Care for a Side of Strategy with Your Marketing Software?
The sign reads, “Unlock the Potential of Your Marketing Content.”
You go in. You place your order. “I’m hungry for a serious B2B marketing platform. I’ll have Kapost please.”
The clerk smiles and says, “Good choice. Very tasty software.” She adds, “Did you know it also comes with implementation strategy?”
Okay, it’s not a sign. It’s a page on the Kapost website where the company explains how it enables you to meet and exceed your goals with one-on-one assistance.
Also, there’s no clerk. There’s a team of people who come to work each day on a mission to help Kapost clients strategically implement the software to create marketing content more efficiently and effectively.
One such person is Meredith Giersch, Director of Customer Success at Kapost. Meredith agreed to tell me about what she does to help Kapost clients succeed. Here’s how that conversation went:
Barry Feldman (BF): What’s is the role of the Director of Customer Success?
Meredith Giersch (MG): As the Director of Customer Success, my main role is to coach our CSMs to help customers at a strategic level. As our CEO, Toby, explains it, we’re not selling accounting software where processes are mostly plug-and-play. Content marketing is a relatively new discipline.
Our customers are continuously transforming. They often times need consulting around their strategy and process before we plug things into the actual platform. So that’s the role we play: we’re strategic consultants that help clients manage their content operations.
BF: Do you stay out of the sales process?
MG: Part of my role is in pre-sales because we want to start the conversation as early as possible to understand the customer’s level of maturity in their content operation. Getting involved in the pre-sales process helps me figure out who the best implementation team is going to be to help the client be successful.
BF: I’ve talked to a Customer Success Manager and Major Account Executive and now the Director of Customer Success. It sounds like you have different, but related jobs. How do these roles fit together?
MG: Major Account Execs start building the relationship early on. They’re the first to understand the customer’s needs and pain points. They will introduce me or one of my colleagues when it’s time to dig into the implementation. At that stage, I’m really trying to figure out the level of maturity a customer is at within their content operations and the scope and scale of the engagement.
Once the relationship officially kicks off, I’ll pick the right CSM to more or less own the relationship on a day-to-day basis going forward.
Could we simplify this stuff?
BF: So what’s your role as consultant?
MG: Marketers have been pretty creative in adding in a decent amount of complexity into their world. They’ve got a lot of hierarchies of programs, campaigns, initiatives, and projects. And to add to the complexity, we have seen an explosion of channels and marketing technology platforms to manage.
Part of our job is to help the customer take a step back from the chaos and move to the proverbial whiteboard. We’re always looking for efficiency gains before we even start pressing the buttons in the platform.
BF: You engage with all of Kapost’s customers at some level. Do they have a lot in common? Common challenges?
MG: I joke with all of our customers that they’re all unique, but none of them are. Even smaller and more agile teams have a lot of the same pain points as our big enterprise accounts. They’re a lot of moving pieces and managing the hand-offs can be tough sometimes.
BF: What kind of hand-offs?
MG: Hand-offs like: Barry writes the rough draft… He sends it to Meredith for approval… It gets sent it to Kim for SEO… That sort of stuff. It’s the general day-to-day work a marketer does to produce content.
Seeing clients through the content chaos
BF: Let’s talk about the pain points the customers have.
MG: It starts with visibility. Our customers typically have a proliferation of places where their content lives, ranging from on people’s desktops, to different intranets, to siloed platforms.
Most companies don’t have one central repository. Kapost allows them to access content mapped by metadata—by product, by personas, by buying stages. And they can see what stage that content is in its creation process. So the first pain point that we address is visibility and accessibility.
BF: Then comes a collaboration process, a way to overcome the content chaos, right?
MG: Yes. Kapost allows them to manage the process and resources necessary to plan, create, repurpose content—and to ensure it’s dedicated to a central strategy or theme. This isn’t rocket science, but sometimes there’s value in our team acting as a third-party to get this all setup. We can facilitate getting everyone together across the organization to talk about where the stuff is and how to better manage the operation.
BF: If you do content marketing well—with a planning process and a collaborative team—what challenges come next?
MG: Once we get through the alignment and execution stages—including collaborating to create content and get it published—then our customers want to know what’s working and what’s not.
The goal for most content marketers is to get the right content to the right people at the right time. Figuring out whether they did that or not can be really hard. They have a lot of tools to measure email opens and social media, but it remains a challenge to determine if this eBook performed better than that eBook. Did it have any impact in generating leads?
Kapost provides that level of analysis. However, it’s no small feat to setup. Most of our customers struggle with the alignment between sales and marketing, which isn’t news to anyone. That alignment is required at some level to get to the holy grail of Kapost—content scoring.
Kapost content scoring shows, for example, whether or not a blog post has actually contributed to progressing someone from an MQL to an SQL, from SQL to a closed/won opportunity.
BF: It sounds like companies have a way they do things and then along comes Kapost and there’s a need to change them.
MG: Yes and no. Our philosophy from the beginning is to meet the customer where they are. We want to get them value in real-time, within the first 90 days. So we do try to get the platform up and running getting content out of the door, but we are dedicated to real partnerships with our customers to help them improve their process over the months, quarters, and years.
I will often re-engage with a customer six months or a year in, and say, “Hey guys, it seems like there’s still a decent amount of pain around the production of stuff. Let’s get back, do an audit and look at ways to improve your process.”
Everyone needs an advocate. Everyone needs a coach in their corner.
BF: Do you do what you do primarily in a one-to-one or small-group environment. Is the consulting done on the phone, in workshops, on webinars?
MG: We try to get onsite for a workshop with every one of our customers. Generally, the larger the customer the more often we’re onsite. For a typical enterprise customer, we’ll have a few workshops: configuration, asset migration and activation.
For smaller companies with more agile teams we might have half a dozen people in the room to get the platform stood up.
BF: Do you help with or have any say in product development?
MG: Definitely. Just before I got on the phone with you I was meeting with the VP of product. My role, as well as the that of the CSMs, is to act as the advocate for our customers across the company, especially with the product team.
I work with all of our CSMs, which gives me a pretty unique view. That exposure provides me visibility on what needs, desires or opportunity are consistent across accounts and users.
The product team actually comes in on a monthly basis to our Customer Success meeting to discuss prioritization of their work. Since we talk to project leads and power users on a regular basis – sometimes daily – we can have intell that the product team wants and needs. Plus, they love coming onsite to meet customers and hear feedback directly.
BF: Do you also pass along ideas to contribute to the development of Kapost’s content?
MG: Yep. Similar to our customers and our friends in marketing, we are storytellers. My team is always looking for stories to tell about our customers.
We did a great case study with Commvault who has totally transformed the way they do marketing, including content marketing. It’s an amazing story that actually won them an ROI award at Sirius Decisions a few months ago.
There are some pretty amazing stories out there of companies that are being really impactful with content and elevating the profession.