“Your proposition cannot sound hysterical — it can’t sound ridiculous. It simply has to be something that captures the imagination of the audience you are targeting to the point that they then want to investigate it. That is all marketing really can do — it can paint a vision and create excitement. The end goal is to get people interested to the point of investigating further.”
Insightive.tv: What does being a CMO mean to you — what are your key responsibilities?
Pat: My primary responsibility is to create a vision for our marketing strategy and inspire the drive, innovation and passion needed to see it implemented. That vision has to focus on what your market wants. The key question is: what do you have that will allow you to connect with the buyer?
Some CMOs work on the strategy end — the company and marketing architecture. On the other side there are very execution oriented CMOs working on communications and events at the brand level. I think a good CMO is going to try and understand all of those things — linking them together. Such a broad understanding might prevent you from becoming an expert in any one of those areas, but it provides a perspective that allows you to identify people who are experts. This is what is needed to build teams that can deliver exceptional outcomes. The CMO position is one of coordination and leadership.
Insightive.tv: At Blue Prism, how well is marketing aligned with the sales effort?
Pat: We are extremely integrated teams. I cannot market fantastic implementations at The Bank of New York Mellon, for example, without the sales force having sold them. But they sold them on the vision of the strategic workforce.
I come from a sales background, and one of the reasons I went into marketing was out of frustration with marketing teams that did not understand sales. One weak link in the chain will prevent you from connecting with customers. The sales force has to be integrated, but so does the entire company — the people configuring the software, the people supporting it. You have to follow through with the promises you make to customers. Everyone has to understand the scale and importance of what the digital workforce is there to do.
Insightive.tv: How does your sales team get through to the key stakeholders?
Pat: A few years ago, we took the decision to invest in an ecosystem of partners — organisations like Accenture, and others, that have the ear of the C-Suite in the large corporations we are targeting. Our main clients, and aspirational clients, are the Global 500. Being able to tap into that network is key. These partners can lend a huge amount of credibility and access. For many years, the credibility of what we were doing was the primary obstacle, particularly when it came to convincing larger firms to commit the resources needed to undertake the change programs. We have found a lot of success working with partners who engage with senior stakeholders about how a digital workforce can solve many of the problems larger companies face around operational costs, accuracy, agility and regulatory compliance.
Insightive.tv: At what point does your sales team get involved and become client facing?
Pat: Our sales team is there to help the partner with the deal from the beginning. This involves working with the partner to supply information, or visiting the client directly. We now have several thousand people going through our “sales academy” — an online training course — and that is great. But there is always a point where we need to get involved, and it is normally early on.
Afterwards, we have our “customer success managers” — they work with the customer and the partners to make sure the there is a successful deployment of the technology. They make sure that the operating models are built correctly and that the robots are configured to the best practice. We also offer post-deployment customer service. Our dedication to all of those aspects is part of the reason why, last year, 100% of our customers renewed their licences, and a vast majority increased the number of robots they were using.
Insightive.tv: How much noise do you think there is in the market and how do you cut through that noise?
Pat: It is very noisy. I have heard the statistic that every year there are about five-thousand software companies formed in California alone.
I think you cut through the noise with a clarity of vision and demonstrable proposition. People have to see the product working and it has to excite. But, your proposition cannot sound hysterical — it can’t sound ridiculous. It simply has to be something that captures the imagination of the audience you are targeting to the point that they then want to investigate it. That is all marketing really can do — it can paint a vision and create excitement. The end goal is to get people interested to the point of investigating further.
A huge part of spurring that interest is messaging and innovative terminology. For example, we invented the term “robotic process automation.” This allegory of a software robot is the thing that really allowed us to punch through the noise and capture the clients that have helped us to then bolster our message with demonstrable success stories.
Saying, we sell software robots — that is an interesting thing. Saying, we sell a GUI-based integration and automation technology that uses XYZ process — that is pretty boring. It’s like the CRM term or ERP term; RPA, now, has pretty much become an industry accepted terminology. There are currently something like 39 companies that now claim to be RPA providers. The problem for us has actually become standing out within the RPA ecosystem. But, that is not a terrible place to be because we have a lot of demonstrable successes and expertise in this sector, and by far the best product.
Insightive.tv: Storytelling is a phrase that I hear coming up a lot more in conversations with CMOs — how much is that part of what you are doing?
Pat: It is important to create a vision of a destination point in the mind of a potential client — something they want and something that they can reach. This applies on both a personal and company level. The narrative is that there is something at the end of this journey that is very important to you and your enterprise.
A lot of marketing is about education. The “shoutey” marketing — where you attempt to be louder than anyone else — doesn’t work with sophisticated buyers. As I said, I have always been a believer in deferred marketing — marketing that is delivered by a third party. If one customer talks to another business about how fabulous we are, that has 100x the impact of us just turning up and saying the same thing. I think that creating a narrative is important, but tailoring how that narrative is delivered is crucial as well.
Insightive.tv: Beyond intermediary channels, which marketing channel do you consider to be the most valuable or productive?
Pat: Our website is something that I rank highly in terms of importance. We don’t do much transacting online, but it is an invaluable link in the chain that people come to after being inspired by another source. The entire e-presence — the website and everything, is very important. Search engine optimisation is another aspect that cannot be ignored.
We have also had a lot of success creating case studies. We have done some of this work ourselves, but, again, we have found that using intermediaries is simply more effective because it is more convincing to clients. For example, we did an extensive program with London School of Economics (LSE) to build a series of very powerful and detailed studies on how our clients have used the robots we built to create a digital workforce. We can then provide this information to potential clients, either ourselves or through our intermediary partners.
In a way, our most productive channel is our product itself. You can’t intermediate marketing if you don’t have a quality product, and that is why it is so effective — customers know that. In this particular case with LSE, it is not us telling potential clients about the uses of our product, it is Professor Leslie Willcocks and Dr. Mary Lacity. It’s their findings and research. We have found these types of resources to be invaluable and very successful.
Pat Geary is Chief Marketing Officer at Blue Prism. He has held this position since 2008 and has over two decades of experience of marketing leadership. Having worked previously in sales and technology, Pat’s expertise is in creating unified and sales oriented marketing strategies within the technology sector. We spoke with Pat to gain insight into how Blue Prism created the concept of software robots and RPA, and how Pat successfully navigates marketing channels in the era of digital saturation.
Blue Prism is the leading developer of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software, a platform that allows companies to automate business processes by creating their own specified software “robots” that mimic human actions to complete rule-based tasks. This can enable both machine and computing processes — reducing operating costs, increasing speed and accuracy without requiring IT infrastructure changes. The services are immensely scalable and can be tailored to fit the needs of a wide range of business processes. The company was founded in 2001 and has expanded rapidly in recent years.