Digital transformation may have gained theoretical popularity, but many mid-market companies still struggle to fully integrate their marketing and technology teams in the real world.
Twenty-seven percent of senior executives believe that digital transformation is an essential component of the survival of their business. Executives at Spacesaver Corporation, a full-service storage solution provider, knew that the key to ensuring their company’s long-term growth was developing a robust marketing system that could act as a funnel to drive sales to the company. Their willingness to revamp their IT and marketing departments, coupled with a do-or-die approach, led to a collaboration that yielded better demand generation and boosted sales.
Revamping a Tepid Marketing Strategy
When Eric Schmidt, VP of Marketing and Business Technology, was asked to help address and reinvent our business development and demand generation strategy, he found that Spacesaver’s existing business development strategy consisted of 17 team members solely making outbound calls to prospective clients, also known as traditional cold calling. Developing inbound demand from a digital perspective at Spacesaver was at it’s infancy and it showed.
Schmidt recruited Katie Lowell, Spacesaver’s current Director of Marketing, to work in collaboration with the IT department. She did not come from a traditional marketing background, and together they saw the value in creating an inbound marketing engine for the digital era. Her early creative experience in graphics, animation and web design and passion for the web progressed her into collaborating with Eric to develop inbound strategies for the website.
Spacesaver’s pilot program had marketers and developers working side by side to ensure to ensure complete alignment. As Lowell moved into a leadership role, she also had a web developer working for her to take “over [the] web to drive inbound leads and opportunities.”
Emphasizing Collaboration Within Marketing and IT Departments
Formulating a new development strategy was only part of the challenge at Spacesaver. Schmidt noted that the “biggest [challenge] was cultural. Initially, there was a big turf war. How dare IT get involved with business development? This is really a marketing function.”
As part of his commitment to digital transformation, Schmidt and his team had to work to shift perceptions of IT as an entity that only existed to keep the lights on and the computers running. He had to establish IT as an equal partner in developing new marketing ideas and leads for the company.
Since Schmidt and Lowell started their collaboration in Marketing and IT around 2011, their goal has been to develop an inbound lead generating engine with their company website and other marketing tactics. To do this they have needed to leverage various technologies and integration into their CRM system with the Demand Generation department having processes established on how to handle the inbound leads properly for qualification. In 2011 the website generated just over 1,000 qualified opportunities. As their strategies and tactics have continued to mature, and Schmidt and Lowell have transitioned into new roles and responsibilities, one thing remains the same their eye is still on the overall goal of the continuing to strengthen their digital presence. By the end of 2015, the company website has generated 244% increase, closing out last year with just under 4,000 qualified opportunities created by inbound demand via the web.
Schmidt and Lowell both realized that part of their job and experience is to take the lessons learned and share those experiences with the 40 independent Spacesaver distributors. The biggest goal is to help all of us be prosperous. “Take what we’ve learned as a manufacturer and supplier and support our distributors. We need to get them to understand the evolution of marketing, the importance of a strong digital presence, deploying apps and mobility with the sales force.”
To reach this goal, Schmidt travels frequently to make sure Spacesaver’s distributors are heading in the right direction. It’s tough work, but Schmidt remains committed. After all, as he says: “When it’s critical, you have to change.”