“What we are trying to do with some of our marketing at the moment is to be perceived as an enabler of peer to peer conversation. Businesses want to learn from each other and are very aware of what is happening in their competitor’s marketplace. Sales aside, there is as much collaboration as competition within industries. Business leaders like to see what works and what doesn’t. We are setting up systems to enable those people to come together and share ideas.”
Insightive.tv: As Head of Marketing, what are your responsibilities — how do you perceive your primary functions?
Christa: Capita is set up with lots of individual businesses with individual specialisms and areas of focus. I head-up marketing within the IT Services division. At the end of the day, every part of the business is there to enable sales. We are all there to grow our business. Where I fit in is in creating an environment in which people are interested in buying from us.
We all know that the buying cycle has fundamentally changed. If businesses have a problem, they are now easily able to access large amounts of information about the pros and cons of different solutions. On the whole, they are not turning to businesses until they have a clear idea of what solution will work for them. Our sales teams are getting involved much later in the buying cycle, and the same goes for everyone.
The information, therefore, that is available in the marketplace, and how dominant our voice is in that marketplace, has become increasingly important and influential. When customers are out there doing research, we need to be visible. We have to make them feel that we are the sort of business with which they want to work. We want to position ourselves both as innovative thought leaders and as a reliable pair of hands.
My job is to create this general environment — bring together our story in such a way that our salespeople have the best possible chance of getting in the door. We bring clients to that point by having the right message articulated in the right way — something that resonates with the target audience. Being relevant, personal and unique are all key. It isn’t always achievable, but that has to be the goal because when it is achieved it slices through the noise. It can directly impact and influence the person you are trying to reach.That is how you stand out.
Insightive.tv: What are the biggest challenges you face?
Christa: I think it is often saturation. There are so many people out there talking about every single thing. There is an awful lot of noise in the market, and that noise stops our message from coming across to our audience clearly.
In the last few years, digital marketing has really come to form. This has created a whole host of channels that can be used to bring messages to market — websites, social media, etc. This might be controversial, but I think that a lot of marketers have dismissed “right message and right articulation” in favour of “right channel.” When people do research, social media is often first port of call — which is a testament to its importance. I am not saying these channels aren’t important, but the core of your efforts have to be on messaging.
Crafting the right messages is my main focus, so I would also have to say that messaging is my main challenge. The context changes all of the time, and context is key to how a message is received. You cannot stagnate. A lot of my time is spent observing what is going on in the marketplace and thinking about how we can do things differently and stand out. It is a real joy when you see a company get it right – that is why you see good campaigns go viral – but it can be equally painful to see marketing done badly, without the customer in mind.
From a sales perspective, however, the largest challenge is gaining access to the limited time possessed by stakeholders. These people are not only busy, but are constantly receiving sales propositions. They often only have time to follow up on a handful of these requests per month. Being one of those people is crucial but hard. As I said, my job is about creating an environment in which we are one of the companies that customers want to meet.
Insightive.tv: Can you give an example of how you use marketing to enable the sales team?
Christa: One thing that we have been focusing on recently is looking at aspects of thought leadership. The goal here is making sure that we are at the forefront of people’s minds. We are also looking to use content that could be of value to our prospects because it can be used to create opportunities for our sales team to get in touch with their base.
For example, we do a podcast series that is aimed to enable both of these goals. We have so far put together twelve episodes on a number of pressing businesses issues — a recent one was on hacking, something of concern for many of our customers. The goal is to create enough podcasts that at least one will be relevant to every customer being pursued by our sales team.
Through producing podcasts that contain interesting, relevant, and otherwise unavailable information, we enable our sales team to contact clients and immediately offer something of genuine value. This then provides them with an opportunity to start the conversation. Not only does the initial token of value increase the likelihood of entering the second conversation, it makes it easier to have a conversation about strategy, businesses enablement — rather than simply about price.
Insightive.tv: What is the latest tactic or tool that you have started using?
Christa: What we are trying to do with some of our marketing at the moment is to be perceived as an enabler of peer to peer conversation. Businesses want to learn from each other and are very aware of what is happening in their competitor’s marketplace. Sales aside, there is as much collaboration as competition within industries. Business leaders like to see what works and what doesn’t. We are setting up systems to enable those people to come together and share ideas.
The podcast is part of that. But we are running programs in a number of mediums to tap into this network. We act as a facilitator of peer to peer sharing and sit in the background. This allows us to gain a huge amount of market research and intelligence which we can then tie into our proposition — making sure our proposition are relevant, have the right messaging and tackle the right challenges — all while keeping our name at the forefront of people’s minds. But it also provides direct value to our customers by enabling people share information and learn from each other. This is something that is as important to the public as the private sector and is something that has worked well.
My core tactic, however, has remained unchanged — messaging. When I started at Capita, we were a new unit within the business. We didn’t have a story or established market. One of the first things I was asked to do was develop a proposition. A recurring theme we identified through interviewing our past and present clients was that they wanted solutions that they did not have to think about — they have their own businesses to run. This led to to the development of the proposition: technology solutions, expertly delivered. This was successfully received. Off the back of that delivery, we have taken opportunities to deliver that message internally and it has since been adopted across other parts of the division.
Having the right message, but communicating it in the wrong way, can entirely undermine what you are trying to do. It has always been about having the right message and articulating that message in a way that resonates.
Christa Norton joined Capita as Head of Marketing within the IT Services division in 2015. She has over thirteen years of leadership experience in marketing environments ranging from start-ups to multinational corporations. Christa takes an ROI-focused approach to marketing with detailed analytical assessments. She has expertise in branding and culture developments, strategic planning, pipeline generation and digital strategy. We spoke with Christa to gain insight into Capita’s approach to marketing and Christa’s perspective on channel saturation in a digital era.
Capita is the UK’s premier provider of business process management and support service solutions. They work with the public and private sector to harness technology and analytics to expertly deliver tailored solutions across a range of sectors. Pulling innovation from sources as diverse as the behavioural sciences, information security and data analytics, Capita has stayed on the leading edge of technology outsourcing since its founding in 1984. Throughout, their role has remained the use of technology to improve customer outcomes by make processes smarter and more efficient.