If one phrase could be used to describe the philosophy of marketing in 2017, it would be “customers come first.” Gone are the days of product pushing as a surefire advertising strategy. Consumers want to find solutions to the problems they encounter. Marketers have to address those needs from first contact to have a shot at a sale. And really, that’s how it should be—marketing brands as answers and showing that there are people behind the brand who care about the consumer.
Kofax CMO Grant Johnson is leading the way in putting the customer first. His team speaks its clients’ language, delivering an authentic persona at every buying stage.
Below, you can listen to part one of Grant Johnson’s interview with Renegade Thinkers Unite host Drew Neisser, and Bill Carmody, entrepreneur and Inc. magazine author.
If you don’t have time to listen to the whole podcast, check out these sample questions and answers from this episode:
Drew: What is one non-traditional technique that you have used with success? Why do you think it worked so well?
Grant: I think we are a bit nontraditional here at Kofax in that we follow an “aim-ready-fire approach” vs. the traditional “ready-aim-fire.” Over 3 years ago I determined that we had to get to best-in-class in our digital marketing capabilities, but I didn’t have a completely baked plan on how to get there. I hired a very strong leader and we crafted the vision and started the journey together. Since then, we’ve doubled in size from just over $300 million to more than $600 million in revenues, and as we’ve integrated several companies, we’ve taken the best aspects and brought together the best people from each to become much better across the board in digital marketing. We also do a lot experimenting and iterating, and not everything works, so when we strike a rich vein, like some of our PPC or retargeting efforts, we pour gas on those fires and smother the less successful endeavors as fast as possible.
Bill: Once you’ve mapped out that journey and you really thought through the content strategies, how are you measuring the effectiveness of the content in each of those individual prototypes?
Grant: One of the ways that is a good proxy, is through social media. We have very active social media. We do something called go social. We encourage any field-facing staff to try to engage and share content. We have this great tool called push-button content. I just published my second blog on a 4-part serious about a step-wise approach to digital transformation. As people share that, they say “I’ve got this problem, can someone contact me?” It’s not a perfect science, there’s always art, but it helps.
Drew: It’s hard to get our marketing messages to stand out…what is one thing you do to make sure your marketing cuts through?
Grant: We take great pains to avoid the one-size-fits-all approach or what I call random acts of marketing. Instead, we work toward truly integrated marketing campaigns that encompass print, digital, social, etc. Part of cutting through effectively is a relentless focus on delivering consistent messaging across every touch point and element of a given campaign. Like many companies, our customer base cuts across a range of verticals – from Banking and Financial Services and Insurance to Healthcare, Government and BPOs. For some of these verticals, like banking, we frame the message around their primary concerns, e.g. how we can help enhance the customer experience (faster account openings and easier loan applications through mobile apps, etc.). We call that “customer speak,” instead of techno speak, and it really helps us stand out from the cacophony of competitors touting their offerings.
Drew: What is the toughest lesson you’ve learned when it comes to marketing?
Grant: Marketing never stops. It’s impossible to ever become complacent in anything I do or my team creates and delivers. In the past, you could sort of get the plates spinning, say your public relations and field marketing were going well, you could just let them run and focus on say bolstering digital marketing or fine tuning product marketing. Now, however, not only is the rate of change relentless, the mandate to continually improve is stronger than ever. We celebrate the little victories, but we can never rest of any achievement, we have to continually strive. Now this may sound daunting to some marketers, but to me it’s actually invigorating. I chose this career because it was dynamic and I’m restless by nature, so I love the disruptive innovation and measurability of modern marketing and all the challenges that presents. The only constant is change, and if you are adaptable and can thrive in what has become a very accountable function, there’s never been a more exciting time to be a marketer.
You can never have too many friends. Staying in touch with your digital community will keep your brand fresh and relevant. If you play your cards right, you’ll get plenty of referrals. All you have to do is maintain an active social media presence. (These show notes were prepared by Jay Tellini.)
Meet the Guest
Grant Johnson is the CMO of Kofax, a global automation provider for businesses. It is Johnson’s ongoing objective to start meaningful brand-based conversations between his company and clients on social media. His proudest accomplishment as a marketer is bringing everyone together into a single, global marketing organization working with a common purpose to deliver a truly integrated marketing plan in 2017. Johnson holds an MBA in Business Administration, Management, and Operations from Pepperdine University.
What You'll Learn
- How you digital community can be your best marketing resource.
- How to open a dialogue with your customers.
- Why constant adaptation is crucial to marketing success.
- How to deliver a constant brand message and help your business cut through to consumers.
Quotes from Grant Johnson
- We know that in the customer-driven era, it’s about them, not us.
- If you have or can foster a highly engaged community, you have powerful brand advocates who can amplify your content, messaging, and voice through their existing networks.
- Talk about topics and events that are relevant to your audiences, but make sure you aren’t monopolizing the conversation.
- The only constant is change, and if you are adaptable and can thrive in what has become a very accountable function, there’s never been a more exciting time to be a marketer.