It was 10 years ago Mitchell Mackey joined Ansell Healthcare as marketing director – transformation, and live up to that role he has as the organisation has undergone a digital transformation since his arrival.
Sitting down with Mackey at Adobe’s Symposium in Sydney, it’s hard to imagine a world in which marketers aren’t empowered by an army of martech options, but when Mackey joined Ansell, that was the case.
“We had the challenge of marketing activity not being connected with sales and marketing being perceived as a cost centre — a necessary evil, a producer of collateral and vague, high-level marketing, above-the-line campaigns,” he says.
“If the sales guys wanted to get real cynical they’d say ‘hey, you guys are just lunching with the agency and not really adding any value’.”
Outside of the organisation, marketing automation was beginning to surface as a category of martech software and Mackey says it was clear Ansell needed to get on top of lead generation management and align it with sales.
Given automation was still quite immature, there were only a couple of options available and Ansell found Marketo Engage the easiest to use.
It was what the organisation needed to get to speed – particularly when it comes to data, which Mackey describes as “a hairball no one wants to deal at”.
“You need to make that commitment – you need to lean forward,” he says.
Given Marketo Engage is about marketing automation, Mackey says there was an assumption made by some that it would do everything – “you just flick the switch and somehow qualified leads for sales to convert come out the other end”.
But it’s not that simple and he says along with Ansell’s commitment to employ Marketo Engage came a commitment to educate people across the organisation.
While there are 12 people in Ansell’s global team who are focused on using Marketo Engage, digital literacy is a skill spread right across the organisation.
Mackey doesn’t talk about “digital marketing” as one of its outputs, instead, he talks about “modern marketing” that encompasses it all – from traditional to digital.
Because of this, he says it’s important companies don’t have a separate “geek squad” in the corner working on the website and a tool called Marketo Engage, while the “core marketing team” lunches with the agency.
“Many traditional business guys have been used to deferring or complaining about IT and saying ‘oh that is technology, these guys should fix it’ and not being accountable for sharing the responsibility of getting that right. You need to get rid of the digital distinction and we all need to be digitally literate,” he says.
“That doesn’t mean you need to be Marketo Engage certified but you need to understand how marketing automation works and you need to understand what it means to get a Marketo Engage programme up and running and be comfortable in that space and not something you defer to IT or specialists.”
But the problem isn’t just a disconnect with IT.
When asked what’s holding other organisations back from undergoing a digital transformation, Mackey says it’s getting the executives and non-executives on the same page.
He explains that in the last 10 years, technology has connected all parts of an organisation and the customer should be at the centre – a simple idea but one that’s proving to be challenging for many organisations.
Mackey says Ansell prides itself on being an organisation delivering a positive and consistent experience across all touchpoints – meaning there’s a unified voice across all departments.
However, some organisations are simply talking the talk.
“They say ‘yes we put the customer at the centre of our business’, but they aren’t making the organisational investment changes that are necessary to drive genuine change organisational changes.”
The problem they have? Making those changes risks the organisation’s performance metrics and it can be a hard pill for executives to swallow.
“You have to have leadership willing to take a short-term hit–maybe a one year or two year hit – on their numbers in return for fixing their internal dynamics and really connecting the dots.”
Playing the long game
Mackey says senior people tend to have finance and legal backgrounds so they don’t understand the necessity and significance of rebuilding the organisation and its models around the customer.
Those leaders, he advises, need to create a safe working environment for those on the ground to speak up. They have the answers, he says, so need to feel respected to say: “Ok, this is not working and we need to fix it and senior management needs to provide the space for the change to happen from the ground up.”
A suggestion he has for companies struggling to take the first step into automation is to give it a go with a small pilot initiative.
He suggests getting a small team together to execute a benchmark programme that can be measured end-to-end.
“If the programme was to systematically engage with 100 potential customers, that would provide the insights needed to go to senior management and say, ‘OK if we do more of this it’s going to be better’.”
From there, the programme can be scaled up with the support of budget and resources.
“A small pilot initiative is low risk in terms of financial exposure and if you document what you are doing in a structured way with a core group of people then you can get it right.”
During the Adobe Symposium, Will Griffith, head of Australia and New Zealand for Marketo Engage an Adobe Company, took to the stage to talk about the journey it’s been on to make marketers leaders in marketing automation and those who succeed are referred to as “Fearless”.
“We talk about supercharging a nation of fearless marketers because it’s your fearlessness that drives results, that changes the norms, that tests new ways to go to market,” Griffith says.
Mackey agrees with the phrase ‘fearless marketer’ because those who have the courage and persistence to rock the boat are the ones who are going places.
“There’s no business case for sitting there and accepting the status quo.”
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