Sealed Air is very good at a lot of things—more than you probably realize. They invented Bubble Wrap (you’re supposed to use it for protecting items, not popping for stress relief, if you can believe that). They also make those indispensable air pillows that fill the absurd amount of extra space in your Amazon boxes. With billions in revenue, they know a little something about manufacturing. And they do some pretty amazing customer-first marketing, too.
But that hasn’t always been the case.
Listening to Jennifer Anderson tell the story (she’s the Executive Director of Global Digital & Social Media for Sealed Air), Sealed Air was good at thinking about their products first, using their own language to talk about those products, and building organizational silos to market them, but not necessarily putting their customers first in their marketing.
Maybe that sounds like the way your company approaches marketing. If so, here’s what Jennifer and her team did to go from Product-First to Customer-First—or as she put it: “making the transition from ‘Us’ to ‘You’”. It’s the way marketing strategy needs to evolve in today’s world of value-driven consumer experiences, because the customer is now in the driver’s seat.
Buy-in Comes from the Top
First things first: when you need to make a big change, it helps to have some brass on your side. Sealed Air’s marketing strategy evolution from a product-first to a customer-first organization had the support and leadership of its CEO. Having that kind of clout can go a long way in driving adoption and success for an initiative.
The benefit of C-suite level executive guidance through a transition like this means the whole organization was evolving in the same direction. The Digital Marketing team was not alone. Jennifer said that Sales, Product Marketing, and Content and Communications were all aiming for a similar goal: leaving the product-first mindset behind.
That kind of cooperation makes the process a lot easier. Consider ways you can encourage leaders at your organization to get onboard with the customer-first marketing strategy evolution.
Listen to Your Customers
To be customer-first rather than product-first, you have to know what keeps your customers up at night. To do this, Sealed Air commissioned a survey to understand what challenges their customers were facing and thinking. That’s essential knowledge about how the leaders of those businesses were thinking strategically about where their business was headed over the next 10 years.
Spoiler alert! Their customers weren’t that focused on the price of Bubble Wrap. Instead, Sealed Air found that customers were more focused on big picture macro challenges that they never considered: resource scarcity, labor and productivity, automation, and climate change, to name a few.
Once Jennifer and her team realized what their customers were actually thinking about, they started tracking relevant keywords in Conductor Searchlight and researching the kinds of channels their customers used to find content. Once they had an idea of what topics to cover and across what kinds of content, they could move on to creating that content.
Break Down Content Silos
Sealed Air had content all over the place. With the organizational inertia behind their transition, Jennifer and her team worked to align the many sources of content throughout the organization. First, this meant documenting content roadmaps and holding the individual pieces of content on those roadmaps accountable to the customer-first message Sealed Air was moving toward.
Multiple sources of content in a business with their own content agendas can create those silos. But focusing each source on a single guiding principle can help break them down.
Rethink the Way You Do Things
Content isn’t the only aspect to consider when an organization is evolving strategically. Sealed Air also looked at the tools they were using to make sure those aligned with the new direction they were going. In their case, this meant moving their email marketing, which was dispersed across different platforms for different business units, onto one platform. It was a painful process, but it uncovered and removed inefficiencies from Sealed Air’s content distribution execution.
Even for smaller businesses, it pays to do the due diligence. Are the tools you’re using making it easier for you to act on your strategy? Remember that tools are there to make your business more efficient, not dictate how you do your job. The right ones will make a customer-first marketing strategy evolution faster and more efficient.
Iterate, Iterate, Iterate
Finally, like any good digital marketing organization, Sealed Air kept iterating on their content creation approach. They kept pushing their product marketing teams across the globe to continually approach all their content from a customer-first perspective.
Sealed Air’s Marketing Strategy Evolution Results
What did all this mean for Sealed Air’s bottom line? Some pretty great results:
- Their audience spent over 54% more time on their new content than with other content on their site.
- 76% of visits are from users new to the site.
- Their click-through rate had over 100% growth for the content they targeted to key audience segments.
- Their Marketing Qualified Leads generated by SealedAir.com increased year-over-year.
So, if your company is stuck talking about their products rather than talking to their audience, if you find yourself using your engineers’ language instead of listening to your customers’ voice, and if you think changing the way you do marketing is an uphill battle: Take heart. It’s never too late to evolve your marketing strategy from Product-First to Customer-First. It might take some work, but the rewards are worth it.
And if that work ever gets to you, let me know—I know where you can get some Bubble Wrap to release some stress.