True Life: How to Actually Build a Marketing Strategy that Works – with Christina Bottis
Christina Bottis is the Chief Marketing Officer at Medix. She has over 15 years of experience, and has created and scaled winning growth strategies for B2B brands. Christina attended Dominican University for her undergraduate degree, and received an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. Additionally, she sits on a number of advisory boards for companies such as 6sense and Vennli.
“Find out what is important to your customers when they are making a decision… what must happen or what must be offered to be such a trigger… for them to do one of two things, they’re going to take action and make that decision or they’re going to spend more to make it happen. In these types of programs, we want to cater to [strategies] that encourage them to take that action”
- Understand your buyer, who they are and what they want
- Message positioning is about finding the bullseye that meets your customer/buyer’s needs
- Be realistic about what you are good at, you can say anything, but where do you really stand
- There is so much noise out there, being unified in your messaging (value prop) brings clarity
- All your channels need to connect, they are not individual silos with different value propositions
Thanks so much for joining our session today. True Life. How to actually build a marketing strategy that works. I’m Christina Bottas. I’m the chief marketing officer at Metrics. We are one of the nation’s largest health care technology, life sciences, recruiting agencies. And today, we’re going to talk a little bit about how to actually turn these big concepts that you go to events like these and you go to different conferences and you you hear about these these grandiose programs that drive a lot of value.
If you’re like me, sometimes you come back to the office on Monday and go, like, how do we actually do that? What are some of the ways to get to that end result? And so as we were thinking about what to share today, I put together kind of a playbook, and I’ve been in B2B marketing for almost 20 years now, and a lot of the times, you know, my most frequent sort of situations that I’ve come into have been either total build from scratch or rebuild and re-engineer the marketing function to become really a growth lover.
So what we will go through today are some of those principles and guiding principles that I’ve used and some of the things that I’ve learned along the way. So let’s get started here. When we talk about the five key building blocks and like I said, these are guiding principles and they really are a little bit sequential. Right.
So really starting with the customer, that makes total sense. And even though fundamentally I don’t want the assumption to be that, oh, and then you talk to sales that should really be woven in along the way. But you’re going to start with the customer because they’re the most important. Right. And then figuring out how and what to say, where to say it, what’s working and how to scale those things.
Then how do you come together? Right. The sales and marketing teams to actually drive revenue and and see that that growth happening. So we’re going to go through each one of them and talk a little bit about things we can do to achieve each. So, like I said, understand who they are and what they want. It’s first because the most important and oftentimes when I when I’ve started at a company or started one of these strategies and I say, okay, what do we know about the customer?
Often it’s confused with customer satisfaction data that it’s not about us, right? That stuff tells you, what is it about you? How are you performing? It’s not about us. It’s about that. And this is where we need to intimately understand their decision making process. Right. Find out what’s important to them when they’re making a decision. And we got customer research.
There’s a ton of it. Right. But the stuff that really matters is what what has to happen and what has to be offered to be such a trigger, such a catalyst for you to do one of two things. Either are going to take action and make that decision, or it’s so appealing that you’re willing to spend more. Right.
We want action in these types of programs. And so we want to cater to what are the things that they’re really looking for that are going to do that. And that is, you know, I spoke a little bit about, you know, being in situations where you’re trying to reengineer marketing as a growth lever. This knowledge and this insight is the first step to doing that because understanding what’s so critical to the customer actually choosing us, that is that is fundamental for marketing, for sales, for product, for operations.
Right? Understanding what are we going to say and how are we going to message, but also what are we going to build? What should be part of our portfolio? How do we want to do business with them? How do we make it easy to do business with us? And this shift, that narrative, right, from marketing as a support function to marketing as leading go to market marketing, really driving the customer experience and bringing the corporate strategy along the way.
So now that, you know, it’s important to them, what are we going to say? How are we going to make our case for why we are the choice they they should make right. And positioning exercises are particularly challenging, especially if you’re at a company that isn’t starting. Didn’t want. Right, because you’ve amassed these customers and you’ve sold to a bunch of different people.
