One of the biggest questions that a CMO has to ask themselves when they look across the different marketing channels is how much money to put into each of those channels. Of course, there are the tried-and-true avenues that support your business, but marketing changes fast. Deciding what channels to explore and which ones to negate is a big part of making the most of your marketing budget.
But what about employer branding – is that important? Isn’t that an HR function? Not exactly, not in the new marketing landscape. In fact, it’s a term that you don’t often hear in product companies, but employer branding is something that services CMOs know a lot about. Why? Your offering a face-to-face connection and when the growth of your company hinges on talent acquisition and having the ability to service more clients, the CMO gets very close and comfortable with employer branding.
In this episode of AMP Up Your Digital Marketing, we meet Arya Barirani, CMO of GlobalLogic, an engineering services company, and Executive Director at Method, a wholly-owned design agency supporting GlobalLogic. His insight will help executives think about how digital strategy is measured across an entire organization, and not solely reserved as a marketing activity.
Glenn: Welcome back to the show. Today I’m speaking with Arya Barirani. Arya, welcome to the show.
Arya: Hey, glad to be with you, Glenn.
Glenn: Arya, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Arya: Alright. So, I’m Chief Marketing Officer at GlobalLogic. I’m also Executive Director of our Method design agency at GlobalLogic. It’s a wholly-owned design agency inside of GlobalLogic and that’s managed by me. And that’s my role. I’ve been doing marketing here at GlobalLogic for about four years now. And just a little bit about what we do. We are an engineering services company. So, we help our customers build their next-generation digital products and experiences and we help them engineer and design those things.
Glenn: And so, have you been involved in digital marketing most of your career or, like me, did you start in the world, maybe direct and not so much on digital, but we had to start layering on digital as we went?
Arya: You know, I’ve been doing digital marketing, I would probably say that we’ve been doing kind of omnichannel marketing across the board for most of my career. Digital has always been a component of it. It’s changed and evolved a lot from the early days of my career, but for me, we used to run campaigns that went across channels. So, we would do direct, we would do digital, we would do face-to-face and that’s really, I think the formula that we’ve seen work as across these different channels and creating engagement across all of them.
Glenn: And I think you raised a really interesting point-of-view which I think most companies hopefully will share, which is you look at it as a continuum and there are many different channels to engage with the market. How do you think about, kind of, balancing those out given that you’ve got digital marketing – I’m sure you have other aspects of marketing that you include in the overall marketing strategy?
Arya: Yeah, I think this is probably one of the biggest questions that a CMO has to ask themselves when they look across the different channels and the job gets really interesting when you have to go and put dollars into each one of these channels. Like, you’re making your investment into each one of these buckets. And you base it on, mostly, you know, maybe historical information – this is one of the reasons why measurement is really important. Historical information will tell you what’s the relative return and the relative performance of each one of these channels. So, you tend to rotate towards those things that work best for you. You have to have some kind of a balance scorecard, depending on how you go to market. So, taking a step back, I think the smartest thing that one person can do is look at the product, the solution that they’re selling, look at their routes to market, how their customers engage with their product and solution and that sales force and then tune the right program based on that. So, let me give you an example, let’s say that you are – because everyone’s products are different, right – so, let’s say you have a very high-touch enterprise software solution that is sold as a SaaS offering, right. And there’s a significant amount of face-to-face selling that has to go into that and your typical sales cycle is 6 to 12 months and the typical average sales price is $500,000. How you market around that solution is very, very different than a solution that let’s say is a SaaS product that the buyer can buy with a credit card, it’s a departmental level approval, and they can go in on to your website and buy it for a year and all you need to really worry about is onboarding and make sure that they’re successful. So, your route to market really determines your investment. You’ll see more investment in field marketing activity, more high-touch client type of activity. I would call this one-to-few or one-to-one, those types of things, for high consideration, higher value or higher priced products. And then for the higher volume stuff, you tend to be more digital, less face-to-face, because those are just more efficient channels to handle volume. And so, you really have to base that investment mix based on what your product is and how you go to market.
Glenn: So, it feels like a no-brainer, you know, if you’re looking at an average price around $500,000. Is for you and for some people who might have a lower price but still it might be more significant than the typical, you know, B2C approach. Is there a kind of a target range for you were kind of as you move up into X dollars, it’s time to start really thinking about more of the higher touch approaches in your strategies?
Arya: Well most organizations have already figured that out based on their sales organization. So, one of the things that we always talk about as marketers is alignment with sales, right. So, the way that I would look at it is, not necessarily based on the dollar amount, the dollar amount might dictate the sales motions, but it really is dependent on the sales motion. So, what you generally see is on higher volume type of solutions with lower average selling prices. You see a greater influx of inside sales organizations, okay. So, these are groups of people that are mostly selling on the phone or helping close on the phone. Maybe it’s a trialware product, someone has started a trial of your SaaS offering and now you’ve got a group of folks that are now going to call that client and try to convert them into a paid license or upgrade them and make sure that they’re successful. The marketing model that aligns well with an inside sales organization is one type of marketing model. Now, if you have a sales motion that is very enterprise face-to-face then again, you know, you have a different model that goes along with that. And that’s where some of the other channel start to get worked in industry trade shows, face-to-face seminars, executive dinners, those types of things. So, again, it’s around aligning with the sales motion. And by the way most enterprise products that I’ve seen here, at least the Silicon Valley SaaS type of companies, it’s a mix. They all have a high-volume machine and then they have a large enterprise type of machine where they have a field salesforce. And the marketing people have to figure out a way to align to that because the needs are very unique and different.
