Weaving innovation with identity: the red thread of global marketing

Published 23/04/2024 / B2B SPOTLIGHT SERIES

Insights from Preeti Saini, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing at IFS.

Preeti Saini’s marketing career goes back more than 20 years. It’s given her a comprehensive view on the interplay between different disciplines, and how it can drive growth.

Now, as Senior Vice President, Global Marketing at cloud enterprise software company IFS, Preeti is responsible for ensuring brand awareness and healthy pipelines, worldwide.

We caught up with Preeti to chat about her career, the importance of a ‘red thread’ in brand messaging, the benefits of seizing the opportunity to put your brand name in lights, and how college football is innovatively opening up opportunities for target persona engagement at IFS.

What’s the foundation of a global marketing strategy?

Marketing’s purpose is to help scale business growth. That means creating inclusive global strategies that not only focus on brand awareness but also emphasise pipeline growth.

I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to try my hand at all facets of marketing, from demand generation, and brand, to events, and strategic marketing. This diversity of experience has set me up well – enabling me to dig into each campaign and ensure it links to our overall marketing and business objectives.

Crucially, this experience has allowed me to appreciate the different disciplines of marketing – and how one idea doesn’t necessarily translate in the same way to another element of marketing.

How do you create inclusive strategies that align brand awareness with pipeline growth?

A global marketing strategy needs to include a red thread that permeates everything. That means each and every campaign needs to include a core company message that we are looking to get across.

Bringing it to life involves evaluating all marketing outputs to ensure there’s that coherent thread tying them together. It’s this type of coherence that helps to make the brand recognisable. And it ensures the sales message resonates.

What’s your marketing sweet spot?

My career grounding was in field marketing, with a clear focus on how to build pipeline and drive growth. That experience involved close interaction with sales teams, which was instrumental in helping me understand how to build a pipeline effectively.  

It’s here that I see my sweet spot: how to work with sales to form relationships that build pipeline. It’s been foundational to my understanding of the interplay between marketing and sales channels. And it’s where I’ve gained significant exposure and learned the most.

What strategies do you employ to ensure a robust pipeline of prospects?

When it comes to building demand, we need to accept there isn’t one approach that fits all scenarios. Some leads move quickly, while others can take three-to-five years. So, we need to build campaigns that are spread across one-to-one, one-to-few, and one-to-many strategies.

The Account-Based Marketing (ABM) framework has guided my approach to pipeline development, helping to tailor strategies to different types of customers or prospects, whether through personalised engagement with key accounts or clustering similar companies for broader marketing efforts.

What’s the boldest marketing bet you’ve been part of? And how did it drive success?

When I joined IFS, we were going through a rebranding, and it was the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns. We seized the opportunity presented by COVID-19 to place our brand in iconic locations like Times Square, Piccadilly Circus, and Burj Khalifa at a much-reduced cost. This bold move, driven by our CMO’s vision, elevated our brand’s global visibility.

How did you measure the success of the brand campaign?

The success of this initiative was measured through feedback from our customers, journalists, analysts, and partners. And we measured the impact on reach – for example, social media post impressions, engagements, and interaction.

We also invited our employees to turn their personal social media profiles purple – meaning our brand was instantly in front of customers and partners, igniting a social media buzz.

How important is the BIG 10 campaign for your brand?

The BIG 10 partnership is part of a broader initiative to boost brand recognition, specifically in the US. It leverages the alumni network of the BIG 10 colleges, who are often senior executives in companies that are current or potential IFS customers. Here, we are looking to enhance our visibility in a key market via a non-traditional route. It’s part of our strategy to maximise our ROI from our brand campaigns.

AI is a core message for IFS.ai – how are you leveraging AI in your brand, marketing, and sales strategies?

There’s a significant interest internally in understanding and utilising AI. But it comes with the understanding that we need to prioritise the safety of our proprietary data.

We have started to use AI in parts of our martech stack – starting with brand and design, then into content and campaigns. AI is a key enabler to help us to scale and become more efficient. It is a step in the process, but not the process itself. For example, if you are ghost-writing for others, AI enables faster content creation by helping to adapt writing styles. But the quality and accuracy of that content is the responsibility of the marketing team.

What are your key metrics for measuring marketing success?

Our three core focus areas are:

Demand generation and pipeline creation: Every company has a slightly different way of measuring pipeline, but all track the different stages of the funnel: How many Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) are there? And how are these leads progressing through the sales funnel to won deals? It’s here that a strong partnership between marketing and sales brings true value.

Brand awareness: For some companies, the focus might be on the number of leads directed to the website, while for others, it could be about what they’re doing on a webpage and the duration of visits. PR and social evaluation are also crucial to gauge the sentiment in the market, and how various stakeholders are perceiving the brand.

Search engine marketing (SEO and SEM): The performance of organic and paid search marketing efforts is another vital metric. This area has become increasingly measurable and provides insights into how people engage with the company’s content – providing insight into what prospects are looking to buy.

The ultimate metric is whether sales are up. If sales hasn’t had a good year, then marketing hasn’t either.

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