Marilyn Mersereau is responsible for creating great experiences for Plantronics’ customers and partners, with the goal of earning preference and measurable revenue. She drives a unified vision across multiple marketing groups, including: brand marketing, digital, social media, marketing operations, among others. She is also focused on organizational evolution and alignment, partnering closely with sales and IT.
In this discussion, Marilyn talks about what the Engagement Economy means to her, how it’s affected the focus of her team, and offers her recommendation for how to best engage with customers in this new era.
Q. There has been a lot of discussion around the Engagement Economy – what does that mean to you?
A. I have found that customers are far more engaged with companies that are authentic. Authentic companies are socially, environmentally and globally aware. They give back to the communities in which they live and work. While not every company can give the sum of their profits to causes, it’s the company’s heart that matters. A company’s heart can resonate with customers and build brand affinity.
Q. What does that mean for marketing overall, and for the focus of your team?
A. My team and I believe that human-to-human marketing goes beyond just engagement: it’s about creating exceptional customer experiences. How do we treat that customer as a unique individual? We want to ensure people who engage with Plantronics engage the way they want to be to engaged. The customer experience needs to be a great one. It needs to be easy, simple and save you time. The experience also needs to be holistic. By providing a strong connection with our customers, our marketing team is able to drive demand and revenue. The end game for us is earning customers and partners for life.
Q. What have you done to respond to this shift?
A. A successful customer experience starts with listening. We need to be able to draw insights around what really resonates with our customers. It’s critical to respond to customers in the way they choose.
Q. What challenges does that create for marketing teams and how should they respond?
A. I think most marketing organizations, especially those in B2B businesses, struggle with the personalization aspect of the Engagement Economy. However, more and more are leveraging technology, such as predictive analytics, to make their marketing more contextual and relevant to their audiences.
Q. Does the need for a more holistic approach have broader impacts across the organization, particularly the relationship between marketing and sales?
A. Sales and marketing teams should be partners at the table. In my marketing organization, I strive to build that bridge to sales by arming them with the best tools. Studies have found that 67 percent of customer engagement happens before the actual sale takes place, so sales really depends on marketing to help them.
Q. What advice do you have for organizations looking to better engage with consumers?
A. Consumers are overloaded with emails, so we should help them stay focused by providing contextual experiences; otherwise, they will spend their money elsewhere. We need to join the customers’ buying journey instead of aiming to pull them into our marketing journey.