Glenn: Yeah, it’s a challenge. And so, you and I, before we started this, you talked a little bit about the employee side and you used the term alignment in our conversation so far and you just recently mentioned that the alignment with the sales side of the house. How do you get alignment with employees? And how should people think about that?
Arya: Yeah. So, this is kind of a unique function of a services company. If you look at consulting services, engineering services, where your people are the essential offering and the face-to-face connection with the client, it’s not a piece of software. This is where employer branding becomes really important. And it’s a term that you don’t often hear in product companies, but employer branding is something that services CMOs know a lot about. Because one of the things that you have to do is, you’re always hiring people and the growth of your company is very predicated on being able to get talent onboard. And so, you have to have a strong brand for potential employees, for candidates and for existing employees, because guess what, if you can retain people, that’s just less people that you have to go hire. And so, a lot of the communications task of a services CMO is also engaging and aligning with employees. So, what do I mean by that? It’s about expressing your brand to your internal employees in a very, very clear and succinct manner so that they can express that in an accurate manner in front of clients. If I want to have a strong brand impression on a client, I can certainly market to them, but also because of the fact that my employees are dealing with those clients on a day-to-day basis, it’s really important for my employees to also be on the same page. So, we use a variety of different tools using digital marketing techniques as well as activities at each one of our regional locations to engage employees around the brand and all of our campaigns, external campaigns also have an internal employee component that engages them around the campaign and activates them so that they can understand what’s going on and be able to tell the story.
Glenn: And just for full disclosure, you use GaggleAMP as part of that toolset?
Arya: We do. We use GaggleAMP for external as well as for employee activation so that they’re involved in telling our stories. Yep. So, we’re one of your users.
Glenn: Now, have you noticed anything or have you even measured for this, the impact that the outreach and engagement with the employees has had either from a cultural point-of-view, from a retention point-of-view or is that more – it just it feels good?
Arya: Yeah. So, we try our best to measure and it really is a difficult thing to say, how does the outreach effort and how does employer branding impact in terms of actual percentages? We do know directionally – well, actually we know quantitatively that in years where we have spent time, effort and investment in employee engagement, we tend to have better positive results and retention. We know that to be the case. 2 to 3% is what we’ve seen – on a large scale 2 to 3% could be quite impactful in terms of reducing attrition. So, we do have it. But it’s not a perfect science. There’s an art to it and there’s a little bit of the notion of judgment. We also do know that it feels good. We do know that it feels good. And we know that creating that awareness around the good things that we do has a good net positive affect. If you look at today’s workers – I should say, today’s workforce and especially the new younger workforce that’s coming in, their motivation is very much around a sense of mission, a sense of – you know, the company that they’re working for is doing something positive for their clients and for society as a whole. And being able to express that in the communication that we put in front of our employees makes a big difference in creating that pride and confidence, it’s creating that alignment around the mission. And we think that that has an all-around good net effect. And there’s almost no way to do this without a solid social media platform. So, one of the things that I can tell you is that we have tried doing internal communications using newsletters and, you know, your typical old stuff, like, newsletters and videos and podcasts or what you have. And the engagement rate around those is generally lower than when we have our employees follow all of our social media channels. So, one of the things that we’ve done is that we’ve kind of rotated away from the traditional ways and what we say is follow all of our country-level Facebook presence, follow all of our country-level LinkedIn presence. And that’s what’s going to give you a really good holistic picture of what’s happening in the company. And that’s been tremendously successful. And I think I’ve tune into what’s happening in all of our locations through social media. And the power of those platforms really comes through with our employees as well.
Glenn: Do you all have a preference in terms of where you see the most impact among the different social networks out there?
Arya: I think for employees, it’s Facebook, they kind of plug us into their – it’s Facebook and Instagram for employees. They plug us into kind of their social norms. And for customers it’s LinkedIn. I would say those are probably the three that I would highlight.
Glenn: Yeah, it’s interesting. So, what I think is powerful about that is, what you just said around, they plug you in to their social norms, it’s not the other way around. We’re not forcing them into something that’s a little different from how they normally think. And the challenge, I think, most employees have is just even knowing that there’s a variety of different social connection points on the networks that they’re already on when it comes to the company. So, you’re having them follow a number of different social assets, but I think the rank-and-file employee, would they have known that without you, kind of, pointing them in that direction?
