What makes a good marketer?
Good marketers are good jugglers – they combine a strategic outlook with mastery over the tactical aspects of execution; they know their business well yet they imbibe an outsider’s viewpoint, and they combine aggression with empathy for the customer.

Marketing today is a multi-dimensional role with a strong business focus, creative outlook, technology understanding, and comfort and familiarity with data. Only if you have all of the above can you succeed as a marketer.

Today the customer is inundated with information; there are multiple options to choose from and multiple channels through which the customer can gather information. If you are a technology provider, you have the additional challenge of keeping up with the pace of change in the technology landscape. The job of a marketer is to break through the clutter and connect with the customer in a way that is relevant to the customer’s needs and is credible. So know your business well, use data to understand the market and know what strategies to adopt, be thorough in the execution of your strategy, and communicate the story well to your end user.

How does one sustain their brand image?
The brand is one of the most valuable yet intangible business assets of a company. In this era of digital and social media, brand building has acquired a new dimension. Brands today can be built and broken at a pace that we were not familiar with until recently. Marketers are under enormous pressure to ensure the customer has a positive, memorable experience with the brand. And that experience must be reinforced regularly through a variety of activities so that any occasional glitch in that experience does not ruin the brand image.

Marketers also face the challenge of being in control of what a brand represents in the market. How do I monitor all the marketing channels to ensure my messaging and brand positioning is consistent? Do I have the right tools to measure impact? What can I do to enhance my image and strengthen my standing in the industry?

Being a front runner in the cybersecurity arena, Palo Alto Networks is looked upon as a thought leader with a visionary approach to managing the problems of tomorrow. We believe cyber awareness is critical for the prevention-first approach that we endorse. In keeping with this vision, we released two cybersecurity guides in Australia and Singapore in 2016. These guides provide business leaders of the Asia Pacific region the insights they need to take informed decisions with IT teams on their security needs. This education-led marketing effort has reinforced our brand image of an industry leader that creates value for its customers and prepares enterprises for their future cybersecurity needs.

Brand building must be an on-going journey, with the right strategy to define, build, monitor, measure and protect the brand throughout.

Where do you think Marketing is headed?
Marketing is becoming more strategic and is now better aligned to sales. Marketers of the future must embrace these for greater success:

Marketing Technology – We’re relying more and more on marketing technology, including data-based tools. I expect marketers to spend more on martech in 2017.
Content Marketing – This is the age of content marketing. Marketers will be using their resources more on content development and content marketing rather than on traditional advertising.
Account-Based Marketing – We’re seeing more effort in account-based marketing activities and programs. This is particularly true of B2B companies where large accounts call for a more focused and dedicated approach.
Predictive Analytics – Where there is account-based marketing, there is more use of predictive analytics. As predictive marketing gets more mature, we will see higher return on investment, which will in turn further spur its adoption in B2B companies.

Do social media channels really help marketers?
No marketer can ignore social media. Its reach and speed of access is phenomenal, and it all happens at the click of a button. But more importantly, the data gathered through social listening provides marketers a wealth of insights on its customers and the market at large.

Marketers can use social media to amplify its voice through syndicated content. These are great platforms to increase brand recognition among your customers and potential customers. You can also use your social media assets to improve brand loyalty. We all know the power of word of mouth marketing and social media is a great way to engage customers in conversations and improve brand loyalty. We have also heard some amazing stories of customer service through social media that companies can emulate, and further their brand image.

The power of social media extends beyond your customer base. It also offers opportunities to convert customers; as your customer shares, comments or likes your blog post, image or video, it reaches a wider circle. Each such interaction presents an opportunity to bring someone closer to your brand and eventually convert. And as more people talk about your brand on social media, the higher is your brand value and authority.

Strong social media presence also has a direct impact on your inbound traffic. If you remove social media from your marketing, your inbound traffic would only have individuals who are already familiar with your brand or those who find you on internet searches through keywords that you are currently ranked for.

A technology you foresee as being useful to a Marketer of the future?
Customer analytics is today well entrenched in B2C marketing; in the years ahead, we will see B2B marketers adopting it as a critical component of their marketing plans.

We have so far relied on targeted surveys of customers to understand their preferences and buying patterns. But these have limited relevance. What we will see in the coming years is predictive analytics that is based on data collected every hour or every day based from a wide variety of sources. The conclusions we draw from such data will tell us much more about our customers than we have ever known.

Our chief marketing officer René Bonvanie is the posterchild and our role model for using data analytics at scale to understand customers. He has spent the past many years at Palo Alto Networks building a marketing analytics function that not only gleans insights off the back of data, but also operationalizes it for high impact customer engagement programs. Our ultimate ambition is to not just conduct predictive analytics but also perform prescriptive analytics, where we can provide best actions to the rest of the organization in order to convert customers.


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