Thomas Been, CMO of TIBCO, was recently named Marketing Executive of the Year by PR World Awards. We recently spoke to Thomas about the role customers play in his award-winning strategy.
Tell us about TIBCO and your role at the company.
TIBCO provides businesses with connected intelligence. On one end, we allow businesses to connect their systems and get data they can use in their applications and processes. Then we enable them to use that data to augment their intelligence by putting insights into the hands of the right people, like business users or data scientists, and into the right systems.
I drive our marketing efforts across the entire TIBCO portfolio, which includes products such as Spotfire, Jaspersoft, StreamBase and Mashery. We were initially more of an engineering and sales company — we grew to $1 billion in revenue almost without any marketing. But as the company was looking at how to grow to the next billion dollars, our CEO realized we really needed a central marketing engine. We were in multiple domains, we had developed multiple voices, and that was all becoming difficult to grasp both for our customers and our prospects.
So we started to sharpen our go-to-market activities, define the core markets we wanted to address, then focus our resources and voice in those areas. We also went private at the same time, which allowed us to actually start a transformation by adopting many best practices that would make us an even more efficient company. We’ve always been formidable, and we’ve kept on improving since we went private.
What have you focused on as part of TIBCO’s marketing transformation?
We had the opportunity to build a state-of-the-art marketing engine. First, we invested in defining a foundation and understanding the impact we had on the business. Once we had those processes and visibility, we tackled becoming more efficient. And all of this was happening in that spirit of having a sharper go-to-market voice.
Three years ago we set up a program to capture success stories. This was especially important when products that had previously been used solely by IT people opened up to business users as well. We were addressing a different audience, and that audience needed to have evidence their peers were using and getting value from our products.
This year our focus is on messaging, brand and positioning. At this stage, one of the most important elements we have is the voice of our customers. It became very evident early in the transformation that in addition to our products and our people, one of our best assets is our customers — customer stories are the best validation we have, and very often are the way we sell.
How has focusing on your customer’s voice impacted marketing and sales?
I cannot think of a marketing touchpoint at TIBCO that has not been impacted by the voice of the customer. Leveraging the voice of your customers translates directly into more traffic to your website. It translates into more people at your events, and we’re seeing the same trend with webinars.
When prospects are still in the research phase, we’ve seen an increase in conversion by using the TrustRadius Top Rated badge for Spotfire. Review quotes are also very compelling and help drive more of our audience down the funnel.
For the trade marketing guys, once they get MQLs, the best element they can have in a discussion is actual success stories. Explaining that a company has solved a similar issue with our product is the best validation you can think of. In terms of sales campaign, we see those campaigns are way more effective when we lead with a use case example. And sending prospects to TrustRadius reviews has helped business development reps move the conversation from awareness to consideration and consideration to decision.
You said efficiency was also part of your transformation. How did you scale your customer voice program?
TIBCO is a very network-oriented and connected culture. I’ve been at the company for 13 years, and actually spent eight years in the field. What I learned during those eight years is how the company sells, and I witnessed firsthand the power of success stories and the credibility that customers can give to our technology. My goal was to scale that through marketing, and we had to do it in two steps.
First of all, when you have such a connected culture, you cannot just show up with a big new program and demand they use it. You need to build the confidence of the field. So, we started to work with a handful of AEs who trusted us and would give us access to their customers. Our goal was to have a process that was as seamless as possible for the customers — we’d have them dedicate a few hours of their time with us, we would run an interview tailored to their context but with a similar set of questions each time, ideally get that on the record as a video and then use it to drive multiple assets like blog posts, social posts, a white paper, a short video, a long video. We began with a small number of customers, delivered these assets to the organization and got the rest of the company to say they wanted more.
But everything in marketing is about scale, and this required a very high-touch approach. We wondered, is there a way we can actually scale this? In addition to capturing those great stories and using the review quotes as a form of validation, we decided to leverage TrustRadius to cast a wider net to find our champions and then build a pipeline for more in-depth success stories.
We built a rocket, but we needed a bigger booster, and that’s exactly what TrustRadius has been — allowing us to capture the voice of the customer on a broader basis, allowing us to have a deeper impact on the business because we have those quotes, plus adding third-party validation that is out there on a broader scale.
Everybody in the company benefits from it. But it’s actually a program that is run by a small group within marketing. So we made a big impact with a lean set up, thanks to TrustRadius.
Do you have any advice for other marketers as they adapt to the new buyer’s journey?
Getting as close as you can to your customer is something that every marketing team needs to do. Having these authentic stories is great ammunition for building any kind of user journey you may need to convince an audience. Nowadays, I don’t think the buyers want to listen that much to marketers — they want to get to the product, they want to be convinced by other people using it.
Fundamentally, marketers are storytellers, and TrustRadius allows us to capture even more real-life stories. And that is what the digital buyer is looking for. Maybe it’s a natural move for some marketers, or maybe it’s humbling that we need to step out and spin less, but the stories are there. Our job is increasingly to connect the dots and help an audience meet the stories that are going to resonate with them.
At TIBCO, we’re building digital user journeys that are paved with those touchpoints in the right channel and, most importantly, made with the right content. That content is out there, and TrustRadius allows us to capture it and leverage it at the right moment.
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