Arya: No, they probably wouldn’t have known that. And you don’t always think about it, right. So, one of the things – one of the campaigns that we have that we run once a month, is that we have a little intranet, which we communicate with employees on. It’s marginally successful I would say; you know, they come in and they tune in every now and then. We use it as a messaging platform. And the message we send out is, follow all of our different assets. So, for example, we have employees in India, we also have employees in Argentine, Croatia and Slovakia. Most of your Indian employees will probably now be following what’s happening in Croatia. But by reminding them and asking them to follow – or Slovakia or you name it, or U.S. – by asking them to follow and kind of always reminding them – because we’re always landing new employees that, hey, follow us – in their daily news stream they’re going to get so much rich information about what’s happening in the company. And it’s mostly very organic, it’s not packaged by some communications team at headquarters. They’ll just get to see regular people at the company doing regular things. And this is really what the social media posts that we put out. It’s very employee-oriented, it’s about, hey, you know the Slovakia group just went out and did a group 10K together, here’s a picture of us as a team doing a 10K. Here’s where we were like, this is what happens two, three weeks ago in the Bay Area here. We went to Second Harvest Food Bank and the team did a food packaging sort for distribution to needy people. These are all wonderful things that can create not only awareness but pride. And I don’t think people would have done that if we weren’t reminding them. And it gives a very holistic picture of what’s really happening at a company of our size.
Glenn: Alright. And it’s a way to share the culture in a very authentic way especially when you start thinking about, you’re having remote offices or just remote individuals, not even just offices. It’s a way to connect with the other people that’s part of your company and you generate the community from that.
Arya: Absolutely. And I think that power – and you nailed it – is that we’re not asking them to adopt any new technology or any new app or any new platform, this is already in the stream of things that they’re already engaged in and I think that’s really where the power of it is. And they don’t have to take any additional action, it’s all kind of built in. And for us, this is important because we know – we did a whole survey of our employees, especially we do a lot of software engineering work and we asked our engineers for example. In one of our surveys we asked engineers, what’s interesting to you and what would keep you around at GlobalLogic and what are the things that are valuable to you as an employee? And by and large, engineers all answered the same way. What keeps them around and what keeps them excited about employment at any company is that they’re working on cool tech or they’re working on interesting new things, because they always want to be working on the latest stuff and they always want to be developing their skills. And so, for them, that’s really important. And so, one of the things that we asked the engineering folks to do when they’re doing social media is just to do a share of the cool work that they’re working on. And so, you know, without divulging any customer intellectual property, of course, they could talk about the proof-of-concepts that they’re working on or, hey, I’m working on this cool app. And so, they started sharing what they’re working on and it was unbelievable. What cool stuff is happening inside the company that you would never know. And there would be no corporate communications team that could capture that. And so, it’s a really wonderful thing. And then, you know, the corporate communications team can look at that and say, wow, that’s really cool, let’s have an external story about that. Let’s go find that individual and record them and let’s get a video of them doing what they’re doing and we could put it outside. But it’s a great organic and grassroots way of getting great insights about what’s happening.
Glenn: Given the engagement level with the employees that – in your company’s case, marketing is doing very proactively, how is HR brought into this or are they brought into this, how do you work with them? Because part of that would be something that they are very interested in obviously.
Arya: For sure. HR is very interested in this. We partner with our HR department and we are hand-in-glove with them. And here’s what’s really important is that what you do want is marketing doing stuff that HR is not aware of, you want alignment. The other thing is that HR usually is the group that has their pulse on what’s happening with employees today, they are really the ones that are measuring the attrition, new hire type of metrics. They are the ones that are hopefully doing the engagement surveys with the employees about what’s important to them. So, a lot of the data that informs your marketing comes from that group. The other thing is that you just want to be partnering with the people organization. This is not a marketing thing, it’s a company-level thing. So, we partner with them. If we’re going to run any big campaigns, we usually are thinking of those together. And it’s usually – it’s the right way. And then we educate the HR teams at global and regional level so that they’re the first ones to know about something that’s coming. You don’t want them to be out of the loop.
Glenn: That’s great. Arya, if there’s one thing that our audience could put into action today and really see impact, what would that one thing be?
Arya: Well, it goes across a lot of different things. I think for me, it’s always been the role of alignment with your target audiences. So, it’s very, very simple for me – and it’s very simple. But most companies or most marketing organizations don’t do a good job of doing this, is to reduce all the noise and take a step back and really, really conjure up a vision of your audience and who you’re trying to reach – whether it’s employees or whether it’s buyers – and then figure out how to align with the right departments, be it HR or the sales organization and getting the best of your marketing to those individuals in a way that they like to consume it. I think that we sometimes over-rotate in what we’ve done in the past or what works, but I think it’s about tuning in to your audience and figuring out how they like to consume information and then aligning with that.
Glenn: Yeah. And meet them there.
Glenn: Arya, that’s very insightful, really appreciate your time today. If people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that? LinkedIn, Twitter?
Arya: Yeah, I think LinkedIn is probably the best way and look me up Arya A-R-Y-A Barirani B-A-R-I-R-A-N-I. It’s not an intuitive spelling. And yeah, send me a LinkedIn request. And if you have any questions, I’d be happy to share my experiences or brainstorm on new ideas.
Glenn: Really appreciate it. Arya, thanks so much for being in the show.
Arya: Hey, my pleasure, Glenn. Thanks very much.
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