With an ever-evolving tech landscape, stiff competition and an undeniably changing world, marketers seem to have more to contend with today than ever before. Looking at the landscape through a critical lens is essential if we hope to stay ahead of the competition and optimize our outcomes.
In the most recent episode of Transform It Forward, I sat down with someone who knows all about what it takes to stay on your toes as a marketer today: Lara Compton, the VP of Growth and Brand Marketing at Ruby. The company provides small businesses with the services, products and analytics they need to manage their customer interactions and deliver exceptional experiences.
Transform It Forward with Lara Compton
The team at Ruby views every call and website chat as an opportunity for small businesses to grow. They work hard to ensure small business owners are putting their best foot forward on the path to growth.
During the episode, Lara had plenty of great advice to share about targeting your ideal customer, making data-driven decisions, and navigating the increasingly complex tech stack, so I’m confident you’ll take away some valuable tips from our conversation.
Understand the customer lifecycle
Pre-pandemic, Ruby’s ideal customer profile would typically have been companies with one to 15 employees in industries ranging from the legal field, financial services, or the medical world. Over the past few years, however, the company has seen this profile evolve towards companies with a 25-100-person employee base, which has prompted the team to tweak their approach in response.
Lara explains that part of the reason why the team at Ruby has such a firm handle on this information is because they’ve paid close attention to their customer retention-related data in order to better understand the customer lifecycle and who it is they should be targeting in their marketing and communications efforts.
“The reason why we have that information is because we’re constantly looking at our retention-related data in order to understand the customer lifecycle that is sticking around, that we are being able to retain, and then using that information to influence our marketing strategy on the acquisition side. My team is actually structured so that I have brand growth and retention marketers all within it, within our marketing team in order to support each one of those businesses.”
The team at Ruby pays close attention to this data so they can enable their customer success team to support the business in the best and most efficient ways possible. They’re always looking at the information to better understand the industries, sub-industries, and the lead sources that are bringing in the customers who are sticking around.
From there, they can construct marketing campaigns and initiatives based around the customers that are loyal to Ruby, and who truly understand the value the company brings.
“In addition, we’re talking to our customers to understand what pain points and what value props we’re solving for in order to articulate that information out into the marketplace and again, attract the right customers to Ruby from the start, rather than doing a spray-and-pray approach to gather any and all businesses that might need Ruby’s services.”
Choose the right channels
For any marketing initiative, it’s crucial to choose channels that will ensure your message actually reaches your intended audience—because otherwise, it’s all wasted effort. As media expert Marshall McLuhan famously said, “the medium is the message,” which means that the way you convey the message is as important as the message itself.
By thinking critically about the channels they choose to communicate with their ideal customers, Ruby has optimized their chances of reaching—and converting—potential clients.
“In a lot of cases, we’re working with micro SMBs, so we have people that are super strapped for time, like ridiculously strapped for time, and those are the people that we’ve got to capture the attention of. From the research that we’ve done on our ICP, we’ve uncovered where and how they’re listening to ads, and where and how they’re consuming information.”
For example, through this research, Ruby has discovered that many of their customers listen to radio during the day. Armed with this data, the team has ensured they’re advertising on a couple of different streaming outlets, so they can literally be in their customers’ ears while they’re working or commuting.
“In addition, we partner with the ecosystems they’re leveraging to support their business. So, for instance, in our legal side, we have a number of relationships with bar associations in order to make sure that we’re in front of and being heard by those customers. Similar case and point is, with our plumbing and dental industries, we are at their trade shows, in their association newsletters and things like that to be where they are, rather than being where we want them to be.”
Stay light on your feet
Overall, Lara believes marketing teams today should stay agile, nimble and light on their feet, lest they get swept away by the competition. Part of this involves resisting the temptation to jump on all the shiny new tech that’s constantly being promoted, and instead focus on prioritizing processes, data analysis, and customer retention—first and foremost.
“It’s one of these industries where you cannot get comfortable. Don’t get comfortable or your competition will usurp you, or your ICP will move around you to some other location. So you definitely have to constantly stay on your toes and be watching your data in order to understand where those movements are happening.”
- Focus on the right customer—not all the customers. At Ruby, the team is constantly analyzing retention-related data in order to understand the customer lifecycle and make data-driven decisions about their marketing strategy on the acquisition side. In their view, acquiring new customers doesn’t hold as much weight if they aren’t converting and sticking around for good. That’s why it’s important to the team at Ruby that they understand their customers’ pain points and attract the right customers from the start, rather than doing the old spray-and-pray approach.
- Although Ruby is crystal clear on their ideal customer, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t constantly testing out new approaches to grow their TAM and acquire new customers, too. The company is very deliberate and controlled about the way they test new markets, which could mean building 15 pieces of highly targeted, quality content rather than going full tilt throwing 100 pieces at the wall to see what sticks. From there, the team is in a better position to see what’s viable and expand effectively, or pull back and test out a new market based on the information that we’re seeing.
- Choose the right marketing channels. When it comes to communication, it doesn’t matter how loud you’re shouting if you’re shouting at the wrong crowd. That’s why the team at Ruby is intentional about the marketing channels they use, opting for ads on the radio, streaming outlets, bar associations for the legal community, and at industry trade shows or in association newsletters for plumbing or dental industries. This way, the team can be sure they’re reaching the target-right audience in a way that speaks to them and their needs.
- Stay out of your comfort zone. Lara reminds us that in the rapidly-evolving marketing industry today, it’s best to avoid getting too comfortable. As marketers, it’s always best to stay on our toes and consistently review the data in real time so we can keep an edge against the competition.
- Remember tech is just a tool. Lara believes that today, technology has become a distraction for many marketers, which is why she focuses on ensuring all processes are functioning effectively before adding the tech into the mix. As marketers, it’s important that we avoid being distracted by all the shiny new objects at our fingertips that promise the world but at the end of the day, don’t always deliver solid results. Instead, Lara recommends staying as light on your feet as possible so that the whole team can move through the tech stack with quickness and agility.