Pegasystems CMO Robert Tas needs no convincing of the critical role advertising can play in building strong brands and driving company growth. But when he considers the success of companies such as Google, Uber, and Amazon, he sees a need to accelerate the focus and investment on end-to-end customer experiences. Companies that execute a seamless experience, Tas believes, will be the “winners of the future.”
“You can no longer treat the customer experience in a silo,” Tas points out. “Companies need to go end to end with the customer experience. But it’s challenging to connect with people on the front end and get things done on the back end. Most companies weren’t designed that way. Without that end experience, I’m probably not going to engage with your brand in the future.”
Tas discusses Pegasystems’ digital-first approach, collaborating with sales and IT, and more.
Q. You have acknowledged that many leading B-to-B companies are applying the marketing lessons of their B-to-C counterparts to gain a competitive advantage. Which lessons have you adapted for your business?
A.I’ve worked on both sides of the house. Most recently, at JPMorgan Chase, I helped the company build much of its digital marketing capabilities. When I joined Pegasystems in 2014, I immediately started building out a digital-first approach to our marketing. We wanted to go where our customers are going. I’m also focused on how we’re presenting our content, much like consumer brands. We’re no longer focusing our efforts on developing 30-page whitepapers. Instead, we’re creating two-minute videos, content snippets, infographics — digestible information that allows our target customers and prospects to engage with us and helps them in their buying process. I’ve tried to ensure that our communication strategies reflect the digital world we live in today. The creative we develop for a digital ad, a mobile device, social media, a print implementation, television, or even events needs to be unique, thought through clearly, and presented in the most appropriate way. Storytelling is more important today than it’s ever been.
Q. What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome, from both an internal and external perspective?
A. Organizational alignment is a challenge. As the marketing department evolves, I think there’s a blurring of the lines in terms of who does what. At Pegasystems, I realigned my marketing department around key personas that were important to our business. And I told my team they have the power to drive decisions and bring in functional shared services to help them. One of my goals is to be a lot more customer-centric. Another is to move faster and take advantage of expertise in search engine marketing, social media, content development, video production, and other key areas. My team is learning how to operate differently than they have in the past.
Q. How has your marketing team maintained a successful collaboration with sales and IT?
A.One of the reasons I joined Pega was that I was given a seat at the C-suite table. My drive is for marketing to be the growth engine of the company, which it hasn’t been in the past. I spend a lot of time building relationships with sales and IT and educating them on my vision and strategic plan. It’s a rigorous, continuous effort. In fact, I’d say 50 percent of my job is evangelizing what marketing is doing and what we’re capable of doing. We’re really transparent in our efforts to drive the company’s growth. We’ve also done some really interesting things on the technology side, as we’ve integrated our marketing stack with our sales automation stack. This has created better linkage so that when I run a campaign, our sales organization can immediately track engagement metrics to see who’s interested in our products. We learn from each other and make better decisions along the way. We also have a quarterly planning process with sales, and we constantly share our plans, our outcomes, and our opportunities. At the end of the day, as I always tell my team, my job is to drive revenue. That’s the ultimate metric to which we’re held accountable.
Q. You’re a big proponent of test-and-learn. How did you get your team to embrace that philosophy?
A. In today’s world, we have the ability to try things before we scale them. My team has taken full advantage of that. Data doesn’t lie; it’s a great normalizer that allows us to make more informed decisions. When I joined Pegasystems, I spent the first six months building a test-and-learn infrastructure, investing in it, and getting my team to buy into it. And our campaign results speak for themselves. When I’m able to double my web traffic in six months, double my engagement metrics, and increase organic search, that gets people on board. We aspire to do better and better.
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