louis' astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision of the evolving lead generation landscape has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large.

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