Really what positioning is about, if you think about a target, right, it’s about the bullseye. And we want to figure out what is the most efficient way to go get 100% of that bullseye. And that bullseye represents the people with whom our value proposition resonates instantly. Right? We’re solving their problem. They get a ton of value from us and it’s like an instant match.
As you move outside the bull’s eye to the outer rings gets a lot harder, right? They have different needs, maybe not a great fit, but we don’t like the thought that we would turn away any customer. But by being focused right on what it is that we can deliver, we’re going to be more effective in capturing those people first and really demonstrating what we do better than anybody else, our unique value.
So as you’re working through that discussion, right, you kind of have to be realistic about what you can do. So you get all this data back from the from the customer research and it says these are the things that they want. And you go, Awesome, what can we actually do? What are we actually good at? And or what do we need to be good at?
Or What could we grow to be good at in order to cover more of these bases? Right. The goal is to be really great at everything that they say is critical. And so you’ve got to be realistic about where you stand in terms of that maturity. Right. What can you deliver on today and go lead with that message?
What do we really need to kind of lock arms together and get better at so that we can provide more value and gain more of that market share? But the challenge here is we can say anything. I put anything on website, anything on an ad. I can I can make a messaging campaign. But the reality is, is you need to be able to defend it because that’s the core of a brand promise.
Right. Sounds fluffy, but the minute that the consumer expectation when when they believe that you can deliver on something and then the reality is, is you can’t that not only breaks the promise, but it begins to pick away at your reputation. And that’s the beginning of the end. And so, as you see here, what we’re really trying to do here with the positioning is really get focused on what we can deliver well and how do we surprise and delight customers in that way, and how are we cutting through the masses?
How are we saying this is our stake, this is our bullseye, this is what we do better than anybody else. And that’s what we want to communicate, right? We want everyone to know that. And so the next step in in in telling the world how amazing we are at solving this problem that they have, is being able to distribute that in a unified message.
The unified piece is so, so important because this is your customer, right? There’s so much noise, so much noise more than ever before. I mean, who hasn’t sat on their couch with their phone in their hand watching television, maybe, you know, with a podcast in the background and you’re probably your laptop next to you. And because of that, it’s the unification that becomes so important.
When I’ve when I’ve talked about this in the live groups, you know, we do an exercise where I ask them, you know, count of three, everybody say the first word that comes to your mind and understandably, it’s like cacophony, chaos. And then we say, all right, on the count of three, one, two, three, say metrics met the champ.
That’s what we’re going for here. Right. Imagine if in this picture everything were unified. Wow. That would be a totally enveloping, absolute experience. And so when you think about how that that translates to what is really an omnichannel ecosystem at the core is that marketing message and don’t mistake it, the marketing the message is your value proposition that needs to be perpetuated across every touchpoint for unification, for consistency.
This is certainly not all encompassing, but thinking about how does your content continue to push that message? And each one of these, you know, it’s oftentimes we think, oh, is our email marketing strategy with our social strategy. And that’s that’s where I see fragmentation fragmentation start, right? You start to think of these things as siloed worlds and and they all need to connect.
They all need to have the common purpose of laddering up to these messages and these goals. And so as you combine, right, the online and offline, you’ve got your digital advertising, your website, your campaigns, and then what are you saying in the press? What are you saying when you’re in person at an event like this on stage, what are your sales reps saying the minute that you talk to a customer?
All of these things together, all of these touchpoints are the key to being able to drive a message into the market and continue to deliver right on that promise that we set the expectation and that this is what you can expect from us. And no matter where you go, you’re going to see that. And that also contributes to building trust.
No marketer hasn’t been approached by somebody that says, You know what, I’m on this new social media platform, or I’ve had this advertisement here and I think we should do that. Why aren’t we there? And, you know, this picture is one of my favorites because my first question when it comes to distribution strategy is who’s there, right? Who’s the audience?
If we’re really playing a game of matching here, we want to be where our customers are. We want to go to them so that we can speed it up. We don’t have time to wait for them to find us. We want to make it easy. We want to go to that. Are they on TikTok? Is is grandma on Snapchat?
If the answer is yes, Greenlight, go, go figure out how to execute there. If the answer is I’m not sure. I just I know it’s getting popular. Time to look at some data. Right. But it is so much more effective to double down on the channels where, you know, your customer is and then do that really well. Right.
