B2B marketers need to get ever-more creative about how to reach customers and get in front of them with exciting new developments.
MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into marketing? Please take us through your journey.
DIANE PERLMAN: I always knew that I had a talent for words and creativity, and marketing was an area of interest for me. At university, I studied mass communications, and this solidified my path in the direction of marketing. Later, I got a Master's in business as well, which I thought would help me to more deeply understand all aspects of business and management. I wanted to be a stronger leader and a better partner in finance and sales, which are crucial to marketing success.
Right out of university, I started as a writer for a small independent agency and moved through most of the marketing disciplines, from PR to advertising to digital, both agency and client-side as well as large corporates like Microsoft, startups, and AdTech scaleups like Unruly and Blis more recently in my career. I got introduced to the entrepreneurial world of tech and, what was then called, ‘new media’ and I think it’s safe to say, I was hooked! I made the jump from a strategic PR agency to a startup tech company, and my life changed forever. It was that role that took me from the US across to the UK, where I’ve been living now for over 20 years. I’ve never looked back since then.
M7: How do you focus on demand generation as well as long-term brand building at Blis?
DP: At a smaller company, it’s always a fine balance, because the focus is usually on driving leads vs long-term brand building. But both are important. I recently read some research conducted by LinkedIn in 2019, which found B2B brands that invest at least 50% of their budget in long-term brand building deliver the best financial returns in terms of market share growth, profitability, and revenue. Not only that, brand building does drive short-term sales – if you think about it, you’re much more likely to buy today from a brand that you know and like. So, for me and my team, it’s about finding that balance and having the right strategies and tactics, from awareness through to lead gen and sales.
Brand building drives short-term sales – if you think about it, you’re much more likely to buy today from a brand you know and like.
M7: How do you target content to your audience, and what are the challenges that you face while producing effective content?
DP: Over the past year, we’ve had a content-heavy marketing strategy. When COVID-19 hit, we didn’t want to be just part of the noise. We knew we had to be as useful as possible to our clients, and that became our mantra. Blis operates in the AdTech industry and specifically, we are the leading privacy-first, location-powered programmatic partner. Our insights team produces an abundance of interesting insights using movement data across a variety of verticals. This gave the marketing team plenty to work with, as clients and our sellers alike were crying out for clues as to movement patterns and changing consumer behaviors.
We produced several interactive ‘white papers’ and a regular ‘changing behaviors’ blog series and, given the budget constraints, we relied on our blog and social channels as well as direct email marketing to clients to distribute this exciting insights content. We also leveraged partner co-marketing with allied companies to expand our circle and drive reach.
One of the recurring challenges in a global business is that the local markets want local content, which makes driving a global content more challenging. But during the height of COVID-19 in 2020, all our markets were interested in learning from each other, especially from regions that were further along in the COVID-19 journey towards recovery. As a result, we were able to produce meaningful global content pieces. We also created a consumer confidence pulse for several key markets so that we could have an ongoing insights feed, to inspire our clients.
M7: What do you believe are the top three product marketing challenges in the post COVID-19 era?
DP: For Blis, our offering has traditionally been about working with the world’s largest brands and media agencies to drive foot traffic in stores. As the COVID-19 era has accelerated the move toward online and e-commerce, so one of the first challenges was to pivot to develop new tracking and measurement solutions and partnerships that enable us to drive consumers to a landing page or a shopping cart and measure that activity vs primarily in-store footfall.
The second challenge for any company operating in the AdTech industry, or indeed any brand that is doing advertising, is to develop and market products that reach consumers in a privacy-first way due to changing regulations, the death of the cookie, and the reduction of personal identifiers across Apple devices. While Blis has a heritage of privacy-first technologies, we have been working hard to future proof our offerings and innovate at this historic inflection point for the industry.
Thirdly, and what is hopefully a more transient challenge, is the limitations on face-to-face interactions with clients that are typically part and parcel of B2B marketing, from product roadshows to events. This means that B2B marketers need to get ever-more creative about how to reach customers and get in front of them with exciting new developments.
You don’t need to be a ‘techy’ or an engineer to work in tech. Be brave and avoid self-limiting beliefs when entering tech or any other career.
M7: How are promotional tactics changing for products and services launching during these periods?
DP: As marketers, we need to keep innovating, testing, and learning to try to breakthrough. As an example, I’ve been receiving and seeing more and more personalized video messages in emails that are really compelling and make you want to click. Even ‘old fashioned’ personalized gifting is taking on even more importance in this COVID-19 era as well, to create memorable moments and experiences for clients. ‘Zoom fatigue’ is real, so we also need to innovate from the standard webinar, moving to more on-demand content, where customers can view in their own time, or other more interactive formats, designed to engage and entertain.
M7: Your advice for young women considering a career in high tech?
DP: The most important thing for young women to consider is that you don’t need to be a ‘techy’ or an engineer to work in tech. I’ve worked in and around tech almost my whole career, and as a marketer, what attracts me is the pace of the industry and also the challenge of simplifying complex messages and making them understandable and compelling. I also encourage young women to be brave and avoid self-limiting beliefs when entering tech or any other career. Self-belief and not being afraid to fail will go a long way to inspire the bravery needed to try new things, build credibility and make your mark. Just go for it!