September 24, 2014

Guest blog post: We are all marketers

Riina Kirmanen

CMO, Vaisala Oyj

This is the third blog post in our blog challenge. It is written by Riina Kirmanen from Vaisala.

Modern Marketing Brinds Customer Understanding and New Business Insight to the Table

Now is the best time to work in marketing. Customer behavior is changing faster than ever before in both B-to-C and B-to-B. Marketing has never seen such a dramatic change; at least, not since advertising was invented. Modern marketers have become multitasking talents who understand customers, develop appealing content and stories, bring growth opportunities to sales, and improve companies’ online service capabilities.

With this digital transformation taking place, marketing can act as change agent. Marketing can bring new customer insights to light and improve the overall customer experience. This, however, requires a smooth and seamless co-operation between functions, a passionate willingness to develop operations, trust, courage, and a deep understanding of customers’ businesses. Companies are faced with the challenge of using all the opportunities that digitalization offers. We need to understand if our digital activities bring competitive advantage or just improve our competitiveness?

We Are All Marketers: Digitalization, Automation and Social Tools are Changing the Game

I strongly believe that digital marketing and digitalization creates many new opportunities for global Nordic companies. We are typically first-rate professionals in our areas of expertise, but operate within a very narrow global customer group. Communicating directly and continually with both our existing and potential customers will help us to build premium brand awareness and learn much more about customer behavior.

Does your sales team know the customer group that has the best lead closing rate? Do they know that closing leads in one customer group is three times faster than in another although the deal size is two times bigger? Do they know that the on-off deal size of their favorite customer group/segment is actually smaller than the average, and sales needs to work twice as hard with that customer group? Does marketing know what their most effect tactics are? Would this type of information help sales and marketing prioritize work or leaders to better allocate resources? Based customer behavior or customer insight data, would your sales team be able to first educate customers about the importance of your services before they are ready to buy? I call that good customer service. The beauty of this is in the automation.

By using digital tools and analysis wisely, companies know when to approach customers with what kind of messages. We can gather information on who takes a look at our webinar offering during Wednesdays or which customer groups are always asking for price information during weekends. So, how can we actually serve our customers better based on the information we get? At Vaisala, we sent out 1.7 million messages to our clients and prospects last year. By analyzing this data, we learned important and interesting insights about our customers. We use this information to improve our services and the content of our messages, and of course, to increase sales.

Social media is becoming increasingly important, especially for certain customer groups in many countries and regions. For example, WeChat in China already has 600 million users and is becoming more commercially significant in the country. At the same time, most successful business blogs collect key decision makers to discuss current business topics. Although these still seem like baby steps, the change is gathering speed.

During the past four years, my organization at Vaisala has moved towards modern marketing, from tactical to business objectives-oriented marketing. We have developed a strong digital ecosystem to support our operations. Each member of the marketing team has learned completely new skills and acquired new competencies to support our business. It has not been easy, but I am so happy to see that we can really help the business and measure our performance as well. What makes me even happier is to see how excited and proud my team members are about their work.

It is Not Easy

Although digitalization opportunities are endless, only 1% of them are currently exploited. According to McKinsey, 70% of all failure is caused by inability to adopt new behavior quickly and completely. This is definitely something worth thinking about.

Change can only be successful with the right attitude and an open mind; thinking out of the box is crucial. It’s the same old story – except for those under 22, for whom it’s normal.


Ps. In this new digital environment, everybody is a marketer.

Riina Kirmanen, CMO, Vaisala Oyj. Riina Kirmanen has over 15 years’ marketing and management experience in high technology companies in Finland and internationally. She is passionate about digital business opportunities and she is leading modern marketing operation at Vaisala. You can find Riina on Twitter and LinkedIn. This is the third blog post in our blog challenge. It is written by Riina Kirmanen from Vaisala. You can read the first post here and the second post here.

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