Get consistent, get good content there. And don’t be afraid to be ruthlessly prioritizing where your resources are being spent. Don’t be afraid to say no. Be enthusiastic about saying yes to what you know is going to be in front of your customers. So now we know a lot of stuff, right? We know what what’s important to them, how we’re going to talk about it, how we’re going to message.
Now that we’ve talked about this ecosystem, you know, how do you go along for that journey? Every journey is different for every person. And our job is to figure out how we can best create that sort of 1 to 1 personalized adventure here for lots of people, but also in a scalable way. Right. Because we all have limited time resources, team members and when we think about buy decision today, there isn’t you know, everyone seems or the staff from Gartner and a lot of the research firms about gosh, you know, the buying committee just continues to get bigger.
There’s definitely the decision maker, but there’s all these other influencers. And then you’ve got these these other groups that are deal killers, right? So, you know, we’ve got procurement and legal and I.T. so how do we understand where the journey is going to take them, what they need along that journey to get to the end destination and who we kind of need to bring along the way so that we can make sure they all end up at the finish line.
Right. So that means thinking about, you know, when do other people enter, right? Who’s doing the initial research? Who is going to be in that first meeting? Who’s going to need to sign off on the deal? What are the questions that they were going to have? You know, like legal i.t. They’re going to have security questions. They’re going to have really finite needs that really have nothing to do with our value prop in terms of the decision maker, right?
We’re solving their problem. But the deal could end there if we know we need to think about uptime in terms and procurement processes. So these are all things that we want to be architecting into, not only the process, right, but also the content and the sales strategy and how we get all of those folks working on the same page.
Once we’ve we’ve figured some of those things out, right. And you’re looking at this journey, something that’s really helpful for me is to be continually asking and then what you never want a marketing campaign or anything to be kind of a one hit wonder, right? Where it’s just this this single action that doesn’t spawn a reaction and then doesn’t take you to the next step.
So it gets to be hopefully a little bit color by number where we start to see, okay, here are the journeys. They typically do these things. We know that when you overlay the sales process, the next step is typically meeting with these people, right? The ends and what helps us to pull them along guides them, right? We know that they’re going to go through the real process, but how can we help show them what the best path right to the end is?
That simple little question reinforces the fact that this is a journey, it’s a path, and we have to keep going step by step. Marketing that simply addresses where you are right now will not drive sales process and certainly won’t drive sales velocity. Our goal is to shrink the time it takes you to make a decision and to increase the amount of yeses that we’re going to get.
We’re doing all the things right now. We got a bunch of data, some things are working, some things aren’t. And the thing that I love about marketing so much is it’s like, right, like I can I could see in real time people interacting with stuff that was literally on her to do list yesterday. And it’s like a game of whack a mole.
So they’re they’re they’re touching and banging around all these things that we’ve put out into the universe for them. And all of that is, is a data set, right? What are they doing? What are they engaging with? And so taking that data and understood standing, what is converting to get them to the next step. Right. And then what?
How can I do more of how do I, you know, optimize my programs and get the stuff that is really not generating the value that I need and then elevate and scale the stuff that is. And when I think about it, I use this analogy a lot when we talk about content. Strategy is build content like Mr. Potato Head.
What I mean by that is I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you think about all the content. You have to think we’ve got multiple personas, industry, vertical stages, how do I do that? And if we can leverage, right, we’ve, we’ve got journeys to optimize for and we’ve got the data about what is helping people get from the next step to the next step.
So the goal here is to create enough of those pieces of the modules to be able to say, I know these things perform. And so now my job is to use these top performers and arrange them in a way that’s going to create right. Those, those paths to conversion for each of these personas and then it’s scalable, right?
Because you could probably reuse a lot of these things, but maybe in a different sequence, maybe in a different media type and this allows us to create that sort of 1 to 1 personalization while also being scalable enough for us to not have to totally be creating that new and giving you confidence that it’s a high performing piece of content in a high performing program and someone who does it better than anybody.
Taco Bell, right? They take like five ingredients. They create a whole menu that appeals to an entire generation. And so the thing that we want to be doing is taking a look at those high converting pieces and programs and saying, okay, well, how do we do this a little differently and how do we break it into smaller pieces?
