A Strong Focus on Market Specialization is Essential

Ann Lathrop, CMO, Crowe Horwath LLP

Ann Lathrop, CMO, Crowe Horwath LLP

I think the best place to start is with a focused market segmentation model. You need to understand your audience and where to reach them to help design your strategy and planning. At Crowe Horwath LLP, we are placing a special focus on deep specialization so our marketing audience follows that as well. For example, we are not just focused on manufacturing and distribution, we are focused in the metals sub-sector of M&D. Given this strong focus on market specialization, we can then target the best way to reach our prospects and clients.

"To do marketing right, you cannot do the same thing for everyone. You need to know who you are, what you specialize in and own that marketplace"

This strategy also allows us to feature our people who are true subject matter experts in these specialized markets. For example, we recently developed a marketing content group to better utilize our marketing assets between many distribution channels, including social media, our website, webinars, videos, articles, white papers, and infographics. We’re also redeploying content through third parties, including public speaking and roundtables.

We’ve recently elevated the content team to act a stand-alone team, rather than part of our execution group. This team is operating at a very strategic level and now reports directly to me. This demonstrates that content is not something that is just developed for its own sake, but something we can give to our audience in the way they want to consume it. We are trying to be very thoughtful and conscientious on what we produce and how we reach people.

We have also aligned our marketing, sales and client experience under one roof—the CMO role. We touch clients and prospects throughout the lifecycle. By surveying our clients and delivering on the agreements we made with them, this provides a closed loop of feedback to make sure we’re being cognizant of their needs.

All of these tie back to our focus on deep specialization. To do marketing right, you cannot do the same thing for everyone. You need to know who you are, what you specialize in and own that marketplace. Our goal is to be the thought leader in the areas we own.
Transforming Role of CMOs 
My job today cannot be done without close collaboration with our Chief Information Officer. A few years ago, we could effectively deliver a marketing strategy with little interaction with the technology group. Today, we cannot effectively deploy the bulk of our marketing strategy without robust tools and technology. The CIO and I have a great relationship but I’m just one client of the CIO. She has to balance the needs of the various business line owners with the requests coming from marketing. Not only do I have to compete overall for technology resources and capital spends, I have to have a team that can effectively deploy the tools we do implement.

In the past two years, we upgraded our CRM system, creating a need for greater integration to our e-communications system, which then drove a need for advanced analytical tools. No longer is one project stand-alone. These tools must work in the overall system to support the go-to-market strategies of the firm.

These advancements in technology are also having a direct impact on the type of individual we want to hire. Strategies to deploy digital or social media are different than a traditional print media campaign, so we need people that are knowledgeable in those areas. Each of these areas involves a different way of purchasing, as well as determining the appropriate benchmarks for evaluating the effectiveness of campaigns. All of these are highly reliant upon these technology tools.

Technology is also allowing us to make use of greater and better data. For example, from a LinkedIn campaign we can determine who opens our emails, so we’re using technology to get to that specialized client or prospect. We’ve evolved from being an enabler of “batch and blast” to using targeted messaging to the people who will be most interested in our services.

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