“At VMware, we are agitating for change and are really quite excited — I think we are on the cusp of a massive change in the security industry.“
Insightive.tv: What challenges do you face reaching out to your target audience?
Tori: There is an increased fragmentation of customer segments that creates difficulty in mapping the multiple buying centres. Particularly when reaching out to the C-level, an increasingly cluttered market demands ever greater degrees of ingenuity to gain traction. Businesses are looking towards content generated by their peer as a substitute for vendor and analyst sources of information.
We have to deal with the fact that there is no single ideal customer. There are detailed personas and customer cluster characteristics for each of the many solutions that we take to market. Tracking that aggregate of information is necessary to effectively engage a new sale, upsell, cross-sell or renewal. For example, we carefully target who attends our events — rather than simply trying to invite as many people as possible to get numbers up. Our entire operation is focused on getting the right contacts from the right accounts and providing a tailored experience — giving them tools that they need to take back and build a business case for investment.
Insightive.tv: How do you identify buyer need and coordinate actions within the company?
Tori: We identify buyer need through overlaying multiple points of data. We develop an account plan in conjunction with our customers based on their self-identified strategic priorities. We then leverage lookalike and propensity modelling to provide guidance and pull in third-party data from sources including media outlets and purchased research. This information is used to build a marketing plan that is aligned with our business priorities. Within that structure, we work in tandem with the sales team on our top accounts through thorough account based marketing — detailed profiles of contacts, accounts and an evolving, customised sales/marketing plan.
I think personalisation of marketing is becoming an expectation, not a choice. However, I don’t want to underestimate the importance of timing. I think we’ve all experienced the influential effect of receiving an offer or information at just the right time. The key is to understand which elements of personalisation are high value, and focus on delivering those. If you are able to provide relevant content that appropriately reflects your relationship with the reader then, generally, you can move that relationship forward and provide higher degrees of personalisation as it moves through the purchase cycle. This, in itself, however, creates challenges in finding the funds to run the ongoing data integrity programs that we need to generate near-time access to complex data analytics.
Insightive.tv: Is that degree of personalisation your main strategy to cut through market noise — how much does personalisation extend to your entire campaign rather than just messaging?
Tori: When targeting governments, in particular, I think that it is essential to customise marketing programs, events and engagement for that vertical. In other verticals, there is more crossover and, although we customise where necessary, we are able to leverage similar content, potentially just changing the language — as opposed to changing the overall activity or campaign we are running.
The most successful campaigns are built on a compelling customer insight. For example, we ran an integrated campaign off the back of recent research on how Australians manage flexible working. The resulting program called “IT Survivor” harnessed customer insight on the importance of delivering marketing presentations that demonstrated the technology. This campaign heavily leveraged data to effectively target the customer base of our competitors and propensity models to cross-sell and up-sell our existing customers. We also provided a “campaign in a box” model for key partners to co-brand — thereby extending the campaign’s reach. The results of the activity were an impressive number of opportunities — 176% above target. This also generated strong coverage in the press, leveraging our customer stories and executive engagement activities.
When we did our big cloud launch, about a year ago, we went particularly far in our efforts to personalise and target our marketing strategies to specific people, in addition to sector concerns. We were able to look at the key accounts — all of the individuals within the buying centre — and map out what role they played in the purchase decision to then deliver hyper-targeted marketing. That included things such as putting advertisements in the bus shelters we knew they used, or taking out ads in the newspapers that we knew they read, along with more traditional, targeted digital campaigns involving LinkedIn. Tracking social media not only allows us to augment our account based marketing, but also keep tabs on key influencers of those contacts. That provides us with the capability to engage those influencers and get them to act as advocates, or even become part of those conversations. This includes analysts, journalists, Thought Leaders and SMEs, as well as in-account influencers.
Insightive.tv: Do you think that technology is changing the market — how does that impact the marketing techniques you need to deploy in order to have the desired effect?
Tori: When I speak with CISOs, the striking thing is the near fatalism they seem to have in regards to the next breach. It is less of a question of if, but more — when and how bad? There is an overriding idea that it is impossible to protect everything and it is necessary to prioritise what you are going to protect and put in place contingencies to manage and contain the inevitable. We recently sponsored a think tank and white paper on this subject.
I think it is important to think of IT is an enabler, and understand that security systems can be implemented that not only reduce the risk of an attack, but drastically improve the ability of security teams to identify an ongoing breach and significantly mitigate the damage. If you look at the way IT has changed in the last twenty years, the ways in which most people manage security have not kept pace. At VMware, we are agitating for change and are really quite excited — I think we are on the cusp of a massive change in the security industry. Although we are not a security vendor, as such, we feel that we have an important part to play in that transition.
Traditionally, we have done big flagship events targeted at quite large customer clusters. I think the change, across regions, will be to leverage more personalised account based marketing programs that get down to the individual contact level. Like the customers we are targeting, I mostly stay abreast of new marketing techniques through my peers. I think our future developments, at least in the near future, will be efforts to continue to augment our existing Account Based Marketing Platform.
Tori Starkey is the Marketing Director at VMware. She is responsible for all marketing strategy, planning and execution within Australia and New Zealand and is the customer advocacy and vertical marketing lead for APJ. With over a decade and executive marketing experience, Tori joined VMware in 2011 and has since worked to build new capabilities within the marketing organisation. With a results orientated focus, she has made strides strengthening the company’s approach to new media, marketing platforms and intelligence driven marketing. We spoke with Tori to gain her insight into how technology is changing the market and how she uses a combined business approach to cut through the noise and connect with key stakeholders in an era of digital saturation.
VMware provides over 500,000 worldwide customers with software solutions that enable business mobility. A subsidiary of Dell Technologies, VMware supplies cloud infrastructure, virtualisation software and security programs. With products used by every single Fortune 500 company, VMware allows its customers access to a vast ecosystem of solution partners and open interfaces for broad software support — providing a low total cost of ownerships compared to competitors.