Maybe we do a long form, maybe we change, maybe we do an in-person event. Let’s think about taking what is at the core of this and differentiating it right, experimenting a little bit. And then the same process starts where you see what works, you sunset, what isn’t, and then you scale, right? Digital gives us such an ability to be able to fail fast, learn faster, and that is really at the core of this idea of measurement, right?
Optimization. And now we’ve arrived at what I believe is the most important part of this process. So you’ve built your marketing campaign right? You’ve worked through this journey. Now you’ve done a lot of work and things are things are humming along, aligning with sales. Again, I’ve done this for a long time now and this is the topic that is on every agenda at every conference.
Easily when you come into a company and you go, you got to that kind of market. The marketing team work is got to really align with sales, okay? And so typically what we tend to do as marketers, right, is we get really excited about all that marketing stuff we just talked about and it’s crushing, it’s converting. We’ve got empty wells coming out of our ears, but like something that working still and this picture of the 1996 Chicago Bulls.
I’m in Chicago in coming to you from Chicago right now. And this is the year they won 72 games, set a record, and it didn’t matter because they still didn’t have the championship. And that’s what we need to be thinking about when it comes to working with sales is I don’t think of myself as marketing, right? Yeah, marketing and sales together we drive revenue.
We are the revenue team. And the more time we waste trying to say, oh, well, we, you know, here’s the credit for marketing, here’s the amount that we influence. Those are all important inputs. Don’t get me wrong, can’t do it. It’s a team sport. Can’t do one without the other. But start thinking about the revenue. It’s not good enough.
If we just get the 72 wins and we don’t get to the finals, that’s what we need to be unified and it creates a partnership with sales that really shows, wow, like you get it, you’re focused on the same things I am, you’re incentivized on the same things I am. And each of us are going to do different tactics, right, to get to that same end goal.
It creates partnership and that has to be the key. And a lot of the time, you know, I when I first became a CMO, I remember getting a question that said, you know what? What is the thing that changes? Right. You go from like leading marketing and now your C-suite. And my answer has always been, stop talking about marketing.
It doesn’t even matter if you’re in the C-suite or not. What we need to be demonstrating is like there’s there’s a common currency of success here and that is winning. Right? It’s how have your business is structured? It’s revenue, it’s sales. We are all on the same team. It’s not good enough if we just get to the halfway point.
And we’re not able to push it across the goal line and being able to show that you get that and you are in that same mindset. And not only are you focused on that goal, but you you have skin in the game, right? The easiest way to build credibility with a sales force is to get in front of a customer.
Right. You’ve got the data, you’ve got the surveys, you’ve got the pretty presentations that show all this stuff. We just learned and architected around Get in front of a customer in a meeting, go pitch the deck that your team just launched. Go have a real life conversation and put yourself on the front line like sales is and truly understand and what they’re going through.
But also, how is it resonating in real life? Because we’ve got boardroom bias skin in the game just like they are. Show them that you’re a real team player because I want to win and I want to win in the same way that they do. And when all of us are focused on that same end goal, the likelihood that we’re going to win is even that much higher.
And it starts to change that that, you know, one of one of my favorite marketers in the whole world let me connect, she says, all the time the market, the last AMG, the market ing, it gets us focused on these little ones. It’s the tactics and we lose focus on what is the bigger context of we are go to market.
We are here to drive results and value and being able to demonstrate that and partner with your sales teams as one revenue team is the catalyst for you to really start moving things in the right direction. And so all that to say, right, all of this stuff we’ve talked about a lot and how you can actually build. If there’s one thing that you can take away from this, it’s that you have to focus on the customer, right?
We started with it. We’re going to end with it because nothing actually will be impactful if it doesn’t stay and continue to be rooted in what they want and what’s important to them. And the end result, if you don’t, is what I like to call. You’ll get beige, you’ll get beige marketing, beige messaging. And we all know that that is not what drives impact in a market.
So I leave you with this focus on your customers and they’ll take you where you need to go. Thank you so much. I hope you enjoyed the content. Happy to connect. I hope you have an awesome rest of the day. Follow.